Laura Shigihara is know for creating the soundtrack for Plants vs Zombies has turned her creative talents to a different part of games. Her latest project is called Rakuen - a charming little game that has taken inspiration from many games such as Manic Mansion, To The Moon & the Zelda series.
The story and character design is influenced by Japanese mythology and children's culture, as well as films like Miyazaki's Spirited Away.
What I really like about this title is the original inspiration when Laura wrote a song a while back called "Jump". She says that during the time in which she wrote it she only had two thoughts;
"I thought about how in life, we often have to go forward and hope for the best, even though we don’t know how things will turn out… Whether it’s a new job, a new relationship, an illness, anything, really… We don’t know if we’re gonna sink or swim; we don’t know if we’ll fly or fall. Sometimes we can’t do anything at all, but hope for the best, and jump."So, this how the idea of Rakuen was born. The story is about a Boy who is currently living in hospital due to an illness and he asks his mother to escort him into a fantasy world from his favourite storybook. Whilst in this world, he is tasked to help patients by interacting with their alter egos and through this the Boy quickly learns that each patient have their own secrets and struggles that they must over come.
It all sounds very charming and it is looking very good. As well as Laura, there are two other developers on board;
- Emmy Toyonaga (concept artist) has worked as an in-house concept/character artist at EA and Midway Games, creating art for titles such as The Sims 2 and The Sims 3. She was also the lead character artist for the MySims franchise. Emmy has contributed freelance work to several magazines and newspapers, including the Official PlayStation Magazine.
- Matt Holmberg (background artist) has worked as both an in-house artist at PopCap Games for several years, as well as an independent contractor. He's worked on several different games, including the Peggle franchise, Plants vs. Zombies, Talismania, Chrono Trigger, and Secret of Evermore.
Are you ready to jump into Rakuen? I know I am ready and I am looking forward to playing this later this year on PC. In the mean time, check out the trailer and screenshots below or visit the Official Website