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Filed under: Industry People, Masahiro Sakurai

“Fast Pace” – Sakurai’s Famitsu Column, Vol. 112

fast pace

Tomorrow, we will publish Sakurai’s thoughts on the newest Star Wars!

We will be hosting a tourney this Saturday:

US EST: 11:30 
England: 16:30
Japan: 01:30 (Sunday)

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“Fast Pace” was originally published on July 22nd, 2005.

Note: Do not repost the full translation. Please use the first two paragraphs and link to this translation. For additional information, please read this postThis translation is for fan use only, and may not accurately reflect the opinions of Masahiro Sakurai.

The following is a selection from Famitsu. If you enjoyed this article, I would strongly encourage you to support Sakurai by buying his books. If you have any questions about this article, please contact the administrator

It’s almost here! Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is premiering in Japan soon!! There are probably a lot of people in the games industry that grew up on Star Wars, so I’m sure many people will go watch it. This is also the last entry in the main Star Wars saga, so I really want to enjoy it to the fullest.

Don’t really know Star Wars that well? Never seen it before? There are many people in the same boat. For people who aren’t intimately familiar with the series, they might see the fanbase getting excited and think, “Wow, I didn’t know this was such a big deal. Maybe I’ll go check it out.” And if you do go see it, you might experience a wonderful story and world in those films.

Unfortunately though, people who aren’t familiar with the series probably won’t be able to enjoy this movie as much as people who are knowledgeable about Star Wars, or people who have been waiting for the release of Episode III for a long time. And this isn’t because such people have been pumping up their excitement for the film every day.

People who have watched Star Wars before know what the “Force” is. They know the familiar glow of a lightsaber, or what the Jedi Order is. They know the differences between the Trade Federation, the Republic, the Empire, and the Rebels, they know the destinies of Anakin’s son and daughter, and about the Dark Side of the Force. The film is undoubtedly constructed with the assumption that the audience is familiar with all of these details about the world and story of Star Wars. This isn’t done to alienate the first-time viewer, but because it is impossible to explain all of the minute details of every component in one film.

An overall trait of the Star Wars series is that they tend to reach the end quickly. They minimize detailed depictions and explanations, and they cut from one scene to the next very fast. Although because of that, there are some criticisms that say the films feel rushed, and don’t explain the settings very well. But I disagree– it’s because they cut out the overly detailed exchanges that they can stuff as many great scenes into the film as possible, which lets us enjoy the dense progression of the story. If they wanted to, they could make it like Twelve Angry Men where they spend one film solely on the arguments of a council, but that’s not the path the this movie should take. On this level, it’s similar to the Gundam series. It’s a bit difficult to understand just from the main story. By getting more explanation and details from other places, you finally get a full understanding.

Now, to talk about games. One of the advantages of a series or franchise is that “audience familiarity is helpful because it lets you remove detailed exposition and explanation.” Terms such as “Rally-ho” or “airship” are self-explanatory to people who are in the know. Things that share proximate terms are similar– “Press B to jump, X to cancel,” “HP,” “exp points,” “towns,” are all very easy to understand to people with this knowledge. You might even be able to expand this to terms like “Nobunaga,” “Slime,” or “first person.”

Even in Japan, where Dragon Quest is very popular, I often hear from people who have never played it before, “it took me three days to understand how to equip items.” Games that you’ve never played before have a very high threshold. That’s why new games tend to have relatively easy rules or systems, but I don’t always think that easy is necessarily the correct way. If people kept focusing on lowering the threshold, Star Wars would never have been born.

Looking Back

Sakurai: Recently, I really don’t like listening or reading to film reviews or criticism.

Interviewer: Are they bad reviews?

Sakurai: For example, people who want perfect stories in action movies. I think that the form of reviewing that says “the action was amazing, but the story was terrible” is in a way “wanting something you cannot get.”

Interviewer: Oh, so that’s what you mean.

Sakurai: I think that action movies are good if they have cool action scenes. If you add a bunch of plodding scenes because you think you need to have a good story, you’re reducing the “good parts” of the movie that everyone is here to see.

Interviewer: As a paying customer, though, I feel like even if it’s an action film, the best outcome would be if it had a good story too. …Although if you try to have both good action and a good story, there is the risk of muddling the focus of the movie.

Sakurai: On the other hand, I’m not expecting exceptional fight choreography from a human drama type film. I just don’t like seeing the style of criticism where you start with the maximum number of points and slowly take off points for whatever reasons. Although it’s just a personal opinion, of course.