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Straight from the Source – Kenichi Nishi (Captain Rainbow)

We sat down with Kenichi Nishi at BitSummit Vol. 6 and talked about Captain Rainbow, becoming a dad and working with Nintendo! The interview was conducted by PushDustin, Nirbion, and MasterofBear.

Big thanks to Brando, and Craig for help with the transcription and checking the translations!

Check out more of our BitSummit coverage here.

Remember to follow us on Twitter to stay up to date, straight from the source.

Push: I really enjoyed GiFTPiA, thank you.
Kenichi: You played in Japanese?

Push: Yes.
Kenichi: Ah, I’m glad you enjoyed it.

Push: In Smash for 3DS and Wii U, Asatte Kimi wo Naru, from Wii’s Captain Rainbow was used as a music track for Little Mac’s stage. Were you approached before Nintendo added that song?
Kenichi: The characters and sub-characters in both Captain Rainbow and Smash are all owned by Nintendo so I was not contacted about it.

Push: Looking back, what do you think about Captain Rainbow now that’s been several years?
Kenichi: Hmmm…It’s a bit like an indie festival… Working with the sub-characters instead of the major or popular characters, the smaller, sub-characters whom also have a place in my heart… It was really interesting to work on such a project.

Push: When planning Captain Rainbow, were there any other characters that you were considering to add?
Kenichi: I wrote up a list of characters and Nintendo replied if those characters were okay to use or not. In the end, I couldn’t use half of the list.

Push: Both GiFTPiA and Captain Rainbow are both ‘easy, relaxing games…’ ‘nonbiri’ if you will. Why do you choose to develop games like that?
Kenichi: It’s because I am ‘nonbiri’ (laughs). Games for me, are something to relax with after an exhausting day at work. Of course, there’s an option to play hardcore games, but I prefer to play relaxing games to keep my spirits up after work.

Push: I believe you had an interview with Itoi, where you talked about the start of GiFTPiA, and how difficult it was to get accepted and the funding. Can you talk a little more about that and how those experiences may connect to the indie scene in Japan?
Kenichi: Ah, that was an interesting interview. At that time, I had a project plan but I was looking for a sponsor so I could create it. If I didn’t get funding, I couldn’t make it. The reason being is because I had a company which housed 20-30 staff members, and I had to pay them. I met up with Super Mario’s Shigeru Miyamoto and he provided the money which allowed GiFTPiA to be made.
These days, creators can use XCode, or Unity and make a game. I feel that because of that, the game industry is more open. Here at BitSummit, I see so many youngsters making all sorts of cool games. There are so many cool games that I just really want them to stop! [laughs]

Push: GiFTPiA seemed to have a planned English release, it was reported on by IGN. What exactly happened to it?
Kenichi: It was god’s divine will. [laughs]
It’s not just about translation… There’s also promotion and other things that cost a lot of money. In the end, it was just a game that wasn’t very marketable to countries outside of Japan. God told me no.

Push: What are your thoughts on the Chibi-Robo series now that you’ve left Skip?
Kenichi: I first made a Chibi-Robo game on the Gamecube, but with the latest one he can be controlled by a touch pen on the 3DS. Playing the touch pen with a small screen is a unique experience. You can see all the intricate details and move the character in incremental manner, so I think that’s a really unique aspect of the 3DS game.

Push: Another random question, but you seem to have special thanks in Paper Mario: Sticker Star for the 3DS. Why?
Kenichi: [In English] I don’t know.
[everyone laughs]
Kenichi: (after a long pause, in English) I don’t know.
[everyone laughs]
Kenichi: I’m not aware of being credited…Sometimes special thanks are given to people who give advice, or involved in some way. For example, when a friend shows a project and you suggest something.

Push: Let’s talk a little bit about LUNAXXX. You are involved with the game’s story. Can you tell us about it?
Kenichi: LUNAXXX is a Switch game, but Lunatan is a game we released on the mobile platforms. LUNAXXX is the prequel of Lunatan. Lunatan is a story that takes place on a distant planet where people used too much energy so that brought a huge tsunami which washed everything away. In LUNAXXX you have to save things before they get destroyed. You have to help the creatures from the bottom of the surface. The main character has to go down and rescue the creatures.

Push: Are you planning a worldwide release?
Kenichi: We are first planning on releasing in Japan. Afterwards, we will consider if we can release it worldwide.

Push: A lot of your games have only been released in Japan. Do you think that you are focused mainly on the Japanese market or Japanese gamers?
Kenichi: It’s not at all like that. I’m thinking about the whole world, but other countries tend not to take a liking to my games. There are other legal issues, such as rights, so I can’t release them without the permission from the right’s holders. There are some games that I can release on my own, and I’d like to release them if people overseas are interested.

Push: When you are developing a game what are thinking about first? For example, the gameplay or the story?
Kenichi: It’s case by case, but usually I think about the settings. Sometimes I get offers to use certain technology or I get approached by people to use an IP to make a game. Other times the games just come from my imagination. So, there are a lot of ways I can begin to formulate a game.

Push: Is there anything that you would like gamers from around the world—not from Japan to know about you?
Kenichi: Please play my games.
(everyone laughs)
Kenichi: I think that enjoying a game, being surprised or just having fun that’s boundary free. It’s not tied to race or religion. There are many games that cross international borders. There are games leaving Japan, and entering Japan. I hope these games won’t be limited if there isn’t interest in certain regions. I think enjoying a game is not tied to regions.

Push: After LUNAXXX finishes, what is your next project?
Kenichi: My next project is Bedtime with Runny which I spoke a little about here on the stage at BitSummit. It’s something to help put kids to sleep.

Push: Ah yes, it looks like a story book and players can control the wind.
Kenichi: That’s right.

Push: Ah, it was fun.
Kenichi: Thank you. It’s a game that’s really enjoyable for 3-6-year-old children. The fun that adults experience is different, so I hope if you have children you can experience this with them. When children play it they become really engrossed. One interesting aspect about the game is that when it’s night time, the characters will tell the children that they can’t play because they are too tired. If the kids put in certain messages in the game, it will be sent to their parents who might be working late at night. This will release worldwide at the same time. Actually, I have a child who is turning three in July, so I mostly made this game for them. It’s really a personal game for me. Long ago, I made games to impress women, but now I create games for my kid so I guess my mindset has really changed.

Push: You’ve become a dad! Thank you for your time today.

If you are interested in learning more about LUNAXXX, check out our interview with Pgymy Studios.

Straight from the Source: Pygmy Studios (LUNAXXX, Nintendo Switch)

Check out more of our BitSummit coverage here.

Remember to follow us on Twitter to stay up to date, straight from the source.