Igarashi & Yamane on Lament of Innocence
The producer and composer of the newest Castlevania game talk shop.
By Christian "ferricide" Nutt | Oct. 21, 2003

Michiru Yamane & Koji Igarashi
We had a chance to sit down with two of the main creative talents behind the Castlevania series recently and grill them about Lament of Innocence and more. Producer Koji Igarashi, better known as "IGA," whose sole job is the Castlevania series, had a lot to say. He was joined by composer Michiru Yamane, who in addition to being the main composer of the series these days has also worked on the Suikoden series and more.

GameSpy: The Japanese title is simply "Castlevania." Is that because this is a new beginning for the series?
IGA: That's exactly it.
GameSpy: What do you feel you can do with the series now that you're starting it fresh?
IGA: I just got to the starting point where I've actually completed my 3D Castlevania game. I just wanted to climb up to this starting point where Castlevania begins as a 3D action game. From now on and in the future, this will be the starting point, and I would like to proceed with 3D Castlevania.

It all depends on the platform, and the market. If the market still allows 2D gaming, I would also proceed with that game design as well.
GameSpy: You say it's a new starting point for the Castlevania series in 3D. Do you consider this game to be everything you wanted it to be?
IGA: I wanted to create a proper 3D Castlevania game with Lament of Innocence. For future games, I would like to do something more. I would like to provide a lot more fun elements in future Castlevania titles.
GameSpy: Now that you've been working with the Castlevania series for several titles, and you've appointed Michiru Yamane as the exclusive composer and Ayami Kojima as the exclusive artist for the series, do you feel the series has fully developed its personality?
IGA: Principally I wanted to pursue the style that I established with Symphony of the Night. Michiru and Ayami were working together with me. In that sense, I think it's great to be bringing these two back.
GameSpy: Lament of Innocence has a high focus on combat and the combat engine is very robust. Is that the most important element of Castlevania in 3D?
IGA: When it comes to action games, combat is most important part and fun element of the game, don't you think? KCET's other horror-themed series, Silent Hill, has very creepy creatures, but Castlevania has a different image -- like boom! the monsters are right there. So creepy and combating are the two elements. We're actually targeting to provide a combating action game for the world. That's the main focus of the game.
GameSpy: What was the hardest to balance in developing the game system in 3D? The level design, the combat, and the other elements -- what was the hardest to make work together?
IGA: Let's talk about this in terms of 2D vs. 3D. 2D is easier to understand -- where the monster is, where to attack, where to run, etc. 2D would be very easy to create. The graphics don't have to be very high quality, because every element of the game is obvious to the player.

So we've extended a 2D game style into 3D, but 3D has a very different environment. It's really obscure, comparatively. Having a 3D environment is not as precise as it was with the 2D. The good point about 3D gaming is bringing the actual, reality-based environment, to gaming. The dynamics -- of audio, of the graphics, bring a new reality to life.

In a somewhat related topic, we finished development some time ago, so we had very much time to work on game balance. Because we had too much time, almost, we adjusted it again and again and again, we're so used to the game that it almost became too difficult.

GameSpy: The level design is a bit different than the map style of the previous ones -- it's more like a dungeon exploration game, a series of interconnected rooms. Do you think you could do a more interlocking style, fully explorable castle, in 3D? Would you like to?
IGA: I originally came up with the original game concept having fully connected rooms ... but it was really hard to understand. It's really hard to access as well, and solve the puzzles with that sort of map. I decided to break it apart into separate area maps, and keep the puzzles contained within each area. Basically the puzzles are to be solved within the same area, but there are items that work between areas -- with the next stage, or whatever.
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