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Famicom Disk System:
The More You Play It, the More You'll Want to Play! [Disk 1]
THE TRAGEDY OF METROID'S YOUNG DEVELOPERS
Mr. Kiyotake, what kinds of thoughts did you have when making Metroid?
Kiyotake: About that time, I would just make the kinds of images I liked because I was just joining the company, so I didn't have any thoughts like, "This is how games should be." So I thought it was ok to make what I wanted, and the company also gave me the liberty to do so. In those days, the game characters of big hits like Super Mario Bros. had only two or three frames of animation for the head and body. Because of this, I wanted to make something that felt a bit more realistic, and although I felt I could manage to do that when I began making Metroid, today it doesn't look realistic at all! (Laughs)
Didn't you do the design of Samus, Mr. Kiyotake?
Kiyotake: That was in the original Metroid.
Okawa: In those days, Metroid was not a game that used running animations. (To Mr. Kiyotake) What animations did you put in?
Kiyotake: These days I don't remember much, but we drew many frames. In the beginning, we used a lot of the storage capacity of the Disk System, and even the left and right poses were completely different. I think if you look carefully, the beam seems to shoot out of Samus' right hand. However, when she faces left, it shoots out of the left hand. This is because the higher-ups said, "Since we don't have the storage capacity, the left and right sides have to be identical!" (Laughs)*
*Actually, the left frames ARE still in the game, but are not used. Both the FDS disks and the cartridges have the storage capacity for unique left and right frames, so Mr. Kiyotake is probably referring here to the RAM, though he uses the term "storage capacity". It's possible either the programmers did not figure out how to do it, or they complied with the boss' request (probably Gumpei Yokoi) without removing the frames.
So you could say you flipped the same picture over.
Kiyotake: That's right. People would say things like, "Anyone could tell!" and I would rapidly erase the many pictures I'd drawn...
Sakamoto: I know the feeling! (Laughs)
Kiyotake: Still, I was crestfallen.
Sakamoto: At the beginning of the development phase, only Samus and the map graphics data had been done! (Laughs) After that, the enemies that had been made were no good, the BGM that had been put in was also no good, and among other things, even the last boss Mother Brain that had been put in was no good, and on top of that, there was never enough storage capacity...
Though you say you used a lot of storage, still, there really was a limit.
Sakamoto: Because of that, although this is also an inside story, there was a short opening demo we did. Samus comes out with bombs and the ball, runs around, and the game scrolls. My boss* instructed us to put it in, even though I had initially finished the game. I said, "Don't put in difficult situations," and so we made an opening where only the title appears. As this was a dirty era, even though I made something, I would usually think, "It won't fit, it won't fit. How do I make it fit?"
Kiyotake: So when the Disk System came out, it was as if we had torn open the wrapping paper,* and although you could say "I can do whatever I want!" despite making a lot, it was all eventually useless because...
*Lit. "The furoshiki suddenly expanded for them." Furoshiki are cloth used to wrap objects for transport. It's kind of like opening up wrapping paper.
Sakamoto: You should have had faith in [technology]! (Laughs)
Everyone: Roars with laughter.