Cing 5 Years On

LastWindowIt’s hard to believe that it has been five whole years since gamers last got a taste of a Cing title. Whilst diehard fans still cling to the belief that one day, in some form, they’ll get the chance to solve mysteries again with Ashley Robbins and Kyle Hyde, it would appear to be nothing more than a dream.

Cing, an independent game developer from Japan, were responsible for point-and-click adventure series Another Code, Hotel Dusk and the critically acclaimed real-time strategy Little King Story. The company was setup in 1999 employing less than 30 people; it was run by President/CEO Takuya Miyagawa and Vice President Rika Suzuki, designer and scenario writer of the Another Code series. In 2005 they developed a close relationship with Nintendo, who were looking for developers that shared their approach to game design, producing high quality games that everyone could play.HotelDusk

On the 5th of March 2010 Japanese Developer Cing filed for bankruptcy with debts of over ¥200 million ($2.2m or £1.3m). Apparently the reason was because a game they were working on went into prolonged development and the cost rose so high that they ran into cash flow problems. During its final days Cing had apparently had several meetings with Nintendo with the hope of assistance time of need, but unfortunately it was not to be.

The developer survived for just over a decade, with their first title Glass Rose releasing on the PS2. Another Code: Two Memories (Trace Memory for those of you in the United States), for the Nintendo DS, was their first title produced with Nintendo, marking the start of their business venture with Nintendo HQ. Over the next 5 years they developed a number of games including a sequel to their first Nintendo project: Another Code: R – A Journey into Lost Memories for the Nintendo Wii. Additionally, there followed the two games featuring Kyle Hyde: Hotel Dusk: Room 215 and Last Window for the Nintendo DS, adventure game Again and one of their most notable games, Little King Story.LittleKingStory

Over the years their titles had provided gamers with mature and sophisticated narratives. The Kyle Hyde saga is the darker and more mature series as you’re seeing the games through the eyes of an older, bitter ex-detective. The Another Code stories focus around mystery and memories, but are lighter, as you’re seeing the game through a teenage girl’s perspective. Last year in an interview with Nintendon, when asked what it was like developing games based heavily on storytelling, Rika Suzuki said, “We, at Cing, were developing games by creating unique characters and a world which could not be found in previous Nintendo games and also by preparing scenarios keeping in mind future serial works.”

Their stories, however, were only part of what made their games interesting. The main reason they always stood out was because of the way that they pushed the hardware functionalities of the Wii and the DS. One puzzle I fondly remember comes from Another Code: Two Memories, which has you physically close the DS console in order to connect two objects together on the upper and lower screens. It was a puzzle that was later used in the Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass as one of the sea charts puzzle solutions.AnotherCodeR

Well, whatever happened to Cing’s key players? Well as for Takuya Miyagawa, after hours of searching the internet I regret to say that I’ve been unable to track him down. Thankfully, though, I did manage to find Vice President Rika Suzuki, who has now gone onto found her own company Bellwood Inc. developing smartphone and web-based apps. As for the other members of Cing, a large number of them have moved on and joined Rika Suzuki at Bellwood Inc.

So it does very well seem that we’ll never again get to experience another adventure with fan favourites Ashley and Kyle. However, Rika Suzuki has stated that she would like to continue to develop these characters’ stories further with us eventually seeing Ashley team up with a much older Kyle Hyde to form the ultimate crime solving team. So what’s stopping her from telling these stories? The Another Code and Hotel Dusk IP’s are now owned by Nintendo, who have actually said that they’d make a sequel to these if there was enough demand for it, or if they could find an indie developer willing to take on the project.

This feature was originally published on the site GamersFTW which unfortunately has now been taken down.

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