Interview: Konami Mobile's Roadmap
Frogger turns 25 this year, and Konami Mobile is going to ensure that everyone knows it...
2006 will be remembered as The Year of the Frog, if Konami and Konami Mobile get their way. The green, car-dodging mascot turns 25 this year, so to help celebrate Konami has plans for both young and old in mind - from T-shirts at Hot Topic, to an appearance at the St. Patrick's Day parade.
Much like Namco's Pac-Man line-up of mobile titles, Konami has expanded the Frogger franchise, allowing it to make up a large portion of the company's mobile business. Frogger, Frogger Puzzle, and soon Frogger for Prizes are all options mobile Frogger fans have available to them.
Konami Mobile isn't content to let Frogger hog all of the spotlight, however. The company's current line-up includes other retro ports such as Castlevania, Gradius, and Track and Field, and in 2006 a handful of new IPs will be debuting as well. Modojo spoke with Konami Mobile's Director of Marketing Cathy Tische about Konami Mobile's history, its roadmap, and about balz.
Like virtually every other console publisher creating a mobile presence, in its early years Konami Mobile relied heavily on its back library of NES titles. These recognizable brands helped the company establish a relationship with carriers, as well as consumers. Konami's mobile history isn't quite the same as some of their competitors, however,
"Konami titles have been available in the US for over two years now, but they were originally released via third parties," Tische explained. "In April 2005 Joe Morris was named VP of mobile and Konami's mobile division was created in Century City. We also have a development house in Hawaii that is now employs about 30, allowing us to handle out QA and porting internally."
"We have led with our classic catalogue, and those titles have performed very well for us. Frogger is currently on Verizon's top sellers, and is a featured title on Cingular as well," Tische continued.
bullet]Playing with Balz
In 2006 the company does have plans to further extend its classic catalogue via more Castlevania, but the majority of its line-up consists of new IPs or more modern Konami hits reinvented for the mobile medium.
"We're very excited about a title that used to be called Tamakoro 3D, but was recently renamed Balz 3D. We tossed around a lot of potential names, and that's what ended up sticking," Tische said with a smile. "Our other 3D title is Cubic, which is a puzzle game sort of similar to a Rubik's Cube, requiring gamers to think on 3D. Balz has gamers rolling their ball through 3D labyrinths in the fastest time possible."
The other half of Konami's 2006 mobile roadmap is extensions of more modern titles and franchises, including two versions of DDR.
"A 2D DDR will be released at the end of this month, with a 3D version planned for August," Tische said. "A lot of people don't understand how a dancing game can be ported to mobile, but it works really well. Key presses have replaces dance steps, and it works great. Future console DDR marketing campaigns will be tagged with DDR mobile, as well. We're selling ringtones for the songs appearing in the game, as well."
Frogger Through the Years
Konami has many events for Frogger's big two-five planned, but arguably the coolest is their 25th anniversary game, slated for release this summer. It's a combination of old and new-school design that hopefully more mobile publishers will attempt, in the future.
"Frogger 25th Anniversary Edition is actually really cool. When you begin the game it looks like classic Frogger, but the farther you get into it things begin to change and get more modern, until by the end the game is very modern-looking," Tische said. "It's an innovative interactive way to examine the history of the franchise. We're sure fans will love it."