Jewelry Master Twinkle – Special Interview

Posted By at 9:00 AM on Monday July 27, 2015

The following interview was retrieved from Arika’s homepage. It was translated as a commission.

For those unfamiliar, Jewelry Master Twinkle is a puzzle game.

Jewelry Master Twinkle Series – Special Interview

Today, we present a special interview in commemoration of the release of an indie game for the Xbox 360 known as Jewelry Master Twinkle – Jewelry Master Twinkle Light.

This game is Arika’s first self-marketed Xbox 360 title. We put a variety of questions to the development staff.

Why don’t you start by telling us the events that lead up to the development of Jewelry Master Twinkle (JMT) and Jewelry Master Twinkle Light (JMTL)?

The original version (Jewelry Master, a download game for PC published on Arika’s homepage)* was released as a web game targeted towards the international market.

Its game system was solid, but, unfortunately, the rules were too difficult. Therefore, we started planning the game by trying to arrange it in a modern style.

This time around, we developed the interface simultaneously, so it was decided that we would add characters.

It was around that time that we were investigating in-house whether or not we could make a game that used character assets from Netto de Ron. Koike put his hand up and said “Let my team handle it!”, and he let us use his characters.

At the time of the new version’s release, it was presented as an XNA (indie game). Why was that?

We’d previously been requested by the company’s sales department to do periodic releases of game software overseas in order to acquire and preserve the Arika trademark outside of Japan.

It would’ve been a big project for us to do a regular packaged product, something we wouldn’t have been able to realize. However, it was suggested that using an XNA system that players all over the world would be able to download would allow us to do periodic software releases. That’s how it became what it is today.

What points did you fuss over during the development of the new game?

Regarding the arrangement of the game system, we had trouble devising rules that would be easy for the majority of players to understand while preserving the synthesis of gemstones according to the trichromatic light rule found in the original game.

Rules are the core of puzzle games. You can’t just make compromises on them, can you. What else?

Regarding the character and scenario system, in early development, we received a request from Nishitani, the president of the company. “Since we’re going to the trouble of using characters, I want you to put in variations in gameplay based on the character chosen.” It would be boring if all they did was change expressions, so we put in a system that diverged to match the girls’ moods.

We put a huge amount of fuss into creating a system that unfolded from Normal mode to Hard mode to Another mode, which involved several hundred lines from the girls while making sure we had no inconsistencies.

I’m sure there were a lot of things you fussed over and had trouble with, but if there was anything in particular that caused you a ton of headaches, please share it with us!

Like I mentioned above, adjusting the scenarios and game system caused us some trouble, naturally. As for something you wouldn’t expect, it was hell doing the appearance tests for each character’s hidden scenario.

We introduced the hidden scenarios in Normal mode during the sales campaign, so I’m sure there were a lot of people who knew about them already. Actually, we also did hidden scenarios for Hard and Another mode. That being said, getting them to appear is outrageously difficult. When I finally got them to appear after hours upon hours of playtime, I immediately locked the replay data so I wouldn’t accidentally screw up and delete it.

…In any case, the requirements for getting them are really tough, so we encourage truly dedicated players to give it a try.

There are three female characters that appear in JMT. Which did you like in particular?

I loved how ruthless Naoko was.

I see. [Laughs] Next, why don’t you tell us about some other tidbits from development?

When we were doing in-house play tests, we kept getting people who were crazy about cultivating giant gemstones, with no understanding of the rules. “Whoa! Putting them together and making them bigger is really fun. But how do we make them disappear?!”, they’d say.

I’d love to see the scenarios you really fussed over. Please share some tricks to getting better!

New players should be aware of the technique of placing red and green stones vertically. It will make things much better once gemstones disappear.

How about techniques for getting high scores?

Even if you make sliding long gem clusters, it will be difficult to get a high score.

You should try making large square clusters, around 5×5, and stringing them together. Try breaking 1,000,000 points in Normal mode.

Earlier, you mentioned some hidden scenarios. Can you tell us how to get them?

I’ll give you a little hint…

On Normal mode, if you try to get better, one will naturally appear.

On Hard mode and Another mode, there’s one that won’t appear if you don’t deviate completely from regular gameplay. The rest are secret!

Too bad! I’ll have to give those a try later. By the way, what would you say is the game’s chief selling point?

The fact that it’s a beautiful puzzle game.

Puzzle games tend to have gameplay that stoically follows theories to their logical conclusions, but in JMT, you can also enjoy the evil [laughs] goals of progressing the storyline and changing the characters’ costumes.

What’s the difference between the regular version and the light version?

As the name suggests, the light version’s rules are geared towards beginners. We hope that the players who find the game interesting will give the regular version (Twinkle) a shot.

What reactions did you see from players?

Koike’s characters had a big influence. It seems like people were crazier about progressing the storyline than the game itself.

This title is an indie game, and I’m sure it has players all over the world. Did you notice a difference in the reactions of Japanese players and foreign players?

I feel that the sense of difficulty greatly differs between the Japanese and international versions.

People have said the same thing since the days of arcade games, but the international audience are more permissive to greater levels of difficulty…

We heard a number of complaints from Japanese players regarding the difficulty of JMT, while on the other hand, we hardly had any from foreign players. This made us worry.

It’s not that our only goal is to make a difficult game, of course, but if all goes well, we do want a game that players feel they can sink their teeth into.

Thank you for answering all of our questions. How about we finish off with a message to the players?

Once you become proficient at the scenarios, please try to get a high score! The game will gradually become more interesting as you play through for additional challenge!


Illustrations: Teimichi Koike

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