Hello, everyone. It's Kou from FLYHIGH WORKS.
Today, we would like to present part #2 of an in-depth interview with , the original creator of “Phoenotopia.” The interviewer is , "Phoenotopia Strategy Memo. ( フェノトピア攻略メモ。)" blogger who is also considered to be a representative of the Japanese Phoenotopia fans.
Interview list is available here→
Ochoko I didn’t know that. By the way, this is a bit off-topic, but in the dungeon that is at the midpoint of the game, there is something on display in a glass case. It’s an NES, right?
We also find something similar to “Space Invaders” and “Donkey Kong” that appears in the game, showing respect and honor towards those classic games. Aside from the “Zelda series,” are you a fanatic of other games?
Quang Regarding the screenshot, that is indeed a NES! In the same room, there is also a "PC-98". That never made it to the United States, but the games for it look so fascinating, that I asked my artist to put it in there. And now that you mention it, I did have an homage to "Space Invaders" and "Donkey Kong" as well. Enough time is starting to pass that I'm starting to forget what I put in the game. One day, when I've really forgotten Phoenotopia, then I can really play my game, haha.
There are a lot of other games I like, and depending on when you ask me, my answer will likely change. When I was really young for example, I really liked Megaman! However, my top #3 picks have stabilized and they haven't changed for years. They are:
Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Skies of Arcadia
Resident Evil 4
So I really love JRPGs! When I was a kid, I had a Playstation and I had a shelf full of nothing but JRPG games. It was a point of pride for me that the only genre I had was RPGs and nothing else, haha. I'd like to create a JRPG one day too, but right now, my artist and I are sticking with what we know, which is something similar to Phoenotopia.
Ochoko I love the Resident Evil series.
I have never played Skies of Arcadia…I will check it out soon!
Quang I hope you enjoy Skies of Arcadia! It might not have aged as well due to the prevalence of random battles. The story and characters are timeless however!
Ochoko By the way, this may be a little off-topic again, but at the beginning of Phoenotopia, there is a scene in which Gail wakes up and yawns. When I first played it, I was surprised by her movements' beautiful animation.
Also, for example, There are three types of movements prepared: slowly walking, walking normally, and dashing when moving around. Can you please elaborate on how you were able to add details to the animation and motion? These kinds of details of the animation are eye-catching everywhere. Also, can you please tell me if you have a favorite animation (movement) of Gail?
Quang Yes, the animation is very good! The artist Clement Swennes drew most of Gail's animations as well as most of the big bosses and enemies you see in the game. I'll pass him your compliments ^^
As for why Gail has 3 movement speeds, to me, I thought of it as a necessity! I was influenced by both Zelda and the Dark Souls at the time and in those games, the character will walk or jog depending on how far you push the control stick. They then have an additional run button to make your character move even faster. So I thought it was required to support those kinds of movement options.
However, I later realized that this was a little unusual for 2D games. Hollow Knight for instance only has one walk speed, and the character does not accelerate, but hits full speed right away! And this is actually preferred by speedrunners and some players because until the last moment before you get hit by an enemy you have full control.
Later, when I did the PC port, I also ran into some difficulties mapping the full range of controls possible to the keyboard and mouse. The keyboard doesn't have a variable input like the control stick, so Gail can't walk if using the keyboard only. From Steam data, I also know that 50% of PC players use keyboard only, so it's actually a large group!
So movement is something I'm thinking about simplifying for our future games.
As for my favorite Gail animation, I think it would have to be her crawl. She looks so cute while doing it and the crawl sound is amusing as well.
Ochoko The animation for Gale 「crawling along」 is cute. By the way, I also like the motion of the recoil when shooting with the blaster gun.
One of the charms of Phoenotopia is the excellent text that pops up. Did you create all that text by yourself? I would like to know how did you come up with that idea.
Each area/region of the game has its unique characteristics and features, and reading the texts was one of the fun aspects I enjoyed while playing. Also, I was surprised by the variety of healing/recovery items. Do you have a 「food specialty」 that you like to eat to recover health?
Quang I did write most of the text myself, but I also had a lot of help from one of the artists, Anna Klimkovic. She proofread everything and input her own ideas too. There was also a brief period where I sought outside help from two other writers. If you like the script, that means that the translation and localization team did a good job! You can thank Kou Seigai here for that, as well as Toshie Somiya and Chie Koizumi!
As for where the ideas came from... Hmm... In Phoenotopia's case, I remember wanting to tell a story about a humble farmer like in a fairy tale. I used to love reading fairy tales! And I tried to capture the image I have of towns in fairy tales with quaint villagers, simple living, and idyllic music. At the time, I thought every story needed to have a twist, so I added extra elements to the game world so that everything wasn't as it appeared. Over time, Phoenotopia's world took shape. There were probably a lot of other small influences that I'm not aware of. For example, the Phoenixes are a lot like Saiyans from 『Dragon Ball Z』, aren't they? Haha.
As for food recovery items, I think I like fish the most. When I look at the raw fish graphics, I immediately get a real-life craving for 「Sushi」!
Ochoko I didn’t think Dragon Ball Z would turn up…it's true that the pause after beating the final boss looks like a Saiyan when it flies around (Haha).
It just suddenly occurred to me while being on the subject of Japanese anime…
The part where Prof. Fran turns into ash after the warp transfer towards the end, or the parts when characters enter in is like something that appears in Japanese skits.
Are you well versed with Japanese culture, Quang?
Quang To answer your question, most of what I know about Japanese culture comes from watching Japanese anime. And I watch a LOT of anime. Relatively, 90% of what I watch is anime - I watch very little Western shows. So I guess you could call me an expert on Japanese culture!
Haha, just kidding. I remember my Japanese teacher told me that anime isn't like real life - that the way characters talk in anime is more theatrical. I also like to watch some Japanese youtubers, like "Nobita from Japan", who covers a lot of Japanese culture.
（To be continued in #3）