Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A WARPed Retrospective: Part 2

 Welcome back, birds, to part two of B.P's Kenji Eno tribute! When last we saw our hero, he had already left behind a job at one developer, and would shutter his own studio a couple of years later. Had the embers of Kenji's dreams finally died out? Pfff! Of course not. If they did, we wouldn't have a Part 2 now, would we? So gird your loins, my avian amigos, and read on about the continuing adventures of the great Kenji Eno!

Part 2: The WARPed Tour

 Ok. So Kenji did the gig at Interlink. That didn't pan out. He started up EIM. That didn't fly, either. So, what do you do when you're an aspiring game developer and you've already found yourself dissatisfied with the last two jobs you've had? What any self-respecting eccentric would do: land a consulting job with a top shelf automotive magazine. And that's exactly what Kenji Eno would do for the next two years of his life. In the end, it would prove to be a wise choice for Eno, as a business trip to San Francisco, CA would be the catalyst for Kenji's re-emergence into the gaming scene.

 The event they traveled to was none other than the 1994 Macworld Expo. Deep within the very core of the Steve Jobs computing juggernaut, Kenji would marvel at the latest advances in CD-ROM technology and digital publishing. Their next stop would be at a convention called "Be-In". Kenji would go on to describe it as a "dark, twisted version of Macworld, where the creators were high on drugs." As the aforementioned drug addicts showcased their wares and side projects, Kenji found himself impressed with the atmosphere, and was pleased to realize that a game developer could actually be considered 'cool'. Also, Eno was quite shocked to see that the developers in attendance and the event's sponsors were quite supportive of one another. The one-two punch of Macworld and Be-In would give Kenji the motivation he needed. And on the plane ride home, he confided to the president of a publisher that he was ready to give video games another go. One thing led to another, and WARP was born.

 Kenji assembled a small team to take care of the technical stuff, while Kenji himself would be tasked with planning, directing, producing, and sound design. Now all he needed was a publisher for his work. Nintendo was an option, but the high cost of licensing and manufacture at the time wasn't something he could afford. So, Kenji decided to pay the newly formed Japanese branch of Trip Hawkins' company, 3DO, a visit. He found them to be very receptive, and their fees quite reasonable. Plus, 3DO was a San Fran based company, and Kenji was still high off the indie vibes from his visits to Macworld and Be-In. A couple two-tree deals were made, and the WARP/3DO era was officially underway.

 While WARP would end up releasing a single NES title in Japan, the forgettable Totsukegi Karakuri Megadasu!!, Trip'd (Flopon the Space Mutant in Japan) would serve as the virgin voyage of WARP in the States. And while you'd think it would have something to do with the founder of 3DO, it's actually an irreverent take on the classic puzzler Puyo Pop. It was here that Kenji would establish his quirky, off beat sense of style, featuring off the wall packaging and an instruction manual filled to the brim with complete nonsense. And pictures of the famous Mt. Fuji.

Next, WARP would tackle the legendary Chinese board game Mahjong in the Japan only release Oyaji Hunter Mahjong. WARP took the wackiness to the next level, placing the player in the role of the mighty Oyaji Hunter. You were tasked with preventing a perverted, middle aged man from having his way with an assortment of nubile young women by engaging in heated games of Mahjong. For this release, WARP would join forces with renowned Macross animator Ichiro Itano, who provided many whacked out cut scenes for the game.

Another Japan only WARP release was one of their most bizzare yet. Short WARP was a series of eight crazy mini games. And I do mean crazy. Take a look at the vid above if you don't believe me. And get this: inside every copy of the 10,000 hand numbered units produced, Kenji Eno was gracious enough to include a very special WARP condom. Yep...a condom. No dumb art books or soundtracks. Just pure protected sexual bliss. What a guy!

 Eee-yup. WARP was off to a frolicking start. And it would only get better (and crazier) from there. Next time, we'll be taking an in-depth look at the games that would make Kenji Eno a man to watch in the 90's. That's right, birds! It's the Laura Trilogy, and it'll be front and center here at the Coop. See you then!


No comments:

Post a Comment