—Pocket Card Jockey Ride On! Has come to Apple Arcade, can you give us some details on that?—
Taya: There was a smartphone version of the game in the past however it was only released in Japan and we had little experience with developing a free to play title so the service for the game was ended after a short amount of time. We've heard people calling out for a revival of Pocket Card Jockey and so we thought about what we could do. Around that time I first heard about Apple Arcade in Japan and it felt like a subscription based model could become a new way to offer games. Because Apple Arcade games have no in-app purchases and the player is free to play as much as they like, it feels more consumer friendly. Because of this we chose to release the game on Apple Arcade.
—What has changed from the 3DS version and what has stayed the same?—
Taya: The biggest change you'll notice right off the bat is all the races have become 3D. The original game also had 2 screens but this time we're working with one smartphone screen which was difficult. In the previous smartphone version, we had a design where the top and bottom screens of the Nintendo 3DS could be switched with buttons, but this time, since the racing sections became 3D, it became possible to unify it on one screen, and the appearance of the cards and the position relationship between horses etc. have become clearer. As for what stayed the same, we've kept the solitaire rules simple without adding any extraneous rules. We want to keep it simple so that the player can concentrate on and enjoy the solitaire.
—How did the idea of horse racing come about in the first place?—
Taya: Ever since I was a horse racing fan in junior high school, I was hooked on horse racing games. Even after becoming a programmer, I couldn't shake the feeling that I could make something in that vein. So, I gave it a try and was able to create something I was really proud of, which fueled my ambition to keep going. After a while a composer for the Pokemon series, Go Ichinose, told me about a solitaire app he was playing and whispered to me that we could use it for a horse racing game. I became hooked on it and it became the basis of Pocket Card Jockey. Later, I invited Ichinose to join me in creating a team within Game Freak and we created the first Pocket Card Jockey through a lot of trial and error.
—Those who have been playing since the 3DS version will no doubt be able to hop right in but what changes have you made towards newcomers?—
Taya: We tried to reduce the tutorial text as much as possible and aimed for it to be learned intuitively while playing. The original version is from about 10 years ago, and I have always felt that the tutorial should have been shorter and faster. So, I tried to make it possible to understand with UI without having to read the text.
—The cute horses are a feature of the game but, what was the focus when bringing them to 3D?—
Taya: Basically we wanted to bring the 2D horses from the 3DS version into 3D while keeping their original look. With the 2D horses it wasn't possible to see things like the backs of their necks so we tried to keep them looking satisfying and cute to see those angles as well.
—Do you have any advice for first time players?—
Taya: The interesting thing about the solitaire part is doing it under a time limit, but I hope you take your time and think carefully. Also I think people who like horse racing know this but completing the GI race is a very difficult thing. So I think it's better to consider that to be a sort of climax so try not to give up on winning even if it doesn't come easily.
—Are there any future updates planned?—
Taya: I can't say anything definite right now but we would like to update the game to make it easier and more fun for players based on the feedback we receive.
—By the way, the conversation between the player and Maekawa is in Kansai-Dialect isn't it? Is the game set in Kansai?—
Taya: No it's in Kanto (laughs) I'm not sure why but it's instinctual to me. I think that sort of banter sounds better in Kansai dialect, it's softer. When I'm scolded in standard Japanese, I feel harsh.
Taya: Yes, all the text in the game was written by me.
Taya: It's possible. I think it really depends on the reaction to this game and if it's enjoyed by players. In my personal opinion I don't think the possibility is zero. All the developers have the desire to make new things but first I want everyone to enjoy the release of Pocket Card Jockey: Ride On! And think about how we can make it even more fun for players.