Clockwork Knight – 1995 Developer Interview
This small, fun interview with Noriyoshi Ohba, the producer of Clockwork Knight, was originally featured in Sega Saturn Magazine (the successor to the famous BEEP! and BEEP! Megadrive publications). The interview actually takes place just before the release of Clockwork Knight 2. In a goofy twist, the magazine editor thought it would be fun to dress up as Tongara and roleplay his character through the interview.
Noriyoshi Ohba – Producer
—How do you feel, now that Clockwork Knight 2 is completed?
Ohba: It was a lot of fun. And we were able to do a lot of new stuff. For this game, we aimed our sights at a wide group of users, from kids to adults. Women too. We also made it pretty easy.
Tongara: Yeah, it was a little too easy! It wasn’t quite the grand adventure that a great knight like me deserves!
Ohba: Clockwork Knight was one of our launch titles for the Sega Saturn, so it took us over a year to create. But when you consider that this was brand new hardware that no one had used, I guess it went pretty fast! It was a big challenge.
—Yeah, you can really feel the passion and dedication, especially in the opening CG.
Ohba: Oh man, that CG movie took sooo long to create. Almost 6 months! Then we had to add music for it too. We recorded and produced the song at Sega’s in-house digital studio, actually. It’s kind of amazing, to be able to do that kind of professional music recording at Sega offices. (laughs) I thought the song was really good too. It matched the visuals quite well, and the country style evoked the suburban American landscape.
Tongara: I heard Soltia was being a little diva, and made the whole thing take forever! Not my sweet Chelsea though… that’s what I love about her. <3
—Did Clockwork Knight always take place in a fantasy world of toys, or was it different at first?
Ohba: Actually, yeah, in the beginning it was more of a traditional sword and sorcery fantasy game. The visuals and stuff were much darker. It was really different—pretty much all that remains from those early plans is the fact that the characters wear armor…!
—So it was a more serious fantasy game then?
Ohba: Yeah, more serious, and there were traps and such. The world and the characters were not at all friendly or appealing… it went through a lot of revisions, but they all ended up being failures. Then we made a 180 degree switch to a world of toys, and after that, things started happening very fast. First, that kind of a world just seemed like a lot of fun. And another consideration was that up to then, many of Sega’s games kind of had a reptuation for being for “hardcore” gamers. We released a lot of arcade ports, and we worried our userbase was going to be too limited if we continued in that way.
The Panzer Dragoon team, in contrast, was focused on showing off the power of the new Sega Saturn hardware. For Clockwork Knight, even though we dabbled in new technology for the CG movies and such, we weren’t super serious about it. (laughs)
—How old is Tongara?
Ohba: You’ll have to ask him directly. (laughs)
Tongara: I’m 26… more or less! And I’m single, by the way.
—The names for the characters all come from cooking spices, don’t they?
Ohba: Yeah. For our hero “Tongara de Pepperouchau III”, Tongara is a chili pepper, and Pepperouchau means pepper. His father’s name, Oneonin is onion. His grandfather “Galuch” comes from garlic. The rival night, Gingaa is ginger. Only Chelsea is different. I believe that’s just a name that her designer loved. Oh, and the other girl, Soltia, is named after salt.
—Was there some special meaning to these names, or…?
Ohba: No, not particularly. It was just for a gag, and we wanted some unity to the naming. The idea to use spices just came to us one day. I guess Tongara is kind of a crazy character when you think about it.
—He has a hexagonal nose!
Tongara: ‘Tis the distinguished mark of my family, going back generations!
Ohba: His creator made it that way so it wouldn’t roll away off the desk like a pencil when he was constructing him. (laughs)
—I’ve also noticed that a lot of the characters in Clockwork Knight have ruddy cheeks…
Tongara: That is the distinctive style of the master crafstman who created us. I am currently living with the boy Kevin, but I used to belong to his father. I understand that our people would fetch a high price in the market, but we were too dear to sell. My beloved Chelsea, by the way, is Betsy’s most prized possession. <3
—How has the work on the sequel been going, otherwise?
Tongara: The development team was working in the floor of my room, busying themselves about and causing a real noisy ruckus!
—Will there be new gameplay elements in the sequel…?
Ohba: I don’t know how much I should say, but… A lot of people who saw Tongara and Ginger riding their beloved steeds BaroBaro and Silver in the opening CG have requested we add features like co-op, or the ability to ride your horse. Well, I can say that we added one of those. I’m sure people looking at the pictures in this feature will be able to figure out which we added. (laughs)
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