Tsutomu Kouno, Game Director on SCEE's quirky new blockbuster rolls us through the mind behind the madness.
How long have you been interested in gaming?
Tsutomu Kouno, LocoRoco Game Director: When I was at elementary school, my parents bought me a computer. I created some games using BASIC programming language and had my friends play them. At that time, I was really into text adventure games.
What was your first job?
After graduating from college, I joined Sony Computer Entertainment and worked on a role-playing game for PS one called Legend of Dragoon. After that I worked on a PlayStation 2 title called "ICO" and looked after map planning.
What made you want to design a computer game?
When I was a kid, I felt unlimited possibilities as I created various kinds of games, and that made me want to design. I felt that anything was possible.
What is your favourite game?
Monster Hunter (PS2 and PSP), Tactics Orga (Super Famicom), Black and White (PC), Age of Empires (PC)
What do you think are the key ingredients for a successful game?
Impactful visuals are essential for a successful game. Without them, even if we air a commercial on TV, no one pays attention to it and no one remembers. Therefore, I feel that evocative imagery is necessary to attract as many people as possible.
Another important thing is, this is really obvious, to make games fun and interesting. I feel that it is necessary to analyse games that I immersed myself in a long time ago and combine the fun and interesting parts with the technologies that are currently available.
Also, evocative imagery to attract many people and to make an interesting game. If these are realised, I believe that a game will succeed.
What do you think are the specific challenges of designing a game for PSP?
Since PSP can be carried anywhere in the world, I tried to make the game as simple as possible so that anyone can enjoy it even if you don't speak a particular language.
Where did you get the inspiration for LocoRoco?
I often draw pictures on my PDA when riding the train, and those pictures are the beginning. Most of the sub characters including Chuppa, Nyokki, and Mojya are from those PDA drawings.
What was your first 'LocoRoco' thought, i.e did you think of the characters, the scenery or the rolling mechanic first?
The PDA drawings are the basis. I think I used to draw LocoRocos piling up struggling in a cave, or laughing, or wandering around alone. Later I started to draw pictures where land tilted and a LocoRoco was being rolled.
What is your favourite part of the game?
My favourite part is anything involving LocoRoco. Although it has little to do with the gameplay, this is what I most wanted to do. Watching LocoRoco gather to pile up and sing is really fun. Also their actions are not determined by certain motion data so you can never be bored watching them.
I also love the background music of the game. To keep the same music across the world, I created LocoRoco language myself and wrote the lyrics. LocoRoco sing as they roll, and the volume changes depending on the number of LocoRoco so the song constantly evolves.