Lovers of Japan – The Story of Momodora
The Momodora series is a beautiful yet challenging foray into the world of Japanese video gaming culture.
Those who have played the four games in the series – Momodora I, II, III, and Reverie Under The Moonlight (RUtM) – will tell you that they’re bloody difficult; but they’ll also tell you that they love them, and that the divine sense of fulfillment which comes with completing them is well worth the struggle.
I spoke to Momodora’s creator, rdein, about the games, their development, and the future of the series. Here’s what he had to say:
JM: You say that the original Momodora is somewhat of a love letter to games like Mega Man and Cave Story, why those two in particular?
rdein: Back when I was making the first Momodora, I had no experience or knowledge of making games. I just wanted to try putting something together for fun, so I was heavily inspired by the games I played a lot back then. That’s pretty much all there is to it!
What other video games have played a part in the development process?
It’s hard to say, because I’m inspired by many things. My other big influences are the Castlevania series and the Souls series.
Momodora is a series steeped in Japanese culture; is this something you’ve always loved?
I grew up watching anime on television, playing video games and reading manga, so it’s always been part of my life. Because of that, the games I make have some influences from Japanese culture, too.
Is there a specific manga/anime you’d recommend our audience have a look at?
“Kakukaku Shikajika” (かくかくしかじか) by Akiko Higashimura was the last thing I read that had a big impact on me.
You have a strong and dedicated fanbase, how important has that been in promoting and shaping the series?
I’d say it’s been very important, and for that I am very grateful. Each piece of fanart we receive, or any encouragement really, fuels us to keep making these games.
Is their one moment in particular – a certain level, a boss fight – that stands out as your favourite?
The “Pardoner Fennel” fight in Momodora: RUtM is probably my favorite.
(Check out this YouTube video by Wolvaroo, if you want to see rdein’s favourite fight in action!)
What’s the biggest hurdle you’ve encountered while making the series, and how did you overcome it?
Probably finishing Momodora III. That game gave us a lot of trouble, and was scrapped and re-developed from scratch multiple times. It took around 3 years to be finished. At many points I simply wanted to give up on it, as I felt it was not good enough. I changed some core design aspects and decided to stick with it, we made it through.
Your latest release, Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight, has an ‘Overwhelmingly Positive’ review rating on Steam, just how proud are you of that game and the positive feedback it’s received?
It’s great! I could not be more grateful. Momodora: RUtM was a game we put a lot of love into with the goal of making something better than the previous instalments. In that sense, it feels like we’ve achieved what we wanted.
Despite its linear structure, the items in ReverieUtM allow the player much more freedom than ever before when it comes to making progress, is this kind of variation something you were keen to include?
I designed the paths in the game so you could play areas in different orders once you got to the midpoint of the second area. I thought it’d be interesting if there was an unclear path to follow. The item system is an updated version from Momodora III, and meant as a support to the combat gameplay.
ReverieUtM is also a pretty tough game to complete, how difficult is it to strike a balance between challenge and reward – presenting a trial to the player but also ensuring he/she doesn’t become frustrated by a lack of progress?
I often say this is the hardest part, because as the creator you are the one person who knows every single trick the game is going to pull on the player. Balancing is a difficult process that depends on playtesting the game thoroughly, and gathering feedback from people who are not familiar with it.
Will there be another Momodora release?
While it would not be difficult for me to come up with sequels to the games, I do not want to confirm anything at the moment.
Any tips for budding video games developers out there?
Do not give up! Seriously.
Do you have any other projects planned for 2016?
For now, the only thing planned is a console release of Momodora: RUtM.
Final Verdict: The Momodora games are a must play for fans of titles such as Mega Man, Castlevania and Shovel Knight – as well as any gamers with a deep interest in anime and manga. Don’t be fooled by their cutesy Japanese art-style, things turn dark and difficult very quickly indeed.
For the definitive Momodora experience, I recommend picking up Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight. It’s by far the most polished game of the series and you don’t need any previous experience to appreciate its profound and emotional plot – oh and if you buy it, rdein promises you his eternal love!
Head over to www.bombservice.com or Steam to buy the games!
I’ve been Jay Michael, you can find me on Twitter @Jayswriting and on the Rooster Teeth Website at JayMichaelWriting. Special thanks to rdein for taking the time to answer my questions.