First Look At Project O

projectoscreen.jpgWe just got to speak with Yoshiro Kimura, producer at Marvellous and man at the helm of their super-group Wii title, Project O (reports of the game being named King's Story are apparently premature, Kimura saying "no, that's not its name, we're still working on a name"). Which was largely exciting, as I'm largely excited about this game, even more so since he then said we the first Western journalists in to check it out.

Earlier comparisons, a lot of them based on the production team's pedigree from the Harvest Moon, Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy series, seemed to suggest the game was a a strategy title, a nice blend of Harvest Moon, Pikmin and Black & White. Those are... close, especially Black & White, but think more along the lines of The Settlers than the other two and you'll be getting warm. Essentially you play the role of a small boy who is made King of the land. And you now have to govern said land by bossing your subjects around. Sounds simple (which is the point, the game's setting and art style being heavily influenced by European fairy tales), and plays simple, but again, that's the point: Kimura says the main objective of the game was to make a title that could be enjoyed by the whole family, which isn't exactly common for a strategy game.

Players take control of the King. Personally. You move the little guy around the screen and he serves as the personification of your orders, telling villagers to build things, follow him, attack monsters, etc. This not only gives the player direct involvement in the game (it's "similar to an RPG, where your character grows stronger and more effective"), but removes the need for menu screens, something the development team thought was necessary.

That's about where the concrete information dries up. The game is only 30% done, despite over a year of conceptual design and six months of development time, so a lot of things are still up in the air, including whether the King will age/grow and just how the control scheme will take advantage of the Wii Remote. Calm breaths waggle haters: Kimura promises that they "don't want people shaking the Wii Remote just for the sake of it".

Project O is a Wii exclusive, as Kimura believes the 360 is "too much of a hardcore system", while he "doesn't really like the PS3", as it's too difficult and expensive to develop for. That and the Wii is played by all ages in Japan, bringing it into line with their vision for a strategy game for the family. It's due in Japan around Spring 2008, with a Western release promised soon after.


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