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Famicom Disk System:
The More You Play It, the More You'll Want to Play! [Disk 1]
THE REASON WHY ADVENTURE GAMES AREN'T RELEASED BY NINTENDO
When the Disk System was introduced, did the breadth of game genres seem to expand?
Sakamoto: Absolutely. Since the storage increased, beyond stage-clear [games], a spread of [games] with story came out, and I think the choices of making games also expanded. RPGs like Zelda came out, and the expanded possibility of games done on the Disk System was huge!
Since the storage capacity expanded, naturally, it was easy to make adventure games like Famitan*, right?
*Short for Famicom Tantei Club, also known as Famicom Detective Club. A text adventure game designed and written by Yoshio Sakamoto. The game is a mystery where a student has been murdered and the player takes the role of a detective who must solve the case. The game was influenced by the films of Dario Argento.
Osawa: As for games that an adventurous story as their center, there was some concern for why we hadn't done them once or twice and why Nintendo hadn't become involved in this genre, but since the Disk System could be overwritten, we tried making them. Because of that, in this period, Shin Onigashima and Yuuyuuki (1989),* among others, came out, you know.
*Shin Onigashima and Yuuyuuki were two "Famicom Fairytales" produced by Nintendo and Pas Softonica. The games are based on Japanese and Chinese folklore and legends such as Momotaro and The Journey to the West. Both games were never released in the US.
But after the Disk System, adventure games developed by Nintendo have almost never come out, right?
Sakamoto: That's correct. The last one that came out was the Disk System's Time Twist (1991). Apart from the possibility of Nintendo [making one], personally, I had the feeling that the plots of text adventures had evolved considerably. There were more and more commands, and this changed their evolution. There were sound novels by Chunsoft, and I take it they had a system similar to Phoenix Wright. However, with the patterns that go into a story like Famitan, there are a few differences... What this means is an adventure like Famitan followed the flow of the times, and we hadn’t discovered parts that evolved in terms of drama, so that was also naturally a reason we made types of games other than adventures. What I mean by that is I had personally pushed images off to the side. Beyond that, in cases like this, things got pretty intense. Expression also became more and more radical, so in that sense it was difficult for me to get involved. Now they have come out in the form of the Famicom Mini, and although I thought, “Will this be the form?” I personally think it is difficult for a new [adventure game] to come out from Nintendo.
Amongst our readers, there are those who have written letters to us over the years on saying, "I want to play a new Famitan!" Is it really that difficult for a new one to come out?
Sakamoto: With regards to that, although I think the company has its own ideas, I wonder if it would be difficult for even me to make something bloody like that.
To think about Famitan and Shin Onigashima, these were very Japanese-style software to come out on the Disk System. Does that seem to be the reason the Disk System did not come out in America?
Sakamoto: That's about right. However, in those days, they would say things about the Disk System like, "Can you do this on there?" and anyway, there was the feeling of, "Make more products!" In that sense, I think it was difficult [to make games for the US market]...
I guess that was the time when a designer met a newcomer and said "Make a game!" right?
Sakamoto: Well, certainly now there is an inclination to consider the trends of international games. Natural unit sales have changed. However, in those days, we first of all considered what was around us, and we didn't consider whether things that sold well in Japan might sell well overseas. Therefore, to that extent, we didn't make software that was conscious of the overseas market. Our ideas were also free, even when we made Famitan 2; since there were things to do left over from the first game, I said, "Let me do this!" and begged my boss to allow it. That's the degree of freedom we had.