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Yoshio Sakamoto is one of my favorite developers. I respect him and his vision in gaming. That vision is what created the Metroid series, including the once-in-a-lifetime gem called Super Metroid, and the wacky and original WarioWare series. Think of when WarioWare was first revealed. If not for the promises of journalists who had hands-on playtime we would have waved it off for the looney bin. Huh? You get three seconds to pick someone’s nose or trap an insect in a cage? How could that be fun? But, the madness was something we couldn\’t have envisioned ourselves and only once we actually sat down and gave it a play-through did we understand the appeal. Now, the WiiWare series is already considered a classic franchise.

I think it’s the same with Sakamoto’s newest project: Kiki Trick. Sakamoto hasn\’t had a chance to work on any other games in his career other than Metroid and Wario (plus the original Kid Icarus design.) This is his chance to try something new and it’s prudent we give him a fair shot.

So, how does Kiki Trick work? Think of how WarioWare works. Your eyes have a split second to register the image that flashes on the screen. Instantly your brain has to translate what’s happening on screen and send the proper instructions to your hands to perform. It’s a game of reflexes and hand-eye-coordination. You could probably call Kiki Trick a game of hand-ear coordination. Yes, most games rely on your eyes to interpret the \”solution\” to the game. The music is just in the background to set the mood. But, in Kiki Trick, the audio in the game is what determines the path forward. The sounds instruct your brain and hands how to respond.

How about some examples? (These are all taken from Iwata’s demonstration of the game.)

Imagine you and four friends huddle closely to the screen. You each listen carefully waiting to be the first to hear the correct phrase. Four phrases show up on screen. You read them all and get ready to figure out which one matches to the sound you\’re about to hear. Suddenly, the game plays a sound; it’s a crowded subway station with a train pulling in and people talking. But, one conversation is louder than the others. You hear someone say a sentence. You\’re brain quickly tries to decipher what was said over the clamor and choose the phrase that seems like it fits before everyone else. The problem is that all four phrases are somewhat similar and it’s hard to tell which one is the right one. If you choose incorrectly, you\’ll be eliminated! As each round goes on, it becomes apparent who has the best ear for interpreting sounds.

That’s just one example. In another mini-game you\’ll see four video playing out simultaneously. During playback you\’ll hear a sound. Now, you have to guess which video was appropriate to the sound. Imagine you hear a sharp squeaking noise and you\’re shown a video of a chair being pulled across a floor, chalk scraping across a blackboard, a car pulling into a driveway, and an animal making a sound. Which one did the squeak come from?

A third mini-game had players choosing from a selection of sounds to go along with a man eating ramen. Players had to make appropriate choices from the eight sounds given as to which one fits the situation the most.

Other examples are:

-Listening to “wonderful voices”- They sound like noise at first but suddenly begin to sound like a human speech.

-“Noise and its associates”- Players try to comprehend variously processed voices with the help of letters and contexts.

-Mimi (‘ear’) pro: Players try to follow voices in eight difficult situations, such as in a noisy place or while the speaker is laughing.

-Kikitori battle: This is a competitive multi-player mode up to four players consisting of five games, such as Soramimi (‘mishearing’) karuta, where you grab from a set of cards displaying aurally similar words (American English example: metal or mellow), the card that corresponds with what the \”wonderful voice\” has said.

-Sound goods: 15 unlockable weird contents featuring sounds.

 

We can be sure there will be many, many different mini-games each with its own quirky or funny premise. Many people have already written it off in complete confusion as to how the game works, but I think we shouldn\’t be too hasty.

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