I think it's probably a good idea. How many people are working at Taito now? The whole company, if you know?
KF: One-thousand, as official employees.
And we have temp staff, that's another thousand.
And all the permanent employees are in that same building? The one building?
KF: Yes. We have two offices, actually. The headquarters is in Tokyo, and we have an R&D center outside Tokyo. It's in Kanagawa prefecture. Actually, I used to be at the R&D center. Of course, Taito's got their own branches nationwide, so there must be [many more] employees there in charge of things, like the shop manager, and plenty of temps work there.
This is the multiplayer version of Bust-A-Move. You can play alone, but in that case, you have to play against the computer. [A game demo is shown.] We may develop Bust-A-Move as a standalone game for iPhone.
Actually Cooking Mama for iPhone would be very natural, because you have touch.
KF: Yeah, exactly. At the moment, due
to technical problems, I don't think we can develop Cooking Mama
for iPhone. Maybe we have to wait for Apple to allow us to develop native
applications for iPhones. At the moment, they don't allow us to develop
any native applications, so we have to develop the games working on
the web browser. There's a lot of technical limitations.
Yeah. That makes sense.
KF: Let me talk about Space Invaders, the 30th anniversary one.
Do you know how many remakes of Space Invaders...
KF: In the past?
Yeah. There have been a lot, at least like twenty.
KF: Officially, four or five. The first
one was Space Invaders, then the second one was Space Invaders
Part 2, which is almost the same as the original Space Invaders.
Do you not count
Space Invaders DX? It had a color film display on it.
KF: DX, I think they changed the name. DX should be Space Invaders Part 2 in Japan. The third one is called Return of the Invaders, and the fourth one is Majestic Twelve. I think it was released as Super Space Invaders '91 in the U.S. market. After that...
Oh wait, I think that was the PC Engine one that was released.
KF: I think so.
But that was not the same game,
because the one you mentioned was like Super Nintendo, I think.
KF: Part five was called... I think
this game is only developed for the Japan market. It's called Akkanvader.
There's no Space Invaders characters, but instead we put different
characters. But the character design is not really suitable for the
Western market, so that's why they didn't release it here.
It was very cute, like with octopus and stuff.
KF: This is for arcade machines, and
for consoles, there were plenty of Space Invaders. And Space
Invaders Extreme is coming out... so that will be the latest one.
Before that, we launched another version of Space Invaders five
years ago, which was the 25th anniversary. This Space Invaders
includes a 3D mode, adding 3D graphics to Space Invaders.
I have it.
KF: Oh, you have it? Great. There's
also versus mode, where two players can fight against each other.
It was kind of interesting. Since Taito was traditionally an arcade publisher, have there been big size changes over the years? Obviously it was huge for a while, but then when consoles were much more important, did it shrink down?
KF: I must admit that we have been
downsized a bit, because we used to have more than 1,000 on staff. I
think more than 200 of the staff are gone, so now the number of permanent
staff is slightly less than 1,000, I believe. It might be 900-something.
It's because of the new management policy, meaning Square Enix.
Because Taito used to be in the Kyocera Group. They used to be a shareholder, but they are no longer actually a shareholder, because Square Enix took over their stock. Before that, Taito was Taito. But the founder of Taito corporation, Michael Kogan, passed away in the late 1980s. He passed away in Los Angeles, actually. It seems like he didn't believe in Japanese hospitals. He preferred to come to the U.S. and be hospitalized, actually. (laughs)
Since he passed away, his wife couldn't have taken care of the business. That's how they decided to sell the personal stock to Kyocera, and that's how Taito became one of the piece of the group.