PopCap & Square-Enix Team-Up Started As A Joke


Last week, PopCap Games and Square-Enix announced their joint venture, puzzle-RPG Gyromancer, piquing the interest of Puzzle Quest fans worldwide. But would you believe that the entire thing started out as a joke?

Speaking with Wired, PopCap co-founder and chief creative officer Jason Kapalka said that his initial pitch to Square-Enix for a game that combined the JRPG studio’s Final Fantasy aesthetic with the casual-game behemoth’s fiendishly addictive Bejeweled Twist was initially something of a joke.

Many people have noted the similarity between the recently-announced Gyromancer and Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords, and that’s apparently no coincidence. There were more than a few fans of Puzzle Quest in the PopCap offices, and during initial brainstorming, the team felt it would be “karmically neutral” to try their hand – but perhaps the developers didn’t take the idea as seriously as they might have.

Kapalka told that he brought up the hybrid idea as a goof while meeting with Square Enix, which publishes some of PopCap game’s in Japan. But once he mentioned “Final Fantasy Bejeweled,” the idea began to gather momentum: Yuichi Murasawa, designer of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Final Fantasy Tactics A2, got wind of the Gyromancer concept and jumped on board.

“Suddenly it was a real project over at Square,” Kapalka said.

After doing the preliminary design – and basing the game around the more “strategic, hard-core” Bejeweled Twist – PopCap handed the project off to Square-Enix, tagging them into the ring.

So, from what I’m reading here, this is the image I’m getting:

PopCap: “So, uh. We have a bunch of silly little ideas here. Some guys in the office came up with this idea in between raiding in WoW, and they’ve been joking about making a Final Fantasy: Bejeweled ever since, lol!”

Squeenix: “Uh…” *looking amongst themselves* “…we’re up for it if you guys are.”

And that’s how we got Gyromancer. I’m tempted to imagine that’s how we got Kingdom Hearts, too – though PopCap’s pitch probably involved fewer chainsaws.

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