Q&As// Opoona Developers

These days there is more interest from the public...

Posted 31 May 2007 16:08 by
Sachiko Sugimura
Sachiko Sugimura
It’s not often you get ‘All-Star’ casts in videogames, to the extent that those working on a game are world-renowned for other high-calibre projects. Enter ArtePiazza, a KOEI studio comprising four all-stars of the Dragon Quest game series.

Its first project is a brand new RPG for the Nintendo Wii, called Opoona, and the entire game is controlled by the Wii’s Nunchuk – the Wii Remote isn’t even required. This is not the only step outside the usual confines of the RPG format (or formula depending on your stance). ArtePiazza is also moving the focus away from the standard “single hero” or “chosen one” dynamic to one in which the family unit becomes centrally important.

To learn more about this curiously creative game, SPOnG spoke to Art Director Shintaro Majima and Planning Director Sachiko Sugimura about how Opoona plays, what its message is and where the concept came from.

SPOnG: First, could we get a little background information on yourself? What interested you about working on video games and how did you get into the industry?

Shintaro Majima: I have always liked drawing since childhood, but I wasn’t specifically aiming to become a videogame CG creator. I majored Industrial Design in school.

After graduation, a friend of mine offered me a chance to create a videogame package illustration and logo design. One day I saw on TV the footage of the videogame I took part in creating, and it was a shock to me. Nowadays it is not surprising to see videogame footage on TV, but at that time it was a culture shock. And that made me very interested in videogames as an interactive media.

I still create illustrations and logo designs, but when I create designs for videogames, I always pursue that excitement of visual expressions, which is a special quality as an interactive media.

SPOnG: The underlying theme of Opoona is relationships and family. Why did you decide to develop the story around this theme?

Sachiko Sugimura: For me, it seems that there are more people who feel this world we are now living in is not as happy as the world in the past. In such circumstances, what evoke our hopes for the future are an existence of lively children, and the existence of adults whom children can look up to as their ideal.

Family is the simplest form of such human relationship. And the relationship with friends and the surrounding people enriches the experience in life.

In Opoona, I wanted to express that every single person means something and that the world grows and changes in accordance with the loving relationships among all people, instead of depicting the main character only as a special existence.

SPOnG: Opoona looks very creative and inspirational – would you say the philosophy behind the Wii has helped to create this new style of RPG? What were inspirations in creating this new universe?

Shintaro Majima: I have always been interested in modern architecture and industrial design since I was in school, and the idea of expressing them through visual media has always been in my mind.

These days there is more interest from the public in this field, and such creations are introduced on media to general public more and more.

Not many videogames adopted this approach, but I believe this style will be accepted to the users, including the new system to shoot Energy Bonbons and the scenario to get a job and work.

It wasn’t the starting point to have got inspired by Wii, but I think Wii’s “clean” and “something new” style will certainly overlap Opoona’s image.
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