If you look at other companies that merged -- like Square Enix and Namco Bandai -- they don't really operate as one company; you can definitely see the vision between even Square and Enix, which has been merged since 2004. Is that the same way at Koei Tecmo?
YH: So yeah, Square Enix obviously does that, Namco Bandai is like that. But I think one of the big differences between us and those others is that they were a publisher merging with a developer. Bandai was a publishing company; Namco by and large was on the creative side of things in development.
For us, Koei was also a developer. Koei is a developer, Tecmo is a developer. So it's the merging of two development studios. And so there's game developers, game creators, they want to make their games better. So at least there's that intention within both halves that we want to make games better.
And even Dynasty Warriors, it sells really well out here, but maybe it doesn't sell well in the States, or elsewhere overseas. But game creators themselves want to fix that; they want to make the game better. And so it's sort of a good rivalry between the two cultures.
One thing that Koei is really strong at is collaborations, and you had your own collaboration with Nintendo. Would you like to continue doing collaborations with other IP, other developers?
YH: Yeah, absolutely. You know, we learned a lot from the collaborations that we have done, and it's definitely something that we'd be interested in doing in the future. But we want to make sure that we're not just doing a collaboration just to make a collaboration. If we can have a Team Ninja title with a strong collaboration, and we can put them together in a way that they become more than the sum of the parts, then that's definitely something that we would look forward to doing.
When you collaborate with someone, it's almost like you're learning at twice the pace, because you have your own experience and you have their experience as well. So it's a very valuable experience to have, so definitely we'd like to do it in the future.
Metroid: Other M
And you worked on Metroid: Other M with Yoshio Sakamoto from Nintendo. I'm only guessing, but i'd expect you could learn a ton of stuff from him, given his history.
YH: Within Team Ninja it's very much "This is fun / this is not", and there's a clear line. Do it. Boom. Sakamoto-san is much more fuzzy, and very delicate and very detailed, when trying to think about lots of different things. So we learned a lot from that style of thinking, and that way of thinking. So yeah, it was definitely a very valuable experience.
In the end, were you happy with how Other M turned out? Was it what you wanted it to be when you started?
YH: Other M was Sakamoto-san's idea and it's his creation, and we're just really happy to be a part of that, and that he asked us to be part of that creation. We talked a lot with him over the course of development, having very frank conversations about lots of different topics. But you can tell Samus Aran is his daughter; it's like that to him. So we're really looking forward to what else he might come up with in the future for the Metroid series.
You say you're a gamer. Did you play Metroid when you were a kid?
YH: Yeah, I played it.
What about Ninja Gaiden -- like the original NES ones?
YH: Yeah, I played it, and was so impressed by the story; the story just hit me so hard. That that's why I had the same writer come in for Ninja Gaiden 3.
I remember I first interviewed Itagaki, way back for Ninja Gaiden 1, and I asked him if he was interested in the NES games, he said "no." He didn't care.
YH: You can't make a good game without loving the games that you make, and just loving games in general. So even if it's another company's game, if you like the game, you like the game, and that's going to come out in the game you make. And if you don't like it, even if you lie and say you do, it's going to show in the game that you make -- that you don't like it. It's this love of games in general -- and Ninja Gaiden specifically -- that has led me to be here.
When you entered Team Ninja, did you think you'd be running it someday?
YH: I'll tell you something that we have never told any other media. When I first joined Tecmo, I didn't want to be a part of Team Ninja. [laughs] But Itagaki-san talked to me, and kind of forced me into being part of Team Ninja, and that's the beginning of my journey within Team Ninja. And I realize now that not everything that happens in your life is your decision -- it's very much a creation of those around you as well. So that experience has been very valuable for growing.