Page 1 — The First Foreign Employee of Nintendo
Page 2 — Working on the N64
Page 3 — Snowboarding in 64 Bits
Page 4 — N64DD, Doshin and Prototypes
Page 5 — Rock n’ Roll Wii and VR
Page 6 — Undersea Adventures on the 3DS and Smash
Page 7 — Bringing Tanks Online and Missed Opportunities
Page 8 — The Future of Vitei
Page 9 — Giles, The Enabler
Page 10 — The Future of Vitei and VR
Page 8 — The Future of Vitei
What kind of genre would you like to tackle next?
From Nintendo? I don’t really know. I think we are going to take a break for awhile and concentrate on something else.
Would you like to work on the Switch?
Yes. We have lots of ideas about that. It’s definitely something we are thinking about. I think the Switch is a really good console. If I was a kid, it’s like a dream come true console, isn’t it? If I had that as a kid, it would be mind blowing.
So do you see the Frontroom continuing to work with Nintendo?
Yeah, for the foreseeable future. I think we are going to take a break for awhile…there are a few really big things happening here in the Backroom. We don’t really have enough people for all of the [projects], so we will probably move more to this side of things now. That’s the ultimate goal. Try to be a bit more autonomous and not rely on Nintendo so much and not just be an out-sourcing team for them.
Is the Frontroom considered a 2nd party developer?
I guess it is. Or was. I don’t know the structure now.
Has the production process changed since you started working on video games?
Yeah, there’s certainly more people. The tech is a bit more complicated. The only difference is the amount of people but the basic process is the same. The difference is now that you need more people, you need to organize those people. In the old days when I just started, there were less people so it was really easy who was doing what.
Do you think Nintendo’s interactions with 2nd party or 3rd party developers has changed in the last couple of years…especially with the new focus on the ‘Nindies’ or the Nintendo Indies?
That’s an interesting one. I think internally they are only really interested in doing the big projects now…whether that was since Iwata-san passed away or not, I don’t know. But they are less inclined in doing experimental things now, I think. Maybe they think that all the experimental stuff can be handled by the ‘Nindies’. I’m not sure if Iwata-san would agree with the direction that Nintendo [is going] because that means that they are going to have to create bigger and bigger games every year. I’m not sure if that would be sustainable in the long term…I think Iwata-san had a very different vision for Nintendo.
What are your thoughts on Miyamoto?
I haven’t seen him in awhile. I’d imagine he’s just as busy as ever, I think he’s pretty busy with the USJ stuff.
Are there any series from Nintendo that you would like to work on? How about a Star Fox?
No. F-Zero would be an interesting one. I don’t think they would ever….because the expectations for these old-school games are so high now. The last F-Zero game was…F-Zero GX…and that was really expensive. It has to be bigger and better than F-Zero GX, and that would be a huge risk for them. Having said that…I really like the original F-Zero. I never got into GX as it felt more and more like Wipeout. The faster and more wide angle it got, the more Wipeout it felt. To me, F-Zero is all about those tight courses with the tight bends, and the skidding around and drifting. I’d love to go back and visit that kind of control scheme but make it a smaller experience. I don’t think they would as their current philosophy is just bigger and better.
There have been a lot of potential pitches that have been uncovered where outside companies would’ve worked on Nintendo IPs like F-Zero or Kid Icarus. Has Vitei ever pitched something like that to Nintendo?
We have. I don’t think I can remember which one, but Nintendo has a road map of things they are releasing. So it’s difficult to fit in there as they have a long term plan. Especially if it’s one of their IPs, then they have to really consider it. They can’t just give out one of their IPs.
There was a Kid Icarus game that was in development for awhile, but then it got shut down as it wasn’t meeting expectations.
I think that happens a lot — a lot more than people imagine.
Personally I’d really like to see a new Wave Race or 1080 as those kind of sports titles aren’t really well represented in Nintendo’s recent catalogue.
I have thought about 1080. [The series] has kind of moved on as they have done quite a number of them already. There’s only so much you can do with a snowboarding game until you are just making the same thing over and over again. So if we did, it’d have to be something very different. I think [Nintendo] is less inclined to do another 1080 if it’s just another 1080. It’s just bigger. That’s the reason I wouldn’t want to go on a new Star Fox. That’s gotta be bigger than Star Fox: Zero. The expectations are even higher due to people complaining about that one. People are going to want a bigger one and a better one. But I think from Nintendo’s point of view that was the best Star Fox. They are stuck between a rock and a hard place. The expectations are changing every year, as other games are influencing the fans. They are expecting that stuff to be in the game now.
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