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.
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.