Atsushi Inaba is the renowned head of Capcom’s now-dissolved Clover Studio, which was responsible for the original titles Steel Battalion, Viewtiful Joe, Okami, and God Hand, among others. We were able to interview him at the Tokyo Game Show, though we later learned he had already left Capcom, perhaps to pursue work on his own.
We spoke with Inaba about his colorful history, as well as the particular flavor of games made in the southern regions (Kansai) of Japan’s main island, Honshu. Inaba also had some interesting words regarding Capcom’s future, even though we were not yet fully aware of his departure, having heard only rumors at that point. Regardless of his current status, I personally feel that we will hear from Atsushi Inaba and his partner-in-design Hideki Kamiya again in the near future.
Gamasutra: When did you join Capcom?
Atsushi Inaba: 1998, so eight years ago.
GS: And where were you before that?
AI: Before that I was at SNK.
GS: And what did you do there?
AI: I was on the Samurai Showdown team. I was doing programming work.
GS: Did you have another industry job prior to that?
AI: Yeah, before SNK I was at Irem.
GS: What did you work on there?
AI: Right after I entered Irem, the company downsized, so I worked on the last R-Type game, but it was a quick descent from there.
GS: So that was R-Type Leo, I guess. You were part of the group that left with Nazca and joined SNK? (Note: Nazca is the team that made In the Hunt and Gunforce when they were with Irem, and went on to do Metal Slug for SNK.)
AI: You’re pretty well informed. That’s all correct, I went from Irem to Nazca to SNK. This is really nostalgic talk for me, actually!
GS: Do you keep up with people from SNK? Or do you watch their progress at all?
AI: Well basically I didn’t enjoy working at SNK at all, so I have absolutely no interest in what they’re doing now! (laughs)
GS: When you joined Capcom, what kind of game did you want to make?
AI: Well when I was at SNK, I looked in Famitsu and saw that Capcom was hiring for Resident Evil, and thought man, I’d love to work on the next Resident Evil if I could get out of here. I really wanted to work on the series. But during the interview, they asked if I would want to be on any other teams, and if there was anything else I was interested in, and I said no. Just Resident Evil.
GS: Which was that?
AI: It was Resident Evil 3. And I actually did get on the Resident Evil 3 team, but when I joined there was a Resident Evil 1.5 project, which actually became Resident Evil 3. When the PS2 came out, the Resident Evil 3 team’s name was changed to the Resident Evil 4 team. That didn’t go so well, so we thought – “what can we do with this,” and Devil May Cry was the result. So I never wound up being involved in a released Resident Evil game.