Easily one of the most intriguing games of E3 for me was the little Wii title tucked into Hudson's booth Lost in Shadow. A side-scroller with an art style reminiscent of ICO and puzzle and adventure elements that wouldn't be out of place in a Zelda game? In the demo I got the chance to manipulate light sources to move platforms, fight giant shadow spiders, and collect lost memories that hinted at a grandiose storyline. I was also transported to hidden rooms where the camera could be rotated to look at the shadows from a different angle, producing an entirely new set of platforms to climb up. And though I didn't see it during my own time with the game (I skipped around from level to level) there will even be gates that allow the shadow boy to materialize into the real world for brief times and interact with physical objects to change the shadow world. As Game Boy detailed in his hands-on impressions, the demo ended with an encounter with a shadowy boss consisting of a swirling mass of hands.
I had to know more, so I jumped at the opportunity to sit down with the game's producer, Shinichi Kasahara, to unravel the mystery behind Lost in Shadow. Follow after the jump for the interview that became one of my E3 highlights of the show.
NaviFairy: What was your inspiration for Lost in Shadow?
Shinichi Kasahara (via translator): The whole process started about two years ago when our director Tsuchihashi saw kids playing shadow tag in the park, and that reminded him of when he used to play shadow tag growing up. It was really intriguing to him because kids in today's day and age have basically everything and anything super advanced to play with and these kids were entertained by, essentially, nothing but shadows. So it gave him an idea, and he brought it up at the staff meeting, and everybody else got really excited by the idea of going back to 2D content but still having a 3D art direction. So we wanted to challenge the gamer's sensibility for a different gaming experience.
NF: Can you give me a brief overview for the story in Lost in Shadow? Why is the boy climbing the tower?
SK: The game starts out at the top of this mysterious tower, and we keep you guys in the dark specifically because we want there to be a sense of mystery. It is on purpose that we keep you in the dark. The entire story is about the boy's shadow wanting to be reunited once again with his body, so you are essentially following him all the way from the bottom of the tower back up to the top of the tower. But you obviously find that the story, in and of itself, and the tower, is more than that. You find that there is a background story, a little sad, a little mysterious, a little scary, and that's what you're supposed to find out along the way.
NF: It definitely seemed like a more mature storyline. Were there any worries about bringing a more mature game like that to the Wii?
SK: (laughs) Yeah, we definitely realize that it's a bit of a departure for Hudson in general to go toward that art direction and storyline. But we still felt like, relatively, we still kept it friendly and approachable yet different. And we felt like it's been a while since the Wii as a console came out, and we feel that it's a matter of time that some of the games explore a little bit more mature, a little bit more grown-up, in terms of direction and the concept of the story. So we wanted to be one of the forerunners of that trend, and we felt like we still gave it a pretty good combination of all of that balance.
NF: The health system in the game, where it's based on the grams of a soul, is very interesting. How did that idea come about?
SK: Originally we were really inspired by the weight of the soul being 21 grams, and thought that it would be really interesting to turn that into the weight of a shadow. Like if the soul were a spiritual gauge then the weight of a shadow is maybe a gauge of your darker side. We really liked the idea of keeping you intrigued, and I guess in that sense we've achieved that goal a little bit.
NF: A lot of people might not realize just from seeing trailers of it that it's actually a fairly lengthy adventure game. It's presented as a side-scroller, which typically is associated with shorter platforming games, but could you tell me about some of the adventure elements in the game?
SK: It was one of those things where the design of the game based on this whole 3D art direction but the gameplay being 2D, yet you still need to keep the 3D dimension of it all in mind in terms of creating the shadow and the path. We got really excited about it and thought that in order for us to incorporate all of the elements that we ever came up with, that we really loved, it ended up being a pretty lengthy game. And we didn't want to necessarily take out some of the clever areas and clever stages that we came up with, so rather than cutting it short and presenting it as something else we just decided to put it all in one and let you be the judge to see if you like the work that we've done.
NF: So about how would you say the game would take to complete?
SK: From start to top?
SK: Probably on average about 30-40 hours.
NF: Were there any other games that helped inspire the development of Lost in Shadow? When playing it games like ICO and even something like the Zelda or Metroid games came to mind.
SK: Of course us being gamers, we're fans before we're creators, so we have played all of the games and certainly we have studied them with the eye of a creator. But I wouldn't say that there is a particular game that influenced us greatly one over any other. If anything we would probably attribute inspiration from actually a real-life tower in Tokyo that has been abandoned, and that's more where a lot of the art direction came from. In terms of the concept of using a shadow as the basis for building a game that was really not inspired by anything else in games.
NF: Are there any final words you would like to say to our readers about Lost in Shadow?
SK: We are hoping that the aesthetics of the game will initially draw people in, but in the end we want the gameplay itself to speak for the game and what our creative vision was. We're really hoping that this will be the start of a series, and we're hoping that once people get to play the game we'll see what they think and give us feedback so we can make it even better and come up with more creative ideas. So we really hope that everyone gets a chance to play it and check it out.
NF: And when will it be released so that we can all check it out?
SK: It's scheduled for this coming fall.