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Moon Diver: 'This type of game used to dominate arcades'

Planner and producer talk Strider, platforming and the side-scrolling genre...

Square Enix's Moon Diver is the latest game from Kouichi "Isuke" Yotsui - whom Capcom fans will remember as the planner for Strider - and Takehiro Ando.

Moon Diver is developed by Feelplus, the studio behind No More Heroes: Heroes' Paradise, Blue Dragon Plus and Lost Odyssey, which it co-developed alongside Mistwalker. It's latest title combines classic co-op side-scrolling action with high-quality visuals and production.

We sat down with Moon Diver planner Koichi Yotsui and producer Takehiro Ando to talk about their upcoming game, the influences behind Moon Diver and more...

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Moon Diver was previously known as Necromachina, why did you decide to change the name?

Takehiro Ando : We thought that Moon Diver might be an easier title to memorise. It was a big decision for us to give up on the original title but I believe it was a necessary as one of the most effective ways to promote DLC is viral marketing and word of mouth.

Where did the idea for Moon Diver originally come from?

TA: At the time of conception there were strong signs of a revival of 2D-scrolling action games on PSN and XBLA. This type of game used to dominate game arcades in the 80s and early 90s and one of the classics from this era is Strider, created Koichi Yotsui. I was aware that he had left his mark on the genre in a big way and wanted to get him involved with my plans to revive it.

What are the core gameplay mechanics of Moon Diver? How would you describe it to someone who has never seen or heard of it before?

TA: You play as a member of the crack team of Ninjas called Moon Divers. The basic mechanics are similar to classic 2D-scrolling action games, moving from left to right taking on as many enemies in a row as possible. The game is designed to enable the player to execute dynamic actions using simple controls to easily dashing up walls, hang from the ceiling and jump and cling to the next building.

An important feature of the game is co-op play which can involve up to 4 players. You can drop-in to help other players at any time and from anywhere. You can leave the party at any point, too and you can play either online or offline. The game also has an RPG element. EXP points are collects when killing enemies which can be used to improve HP, MP or your attacking moves.

You've got both a single-player and co-operative mode in Moon Diver. How does the game change based on the two modes.

TA: The game plays very differently in the single-player and co-op modes. The single-player mode has a lot of play value which can satisfy even determined action gamers whereas I would expect that the COOP mode will be mainly used in a party. I like to think that another play style might be observed if 4 proficient players play the multiplayer mode together. The game is designed to realise a really deep and aesthetically pleasing multi-player mode.

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What are the benefits to playing cooperatively? Are there any changes to the mechanics when more than one player is involved?

TA: As an example you and 3 other players can team up to produce a laser net and lure your enemies into it. There is also the ability to divide attacking and recovering roles and some of the players specialise in offensive or defensive gameplay styles.

From trailers it looks like Moon Diver will be quite difficult, is it fair to say that? If so why did you design it to be difficult for the player to play and what benefits does that bring to the game?

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