– What was it like making a game for a screen on a handheld device?
Yuuichi: Well, on regular CRTs, you sometimes can’t see the corners of the screen because of how the monitor is made, right? Because of that, we always made sure not to put any information on the edge of the screen. Making this title for the Game Boy Advance meant that we were able to use all the real estate that its LCD screen had to offer, which made making layouts simple. The aspect ratio was a concern at first–we thought it might be too wide, but after trying things out for ourselves I feel like we were able to place elements on the battle screen quite well. We stressed out over color usage much more than screen size, honestly. A lot of artwork went into this game.
– Was the possibility of switching the artwork to a cutesier, pastel-based style ever on the table?
Yuuichi: We did some experimenting, but if you use pastels it honestly just stops looking like Ogre Battle. The game itself is tonally dark and most locations in the game are depictions of real-world environments, so it’s only natural to lean towards a more subdued palette. We wanted to avoid things that would take away from the game’s world and setting. It may be difficult to see some panels in certain locations, but we intend to cover problems like those by providing the player with information through other means.
– You have to do your best not to betray the expectations of your longtime fans, after all.
Yuuichi: But we won’t be able to grow if all we ever do is put out exactly what’s expected of us, so we want to betray our fans’ expectations in the best possible ways, and I hope that doing so will lead to an influx of new Ogre Battlers joining our ranks.
– I feel like one of the Ogre Battle series’ greatest strengths is how it lets the player make their own decisions and progress however they choose to.
Takuji: Holding the player responsible for the decisions they make is what the game is all about. Seeing how the decisions you’ve made will play out is the best part!
– I’m looking forward to some of the features that are only possible because it’s on the Game Boy Advance, like trading and Versus Mode.
Yuuichi: Since putting out our last title, we’ve had a lot of requests come in asking us to make it possible for players to battle against each other. We were able to make it a reality this time thanks to the game being on a handheld device.
– I hear there are some items that you can only get through Versus Mode.
Yuuichi: There are three additional modes in the game. “Quest Mode,” which can be done single player, “Versus Mode,” which lets you compete against other players, and “Exchange Mode,” in which you can trade items or characters with other people. About half of the items in the game can only be obtained through Quest Mode or Versus Mode. You’ll still be able to get about 90% of the items in the game playing by yourself, but that last 10% can only be acquired through Versus Mode. I think handheld consoles also serve as a tool to facilitate communication. We would love for our game to be used as a medium through which people are able to enjoy spend time together.
– Are there any plans for future titles on the Game Boy Advance?
Makoto: It’s possible. We can’t say whether or not it would be another Ogre Battle game, though.
– What would you say is the Game Boy Advance’s greatest strength?
Makoto: It would have to be that games made for it don’t necessarily need to be gorgeous. It’s the perfect hardware for making good on the philosophy that “games are ideas.” I don’t mean to deride modern games made with CG graphics in any way, but making games for a handheld system inspires you to focus more on doing everything you can do improve the game itself – how fun it is to play. Making large games also takes that much more time to develop, which we simply cannot afford when our fans are already hassling us to put out games as quickly as we can. (laughs) Making games for handhelds also takes much less time and labor. Game Boy Advance games also cost less, which means our customers don’t need to spend as much money, and you’re able to make games for the global market, which makes it an appealing piece of hardware for developers.
– As a developer, would you say that the Game Boy Advance is easy to make games for?
Yuuichi: Definitely, since you can focus more on the essential parts of the game. There are many more things you need to focus on if you’re creating a game for a system that typically plays host to more cinematic titles, making it difficult to find time to fit in the things you really want. A system with specs similar to that of the Super Famicom is more than enough to make interesting games, and if the handheld market picks up and the number of people playing these games increases, I think that will pave the way for more interesting games to be made in the future.
– Are there plans to make games outside of the Ogre Battle series?
Makoto: It’s not like we’re fixated on the series, so if we come up with an idea that seems like it’ll work I think we’d definitely be open to the idea.
– Any parting words for our readers?
Yuuichi: We’ve made this one easier to get into than our previous titles, so I hope everyone will give it a go. The Knight of Lodis is all about “creating a world.” I want players to shape the game’s world with their own two hands, and immerse themselves in it.