By request of chu10
You don’t often see genuine passion for a creation when you start dealing with corporate video game publishers. Indie studios? Sure. They’re doing what they believe in, and sometimes they’re rewarded for the sincerity of their convictions with excellent sales. When you start to bring structured businesses into the picture, though, the original spark of passion that fueled the initial inspiration can become lost in a haze of projections and business-speak.
Little Tail Bronx is a rare exception — a tiny franchise that somehow has managed to cling to life in the depths of a fairly prolific development studio despite being almost completely unsalable. Maybe it’s just nostalgic that keeps it going; CyberConnect2 got its start with the first game in the series, Tail Concerto. And in the 15 years since that game debuted, Tail Concerto has seen exactly one follow-up in the form of the quickly forgotten Solatorobo: Red the Hunter for DS. It’s less a series than an occasional glitch in the system.
And yet. It carries on, and every few years someone at CyberConnect2 will tease the possibility of a new chapter in the series making its way into the world. Someone there really cares about this weird little world of mutant talking animals who live on floating islands on the far side of some grim apocalypse. They keep hope alive… and they keep paying Nobuteru Yuuki to draw gorgeous cartoon art of the characters.
Little Tail Bronx has always felt like a curious mirror universe twin to the Mega Man Legends series. Tail Concerto borrowed its overall feel and many of its mechanics from Mega Man’s first 3D outing, and at the same time it seemed to demonstrate a curious convergence as well: Released at roughly the same time as The Misadventures of Tron Bonne, Tail Concerto touched on many of the same themes, plot elements, and other ideas as Misadventures: An ancient technologic behemoth rampaging through the clouds, a conniving businessman in over his head, cute little indestructible childlike minions (robots in one case, kittens in the other) at the beck and call of the fiery, rogue villainness with the secret forbidden hots for the protagonist. It was uncanny, to be honest.
Mega Man Legends suffered an ignoble fate as Capcom teased the possibility of continuing it, explored the possibility of continuing it, then smothered the dangling sequel and, one assumes, the series in a single swift motion. Perhaps the series’ creators overreached. Whatever the case, the numbers didn’t line up, and it had to die. Little Tail Bronx, though, seems different somehow. I honestly do suspect that, at some point down the road — maybe a few years from now, maybe in 2025 — we’ll see another entry in the franchise.
Maybe it won’t be a video game. The third piece of the Little Tail Bronx world came several years before Solatorobo began to take shape in the form of Mamoru-kun. Far from being a video game, Mamoru-kun was a piece safety instruction media developed for the government of Fukuoka, of all things. Yet rather than simply churning out something quick and easy for the project, CyberConnect2 tied it to Tail Concerto and built an extensive back story for the thing. For a safety video!
Crazy, right? No. Just passionate.
That passion works against Little Tail Bronx at times, though. I couldn’t actually finish Solatorobo, much as I loved it scrumptious visual style and detailed world. The game was absolutely smothering in its insistence on blathering at me at every turn. The creators had seemingly become so enamored of their creation that rather than simply letting it unfold naturally they felt compelled to give you a detailed tour at every turn. It was like watching an obsessive fan’s favorite movie, the kind of fan who insists on explaining what’s so great about every single scene rather than letting you discover and love it for yourself.
Despite that severe misstep, I want the flame of Little Tail Bronx to continue burning in its creators’ hearts. I want them to kick around ideas for new entries in the series, to develop stories that never see the light of day, to create supplementary works in bizarre and inaccessible media. I want the urge to explore the series further to bubble beneath the surface at CyberConnect2 until someone green lights a game that has us controlling a dog in a robot suit putting a stop to kitty criminals by trapping them in bubbles… or something like that. Little Tail Bronx is weird, and it’s wonderful, and it’s a work of pure passion that shines all the more brightly for its rarity in the games industry.
4 thoughts on “By request: Little Tail Bronx”
Thanks for this. I have had Solatorobo in my Amazon wish list forever and never seem to pull the trigger. Maybe the time to buy it is now, although the constant explaining in game will probably turn me off too. I always feel drawn to these games that clearly are made by an older generation of fans of early Miyazaki work. At least they will make more stories in that vein and allow us to scratch the itch that the 100th viewing of Laputa or Future Boy Conan won’t anymore. ^_^
Never heard of it, but the Mega Man Legends comparison has me sitting up and paying attention, especially from such a reliable Legends fan as yourself. Thanks, and thanks to chu10 for requesting the piece.
I picked up Solatorobo at some point mainly because I wanted to encourage this kind of passion project (and yeah, the heavy Ghibli influence sure doesn’t hurt either). Much to my shame, I’ve yet to get around to actually playing it. Someday…
No mention of their ‘Little Tail Story’ iOS game?
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