The Metroid Database brings you a special guest translation of the Iwata Asks episode Metroid Prime 3: Corruption by the talented Sami R! Sami is a skilled translator from Finland with a Japanese language degree, and he is also a huge fan of Metroid! He volunteered to translate an article for us, and we graciously accepted! A HUGE thank you for all your hard work! Now please enjoy this special issue of Iwata Asks, released February 29, 2008 in Japan, but never available in English until now.
1. Playing with Intuitive Controls
Playing with Intuitive Controls
No one probably expected Metroid Prime 3: Corruption would be featured in one of our issues of Iwata Asks. However, this was really something I wanted to do, so now we have gathered here to conduct this interview. I will touch on the reason why I wanted to do this a bit later, but now, I’d like two of the people who were in charge of the project to introduce themselves.
My name is [Kensuke] Tanabe, and I am the production manager at Production Group No. 3 at the Software Planning and Development Division. I was the producer of this game. Originally, I was hired into the Entertainment Analysis & Development (EAD) sector of the company. Under Miyamoto-san, I first worked on software for the Famicom Disk System,(※1) and eventually participated in the development of Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past [known as Legend of Zelda: Triforce of the Gods in Japan] for the Super Nintendo [Super Famicom in Japan]. After that, I was put in charge of game development partnerships with other studios. The first game I worked on in this capacity was Hal Laboratory’s Kirby’s Dream Course [Kirby Bowl in Japan]. This was the first time that I had the pleasure of working with you. ※1: Famicom Disk System: Peripheral released for the Famicom in Feburary 1986, the Japanese version of the Nintendo Entertainment System. It allowed players to play games on floppy disks, but was never released outside of Japan.
Since Kirby’s Dream Course came out back in 1994, we’ve now known each other for quite a long time.
Yes, it’s been about 15 years now, hasn’t it? After that, from around the time the Nintendo 64 was released, I was put in charge of many co-productions with various Western developers. Around 2001, I was placed in charge of Retro Studios, who is the developer behind the Metroid Prime series. And then, from about 2004, I’ve been spending my life travelling between Kyoto and their headquarters in Austin, Texas.
That must mean that out of all the employees at Nintendo, you are easily the most knowledgeable about Texas.
Actually, I have to admit that I don’t know Texas all that well. Whenever I’m over there, the only travelling I end up doing is between my hotel room and Retro Studios, and moreover, when work is finished, I immediately return to Japan.
I see. I remember back when I was still working at Hal Laboratory, even though I used to travel often to Kyoto for business, the only places I really got to know was the train station, Nintendo’s headquarters, and my hotel room. I really didn’t get to know Kyoto at all. I guess it was essentially the same with me then. (Laughs) Shall we move on to you, Tabata-san?
My name is [Risa] Tabata. I work at Production Group No. 3 as well, and for this project, I held the role of assistant producer. I entered the company around 2001, back when Tanabe-san first began working with Retro Studios, and I was quickly assigned to his group. The first full-blown project which I was assigned to handle was the original Metroid Prime, which was released in 2002. This has led me to be involved with this third installment of the series as well.
So basically, you’ve been attached to the series for seven years now, ever since you joined the company. Now, there is one thing about this project that I felt was very impressive. This was also the reason I wanted to introduce this game in an Iwata Asks. This leads me back to the time when, during a meeting at my office with Tanabe-san and yourself, you granted us a gameplay demonstration of the title, which was then still in development.
I remember being really surprised when I saw you demoing the game for us. You looked really splendid defeating enemies one after another with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk.
Even appearing before the president, Tabata-san looked like she wasn’t nervous at all. It probably wasn’t just because she was using this new highly-advanced controller that she looked so cool.
Of course, I’m sure there were other factors involved as well. However, as someone who has become an advocate for expanding the gaming population, it was – even though I know I shouldn’t hold such stereotypical views – still amazing to see a lady like Tabata-san playing an FPS-style game in such a smooth and effortless manner. Back when the Wii was still in development, we claimed that with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, playing FPS games would become more intuitive. However, while this has been harshly debated ever since, seeing Tabata-san play the game with my own eyes, I once again felt the possibilities attached to the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. The image had a strong impact on me. Therefore, this image became something that I really wanted to show off to everyone, so I ended up suggesting to NOA to have a young woman demo the game at our 2006 E3 press conference. This was an idea that came to me when I saw you demoing the game.
Oh, is that so? (Laughs)
I know that especially in America, the FPS genre is very popular, but in Japan this really is not the case. It seems that people think the games are hard to control. But since this title uses the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, controlling the game has become considerably more intuitive…
While the development of Metroid Prime 3 wasn’t deliberately launched in the name of “expanding the gaming population,” looking at it from a wider perspective, I believe this game too could serve as a factor in furthering this mission. It is often said that attracting people who don’t play games, or people who have – for whatever reason – quit playing games, is the sole purpose of this mission, but I think that introducing a wider group of people to genres that they have previously been prejudiced against should also be a major part of this mission. The image of a woman like Tabata-san, seemingly effortlessly playing Metroid Prime 3 – a game that at first glance looks very difficult – left a strong impression on me as a symbol of this idea. However, I guess for Tabata-san it must have felt like just another day of demoing a game at work, and I’m just making a big deal out of nothing.
Even though you were kind enough to tell me, “Wow, you are playing very well!” it’s not like I was deliberately trying to look cool. Of course, since it was a title that I was personally involved with, it makes sense that I would be better at playing it than most other people. That said, it truly is a pleasant experience, a game that can be enjoyed effortlessly.
So, playing with two controllers – the Wii Remote and Nunchuk – really is more intuitive, compared to using only one, like in Metroid Prime 2?
Could you give us a brief explanation about these intuitive new controls to us?
You aim the “gun” with the pointer. While pointing in the direction you wish to shoot, you press the A Button to shoot your enemies. Moreover, the camera moves seamlessly where you are pointing, so your targets enter your field of vision smoothly. Basically, the player doesn’t need to worry about the camera. If the player wants to move, he or she can just push the control stick on the Nunchuk. This control method has a similar feeling to just moving your eyes to where you want to aim.
Furthermore, with these controls, it’s possible to move easily and aim and shoot at the same time, so many people will feel reluctant to return to the controls of the older games.
By the way, Tabasa-san, this might seem like an abrupt question, but about how much were you playing games before you joined Nintendo?
I did play games once in a while. I got a Famicom [Japanese version of the Nintendo Entertainment System] when I was in sixth grade. It was around the time when the Super Famicom was really popular. I played games like Super Mario Bros. with my brother, who was two years younger than me. When I entered senior high school, I completely stopped gaming, but during my college days, I bought a Game Boy Color and Mario’s Picross from a game store I happened to stop by. I used to play it in short bursts when I had some free time. Overall, I can’t say I was the type to be totally immersed in the world of gaming.
If I recall correctly, you were originally hired to do office work and were quite surprised when you were assigned to the game development section instead.
I was surprised. In college, my major was Chinese. Because I was originally a humanities student, I believed that even if I was hired by Nintendo, it was 100% certain that it would only be for office work. Nevertheless, when they announced, “Tabata-san will be assigned to Entertainment Analysis & Development,” I remember feeling extremely confused, wondering, “What kind of post is that exactly?” That was because I had only prepared myself for the possibility of office work, and therefore hadn’t really listened to their explanation about EAD during the orientation for new company employees. (Laughs)
You weren’t the type to be totally addicted to games to begin with, and you didn’t join the company hoping to make games yourself, either. Of all things, you were assigned to work on the Metroid Prime series. And now, after entering the company, you’ve been involved with this strand of software for more than seven years. This seems like quite the quirk of fate. Life can be quite interesting, don’t you agree?