Essentially, this game isn't actually a Famicom game. If it were burned to a cartridge, it wouldn't actually run on a Famicom. It is a duplication of the Famicom capabilities, but within a modern game engine and technology.
HT: Well, when you put it that way... (laughter) This couldn't fit on a Famicom cartridge. It's too big. It's too much for that. It's really emulating the old style of games. But we're hoping that when people play, they feel the same nostalgia that they have when they play the original games.
You talked about how people were trying to graphically exceed the capabilities of the Famicom, but what about the temptation to exceed some other capabilities, such as flicker, slowdown, sprite limits, and stuff like that? Was it really hard to get people to stay within the confines of what they could have done, if this had come out after Mega Man 6 in 1993?
HT: Yeah, there were some things, like you couldn't have more than three enemies on the screen at once, so we had to make sure that that's how it stayed in our game. In the part with the dragon with the flame, [there should be] flickering, and whatnot.
In the options of this game, you can adjust that, unlike the old games. We purposely put some of those old-school bugs into this game, so it does recreate that feel.
That's amazing. When you're working on this game and working with the staff, a lot of developers have told me that on the one hand, limitations limit you, obviously, but they also free you in the sense that once you have a set of limitations, you can be really creative about what you do within those limitations. Have you found that that's the case when working on this game?
HT: You definitely could say that. As I said before, Mr. Inafune had to tell us to redo half of the characters. He brought us in the room and said, "These characters are too big and bulky, with too many lines. We want to keep it simple."
Showing us how to keep it simple opened up a new world for us. We could see how the simple characters look better, and you can just picture how they move. He really brought that to life for us. Even though the characters are simple, they still stand out. They still make an impression on you. And I think that's what was important.
For the team, when they realized that, they were able to bring their sensibilities to the game. We are limited, but in that sense, it did open up the creative tunnels.
Like I said, this is the first time anyone's made a new game for download that actually completely looks like a retro game, without any differences. Why do you think that Capcom was the first one to tread that ground?
HT: That's a very good question to ask. There are a lot of reasons. Capcom's got a lot of classic franchises, and each of those franchises has its own set of fans who are really into that franchise. We always hear from those various fan bases, "Why don't you make another one of these games? Why don't you bring this game back?"
Of course, we think about that, and it is a consideration for us, but when you consider modern games that come on discs now, you need good graphics, you need online play, and things like that.
You can't really go back when the expectations are for something of that caliber. But now that you have downloadable games and people are more forgiving of what you can download, they're like, "Oh, it's a simple game, but it's a download game. That's okay."
So we thought, "Well, retro games seem to be what people want, but people want a new Mega Man game. They want another story. But at the same time, they also want the classic feel." To marry those two together was kind of a challenge. We thought, "Are we up for this challenge? Maybe we can actually surprise the fans and deliver what they want. This is what we're going to do."
Did you go through any of the old games and replay them with the developers for reference? Did you just try to remember, or did you actually go through and reference the old games to see what had been accomplished in them before, and where you could jump off of?
HT: Yeah, we replayed the old games. Specifically, Mega Man 1 and 2, because that is the basis of Mega Man 9. It's almost as if Mega Man 9 is the new Mega Man 3, because we wanted to surpass what we did in Mega Man 2.
Mega Man 2's got a lot of fans. Fans of the series like that one the best, so we wanted to try and surpass their expectations for this game. So we played Mega Man 2 a lot to get the inspiration for this game.
Left: Mega Man 2 (1988), Right: Mega Man 9 (2008)