This interview was taken from the Japanese Nintendo Online Magazine. The interview was conducted in June 2004, Volume 71. The magazine also included a play report of Zero Mission.
Metroid Zero Mission Development Staff Interview

Development Staff Interview
Samus For this issue, we played through this remake of a masterpiece and happily saw it to completion and thought, "It was difficult to have gotten this far!" No doubt there were some hidden difficulties and events while it was being made. Well, what stories will leap out this time?

We Inserted the Expertise Gained from Metroid Fusion
N.O.M - Please tell us some details about what you worked on prior to this project.

Ryuichi Nakada & Takayasu MorisawaNakada - We'd finished the previous project (Metroid Fusion), and when we were talking about what we should do next, we wanted to make use of this system we had created, so I said, let's make one more Metroid game, and so that became this title. For the most part everyone thought the same thing, so we made it in the form of a remake of the first Metroid plus an additional episode.

Morisawa - Since we had finished the game engine itself, first we decided what all visual images we should use. Like what kind of graphics would be good.

Nakada - Based on that, we began shifting the work over to the GBA. Adding in Samus's movements... This time, we consciously made Samus's movements quicker and more agile than in Fusion. Our goal was to make her faster. We deliberately made those map locations as well as the item locations so that the image of the original version was left unchanged, so people who played the original would go, "Oh, yeah..."

Fujii - We were full of technical know-how from making Fusion, so we could cut extraneous locations and put in additional elements that were even better. I played the original Metroid a lot back when it was released. Since it was a title I loved, I put a lot of emotion into Zero Mission.

N.O.M - Did all of you play the original Metroid often?

Nobuhiro Ozaki / ProgrammingOzaki - I played it every day. It felt like I cleared it about once a day (laughs). On the other hand, I was the type of person who couldn't play Mario at all. I'm not very good at games with the tense feeling you get where you die if you miss once.

Fujii - I couldn't clear it no matter what I did. For places I couldn't get past, I would bring it to my friend, but one day there was a time he went through a wall. That was really quite dramatic. "You went through a wall?!" Eventually, the Disk System's battery cut out,* and that was par for the course! (Laughs)

*The Famicom Disk System was capable of running on six C-cell batteries or an AC adapter.

N.O.M - What were the points this time around that you were particularly conscious of?

Takaya Fujii / Sound Program , Sound EffectsMorisawa - As far as the graphics went, it was differentiating them from the previous game. I was instructed by the director [Yoshio Sakamoto] to consciously give them a touch of American comics. To give an example of the backgrounds, with Fusion, we could draw in as many colors as could be shown, but with Zero Mission, we had to be clear about what colors you could use and which ones you could not use, and that limited the number of colors. If we purposefully used too much black, it would feel dark. But black lines are the basis of American comics, right? So that was the result that we wanted to reflect.

Nakada - Regarding the map, with the previous game, Fusion, you follow the navigation instructions down one path, but this time we gave you a degree of freedom, and you were aware that to a certain extent you could go from place to place, even if you didn't have the equipment. That way, we took all kinds of great care in tuning those parts so there would be no places where you'd get stuck.

Fujii - Last time, there were also parts where we fumbled a little, but this time, we consciously raised the sound quality. We reworked the whole thing. Because we were conscious of the mood of American comics...we also kept that in mind. Because this was a remake, I thought there really wasn't going to be as much volume, but it was ridiculous! (Laughs)

In the beginning, Samus was three heads tall?
N.O.M - What sorts of concepts and images carried over from the first game?

Morisawa - The overall image is "serious", so Metroid's characters are said to be "uncharacteristic of Nintendo characters". Even though Samus is a woman, the story is also edgy. It isn't lighthearted; it's a game that has a slightly dark universe, you know?

N.O.M - What is the reason why the series has been supported for such a long time?

Nobuhiro Ozaki, Takayasu MorisawaOzaki - There are elements that have built onto the story, and the clear time is displayed and you're given the item collection results; I suppose if you include these elements, people will play it over and over again.

Morisawa - One reason is probably the mechanic for finding items. This time around, the item collection rate is also displayed at the end, but ordinarily, if you looked for items and tried to clear the game, in reality, you wouldn't get more than a 50-60% collection rate. In order to get 100%, you'd play it again...and it's fun and interesting to try that many times. On the other hand, there are many who play to get the fastest clear time. But there can be a variety of ways to enjoy it other than clearing the game...so shouldn't there be some reason to support that?

Nakada - Although the image of the series hasn't changed, each time, there's something new to try. I wonder if you can see that here. This time, with Zero Mission, there's a part in the last half featuring suitless Samus, and you can only run away or hide. That's the new thing to try this time.

N.O.M - Are there any memorable events that occurred in the course of development?

Fujii - Nothing in particular, but...maybe when my PC hard drive crashed. Somehow everything was safe, but when it happened, my face went completely white! (Laughs)

Ozaki - Nakada planned all kinds of elements to include in the game, and no matter how many times they were rejected, he persistently put them into the program! (Laughs) If it's no good here, then what about here...that's how he was.

Nakada - But they did ask me how I was doing.

Ozaki - One of the plans was to make it so you could play the Famicom version of Metroid, but even that we had to push to get it in there. However, if we told them they could buy one from the Famicom Mini,* we would make money.

*The Famicom Mini Series was Japan's version of the Classic NES Series. The original Metroid was available both as a standalone game and as an unlockable in Metroid: Zero Mission

N.O.M - If you told them that, surely you'd have made a profit! (Laughs)

Takayasu Morisawa / DesignMorisawa - The thing is, in the very beginning, the visual style was different. We were making it to kind of faithfully reproduce the original version on the GBA, but if we did it that way, Samus would also be three heads tall, and her movements would be jerky. Everyone might have forgotten this, but the period of the Disk System was like that. It seemed a little cute, and we had finished all the designs to match it, but NOA told us to stop.

Nakada - They told us that a Metroid game that wasn't realistic would never work. Of course, this is a title that sells extremely well overseas, so NOA's opinions were essential. It turned out that when our global demographic saw it, they said realistic was better, so we changed directions.

Morisawa - Well, we actually tried to remake it, and, well, Metroid's universe matched well with a realistic atmosphere, and there were even parts we saw in a new light! (Laughs)

A little of this and that made for a great Metroid Zero Mission
N.O.M - What specific instructions did the designer [Yoshio Sakamoto] give you?

Ryuichi Nakada / Map DesignNakada - Although I can't tell you the details, he came out with ideas for portions of the first half of the game. We went through quite a bit of trial and error in how to implement and include them.

Morisawa - The story and visual appearance changed, and we primarily checked those parts to make sure the game's universe hadn't been broken by inserting those new elements. However, I think after that we did things comparatively freely. There was a border for whether or not it would get an OK, and if we stepped over that, it probably wouldn't be any good. Even for new aspects, if everything fit together, the results were extremely positive, and it had great balance, then it seemed alright.

N.O.M - What are your impressions upon having finished the project?

Fujii - I based the sound on listening to the original version, but since since there were significantly more parts added, I was able to work while having fun. However, since the job of adding sound always comes at the end of a project, the amount of work included in the home stretch was also immense.

Morisawa - The seniors in the department who we made Fusion with were all veterans, but this time, we were concerned since those people were absent. Also, with the allocation of work, the parts that we could do promoted the feeling that we could do anything. While making the game screen, we made the logo, and the drawing went around to everyone...it was like that. But as a result, I think we completed some quality work.

Nakada - In the beginning, there were many things we had planned to make, and we tried to complete them, and so far, there haven't been a lot of things we were unable to accomplish. But this time around, here and there we laid the groundwork for the game as early on as we could, and we were able to realize about half of it. Oh, but please don't think, "They did only half of it!" - usually we can't even do half of what we set out to accomplish, so this time we did really well! (Laughs)

N.O.M - Well, please give a message to our readers.

Metroid: Zero Mission Development Staff InterviewOzaki - Even if you've played the original Metroid, it's still worth picking up. We've added a new part to the scenario, so please enjoy playing it. Please enjoy it, even though in that section you're being pursued by "lobsters" (Zebesians)! (Laughs)

Morisawa - I hope that fans of the original and, of course, players new to the series will enjoy picking it up. If you're interested, please play it!

Fujii - There is plenty of additional material that has been added by the staff. It will be new even to those who played it long ago. I hope you will enjoy it.

Nakada - I hope that even people who haven't gotten into the Metroid series before now will have the opportunity and want to play it. And after you've cleared the game once, do an item collection run next! Please participate through the official site. -->http://metroid.jp/metroid_version2/

N.O.M - Thank you very much!