🎤 Interview with SparkWing

2023年 6月 25日
Indie Tsushin 2023 June-July issueThis article was featured in our 2023 June-July issue. Check out more articles and interviews in the full issue.

We had the pleasure of speaking with SparkWing about working on game jam titles and the fantasy-themed bullet hell, TANITANI WIZARD!

English (Translated)

Translated by Renkon

Player in TANITANI WIZARD fighting against a giant mermaid boss holding a trident.


Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I call myself SparkWingGames on places like Twitter, but please feel free to call me すぱうい (SpaWi). At the company I used to work for, I was involved in the development of mobile games. I also occasionally did work as a back-end and Unity engineer. Currently, I mainly work as a Web engineer and programmer, and make games as a hobby.

How did you get started making games?

I have been interested in game development since I was a child. When I graduated from high school, I was torn between going to a vocational school for video game creators, or going to a regular four-year university. After weighing my options and taking into account both the cost of tuition and my post-graduation options, I enrolled in a local four-year university. After that, I entered an IT company as a new graduate, but changed jobs after that. I was assigned to the game development department at my next company, and that was how I got started working on games. During this time, mobile games were starting to ramp up in popularity, and I was involved in the development and operation of some of those booming mobile and smartphone games.

I started working on games on my own starting around 2021. When I was working on the production of large-scale smartphone games at my company, my contributions were but a fraction of what went into the final product, and felt that it would be difficult to make an entire game on my own. And I felt a growing distance between the sorts of games and genres that I enjoy playing, and the direction that profit-driven smartphone games had taken. Around that time, game engines such as Unity and Godot had started spreading in the public awareness. I felt that with these tools, I could create a small game by myself, and so I got started developing my own games.

First stage of TANITANI WIZARD. Player is running through a field dotted with slimes.

What does your general game-making process look like?

My process for making games is very different depending on whether it is for a game jam or not.

When I participate in game jams, there are restrictions such as deadlines and following the theme of the jam. Because of this, my goal is to make my game within a set of clearly defined parameters, which makes it surprisingly easy to work on. For example, in a one-week game jam, I set a schedule with one day for planning, two days for programming, two days to create the game assets, and two days for debugging and fine-tuning. My plans often change significantly during this process, but I would say that this is the advantage of solo development. I like the flexibility that this allows me to change the game on the fly, and to consider whether the implementation of certain elements would be easy to carry out.

On the other hand, when I make games outside of jams, my process is essentially trial-and-error. If there are no restrictions, the scope of my project will spread out too far and it becomes difficult to rein it in. If there are no deadlines, the project tends to be hard to keep in check and to make progress. I was able to successfully complete work on TANITANI WIZARD, but I've run into several issues with my current project, and development has stalled out. But I also think that running into problems and finding better solutions is just part of game development.

Can you tell us about some of your favorite games and genres?

It's hard to narrow it down to just one game that I like the best, so here are five games that I like in particular:

  • Outer Wilds
  • 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  • Undertale
  • Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne

As you can tell, I'm especially drawn to games where the story and game systems are tightly intertwined. Among them, Undertale can be said to be the gold standard of indie games, and I myself once got really into the engine it was made in, GameMaker. This is one of my favorite game engines.

In terms of playtime, I spend a lot of time playing roguelike/roguelite games and card games. The more difficult, the easier it is for me to become addicted. However, because that tendency disrupts my everyday life, I have recently started limiting myself from playing such games.

For more games that I like, I have recorded them on my blog. If you are interested, please take a look.

Third level of TANITANI WIZARD. Player is blasting apart a town and its townspeople.

Please tell us about TANITANI WIZARD!

TANITANI WIZARD is a bullet hell shooting game where you can destroy everything. This sense of total destruction escalates until the final stage, where you destroy even the city and its inhabitants. It is a bit extreme, but this is also a feature of the game.

The divide between people who are very good at bullet hell shooting games and those who are very bad is quite stark, so this game has three difficulty settings: EASY/NORMAL/HARD. Since there are unlimited continues and you keep your power-ups if you die, it is designed to be relatively easy to clear even for those who are not good at bullet hell shooting games.

If you manage to clear the game on a single life, the entire playtime is around fifteen minutes. It is a small-scale game that allows you to experience a variety of stages within a short span of time.

What was your greatest influence when making TANITANI WIZARD?

The greatest influence when I was making this game was King's Knight, released by Squaresoft for the Famicom, and the shooting game Guwange by CAVE that used to run in arcades.

First, King's Knight was a game that I played when I was a kid, and even now I can vividly remember its high difficulty and the exhilaration of destroying every object on the field. I wanted to recreate that feeling of destruction, and that idea was what first led me to make a shooting game.

As for Guwange, it was my favorite among all the arcade fighting and shooting games that I regularly played. Even for a bullet hell, this was a very intense game, but it had a unique system that allowed you to slow down bullets using the shikigami that you controlled. I used that system as a reference for the mechanism in TANITANI WIZARD that lets you slow down enemy bullets.

Player and four tanishi snails taking down a party of adventurers.

The tanishi snails in this game are trustworthy and adorable. What was the reason for choosing tanishi snails?

I don't really know why I added tanishi snails. (laughs) I based its design off the mascot for the community Idobata. (ed. note: 井戸端 idobata means "around the well," and is used for a group of people making chit-chat.)

I felt that a system that slows down enemy fire like in Guwange, combined with the sticky mucus that snails secrete, would make a great combination. So I created the tanishi snail as a companion character for the player. Of course, I also like all kinds of snails in real life because they are charming. However, when it comes to slugs, which do not have shells and are considered pests, I have no tolerance for them, and often exterminate them.

What was the most challenging part of making TANITANI WIZARD?

There were two issues that were particularly challenging during the development of TANITANI WIZARD.

One was that I was making bullet hell patterns for the first time. It was difficult to prepare different attack patterns for the enemies, but I also enjoyed working on them. Among them, I had the most trouble with the boss characters. The boss characters switch up their movement and attack patterns depending on their remaining health, and I encountered and had to fix many bugs that popped up. As a result, the source code would be considered unforgivably messy had I been working in a team. Still, I realized that the ability to quickly implement changes and prioritize completing the game over having clean and beautiful code was an advantage of working as a solo developer.

Another challenge was creating the game graphics using my own pixel art. I spent most of my time making this art. Because my background was originally in programming, I was not very good at making art, so I ended up spending more time on it than I had anticipated. However, I think it was worth spending the time on these sprites because I can reuse them in future game projects.

Screenshot of Amaterasu in the dark. Amaterasu has exited the cave because of the huge celebration happening outside.

(2021) Amaterasu in the dark

The cute and fun pixel art left a strong impression on us. How did you become interested in pixel art? Are there any pixel artists or works that you can recommend?

I got interested in pixel art from the games of the Famicom and Super Famicom generations. The games that I encountered as a child were expressed through pixel art, and I was strongly pulled to its unique charm. I wanted my own games to capture the charm and fun of those games, and so that's part of the reason why I went with pixel art for my work.

And one reason why I love indie games is because many of them also use pixel art. When thinking about the scale of production and working with available resources, pixel art can be said to be an ideal visual expression for games created by individuals or small teams. I used to be involved with the development of 3D games, but I feel that it would be a high hurdle to clear on my own. That experience deepened my appreciation of pixel art.

Regarding pixel art work, I would like to recommend Earthbound. The unique color balance and slightly off-putting pixel art still fascinates me to this day.

You've participated in many game jams in the past such as GMTK and Mini Jam. Can you tell us what is the appeal of entering in game jams?

One of the biggest draws of participating in a game jam is the deadline and theme limitations. These limits help me to realize my ideas and ride them to completion. When I first started developing games, I realized how difficult it is to complete a piece, and I think that game jams are the perfect place to practice.

Game jams also give participants the opportunity to get feedback on their work from their peers, and I really look forward to this. By seeing how other creators evaluate my work, and seeing what kinds of games they made, I can get inspiration for new ideas and look for areas of improvement in my own work.

On top of that, some game jams allow you to play a ton of other people's games. There are many unique works here that cannot be experienced in commercial releases, and by playing them, you can gain new perspectives and ideas. And due to the tight deadline of the jam, you will inevitably encounter many low-quality entries. But by playing them, we can reflect on the "obvious quality" of games that we normally enjoy. For example, if the controls are frustrating, you will lose motivation to keep playing before the game can become interesting; and if there is too much camera shake, you will find that your eyes get tired and you won't be able to play for long periods of time.

However, participating in game jams also has its drawbacks. One of them is the fatigue that hits afterwards. You need to maintain a high level of concentration and energy during the jam, and it's easy to burn out once it's over. I think it's a good idea to take some time off after participating.

Screenshot of Level 2 in Moon Hammer. The Earth has two moons circling it and is rapidly approaching a wormhole. A meteor is heading towards one of the moons.

(2021) Moon Hammer

Can you tell us about any other games you worked on in the past?

Moon Hammer was my entry to my first game jam, the GMTK Game Jam 2021. It is a simple game that can be played using only the up and down keys, and because it's easy to pick up and was easy to make, I gained confidence in my ability to create games. I was very happy when Nice Gear Games streamed it, and it's a work with a lot of strong memories.

SlotMachineDungeon was made for Mini Jam 114: Anime². I personally enjoy playing this game, and I received a lot of feedback. I wanted to expand on this game after the jam ended, but afterwards, I got burned out for a while and took a break from game development.

PUSH TANISHI PUZZLE is a game I made independently from any jams. This is a simple Sokoban-type puzzle game, and I gave it a personal touch by using pixel art that I had made myself. The experience I gained from making this game was an important step on my journey to make TANITANI WIZARD.

A pixel art dungeon of slimes, spikes, and treasure boxes laid out in a slot machine type of grid. Text: You can spin the slot as many times as you want if you pay the cost in this position.

(2022) SlotMachineDungeon

You've worked with many different genres. Can you tell us which has been your favorite to work with so far?

The game genre that I enjoyed working with the most is simulation RPG, and I especially liked working on FallenAngelSaga. I've always loved SRPGs like the Fire Emblem series, the Super Robot series, and Majin Tensei 2, so it was a great pleasure to be able to create such games on my own. It was a bit difficult to balance the different numbers and stats, but I won't forget the sense of accomplishment I felt whenever I got that balance just right.

But on the other side, I struggled to create levels in the latter half of PUSH TANISHI PUZZLE, my Sokoban-type game. This led me to the realize, "I am not suited to make puzzle games!" However, in its own way, this was an opportunity for me to learn new things and to broaden my horizons as a game developer.

Red Imperial Soldier S vs blue Gideon Prince fighting on a field. Text: Imperial S attack! HIT! TAKE 5 DAMAGE!

(2021) FallenAngelSaga

Can you tell us about anything you are currently working on?

I was addicted to playing Vampire Survivors-like games for a while, and that made me want to create my own, but that project got stalled out. I programmed the basics and designed the UI, but when I reached the phase where I needed to churn out a high volume of content such as skills and enemy characters, progress petered out. I was also dealing with a major change in my private life, and that might have had an effect.

When making a game as a hobbyist rather than a professional, it is easy to hit setbacks along the way. However, at the same time, it is also an advantage to be able to easily abandon projects. From this experience, I feel that making games with a high volume of content may not be for me. At the moment, I want to focus more on making short games.

Do you have any messages for your players?

I would like to express my gratitude to all of the players who enjoyed the pixel art games that I've made. I love retro pixel art games as well, and I hope more people enjoy them. So far in my life, I've experienced being rescued from troubles and sadness through the sheer enjoyment of video games. And there is still a mountain of titles I haven't played yet, and that motivates me to live a long and healthy life! I want the games that I make to be a part of someone else's life. By making such games, I hope to repay the kindness I have received through games.

Thank you for reading this interview.

First boss in TANITANI WIZARD exploding in a huge fireball.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us!

日本語 Player in TANITANI WIZARD fighting against a giant mermaid boss holding a trident.



TwitterなどでSparkWingGamesと名乗っておりますが、 すぱういと略していただいて構いません。以前勤めていた会社では、スマートフォンゲームの開発に携わり、バックエンドエンジニアをしていたり、Unityエンジニアをしていた時期もありました。現在はWeb系のエンジニア、プログラマーとして本業を続けながら、個人的にゲーム開発を趣味としています。



個人的にゲーム開発を始めたのは2021年頃です。会社で大規模なスマートフォンゲームの制作に携わっていると、自分の役割は一部分に過ぎず、全体を手がけることは難しいと感じていました。また、自分が好きなゲームジャンルと、ビジネス面の強いスマートフォンゲームの方向性とで志向性のズレが大きくなってきていました。その頃、UnityやGodot Engineといったゲームエンジンが一般に普及し始めました。これらのツールにより、一人でも小規模なゲームを作ることが可能だと感じ、自分だけのゲーム開発を始めました。

First stage of TANITANI WIZARD. Player is running through a field dotted with slimes.




一方、ゲームジャムを通じずにゲームを作る場合、そのプロセスはまだ試行錯誤の段階です。制約がないと、企画内容が広がりすぎて集約が難しいと感じますし、期限がないと開発に締まりがなく、進行が難しくなる傾向があります。私が開発した「TANITANI WIZARD」は無事に完成しましたが、現在開発中のゲームはいくつかの問題により停滞しています。でも、これらの問題を解決し、より良い開発プロセスを見つけることもゲーム作りの一部と考えています。



  • Outer Wilds
  • 十三機兵防衛圏
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  • Undertale
  • 真女神転生3ノクターン




Third level of TANITANI WIZARD. Player is blasting apart a town and its townspeople.

この度の「TANITANI WIZARD」という作品についてご紹介お願いします。

はい、「TANITANI WIZARD」は、全てを破壊可能な弾幕シューティングゲームです。その全破壊性は最終ステージに至るまで拡大し、街や住民まで破壊することになります。それが少し過激な表現かもしれませんが、これが本作の特徴でもあります。



「TANITANI WIZARD」を作成するにあたり、最も影響を受けたものは何ですか?(例えば、ほかのゲームや映画など何でも構いません)



そして「ぐわんげ」は、ゲームセンターでの私の定番だった対戦格闘ゲームや弾幕STGの中でも特にお気に入りだった作品です。弾幕が非常に激しいゲームでしたが、操作する式神に弾が触れると弾速が遅くなるという独特のシステムがありました。そのシステムが今回の「TANITANI WIZARD」における、敵の弾を遅くするメカニズムの参考になりました。

Player and four tanishi snails taking down a party of adventurers.


タニシが登場するのはよく分からないですよねw。 これは、私が参加している「井戸端」というコミュニティのマスコット的キャラクターからきています。

「ぐわんげ」の敵の弾を遅くするシステムと、タニシが分泌するネバネバした粘液の特性が良い組み合わせになると感じたので、お供キャラクターとして登場させました。 もちろん、現実世界のタニシやカタツムリも愛嬌があって好きです。ただ、その一方で殻を持たない「ナメクジ」については、害虫としての側面があり、苦手意識を持つため、よく駆除しています。

「TANITANI WIZARD」を作成するにあたり最も挑戦したことなどはありますか。

「TANITANI WIZARD」の制作に際し、特に挑戦したのは二つの部分があります。



Screenshot of Amaterasu in the dark. Amaterasu has exited the cave because of the huge celebration happening outside.

(2021) Amaterasu in the dark





GMTKやMini Jamのようなゲームジャムにもたくさん参加されていますが、ゲームジャムに参加することの魅力を教えてください。





Screenshot of Level 2 in Moon Hammer. The Earth has two moons circling it and is rapidly approaching a wormhole. A meteor is heading towards one of the moons.

(2021) Moon Hammer


「Moon Hammer」は、私が初めてゲームジャム(GMTK Game Jam 2021)に参加して制作した作品です。このゲームは、上下キーのみで操作するシンプルなゲームで、その分かりやすさと制作の簡便さが自身のゲーム開発に対するスタンスを再確認させてくれました。Nice Gear Gamesさんにも実況して貰えたのがとても嬉しくて思い出の強い作品です。

「SlotMachineDungeon」は、Mini Jam 114: Anime²で制作したゲームです。このゲームでは、自分自身がプレイしても楽しむことができ、多くの評価を頂くことができました。ゲームジャム終了後に拡張していきたいなと思っていたのですが、このゲーム制作後にしばらく燃え尽きてゲーム開発を休んでいました。

「PUSH TANISHI PUZZLE」は、ゲームジャムに参加せず、独自に制作した作品です。これは倉庫番タイプのシンプルなパズルゲームで、自身で制作したドット絵を使うことで、自作のゲームとして独自性を持たせることができました。このゲームを制作した経験は、「TANITANI WIZARD」を作るためのステップとなりました。

A pixel art dungeon of slimes, spikes, and treasure boxes laid out in a slot machine type of grid. Text: You can spin the slot as many times as you want if you pay the cost in this position.

(2022) SlotMachineDungeon



一方で、「PUSH TANISHI PUZZLE」という倉庫番タイプのパズルゲームは、後半のレベル作成に苦労しました。これは、「自分がパズルゲームの問題作成に向いていない!」という自己認識を新たにする機会となりました。しかし、それはそれで新たな学びとなり、ゲーム開発者としての視野を広げることができたと思っています。

Red Imperial Soldier S vs blue Gideon Prince fighting on a field. Text: Imperial S attack! HIT! TAKE 5 DAMAGE!

(2021) FallenAngelSaga


Vampire Survivors系ゲームに一時期ハマっていた影響で、私もVampire Survivors系ゲームを目指して作成していたのですが、一旦停滞しています。プログラムの基本的な部分や画面設計などは進んできたのですが、スキルや敵キャラクターの追加など、量産が必要なフェーズに差し掛かったところで進行が止まってしまいました。この状況は、プライベートでの大きな変化も影響しているかもしれません。



私の作ったドット絵ゲームを楽しんでいただけるプレイヤーの皆さんに感謝の気持ちを伝えたいです。私もレトロなドット絵ゲームが大好きで、そういったゲームがもっと多くの人々に楽しまれることを願っています。 今までの人生において、困難や悲しみの中でゲームの楽しさに救われた経験があります。そして、今も未プレイのゲームを山ほど積んでいるので、「健康で長生きするぞ!」というモチベーションに繋がっています。 私自身が作るゲームで、誰かの人生の一部になれたらと思います。そのようなゲームを作ることで、ゲームに対して感じている恩返しをできればと思っています。


First boss in TANITANI WIZARD exploding in a huge fireball.


SparkWingYou can follow SparkWing on Twitter @sparklewing925. Find more of their games on their itch profile and their writing on Scrapbox blog.