GS: What do you think of Resident Evil 4?
Well you can ask me what I think of it, but I’ve never played the final
version. I would see how the development was going, and play it
sometimes, and I thought it was really interesting. I was really busy
with work, but I often went to the development area and played it. What
Shinji Mikami did with it was pretty amazing, I thought.
GS: After all that, how did you wind up starting Clover?
AI: After I left the Resident Evil 4/Devil May Cry
team, I became a producer at Capcom. The stuff I was doing was pretty
original, and had lots of creativity to it, so I thought, maybe it
should be differentiated from the company. So Shinji Mikami and I had
an idea to set up a brand where it would be clear that these were to be
the original games. So Capcom would make their games, and we would be
within Capcom, but we would be making our games. So the idea to set up
a company within the company, for original games, came in around 2002.
GS: Where did the name come from?
People seem to like this question! Well we thought pretty hard about
it, and it comes from Mikami’s name and mine. It takes the ‘mi’ from
his name, meaning three, and the ‘ba’ from my name, meaning leaf. Put
those together and it’s ‘three leaves,’ so even though the logo is a
four-leaf clover, the idea actually comes from what plant would have
GS: Especially since you came from SNK, it seems you’re
very much a kansai (southern part of the main island of Japan)
person, with Capcom and SNK both based in Osaka. Do you think
the southern culture has a big impact on the type of game people
in that region make?
AI: I think that recently the differences in those games have
gotten smaller, but I do think they’re different. Comparing
to the games made in Tokyo, I think those made in Osaka are have
a stronger taste. They’re stronger in general, more power.
There are fewer developers total in Osaka now, with just Irem,
SNK and Capcom remaining, really, so that difference is definitely
going away, but I feel like there’s a power in games that
can only be achieved in Osaka.
GS: Can you explain the collaboration with Clover, Nudemaker
and Grasshopper that happened early in Clover’s career?
This was around the time of Steel
Battalion and all of that.
AI: Nudemaker and Grasshopper were two companies that resulted from the death of Human. They started doing their own things. Steel
was something we were working on with the Nudemaker team while they
were still at Human, before they were even Nudemaker. They were kind of
freelance ‘heroic’ game designers, and as we were making the game, they
decided to form their own company. We decided we liked them and wanted
to work with them, so that was the partnership there.
Grasshopper’s case, we really respected Goichi Suda (Suda51), he’s a
genius designer. So even though we weren’t sure how things would work
if we ever collaborated on a project, we look forward to everything he
GS: Is that how the Killer 7 collaboration with Capcom came about?
AI: So Killer 7 was a design document that was brought
to Shinji Mikami by Goichi Suda and Grasshopper. We didn’t
send them staff or anything like that, Suda simply wanted Mikami
to produce his game. In the case of Nudemaker, it was a collaboration
and mixing of both of our staff.
GS: Is Nudemaker also based in the south, or no?
AI: They’re in Tokyo.
GS: Was it difficult to work with a team outside your general sphere of communication?
AI: They all came to Osaka to work on it with us. With Killer
7 though, where the development was done in Tokyo, and the production side was in Osaka, being separated was rather difficult.