It was extremely fortunate for Solatorobo: Red the Hunter to see release in North America. However, its journey didn’t span merely an ocean, but also an entire decade. The game is a spiritual sequel to Tail Concerto, an action-adventure game originally released for the PlayStation in 1998. Yet Solatorobo not only represents the legacy of an obscure, 12-year-old game, but also the legacy of its developer, CyberConnect2.
The company was formed in 1996, and Tail Concerto was its first game. Being inspired by other 3D action-adventure games of the era, such as Super Mario 64 and Mega Man Legends, it was tough for Tail Concerto to stand out from the crowd, and ultimately, it went overlooked. It was this initial setback that prevented work on a follow-up from happening for so long.
Not that CyberConnect2 didn’t try. Sequels were pitched to the original game’s Japanese publisher, Bandai, as early as 2003, and again in 2004. It was only in 2007 that such a project was green-lit, and even then, the game wasn’t a direct follow-up, but slightly removed from the original game’s continuity. Solatorobo spent three years in development, which is unusually long for a Nintendo DS game, but that just goes to show the amount of care put into it. If they had one shot at a sequel, they were going to do it right.
Tail Concerto follows the adventures of Waffle Ryebread, a police officer looking into a series of disturbances by a gang of kittens. Like Solatorobo, the cast is made up of anthropomorphic dog- and cat-people who live on a series of floating islands, and Waffle also rides around in a robot that can grab and throw things. Similarities between the two games aren’t just thematic, however. Solatorobo tells a different story, but takes place in the same world. The protagonist, Red Savarin, also runs into several characters from Tail Concerto during the course of his adventure, including Waffle. (And as you might expect, the two of them get along famously.)
CyberConnect2 released Solatorobo in celebration of their 15th anniversary, and there was no better way for them to do it than to pay tribute to their origins. The Shepherd Republic is their own world, and their own legacy. Perhaps Solatorobo will help draw more attention to Tail Concerto, and allow the franchise to continue on into the future.