Developer Interview: Meowza Games

Meowza Games, the studio behind the gobsmackingly gorgeous upcoming Mineko’s Night Market, consists of a brilliant married couple located in Vancouver, Canada. Owner Brent Kobayashi is an artistic legend, and the combined forces of him and his wife are the fuel behind this indie rocket that’s already jetting to stardom. We had the delightful opportunity to speak with Meowza Games about the truly important things in life: games, cats, and takoyaki.

Meowza Games Logo

|| What inspired the charge into the video game fray as husband-and-wife duo, Meowza Games? We understand that artist and owner Brent Kobayashi had been in the industry for some time before the studio was born. Why a studio partnership? Why now?

We’ve worked together in past doing various art collaborations, selling handmade goods online and at craft shows, so we’ve always had a foundation of working together. When we came up with the rough idea for Mineko’s Night Market, we just felt like we were in the right place in our personal and professional lives to see it through. Almost like deciding to have a baby—expensive, rewarding, and a whole bunch of crying.

|| How did the idea nugget for Mineko’s Night Market first form? Had the thought of the game been brewing for a long time before its official announcement? Or rather, was it an idea that was had, and then almost immediately acted upon? What brought it on?

There’s a local Night Market out here in Richmond, BC, that we were heavily inspired by. We mocked up what a night market game could look like and we posted the fake game concept on Twitter. We realized that we couldn’t help thinking up idea after idea for the game, and felt like the game was starting to take a life of its own and designing itself. We had to step in and make the game before it ran off without us.

|| In what way can we look forward to Japanese culture and tradition being woven into Mineko’s Night Market? The island on which the title takes place is said to be Japanese-inspired, and that theme seems to be evident in the trailer visuals, as well.

We play heavily on Japanese folklore, yet, not using any particular tale verbatim but rather explore the concept of folklore in Japanese society. We are also very liberal in the number of ways we pepper in Japanese activities into the game like tea ceremonies you can perform, themed festivals you can attend, and sumo wrestling matches to participate in. We definitely want the game to have a Japanese feel in every corner of the world while maintaining the character of our own unique world.

|| Why takoyaki? We hear Brent might be threatening to drop everything and become a takoyaki chef one day.

It’s octopus. In a ball. Is there a better dream?

|| Will Grampy Katz in: The Big Date ever enjoy a full release? Made in 72 hours for Ludum Dare, Grampy Katz in: The Big Date is a delightful showcase of Brent’s talent. Can we look forward to an expanded title?

We still enjoy the premise of the game and have had discussions on how to expand Grampy Katz into a full title. Unfortunately we don’t have a lot of time to devote to it right now, but maybe in the future we can go back to helping senior citizens find love.

|| Why art for games? The style utilized by Brent in Mineko’s Night Market and previous entries is delectably memorable, to say the least. Why video games, instead of another medium?

My (Brent) first dream was to go into comics. I’ve always been more interested in stories and jokes over art. Art has always been more a canvas to share these ideas with other people. When I got my first job in the games industry, I loved it, because I realized that games allowed a platform to tell some dumb jokes.

|| You can cat-ify any game from any generation. What is it? Imagine you can wave a wand-shaped cat toy and transform any game’s characters into a cast of felines. Who gets the special treatment?

The NHL series. Cats slipping and sliding as they try, and fail, to gain traction on the ice as they run amok chasing a puck is all I want in a game.