This month, we interviewed Kero Blaster and Cave Story creator Daisuke “Pixel” Amaya to learn more about the game, its history, and development. Check out the Japanese interview here!
Without further ado, let’s dive in!
1Print Games: Let’s talk about the origins of Kero Blaster. We know you decided to remake Gero Blaster into Kero Blaster, as you were not satisfied with how Gero Blaster turned out. How did you decide on Kero Blaster/Gero Blaster’s name, and perhaps tell us why you weren’t satisfied with Gero Blaster?
Amaya: When I was talking about Gero Blaster while waiting on some udon at a restaurant, my kid said “You shouldn’t talk about puke (‘gero’) at a restaurant,” which was how it began. Now, I feel that “Kero Blaster” was the best name for it after all, and I’m really satisfied with that name.
1Print Games: In 2010, a Developer’s Voice video for Cave Story was uploaded on the Wii’s Nintendo Channel. During one of the scenes we see a frog that looks like Hero. It would only be 3 years later we find out about Gero Blaster. Were you already planning for Gero Blaster at that time? Overall, how long did development take for Kero Blaster (if we include the time for Gero Blaster)?
Amaya: I tried looking for the old data, and the frog with the necktie popped up in 2000. Kero Blaster was the first game for which I had the idea to make this frog the main character. The cat character, who came as kind of a “set” together with the frog, has basically totally disappeared. (^ ^;
1Print Games: Many gamers and critics praised Kero Blaster for its amazing chiptune music, which you composed for the game. I myself am a huge fan of its soundtrack. Could you please tell us more about the process of making the music for the game? How easy was it for you to come up with ideas for Kero Blaster’s music?
Amaya: Even now, I still don’t have a set method of creating music, and I end up doing it totally by hand every time. Since there are no set rules like with programming, I’m able to make it however I want. I created the songs for Kero Blaster while looking at each stage once the stages were finished.
1Print Games: In Kero Blaster, there is a story taking place between Hero, Nanao, Sasuke, and Comomo. Some fans of your work have interpreted the story as part of your experience in life, while others thought of it as a story on Japanese work culture. Do you have anything to comment about that?
Amaya: As for event scenes, I’d like for each individual player to interpret them how exactly how the scenes make them feel.
1Print Games: Unlike Cave Story which was a solo project, you roped in Kiyoko Kawanaka to help with Kero Blaster’s stage design. Did Kawanaka-san assist in other ways for the development of the game, such as ideas and characters? We did spot a penguin that she drew to represent Hero as she wasn’t good with drawing.
Amaya: Main roles are listed in the end credits, but her ideas are actually reflected in all sorts of places throughout the game. She provided the basic ideas for the clock and the car boss, etc., and I also went ahead and took the penguin driving the handcar from a doodle Kawanaka made and stuck it in the game.
1Print Games: One thing that I like about Kero Blaster is the diversity of bosses – every boss feels different and you sort of learn how to take it down by combating other enemies earlier in the stage. They aren’t easy to beat, and they look very unique. How did you design these bosses and enemies?
Amaya: Not only the bosses, but the stages, the weapons and power-ups the main character obtains were also decided upon with consideration for players’ gradual skill development. As for everything else, I basically based stuff on the limited technological resources I had and the animations I was able to create with them.
1Print Games: When I was creating the various assets for the Kero Blaster physical edition, I couldn’t help but admire at the sheer amount of detail that you poured into the sprites and art assets. How much time did it take to create these for the game, and are there any interesting things to share about creating them?
Amaya: Is the artwork really that detailed? For Kero Blaster, I actually designed the characters with a really limited number of colors. That decision ended up getting a bit iffy as you progress through the stages, but still… (^ ^; For the rest, I basically just kept drawing stuff up as it became necessary. I don’t actually remember how long it took.
1Print Games: Were there any ideas that you wanted to include in Kero Blaster, but didn’t have the opportunity to do so?
Amaya: I had set a limit to development time, so I decided on what should be prioritized and how, and finished everything up from there. When getting into details, this could go on forever, but thinking back on it now the 12×12 text I wrote up one character at a time probably could’ve been done a bit better. However, around the end of development, “not creating bugs” became my number one priority, so I used up a ton of energy in the debugging process. I’m just happy that there were no fatal bugs popping up after release.
Thank you for reading our Kero Blaster interview! If you enjoyed reading our interview and haven’t played Kero Blaster, you might wanna consider purchasing our Kero Blaster Limited Edition for Nintendo Switch. Only 3000 copies are available!