The Other Metroid: Other M Interview

By Ishaan . September 12, 2010 . 3:06pm


In August, we covered an Iwata Asks feature on Metroid: Other M, where the Nintendo president gathered producer Yoshio Sakamoto, and directors Yosuke Hayashi (Team Ninja) and Ryuzi Kitaura (D-Rockets) for a conversation on the project’s development process.


However, development teams comprise of far more than merely leads and managers, and Other M’s development staff, dubbed “Project M” by Sakamoto, consisted of well over a hundred people across Nintendo, Team Ninja, D-Rockets, and a cinematics company named “Taiyo Kikaku.”


For a second interview session, this one conducted at Tecmo Koei’s offices, Iwata made his way to Tokyo (from Nintendo’s headquarters situated in Kyoto) to meet with other members of Project M. This time around, Iwata discussed the project from ground level, speaking with Team Ninja’s chief planner, programmer and sound engineer.


Sakamoto, as it turns out, didn’t go easy on his development partners. “His axe really comes down hard!” chief planner, Kazutaka Otsuka, joked. He went on to explain that Sakamoto would refuse to compromise on certain aspects of the game that he felt were crucial to the experience. One of these aspects was the “sense move,” Samus’s dodge, which Sakamoto requested be implemented in Other M’s first-person mode as well.



When, after considerable trial and error, Team Ninja were unable to get this to work correctly, the situation eventually culminated in Sakamoto pointing to their other non-Nintendo games as examples of how to do it right. “I was so mortified that I couldn’t even sleep that night,” Otsuka recalled.


Cinematics, too, were a point of contention. One of the goals of Other M was to seamlessly blend interactive and non-interactive sequences (something the game actually does really well). On this front, Sakamoto would often send directions via e-mail, detailing frame-by-frame, how he wanted certain scenes to look.


“Actually, there were many times when what we made after spending considerable time was rejected and sent back to us,” Taiyo Kikaku’s Hidekatsu Nagasawa revealed. “We’d then make it again, only for it to be rejected and sent back to us, again.”


Over the course of the game’s development, over 10,000 e-mails were exchanged between the four companies. When e-mail communication didn’t suffice, face-to-face meetings that often went on for 7 or 8 hours would be held. “I’d have lunch during a meeting. I’d also have dinner. Sometimes I’d even have the next day’s breakfast!” Nagasawa joked.


Ultimately, development reached a stage where Sakamoto and the rest of the Metroid team at Nintendo moved from their headquarters in Kyoto to Tokyo, to work directly with Team Ninja for a few months.


“You were away for so long, when I met Sakamoto-san in E3, we were practically greeting each other like long lost friends!” Iwata joked with art director, Takeihiko Hosokawa.

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  • See, this is why I hate people who say Team Ninja ruined this game. First off, in no way did anyone ruin this game; ’twas a good game. Second, Sakamoto did this game how he wanted it. Team Ninja did what they were told

    • Actually, if you read the entire interview (and Sakamoto’s past interviews with the press as well), Team Ninja were always treated like they were on equal footing with Nintendo. A lot of the game’s design can be attributed to them, like the relatively violent finishing moves and whatnot, which NCL were initially opposed to. They were encouraged to bring their own unique flavour to it.But yea, I don’t get the complaining either. It’s a great game.

      • I guess I didn’t word it properly. I mean that: Team Ninja isn’t the reason it’s not strictly 2D. Team Ninja isn’t the reason Samus is “submissive” to her old CO. Team Ninja isn’t why it’s not a completely open world. Yeah, they did bring their own specialties to the project, which is why they were sought out, but Sakamoto was the Chief Designer.

        One thing that really made me laugh was some people who were blaming everything on Itagaki, who’s not even with Team Ninja anymore XD

        • Ahh, I see what you mean. I agree — I think Team Ninja are the biggest reason Other M turned out as good as it did. Without them, it would have been entirely 2D and far more tame, and I’d rather see the series keep moving forward like it always has.

    • lostinblue

      Nobody is at fault. Nintendo/Sakamoto didn’t go to Team Ninja to make a regular metroid game, they wanted something to spice it up, if they just wanted codemonkeys they could have gotten them elsewhere way cheaper. And I’m sure Team Ninja wouldn’t agree to be codemonkeys for this, thankfully. I’m all for collaborations.

    • OneOkami

      As someone who has throughly enjoyed just about every Metroid game up until now, I’m struggling to maintain interest and desire to complete Other M right now.Gameplay-wise I can’t quite put my finger on why its just not doing it for me (well, I can certainly say I miss Retro Studios’ masterful creation of atmosphere in the Prime games that I’m just not sensing in Other M), but I do know that it pains me every time I’m reminded that Samus, who had always been portrayed as pretty much a lone wolf up until now, is made to follow orders now for reasons I personally don’t agree with.It still annoys me to no end how stupid it was to play through a portion of (I believe it was) sector 2, with all the hot magma, Samus allowing herself to burn her rear end off, waiting for “permission” to activate the feature of her suit that protects herself from it?!?! WHAT THE HECK IS THAT CRAP!!!!!?!

      I had to turn the game off after that.

      Honestly, I was hoping to feel just as good about the game as you guys apparently do, but I am very disappointed with it.

      • Guest

        Those gripes are so petty and inconsequential

        • OneOkami

          Excuse me? What is that supposed to mean? Please elaborate.

  • There you have it folks… Sakamoto was the one responsible for ruining Samus. Thanks guy!

  • Guest

    There you have it folks… Sakamoto/Team Ninja are the ones responsible for making Other M awesome!
    Loved Other: M and hope it doesn’t end up skipping next generation of hardware because of the backlash. Also funny how they can ruin a character that had basically no backstory or personality. Oh well haters gonna hate.

  • thebanditking

    Personally I think this turned out great (from what I have played). I like other M better then the entire Prime series (Wii controls or not).

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