Following on from last weekend's brief chat with Cryptic Studios' Jack Emmert, we've had another response to our round of post-top 50 emails - this time from Hiroyuki Kamakami, producer of our eighth-favourite game of 2005, Zoo Keeper, who took some time out from his duties at developer Success Corp. to sling back a few answers.
Eurogamer: There are various games that use the same sliding tiles gameplay as Zoo Keeper, but in bringing it to the DS you seem to have found a perfect control system to make the best of it. Why do you think it works so well?
Hiroyuki Kamakami: The game system had almost been completed, as we had basic know-how on GBA and PS2. Therefore we did not have to re-develop a DS version from the beginning and took advantage to pursue adding in the distinctive characteristic of DS. For example, the stylus control is much faster than normal d-pad control, so it sped up the gameplay successfully. However, this function took us time for timing adjustment and debug.
Eurogamer: At Eurogamer, we've played the Time Attack mode more than anything else - probably all year! What is the highest score you're aware of anybody achieving, and what's the highest score on the team?
Hiroyuki Kamakami: Unfortunately we have no records of high scores, but I have seen one of debug staff achieved extremely high scores above anyone else. However, we estimated that the player might achieve higher scores than us, so we put in enough space for higher scores.
Eurogamer: Were there things in the game you would have done differently in hindsight?
Hiroyuki Kamakami: We wanted to add different modes or game rules, but if we would have done that, it might have made its gameplay complicated. I believe that DS version of Zoo Keeper to be one of the few among other DS titles released so far in terms of simplicity and player-friendly design.
Eurogamer: When I was at the Tokyo Game Show in September, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata spoke of how developers were able to create really interesting games really quickly on the Nintendo DS, citing games like Brain Exercises as an example. Is that what attracted you to work on the platform, and how long did Zoo Keeper take to develop from start to finish?
Hiroyuki Kamakami: The development timeframe of DS is very attractive. A big reason for us to select Zoo Keeper was that we thought that we could get it completed in time for the DS launch. It took about approximately four months to complete.
Eurogamer: Finally, apart from Zoo Keeper obviously, what was your favourite game of 2005, and why was it special to you?
Hiroyuki Kamakami: Personally, I cannot say which is the best one, but if I may say, there were many attractive titles released in 2005 and DS was one of the biggest things for me.