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Genki Interview with Ken Shimizu, producer of Jade Cocoon 2
Interview by Ubi Soft staff.

Can you please start by introducing yourself?
Ken Shimizu: Mr. Kenji Shimizu.

What is your position and responsibilities in the production of Jade Cocoon 2?
Ken Shimizu: I am a producer for Jade Cocoon 2. Also, I did 3D-library assembly for PlayStation 2.

What is your professional background? How and when did you get into the gaming industry?
Ken Shimizu: I was born in 1966 in Nagano, Japan. While attending Nagano High school, I was introduced to computer programming and it had a huge impact on me. Also, around the same time, I had gotten heavily into arcade games. Later that same year, I was admitted into the Musashi Institute of Technology, Electronic Communications department. In 1988, I graduated from Musashi Institute of Technology. In 1988, Ohira, now the director of Genki, was a senior member of the university club and invited me to work at SEGA Enterprises. I began working for SEGA as a programmer and I was involved in a project to expand arcade game development. However, in 1990 I left SEGA Enterprises and later that year, I started working for Genki.

While at Genki, I worked on titles such as: (Note: Japanese name of the titles listed below)
  • America Ultra Quiz (SFC) Main programming
  • Shutoko Battle '94 (SFC) Main Programming
  • Kileak, the Blood. (PSX) Main programming
  • Shutoko Battle 2 (SFC) Technology assistant
  • Kileak, The Blood 2 (PSX) Technology assistant
  • Jade Cocoon (PSX) Producer, programming
  • Shutoko Battle (DC) Car motion programming
  • Jade Cocoon the Best Producer
  • Shutoko Battle Zero (PS2) 3D library programming
  • Jade Cocoon 2 (PS2) Producer

Can you give us an overview/background story of Jade Cocoon 2?
Ken Shimizu: The stage is in the land of Barrel, 120-130 years after the first Jade Cocoon story. With the passing of time, the story of "Cocoon Master" was about to become legend, as the beasts of destruction were sealed by the hands of "the Chosen Ones" at Kemuel Temple. The light and darkness had united and the people of Nagi are finally freed from its curse...

However, the "Holy monsters" sealed inside "Wormhole Forest", the odd-dimensional forest that connects to Kemuel Temple, was beginning to show unusual signs. "Wormhole Forest" had begun to spawn a new life deep within the darkness of time and space. A mutative species born of the darkness, possessing great intelligence and able to mimic humans, was attempting to overtake the earth. They were called "Kalma."
Sensing the presence of Kalma, Levant, "the chosen one from the Light" and caretaker of Kemuel Temple had developed "Monster-attack formation", utilizing the Beast Amulet. This special attack technique gives magic power to a user to control beasts by using ancient technology, "Gehena Kalma." The new generation of Cocoon Masters, "Beasts Hunters", prepare for the day of battle against Kalma...

A fledgling Cocoon Master named Kahu admired the courage of the legendary "Cocoon Master" Levant, and made his way to Kemuel Temple. Under the instruction of Levant, Kahu underwent training to master his Beast Hunter license. During his trials Kahu was infected by the parasitic Kalma, who perceived the darkness in his soul. 'Those who invade the sleep of the holy, will conceive the cursed darkness,' said Kalma. This sinister warning and the parasitic nature of Kalma soon became apparent to Kahu, as he stood before his twin, a darker version of himself that was ready to fight.

In order to banish and seal the Kalma species, Kahu together with the fairy Nico, must enter into "Wormhole Forest" in search of the four "Orbs." These mystical orbs were once collected by chosen ones to seal the "Holy Monsters", now Kahu must search for these orbs nestled in the depths of odd-dimensional forest and summon the darkness which is consuming his body and defeat it before it devours him completely. This is where our story begins'

How long has the game been in development?
Ken Shimizu: We started the development of Jade Cocoon 2 shortly after we finished the localization for the original. So it has been 2 years and several months spent in development.

How many people worked on the Jade Cocoon 2 project? (i.e. artists, programmers)
Ken Shimizu: We had 10 working on programming, 10 in planning, 20 artists, with a total of 40 people.

What was your biggest challenge during the development process?
Ken Shimizu: There were two types of challenges, one of the problems stemmed from the fact that we were working on a new platform, and the second from the size of the game, which volume we had never experienced before. Because of various reasons it took a lot of time to compile a library of PlayStation 2 and it took time for us to judge on how much expression was possible or not. As a result, when we think about the initial game system, control and method of expression, it took tremendous effort and energy. Therefore, in this title it became necessary to rewrite the entire scenario even as it came close to completion. The result of this work has added longer gameplay time and contains incredible volume and depth to it. Moreover, there was a larger staff involved in this production process, so we had more parts that needed to be integrated and coordinated, making it fairly time consuming.

Can you give us a few examples of the new features in Jade Cocoon 2 compared to the original Jade Cocoon? Special game modes, mini-games, etc?
Ken Shimizu: Jade Cocoon 2 is greatly improved in almost all areas of the game. There is full voice over work throughout the game, which adds more impact and volume to the title. An enhancement to the Battle system allows 8 vs. 8 group battle, whereas 1 vs. 1 in the original version. In addition, breeding (mixing) involves aspects such as "skill" and "ability", enabling users to be much more strategic in the game play. In the original Jade Cocoon, a user can freely call upon one minion among three minions anytime, but in this version you can summon 3 minions out of 8 minions to participate in a battle simultaneously.

Can you describe the Combat System that's in place for Jade Cocoon 2? How has the gameplay/battle system been changed or tweaked from the original? Will the combat system in Jade Cocoon 2 be in real-time or, will it have a turn-based fighting system?
Ken Shimizu: Jade Cocoon 2 features a turn-based battle system, where you assign Divine Beasts onto a Beast Amulet consisting of a 3X3 matrix, whereas you can use up to 8 minions to battle. During battle, you can rotate the Beast Amulet to decide what course of action the Divine Beast will perform. Even though it is a simple system where you select four elements from four squares, it develops into highly strategic gameplay through the location of minions or configuration of skills. The maximum of 3 minions can participate in one turn, but the speed of each minion will affect the order of each minion's attack.

Can you explain to us the Divine Beasts/ Minion breeding system that is in Jade Cocoon 2 and the array of combinations that are available?
Ken Shimizu: There are many variations: 68 types, 268 species of Minions, (Divine Beasts), and there are 126 species of seed Minions that can be the basis of breeding. So there are total of 17 billion different patterns you can develop monsters.
68 x 126 x 126 x 126 x 126 = 17,139,221,568

What advantages does an advanced gaming system like the PlayStation 2, bring to this title?
Ken Shimizu: The biggest advantage is the enhancement in expression of the game. For example, it was absolutely impossible to recreate the world of Katsuya Kondo, who is the character designer, but we were able to do it with the PlayStation 2. Even from the character sketches, Kondo was very conscious of 3D expression in Jade Cocoon 2. Also, since the visuals of the PlayStation 2 are significantly improved, we were able to increase the number of minions that can be used during battle, and added smoother modeling and motion of the monsters. Furthermore, since the resolution rate was also increased, we were able to create user interface that is much more user friendly than before. As a final point, because of HDD and DVD, the data loading time has improved a lot and we were able to realize better game control.


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