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The Elegance Of Metroid: Yoshio Sakamoto Speaks
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The Elegance Of Metroid: Yoshio Sakamoto Speaks

April 23, 2010 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 3

I want to talk to you about the relationship with Team Ninja. You're working with Hayashi-san, I believe, on the game. I've met him, and he is a young, smart guy. I want to talk about the relationship you guys have; how you chose them and your working relationship with that team.

YS: First I'll address how we chose Team Ninja for this collaboration. I had come up with the Other M storyline and the rough outline for the game design, but I realized that what we had around us was basically a team that had been working on handheld games for quite awhile and we were looking at trying to make a 3D game here, so we realized that we needed some help.

We looked out there at who'd be available and who'd be interested in both the concept and the storyline, and when we finally contacted Team Ninja they were very interested in the project and realized this was also a very good fit for them. Once we had a clear understanding of the shared goals, we were able to move forward.

As for my relationship with Mr. Hayashi, probably the best way to say it is that I like to see him as a peer. I absolutely feel that we are equals. As you say, he's smart, he's young, and he's absolutely excellent at what he does.

He works hard and he works well, but he also has a really amazing, dynamic brain. He's able to put his hand on a lot of different things and succeed. So I thought he would be a fantastic fit for this project.

Now, when we first brought him on, I didn't just hand him a pile of documents and say, "Here you go. Please make this game." Rather, we talked about what was essential and what was good in the Metroid series and tried to figure out how best to use his arts background and know-how to really push those goals forward.

One thing that I really appreciate about him is he can really say some unexpected things every once in awhile that seem to come out of left field, but, since I know that we have the same end-goal in mind, even if we occasionally disagree or are surprised by each other's means or routes of getting there, we know we're going to end up in a good place. It's the right kind of conflict, and our individuality comes out in the best way possible.

One thing that's always struck me when making games with other people -- and, honestly, you're always making games with other people; it's not something that you usually come on as an individual endeavor -- is that you have to find all of the different ways necessary to express yourself to the other team members. There are some team members every once in awhile where, no matter how you describe something in words, it seems to just not be getting across.

But one thing I especially appreciate about Mr. Hayashi is that he seems to have some sort of intuitive sense to understand me. Perhaps it's because we already have shared interests and similar backgrounds, but I feel like he just gets me. There's something about this partnership that feels destined. I would like to ask you, since you've met him, what you thought of Mr. Hayashi.

I met him first when he was working on Ninja Gaiden Sigma, and I immediately thought, "Any guy who can stand up to Itagaki has probably got something going for him." That was my first impression.

In Japan, often when companies work with an external developer, they treat them like a subcontractor. They hand them planning documents, and they may have them make the game exactly as it stands in those documents.

But Nintendo, in particular with Metroid, seems very open. I got to play the Other M demo; you can definitely feel Team Ninja. Obviously, as you said, with Prime, you can definitely feel Retro's style. You're open to that collaboration. What about that collaboration excites you and allows that freedom for the creativity to shine through?

YS: Well, it's a little hard to say exactly how the collaboration on Prime might have resulted in the areas where you really felt Retro shined through there because I wasn't actually very closely involved with that project, but you can certainly say that there are a lot of common Metroid elements; those are always the foundation for any of these projects, even if you have a lot of other elements arranged in a slightly different way.

What you're dealing with is a large vessel that is very firm and can hold all of those elements and still retain its own identity. The best way to accomplish that, to find that sort of firmament that you can then put different arranged elements into, is to find the things that you can't budge on -- find the things that are essential, important, and you don't want to change. Once you've got that established, you can bring in all sorts of talented people and let them collaborate and contribute to what you have there.

Ultimately, what you're going to end up with is something where the Metroid world-sense is still intact: this is a really good game. And certainly this has to be possible on other types of game projects; all you really need to do is make sure that you're very clear in your communication and you talk to people a lot about those goals.

As an end note to all of this, I'd have to say that, if you wanted to maintain some sort of unilateral, top-down control over every aspect of the project, that's probably easier to do in the long run, but that's not something that I've ever wanted. I don't feel like that's something that yields the best results.

Article Start Previous Page 3 of 3

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