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Interview: Thomas Kern (Monster Boy Producer)

Interview- Thomas Kern 4Wonder Boy fans are rejoicing at the news that a spiritual sequel to one of Sega’s most beloved franchises is on its way. Bearing virtually everything but the name, FDG Entertainment’s Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom will soon be adventuring onto the Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC. The game is being developed by the French studio Game Atelier should be released early next year. It’s a great time to be a Wonder Boy fan!

Sega-16 had a chance to speak with the one of the co-founders of FDG and the game’s producer, Thomas Kern. He was kind enough to give us some details on this highly anticipated title!

 

Sega-16: How did Monster Boy come about? Was it something that happened quickly, or had it been on your mind for some time?

Thomas Kern: It all started with a Kickstarter project called Flying Hamster 2 from Game Atelier which we really liked. The gameplay concept already borrowed from Wonder Boy but the characters were completely different. FDG Entertainment jumped in as a partner to finance it and make it happen. We all love good games here at FDG and it would’ve been a shame if this project would’ve died and get replaced by the next shooter or free-to–play game.

Things have really changed a lot since then! We got contacted by Ryuichi Nishizawa, the creator of Wonder Boy who also liked the Flying Hamster project and offered his support. It was fantastic! We came to an agreement and got access to assets from the whole series, just not the game title because Wonder Boy brand is owned by SEGA. So, we can really make this an official sequel – just not name it Wonder Boy.

Sega-16: The Wonder Boy/Monster World series is beloved by Sega fans. It’s great to see it return, even without the name. Was Sega ever contacted about possibly using the brand name, or did you decide to go on without it from the beginning?

Thomas Kern: SEGA is aware of this project but we didn’t show anything playable to them yet. We will approach SEGA with a playable build when it progressed to an excellent state. Right now I think anything can happen – we’re open to partner up with SEGA anytime, if SEGA is interested.

Interview- Thomas Kern 1Interview- Thomas Kern 2

Sega-16: How difficult has it been to maintain a between the series’ classic heritage and modern gaming tastes?

Thomas Kern: It is very difficult. It already starts with the graphics… Once you begin drawing everything in high resolution, you also notice that a lot of the charm of the classic games gets lost because ‘own imagination’ that completed the pixels to artwork in your head is no more. This got us into trouble because we noticed that we need to do more to make it look really cool and alive. That’s also one of the reasons we delayed the game and hired more graphics artists and animation specialists.

As for gaming tastes, I think the game will be a lot of fun also for this generation. One of our main targets is that players really finish the game. Fun and engaging all the time, super quick to start and jump right into the action and see quick progress. Nowadays, lots of games are overloaded with extras and stuff to do besides the normal game. We noticed this isn’t necessarily helping to make players finish the actual game.

Monster Boy is made to deliver the same experience that we had in the past when we popped in a cartridge and switched on our SEGA console. You reach the title screen very quickly and you play very quickly. The controls are super responsive and you make progress really quick. Furthermore we hired top musicians to work on the soundtrack. In my opinion, a very important ingredient to have fun while playing. A catchy soundtrack motivates me even more to play. How about you? So many legendary and catchy music pieces have been made on classic cartridge consoles.

Sega-16: How did Ryuichi Nishizawa join the project? Was he approached or did he contact you?

Thomas Kern: A Wonder Boy fan who found the Flying Hamster Kickstarter campaign actually initiated the contact between him and us. Thanks @ HardcoreGaming101. 🙂

Sega-16: The transformation mechanic in Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap made its world so much fun to explore. Monster Boy seems to be going for that style of play. Was this deliberate? Were you going for that type of gameplay?

Thomas Kern: Yes, we make use of transformations to find new places and explore the world. In our game we plan to allow the transformations anytime, once you unlocked a new character – you can hot-swap it.

Sega-16: How much larger would you say Monster Boy’s world is than previous WB/MW games?

Thomas Kern: About double the size.

Interview- Thomas Kern 3Sega-16: Will we see elements from other games in the series, like Wonder Boy in Monster Land or Monster World IV?

Thomas Kern: Yes, we borrow some elements and enemies. For example: The jumping coins and magic – more will be revealed later.

Sega-16: How did you get Sega fan favorite Yuzo Koshiro has come aboard to compose the game’s music?

Thomas Kern: We contacted him and asked him to join this project. He first refused because of his tight schedule with other projects, but we persisted. Ultimately, after we also had to delay the game’s release, Koshiro-san agreed as it was a possible timescale for him now.

Sega-16: Will there be any online features, like downloadable content?

Thomas Kern: We don’t plan any online features at the moment.

Sega-16: Do you think there’s a chance we might see a physical release of the game sometime in the future?

Thomas Kern: We would love to have a physical release. If the game will sell well, I believe it is possible

 

We’d like to thank Mr. Kern for taking the time to chat with us. We’d also like to thank Ms. Alexandra Köttig of FDG Ent.  for making this interview possible. Be sure to check out the Monster Boy development blog for the latest news on the game’s progress.

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