[Gamasutra sits down for an in-depth interview with Beatmania co-creator Reo Nagumo and former Q Games exec Reo Yonaga (Lumines) to reveal their new, thus far iPhone-centric developer Yudo, as well as possible plans for console titles and hopes for Microsoft's Natal.]
Outside of a group of dedicated music game fans, Reo Nagumo's name isn't that recognizable -- despite being the original co-creator of Beatmania, the original button-pushing, color-matching music game.
Konami's innovative series of Bemani titles eventually and directly birthed, through inspiration and a dash of cultural refinement, to the successes of music game titles Rock Band and Guitar Hero.
Reo Yonaga, on the other hand, is probably even less famous -- despite being deeply involved in many of Q Entertainment's games, including directing or being heavily involved in titles like Lumines, Every Extend Extra, and Ninety-Nine Nights at Tetsuya Mizuguchi's studio.
Now, the two have formed their own company, Yudo, which has found success on the iPhone with apps like the Matrix Music Pad (which Yudo describes not as a "game", but as a "media art app") and its SV-5 vocoder and synthesizer software. There's also Ninja Honda Karate -- its adorable 8-bit style music game, or its 8-bit synth app, 8bitone.
Gamasutra caught up with these two innovators to discuss the state of the industry that has lead so many Japanese creators to leave established developers and break out on their own, as well as discover what the company's plans are. The future of the music game genre is also discussed -- relevant, given the down trend it's seen this year.
First off, Mr. Yonaga, why did you leave Q and go to a different outfit?
Reo Yonaga: I wanted to create something new, and there was a short list of companies that I had in mind which I thought would be a useful environment for that purpose. Under that same timing -- well, there were several companies I was talking to, but -- the first one that fully understood my idea and said to me "let's do this" was Yudo. I've only just joined the company; I've been here about 40 or 50 days now, and I'm loving every minute of it.
How has it been working with Mr. Nagumo?
RY: Well, he's been a partner in my unit, and now he's also my boss in the company I work for. I've come to know him in a lot of different environments, and I think we'll come to know each other even more in the stuff we do together from here on in. We're the same age, and we were both born in Yokohama, too, so maybe it's sort of destiny. (laughs)
As for you, Mr. Nagumo, why did you leave Konami to go to your own company?
Reo Nagumo: Konami's a great company and I had a lot of freedom there, but when you make popular games and become a known name in the industry, your time gets consumed by business and money matters; you run out of energy to do creative things. I wanted to shift back to that sort of thing and make new things on my own, so I went back to school and then built my own company.
You were the creator of Beatmania.
What do you think of the more recent Beatmania games?
RN: (laughs) Oh, I think they're making games which do everything to keep fans of Beatmania happy. But I think that's all they do. It doesn't have that craziness to it. I don't think they have any really crazy people working on it anymore.
Ninja Honda Karate
You can't make a fun game without some craziness.
RN: They're all salarymen. At the company, it's all marketing, and they just go on and on about their marketing stuff...
In English, you'd say "yes-man".
RN: Yes-man, yes-man, yes-man! That's right. I'm definitely not like that.
I hear you. Where did the idea for it come from?
RN: That idea came back when I was working overseas. I worked on it during Saturdays and Sundays. People thought it was pretty neat, and after this and that I brought it to Konami and asked if they were interested. That's the basic story.