November 8th, 2008, 03:12 Posted By: wraggster
Xseed and Electronic Arts are bringing Populous to the DS in North America next week, but it’s not exactly the Populous you remember. Sure, Populous DS has the classic land shaping / civilization growing gameplay with mouse-like touch screen controls, but this version of Populous has new deities and Wiis. I asked Takahiro Murakami, Lead Producer at Electronic Arts, about these new features and how the Populous project got started in the first place.
Almost twenty years passed since Populous came out. Can you explain the concept of the game?
Takahiro Murakami, Lead Producer at Electronic Arts: When we first decided to sell the title in Japan we started with the concept of “keeping the well received Super Famicom gameplay and adding new game elements to it.” Since this is a title that has a lot of history and a large fan base we didn’t want to change the gameplay too much, which would disappoint the fans. For the visuals we wanted to keep the old look so that fans can look at the package and feel comfortable and think, “Oh, I get to play the Populous that I loved again.”
how did the Populous DS project get started?
A year before Populous DS we created SimCity DS and soon after that SimCity DS2.
After those two titles we all got together and discussed “what other EA games are there that’s a popular IP in Japan?” and from all the titles that came up we decided to go with “Populous.”
Since the SimCity DS series was selling well in Japan we wanted to create a title that targets the same type of audience.
There were so many versions and ports of Populous. Which one is the DS based on?
This is based on Japan’s Super Famicom and PC Engine version.
How does Populous DS improve on the formula?
Since Populous had fun versus play we wanted to emphasize on this with wireless versus play. However, the original Populous only had one type of god and that would just make for a simple match of the fastest player having a big advantage. So to make this more exciting we created variations of gods and god powers as well as each god having their own element with strengths and weaknesses that can be exploited to balance the gameplay.
Can you tell us about the new deities? Where did the ideas that inspired their design come from?
We got the inspiration from Japanese and foreign fantasy games as well as mythologies and tried to design them in a way that you will intuitively know what type of elemental god each one is.
For example, the Earth God looks powerful, the Harvest God’s legs looks like plants, and the Fire God looks like a flame incarnate.
Populous is a nostalgic game for Japanese users but it’s also a new game for all the young users so we wanted to create the gods in a way that they can intuitively understand what they are.
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