You have said that your game was different from either Rock Band or Wii Music, and it's true, in all ways. No NanaOn-Sha games use peripherals, or employ an instrument as part of the interface or as analogy for the gameplay. They're more how to use the theme of music in a rhythm game -- why not make direct connections to real instruments?
MM: Yeah, that's a very good question. I really love real instruments -- really love. The game peripheral feels like it's very similar to an actual guitar, for example, but it's a little different for me.
As I told you, I really want to feel as if I'm playing the actual guitar... Of course the game controller and the real guitar, there's a very big difference between them, but if I can overcome these kinds of differences by making good software...
Maybe that is what's interesting to me. I really want to make the experience appeal derive from playing the software. It's a very potent thing.
Do you think it's better to have the difference in order to help alleviate the problem that we were talking about before? If someone's playing the fake Rock Band guitar and they feel like they're playing guitar, they might not ever play real guitar. But if they have a regular controller then they know that this isn't a guitar. Is that why you stick with controllers, so that they will still have something to aspire to with music and be like, "This was really fun and I felt like I was playing music but now I want to learn guitar."?
MM: Yeah. Also, there are also various kinds of instruments. So maybe if you do this kind of action [taps controller] it would simulate one kind of instrument. This is the kind of wide open mind that every musician has to have -- and music lovers should have. So I think the game controller is enough as a musical instrument.
I'm also curious and wondering about how about five years from now, when not so many people are playing Guitar Hero or Rock Band anymore. The many guitar controllers or drum controllers made of plastic, where do they go?
Have you ever seen that, in Africa, some countries are accepting e-waste from Europe? I saw so many CD and cassette players. I really don't like that kind of situation, [which is increased] by having the certain game software peripherals.
I really respect and appreciate that a real instrument is much more important in one single human's life. I was so surprised to hear, from my friend who is playing cello -- he told me he that he has one instrument that was made 500 years ago.
Five hundred years ago is a very nice duration to make a musical instrument. Maybe at least five or 10 players are playing that instrument.
Yeah, the older an instrument gets the more character it has and the more people desire it. But with games and software that's definitely not the case at all. It's a difficult situation to get around, because we have these platforms that begin and end. The industry doesn't do a good job of making sure that these things keep getting use and are able to continue.
It's still something of a disposable culture, video games. It seems especially difficult here in Japan, where developers are less likely to save their old documentation or builds of games.
DT: On Saturday I met this guy and he said he still has his PlayStation and PaRappa The Rapper only. Just uses it for PaRappa The Rapper, for like ten years. [laughter]
Another thing I wanted to ask you, regarding <i>Rock Band</i>. In an environment that's become very licensed music-heavy, you've always used original music created for the game. To me, licensed music is a waste, in a way, because I can hear it elsewhere; it seems like a wasted opportunity to show people something new. I'm curious about you feel about the whole thing.
MM: That's a really important question for me right now. Actually are doing the licensed music in Major Minor this time. [laughs]
MM: But I have to say, I wrote the soundtrack for the game, and we've got the license from a ready-made record. And also we used very popular traditional marching songs. It's kind of a public domain area. So we use both of those solutions.
The two songs we got a license for from the rights holder, are very important songs for me, personally. I have very personal reasons to get the licenses for them. About the PD song, we have been trying to user them in a unique way to make the soundtrack for the game. Maybe you will feel something...
DT: They're all PD songs, but I think we have done a good job with mixing them up and giving them new life.