How Batman And Criticism From Nintendo of America Led To The Heated Creation Of F-Zero

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To celebrate the upcoming release of the SNES Classic Edition,or Nintendo Classic Mini Super Famicom in Japan, Nintendo is sharing a series of interviews with developers of classic games for the console. In the latest interview, the creators of F-Zero talked about how it started.

 

What made you decide on creating F-Zero in the first place?

Isshin Shimizu, Director: It all started with Famicom Grand Prix: F1 Race. It was a top-down racing game, and I made a part 2 for it, so I went to America and had the staff at Nintendo of America check it out. Then they completely criticized it…

 

So the game you put such effort into wasn’t well-received.

Shimizu: They said “This isn’t a racing game. Racing cars are cooler than that.” To make matters worse, they even said “It’ll never sell,” and that really ticked me off.

 

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And that’s what lit your fighting spirit? [laughs]

Shimizu: Yes [laughs]. I thought to myself “If you’re going to go there, then how about I just make something cool then.” During my visit to the United States, it just happened to be the time that the Batman film was all the rage.

 

Takaya Imamura, Designer: That was Batman (1989, featuring Michael Keaton as Batman and Jack Nicholson as The Joker) directed by Tim Burton, right? That was around the year I entered the company.

 

Shimizu: So during my stay in America, I bought mountains of Batman comics and went back to  Japan. The timing was perfect because Nishida was experimenting on a racing game.

 

What were you working on, Nishida-san?

Yasunari Nishida, Main Programmer: At the time, several  young programmers were assigned themes on experimenting with Super Famicom functions. My theme was a racing game that used “Mode 7.”

 

The Super Famicom had all kinds of modes used for rendering.

Nishida: That’s right. We had from Mode 0 to Mode 7. And Mode 7 had one of the Super Famicom’s characteristics, the function to expand, reduce, and turn the background.

 

Shimizu: Nishida used Mode 7 and turned the bottom of the screen by four-fifths and used the remaining fifth to display the background. When I saw it, I thought “This is it!”

 

And that’s when you thought that you could make a cool racing game?

Shimizu: Yes. I believed we could surprise everyone by using that to make a racing game.


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