What was the inspiration for going back to Sin & Punishment?
MM: Sorry, I can't answer anything about Sin & Punishment 2 right now. (laughs) For now, keep on playing the Virtual Console version of Sin & Punishment 1!
What do you consider to be a "next-gen" game? Is something like even important to a company like Treasure?
MM: Well, that's what Sin & Punishment 2 is for... (laughs) I haven't really worked on a console since we made Ikaruga, but the Wii is what I'm working on now.
We're a small company, so it's kind of tough for us to build the resources to work on the PS3 or whatnot, but while the Wii isn't exactly a "next-generation" machine, it's something that we're doing our best to challenge ourselves on.
Since your company is small and you have to sustain yourself on a game-by-game basis, is it more important now than before to choose your choice of platform carefully?
MM: It's really a case-by-case thing. I wouldn't say, though, that I have a real preference for one console or another, when it comes down to it.
Really, the best platform out there is the one where I can get a game completed and published on; I worry about the game long before I worry about the platform.
Treasure's Sin & Punishment 2
How do you decide when it's time to cut a game, that it's not going to plan? It doesn't happen that often, that a game is publicly announced in Japan, but doesn't come out. It's happened a few times with Treasure.
MM: Well, when something really just isn't working out, then it's usually pretty obvious among the staff. Once that happens, chances are pretty low that you can just put your head down and keep plugging away at the game, release it to public, and expect it to somehow work itself out.
Does Treasure ever do internally funded development, or is it all publisher-based?
MM: Well, there was Ikaruga, we did publish that ourselves. That was self-funded.
In terms of games based on licenses, like Bleach, is it important to you that the game retains your own mark, or is more important to stay true to the license or what the publisher wants?
MM: If I had to choose between one of the two, then naturally it's more important that you pay attention to the original work and stay faithful to it, for the sake of the people who're buying the game for that name. But you can't hold yourself back completely, either.
That's one of the challenges of a licensed game: how much you're able to express yourself while doing everything else you need to do. You don't want to go completely off track from the original work, because you run the risk of messing everything up and annoying fans. You don't want reviews saying "The game is fun, but it's nothing like the anime!"
I don't hate the original Bleach, but I don't really have any interest in pursuing it; I've never read it. But the game is a lot of fun.
MM: Taking the individual things that make up the work's characters and putting them together in a way that works well game-wise is the key thing.
That makes it easier for developers to steer the game in the direction they want, and it makes it easier for the players, too, of course.
Does Treasure have any interest in making an arcade fighting game?
MM: Don't you think we're pretty much past that era?
Street Fighter IV could revitalize the market for it.
MM: Well, I don't know; when you're talking about making a full-on arcade fighting game, you're talking a lot of development resources required for a game that not everyone has the ability to get into in the first place.
Could you make one that uses two buttons? Like, punch and kick? Like a Neo-Geo Pocket Color game?
MM: I think we could figure out a good game system along those lines, definitely. It's the rest of the project that would be a pain to implement.