Cosmic Fantasy is a relatively unknown series of four RPGs by Telnet released for the PC Engine. Kazuhiro Ochi is an animator who tried his hand at game design, though he never made anything past the Cosmic Fantasy series. This short interview covers how Ochi came to Telenet, his design process for Cosmic Fantasy, and some of his thoughts on gaming generally.

Cosmic Fantasy fansite

Cosmic Fantasy – 1992 Developer Interview

with creator/designer Kazuhiro Ochi

Joining Telenet

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Yuu, the hero of the first Cosmic
Fantasy, never released in the West.

Telenet didn’t contact me first; it was I who reached out to them. At the time Telenet was running a series of wanted ads in Login magazine. I had been thinking I’d like to get into games, and Telenet looked like a company where I’d get to do animation, so I contacted them directly. Based on their response, I think they were wondering who the heck I was. (laughs)

Telenet first gave me a copy of Death Bringer to play, and after that, they had me help out on the visual scenes for the FM Towns game Cyber City. With Cyber City our process was that they sent me what they were working on, then I would draw cels and send them back.

At the time Telenet’s subsidiary Shin-Nihon Laser Soft was just getting started, and they decided to make Valis as their first game. I worked on that project in the beginning. However, personally I wasn’t really into games with female heroes. (laughs) So I gave that work to my colleague Nabeshima, and then Telenet asked me if I’d like to work on a game of my own, doing the story and everything from the ground up–that became Cosmic Fantasy.

My copyright for Cosmic Fantasy extends only to the characters. I’m also credited for the story, but Telenet made the actual game. Basically, we sort of have a 50/50 ownership of the copyright.

Designing Cosmic Fantasy

My process for Cosmic Fantasy was a little unusual; basically, I created the characters first. For both Cosmic Fantasy 1 and 2, I had already created the characters before the development began. They weren’t created with the intention of putting them in a game; having the characters made first, I then crafted the script and story according to what the game required. We’re talking about doing Cosmic Fantasy 3 next year, and this will be the first time I haven’t made the characters first. (laughs)

I mainly did the key frame animation on Cosmic Fantasy, but I also did a lot of the in-between (douga) drawings too. I did notice some discrepancies between the finished pixel-art characters and the anime scenes… but not being a true anime work, that’s a dilemma you always face. The technology for games has improved tremendously, though, and I think more amazing things are waiting to be created.

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Cosmic Fantasy was also made into an anime OVA.

As for the secret of Cosmic Fantasy’s popularity, I can offer up one guess. I think it might be the very cute design. When Cosmic Fantasy came out, it was very popular for games to feature realistic characters, reminiscent of a slightly earlier generation of manga; for Cosmic Fantasy, I ventured to go in the opposite direction. Thankfully this was well-received by players, so I think that might be it.

Adventure Games

I’ve been playing games since the NEC PC-6001, so about 10 years now. For a long time I didn’t touch the Famicom, but as soon as I did, I fell in love with it. Personally, though, RPGs like Cosmic Fantasy are not forte. (laughs) Too many of them are kind of shallow and lacking in any depth. Adventure games are my favorite genre.

Since beginning work in the games industry I’ve stopped playing games much, but I still love Nobunaga’s Ambition, a game that takes almost 40 minutes to load from tape on my 6001. I love it because it’s so hard. (laughs)

Likewise, a lot of the adventure games from that period are just brutal. (laughs) Stuff like T&E’s Star Arthur series didn’t have the command system people are used to today; you had to type your commands in to get anywhere, a really insane system. But that very difficulty, again, is what made those games so memorable.

The truth is, personally, I wanted to make Cosmic Fantasy an adventure game too. But of course I had to take the plans and needs of Telenet into account. (laughs) And many players have a prejudice against adventure games.

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Aside from the cachet of Ochi, Cosmic Fantasy was a standard JRPG of its time.

Future Plans

I finally bought a Megadrive recently. Sonic the Hedgehog is great. I couldn’t get to the end (laughs), but that sense of speed is amazing.

I’m planning to write a Cosmic Fantasy novel after this. I’ll have to re-arrange some things to make it a novel, so the story will be a little different, but basically it will begin from the first Cosmic Fantasy game. Then I want to introduce some unique content for the novel, tying together the first and second game, and creating more of a unified, overall world for Cosmic Fantasy.