Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom from Namco Bandai was developed by Game Republic for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It’s a clever and beautiful video game in which you play as Tepeu (a nimble thief) who rescues and forms a bond and friendship with a mysterious giant creature known as the Majin. Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom is populated with a fantasy story in which we eventually learn that the Majin is a creature that has rebelled against his own kind, we find out the bad guys are really creatures of the land turned evil and that Tepeu has the ability to speak to animals. The game is filtered with a variety of puzzles that use the strengths of the characters and you’ll have to fight your way across the land picking up bits of information from the back story along the way.
The following is an interview with Yohei Yanase, Game Designer for Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom and also influential in helping shape the story and characters.
SCRIPT: Tepeu encounters the Majin rather quickly in the opening of the story – was there ever any debate in having Tepeu’s solo adventure more in the beginning?
YOHEI YANASE: There were times when we considered prolonging the amount of time before the player meets the Majin as a way to explain the world and controls. However, at the core of the game and the fun aspect of it is the co-operative play with the Majin, we decided to allow the player to interact with the Majin early on in the game.
SCRIPT: The evil forces (or antagonists of the game) are set up through an animated sequence and narration. Since Tepeu and the Majin mostly fight secondary ‘bad guys’ in the game – how do you keep a sense of pacing that leads up to a final boss fight or ending to a game like this?
YOHEI YANASE: By gaining new abilities and using them in battle or for puzzle solving, the number of ways a player interacts with the game increases. This gives them the motivation to keep progressing through the game. This progression creates the pacing between the story reveals.
SCRIPT: Tepeu frees the Majin and they become companions – can you describe how these two characters are linked to each other and how they need one another?
YOHEI YANASE: At first, Tepeu is merely trying to save his home and uses the Majin as a means to his goal. The Majin also is merely following Tepeu because he feels in debt to Tepeu for saving him from his prison. However, as the story progresses, the two’s goals begins to become the same, and eventually they grow an irreplaceable bond with each other, as friends.
SCRIPT: In the game, Tepeu speaks to himself, the Majin speaks to him and he can also talk to the wild creatures of the land for advice. It seems like just about every ‘convention’ was used to help push the action forward. In the early stages of development was this always the case or did you have to add ‘talking animals’ to the game as a result of difficulty?
YOHEI YANASE: The idea to have the Majin speak of hints was a game design element that we had intended from the beginning of development. However, with the Majin having lost its memory, there was information we were not able to reveal. To work around this, we implemented animals as a tool to communicate story and background with the character.
SCRIPT: What advice would you give someone who is trying to break into the video game industry writing for video games?
YOHEI YANASE: I think what people need to keep in mind is that the most important thing about creating stories for games is not how beautiful of a story you can create, but what kind of experience you can give the player. In order to do this effectively, you must not only concern yourself with the story, but also with the game system and the technology that creates the game. Also, games are made by teams composed of various types of people, so communication skill is the most important skill to have. You need to discuss, argue, and fight for your concepts. With this debate and discussion, I have confidence that you all will be able to create wonderful new stories for the next generation of gaming. Good luck, and have fun!
For more info on Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom visit http://www.namcobandaigames.com.