Namco Banda talk Fragile Dreams

With Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon recently released in North America and hitting Europe today, we thought it would be a good time to get in touch with some of the guys at Namco Bandai in order to find out a little more information about this rather unique Wii title.

Kentaro Kawashima, Producer at Namco Bandai Games and Tomoni Tagawa, Director at Namco Bandai Games, were both kind enough to sit down and answer a few of our questions in this exclusive Nintendo Life interview. You can find out what they had to say to us below.

Nintendo Life: Having already had experience on next generation consoles while developing Eternal Sonata, why the switch to the Wii console to develop FRAGILE DREAMS?

Tomoni Tagawa: Well, we concluded that using the Wii controls was the best match when simulating using a flashlight to explore abandoned buildings. We figured it would bring more realism to the experience and also add a new facet to the gameplay.

Lush scenery

Also, our experience with the next-gen consoles definitely helped us make it possible to provide hi-res graphics on the Wii for this title.

NL: Can you tell our readers a little bit about the actual story line that unfolds throughout the game?

Kentaro Kawashima:: In FRAGILE DREAMS, you play as a young boy named Seto, who is the main character. With him as your guide you explore a desolate wasteland and the abandoned ruins of Tokyo as you search for any other surviving humans in the area. Along the way you also gather the lingering thoughts of those who used to live, embodied in the form of small objects that you can collect. Through your wanderings and the ‘memory’ items you find, the sad tale of what happened to the world is revealed.

Can you spot it?

NL: What about FRAGILE DREAMS: FAREWELL RUINS OF THE MOON sets it apart from the many other RPGs available for the console?

TT: Well, the emotional story and the fact that this story progresses through the main character’s adventure, does make it an RPG. However, the whole premise of FRAGILE DREAMS is to help the player experience something that cannot be categorized by a specific genre.

For example, this game can be the journey of trying to find the items left on an abandoned world by those who have passed on as you explore with a flashlight, or it can be the emotional experience of the user when they find and experience the thoughts of the dead.

NL: What does a controller like the Wii Remote bring to the table when it comes to developing the play control scheme of a game?

Character interaction

TT: Controlling with the Wii Remote definitely involves more of the player’s body than other controllers out today. Because of this, it helps the player get immersed in the game world, but at the same time, it also makes it more of a chore for the players to control. Our main focus was to keep the pros and ease the player’s experience on the cons.

NL: Does problem-solving play a key role in the overall gameplay?

TT: The overall difficulty of the puzzles is quite simple throughout the game. We’re hoping that players are able to connect with Seto as he explores the ruins and have time to see what he sees and hear what he hears, rather than running around to solve puzzles and missing out on the beautiful scenery and emotional experience.

We also added in puzzles unlike those found in current games out today. For example, Seto will play a game of hide and seek with an invisible girl early on in the game.

NL: How is the mini-speaker on the Wii Remote used in the game?

Dusk sets in...

TT: By holding the Wii remote vertically like a phone and putting it close to your ear, the player will be able to hear their in-game companions speaking to them. Additionally, sometimes the speakers will pick up sounds from elsewhere on the map. It works sort of like a radar and adds an element to the gameplay.

NL: The campfire moments where you examine mystery items left by deceased humans can be genuinely moving. How did this unique method of story development come about, as opposed to traditional elements such as letters, photographs etc.?

KK: I’m sure many people have experienced looking at a memorable object and just sitting there daydreaming about the time when you bought/received the item/gift.

We wanted to let the players experience something similar to that with the campfire sequence.

NL: We've heard that the game's audio was composed to go hand-in-hand with the game's various surroundings. Is this true and what prompted you to be do it this way?

Full moon

TT:We originally did consider making the game using just environmental sounds to create the atmosphere, but when you think about it, if you lived in a post-apocalyptic world without anybody around you, you wouldn’t hear any music let alone much sound. We figured it wouldn’t be very realistic for music to be a huge part of the gameplay.

However, if we had gone ahead with this concept, the game itself would have been extremely quiet. We also wanted to add some mood to the gameplay that would evoke certain emotions in the player such as fear, isolation, and courage. This is why we did eventually add some music, but we were also careful not to let the music stand out too much.

NL: Do you have any other projects for the Wii or DS that you're currently working on that you could tell us a bit about.

KK: Yes we certainly do, but everything is confidential at this time. My apologies.

NL: Is there anything you'd like to say to our readers in closing?

Beautiful character art

TT: FRAGILE DREAMS was created in hopes of letting players enjoy a new type of game experience while ignoring typical game boundaries.

We hope everyone enjoys exploring the wasteland and hopefully the images of the abandoned buildings will have some kind of nostalgic impact on players.

KK: I believe that if the game leaves even a shred of something emotional in your heart when you walk away from it, then we’ve succeeded, and that would make me ecstatic beyond measurement.

I bid you good luck on your journey with Seto, and here’s to hoping you find something special on your adventure.

We'd like to thank Kentaro and Tomoni for taking time out of their busy schedules to take part in this interview with Nintendo Life.