Adam Riley, Operations Director at Cubed3: When did the Rhythm Thief project start? Was this originally planned for the Nintendo DS?
Shun Nakamura-san, Producer of Rhythm Thief and the Emperor’s Treasure: We started development of the game for the Nintendo 3DS around the summer of 2010, but it was originally developed for the Nintendo DS as you mentioned and it started about a year earlier. Actually we set up the plan itself long before.
Adam Riley: What are the main aspects you are most pleased with? Is there anything you had to leave out or is there anything you wanted to improve before release but could not due to time constraints?
Nakamura-san: Naturally I’m most pleased with the rhythm games. Combining story and rhythm games is the theme of the game and I feel it is well achieved around the end of the game. I have some ideas that were left out and I particularly wish I could include more types of rhythm games above all.
Adam Riley: Which animation studio did you work with for the superb video sequences?
Nakamura-san: I worked with an animation studio called Point Pictures. This was the first try to use 3D animation but they really stirred themselves and did their best to achieve it. I feel the quality is very high. For example, the scene of Marie playing the violin to Elisabeth is so elaborate -- they videotaped a real violinist, reproduced it in 3D, and created 2D animation based on it.
Adam Riley: Can you tell us some of the processes involved with finding the ideal voice actors for the different characters?
Nakamura-san: Actually I left the process to the localisation producers because I have often had the chance to hear the voice of overseas voice actors for Sonic or other titles and felt we have different feelings from Western people for voice work. I thought local producers who understand the story should be able to choose perfect voice actors. In fact, I listened to them on a test and got satisfaction.
Adam Riley: There are so many different styles of gameplay included -- Rhythm Paradise, Professor Layton, and even Ace Attorney. What other sources did you draw your inspiration from?
Nakamura-san: I aimed to create something like a compilation of music games and used so many games like that for reference, so I could say I was inspired from all music games! I also played various rhythm titles for iOS for reference. Capcom released Ghost Trick when we were creating the adventure scenes and it was really fun, so we got fired up thinking “we’ll go beyond it!”
Adam Riley: SEGA is renowned for its rhythm games. Will Rhythm Thief appeal to fans of games like Samba de Amigo and Space Channel 5?
Nakamura-san: Well, I think they will indeed also really enjoy the game. Music games generally use the same controls and mechanics throughout the game, but Rhythm Thief and the Emperor’s Treasure offers many types of controls and mechanics depending on the games. This should be exciting and I hope they will enjoy them.
I also got much from the funny atmosphere of Samba de Amigo and musical feeling of Space Channel 5. Music is created by Tomoya Otani and Naofumi Hataya who are the music creators of Space Channel 5, so they are really fun and involve you in the game. I think I put the fun of music games into the final game from what I saw of from the experience of Samba de Amigo.
Adam Riley: What sort of extra features have been included to extend the length of the game?
Nakamura-san: You will access to an unlockable scenario, another episode when the score reaches a certain level, or complete the legend of the musical instruments by collecting sounds in the adventure map, for example. The replay value lies both in the rhythm game and the adventure part and this becomes a key feature of the game. We have run a campaign where the users playing the Endless mode (which offers the chance to play rhythm games endlessly) can use Twitter in Japan to share their achievements.
Adam Riley: Did you ever consider the idea of Wi-Fi downloads to keep gamers playing in the future? If no, please explain why.
Nakamura-san: I did not consider it just because I did not know the feature was planned to be included in the 3DS when we started the development back on the DS. I would have considered if I knew it at the early stage!
Adam Riley: Do you already have ideas for a second Rhythm Thief?
Nakamura-san: Not yet, but I have many things I would like to do for the game system and scenario. I think the sequel will exceed the original if I could realise exactly what I currently have in mind.
Adam Riley: Do you think you could successfully make a Rhythm Thief game for Wii U? Or would you prefer to make a 3DS sequel instead?
Nakamura-san: I would like to try on both consoles. I would especially like to create a virtual play version of the “Looting the Louvre” part because moving the body really fits into rhythm games.
Adam Riley: Would you like to see Raphael featuring in games like Smash Bros. or Mario Kart in the future? If so, what special abilities do you think he could use?
Nakamura-san: He is a fledgling character so it may be too early to feature in those games yet, but if he has the chance, I would like to combine rhythm and attacks and see him doing some actions in time with the rhythm, such as using a special technique where the player inputs a button combination in certain pattern and timing. Also, it would be fun if other characters began dancing when Raphael starts dancing!