Here’s the epic conclusion to Iwata’s interview with the Sin & Punishment 2 team. We gain some insight into how the game was built around both the Wii remote and the traditional controllers, and Nakagawa puts his foot in his mouth at long last! (But we still love him) You also get to watch every man in the room gasp at Yurie Hattori — the lady behind Girl’s Mode — who volunteered to be part of the S&P2 team. Fun times. Oh, and look out for our import playtest of S&P2 very soon!
Iwata: I’ve kept you two waiting for a long time. At what time were Matsushita-san and Hattori-san from the Nintendo staff added to the current development project?
Yamagami: Hattori-san was first, and she was a really unexpected addition. When we had received the proposal for “Sin & Punishment” from Treasure, she said, “I want to do this,” and volunteered herself.
Maegawa: Is that true? It’s the first time I’ve heard this.
Yamagami: To lay it out plainly, I never dreamed that Hattori-san would say she wanted to do it herself.
Iwata: …I’m kind of in shock too.
Iwata: Hattori-san appeared on last time’s “Creator’s Voice” for “Girl’s Mode”12, so this is quite some dynamic range she has here.
Iwata: Did you really say, “I want to be involved?”
Hattori: Yes, I was the one who raised the topic. It was probably the first time since I joined the company that I’d said, “I want to do this.”
Yamagami: I believe Hattori-san was heavily drawn in by the design of the world of “Sin and Punishment.”
Iwata: I see. Has Hattori-san played the first installment?
Hattori: It was too difficult on the Nintendo 64. I honestly couldn’t play it.
Nakagawa: … (painful expression)
Iwata: (laughs) So you were one of the people who belong to the “Those who can’t play it aren’t a part of our team” category?
Hattori: Yes, that’s right (laughs). But from looking at the packaging and the world in the game and from hearing people around me talk about it, I felt it had a very strong charm. It’s just that I couldn’t get into it… It was very frustrating, that I couldn’t do it even though it was so appealing.
Iwata: I see. Suzuki-san, you must be happy to hear your work being called charming.
Suzuki: But hearing it from a girl’s a bit… (laughs)
Hattori: Ufufu (laughs).SE2 And so, alongside that frustration, I also thought, “It’s such a waste.” This was when I thought, not to make it “superficial” or anything, but if it was possible to make the starting line easier.
Iwata: You mean to keep it as deep as before, but make the start easier so you’re not turned away your first step in.
Hattori: Yes. Perhaps “Girl’s Mode” is the same way. That game is also very deep, but…
Iwata: After Hattori-san joined that team, the last stage of the regulation process was easier to deal with.
Hattori: Yes. I wanted to apply that same feeling to “Sin & Punishment.”
Iwata: I see. How was your association with this project, Matsushita-san?
Matsushita: To tell the truth, I originally wasn’t supposed to be in charge of this. It’s just that when something that was playable came out, they let me check it out. And when I had to convey my impressions to Treasure, I just happened to be in Tokyo as well…
Yamagami: And I said, “Come on over.”
Matsushita: Then when I went over with him, Yamagami-san introduced me with, “This is the supervisor.” After talking it over, they really did decide for me to become the [Nintendo] supervisor (laughs).
Maegawa: Well, you were really a big help. Matsushita-san is really knowledgeable about action shooting games, so it helped a lot for someone like him to look over the project.
Yamagami: Matsushita-san could play the game until the very end, so with Hattori-san watching over the beginning portion, I think it turned out to be well-balanced in the end.
Iwata: Hattori-san, what sort of conversations did you have about the start of the game?
Hattori: I first pushed for basic things like how they should properly make a tutorial and how they should make the difficulty so that beginners could play as well. However, as I began to get involved in the development, I began to feel that the difficulty shouldn’t just be lowered.
Iwata: You felt that if you did such a thing, the game would be ruined.
Hattori: Yes. And there were fans of the previous game and many fans of Treasure who feel that that way is how the game should be, and I felt that I shouldn’t ever rattle such a fanbase.
Iwata: In the first place, shooting games are considered to be the easy route of video games and so many people would play it, but it’s also the genre in which the archetypal game is one where many people get weeded out -– rather, one where the number of players decreases [the further you get into the game].
Iwata: Many of the people who originally enjoyed shooting games can’t play it anymore, but there is quite a considerable number of people who feel, “You know, that felt awesome and I love it,” so you wanted to at least make it easy for these people to get into the game. Was that how you felt?
Hattori: Yes. I wanted those people you described to enjoy playing the game. And also, no matter what, I also wanted to avoid the uncomfortable feeling of something not quite right or just playing without understanding anything. In a way, I think it’s the type of game where you feel good about memorizing and playing, and memorizing and improving, so I focused on talking to the team about removing those unpleasant parts where you go on with the game without understanding why you were defeated.
Iwata: When Nintendo brought this up, Nakagawa-san, how did you take it?
Nakagawa: I worked extremely hard on the first game, so I was very firm in my “This is just right” when it comes to the difficulty level.
Iwata: Is it because you talked about it a lot with Yamagami-san?
Nakagawa: Yes. However, this time there were many hardcore gamers in the development staff, so we developed the game using the Gamecube controller we were used to instead of the Wii Remote.
Nakagawa: So then I made it as I liked it. Really hard.
Iwata: As expected of one of Treasure (laughs).
Nakagawa: I gazed at it from the corner of my eye, and I thought, “They’ll probably tell me to fix this later on…” Even though I thought that, I would get irritated when I told myself, “Fix it!” so I waited for Nintendo to tell me.
Iwata: It irritated you when you told yourself that, so you were waiting for and looking forward to Nintendo telling you (laughs).
Nakagawa: Yes. And then, they told me the opposite…
Nakagawa: They said, “It’s too easy” …and also, “What the hell is this?”
Nakagawa: They told me, “The enemies get destroyed immediately,” and when I replied, “What?! It should be really hard…?!” they even said, “Fans won’t like it if it’s this easy…”
Iwata: The people from Nintendo even said such things to Treasure…
Nakagawa: So, when I asked them about it, they said that it was easy to aim with the Wii Remote, so all the enemies were easily destroyed.
Iwata: Aah, I see.
Yamagami: The Wii Remote is a controller suited for shooting games in the first place.
Iwata: So that was why the enemies were defeated easily. But for them to say, of all things, “Make it harder,” to Treasure… (laughs)
Matsushita: Yes. At the last stage of development, we told them, “Please make it harder.”
Hattori: I even said something like, “What are you going to do? Even I could clear the level without dying!” (laughs)
Iwata: Hmm, that’s quite a shocking truth (laughs).
Matsushita: You couldn’t aim at the enemy on the right and the enemy on the left at the same time in the previous game. But with the Wii Remote, you could shoot the enemy on the left immediately after shooting the enemy on the right, so you can target the enemies on the screen at approximately the same time. Which was why there was the absolute need for the game to be adjusted to the controller…
Iwata: But adjusting the balance of the difficulty level isn’t an easy thing. If there are people who wish to play with the Wii Remote, there will also be people who wish to play with the Gamecube controller, and it also has to be compatible with the Classic Controller.
Yamagami: In the end, we went through area by area and made it so that there were places where the Wii Remote was better to play with and, at other times, places where the Gamecube controller or the Classic Controller would be better. That way, as a whole, no matter what controller you use, it would be fun. However, there was also the possibility that you could, area by area, play with the Wii Remote in some areas and then switch to another controller and make the whole thing easier.
Iwata: Well, if you do such a thing, it wouldn’t be fun (laughs). But, I’m surprised with what was said just now. Nintendo actually told Treasure, “Make it harder.” If it weren’t for “Creator’s Voice,” I would never have known.
Iwata: Now, as a last bit, let’s have each person request one thing. First is Matsushita-san.
Matsushita: In this, we talked about the difficulty in making the sequel. The fame of the first game was widespread, so we always kept the fans for the first game in mind, and we gave undivided attention to them especially through the second half of development. As such, I would definitely like to ask the fans of “Sin and Punishment” about their thoughts.
Iwata: Asking that is on one hand something to look forward to…
Matsushita: I’m a little scared (laughs).
Iwata: Scared and anxious at the same time?
Matsushita: Yes, scared and anxious at the same time (laughs).
Iwata: Yes. Next is Hattori-san.
Hattori: We heard that Treasure tells their employees very thoroughly, “Please create what you like,” but I think that shows very clearly in their games’ contents as well. That being said, “Sin & Punishment” this time is a game where we say, “Please play as you like.” There’s one road through the game as a whole, but the players can choose the controller they like from several kinds and we don’t have an answer prepared to the question on how to earn a high score.
Iwata: It’s a game with no one right way to do things.
Hattori: That’s right. Perhaps using this controller would earn a higher score in this area. Earning points is different in air battles and the ground battles, perhaps this way is better. Perhaps beating the enemies in this order would earn higher points. It’s a game where searching for the strategy is very fun. As such, it’s a game where players can, among themselves, search for the best way to play the game and then compare their rankings and go, “The person playing with this controller has a high score,” and even then you can apply yourself. I would also like them to enjoy that portion of the game.
Iwata: This time, the game can also connect to the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.
Hattori: Yes. This way, players from all over the nation can see each other’s rankings.
Iwata: I see. And next, Yamagami-san.
Yamagami: I would like to tell those who know this game through this “Creator’s Voice” that, to those who feel, “This isn’t ‘my’ game,” because of this nerdy talk, please don’t think that way.
Iwata: That it was made so that everyone could enjoy it.
Yamagami: Yes. In the first place, among the team members this time is me, the worst of all who was killed countless times through the game, but even when I was defeated I didn’t have to start from the very beginning. It’s become easy to move forward and forward in the stage, you can play it fine even if you just want to look around in the world of the game.
Iwata: “Sin and Punishment” does have a grand world.
Yamagami: Yeah, in this installment of “Sin and Punishment” a part of this incredibly grand, abstract, and mysterious world reappears, and there’s also another angle of this world introduced on the Nintendo homepage. As such, I believe that even those who are bad at shooting games can enjoy the world as much as possible.
Iwata: Now then, Maegawa-san, if you would?
Maegawa: I believe that since this game was originally created with the hardcore fans in mind, it became a game that can be enjoyed in such a manner. But, as Yamagami-san just said, I would like to tell people who have never touched games like this before that games from the past with the “Dodge, shoot, compare scores!” gaming style are very interesting, using the easy mode as an introduction to action shooting games. Before, we said that we “create whatever we like,” but in the end, this type of game really is the most interesting, so…
Iwata: Originally, shooting games were part of the mainstream.
Maegawa: That’s right. “Dodge, shoot, compare scores!” is just the thing that causes your hands to sweat in the grip of the controller, and that is what gives them universal interest so that anyone can enjoy it, or so I believe. Also, this time the game was created in 60 frames…13
Iwata: Why was it created in 60 frames?
Maegawa: Just when “Sin & Punishment” was starting development, “Mario Galaxy”14 came out. When we heard that that game was created with 60 frames, we went, “Well then, we have to do it too!”
14. “Mario Galaxy” = “Super Mario Galaxy.” It is a 3D action game released in November of 2007 for the Wii.
Maegawa: We worked really hard and got it to 60 frames. It was very different when we actually did it, even just the fact that it moved so smoothly.
Iwata: It was clearly different when you tried playing it.
Maegawa: However, the charm couldn’t be conveyed through screenshots.
Iwata: Also, even movies on the internet can’t show the 60 frames. Even by using the “Nintendo Channel,”15 although everyone can view it, unfortunately it couldn’t play in 60 frames.
Hattori: That’s why, even though it was only a few stores,16 we prepared demos to play in the store. We would definitely like players to try the game there.
Iwata: Well then, Nakagawa-san, if you’d please?
Nakagawa: Me? Hmm… Then I’ll say something programmer-ish as a last thing… The game is really hard, and we’re probably pushing it… And the scenario is a messy jumble as always and we kind of overdid it… That being said…
Iwata: That being said?
Nakagawa: Please enjoy it!
Iwata: (laughs) And last is Suzuki-san.
Suzuki: As the representative for the designers, I talked quite a bit in this, so I’ll try to be as brief as possible. I placed much importance on the vast landscape, the various enemies, and even on their movements. As you’re playing through the game many times, I believe you can make many discoveries.
Maegawa: Suzuki presented such a huge amount of raw drawings, everyone in the staff had to work really hard (laughs). It was data on a huge amount of enemies.
Iwata: You wouldn’t think that, from a team of this scale. With such a number of people, such an amount of material.
Suzuki: Also, even though we talked about how we wanted to give the same feeling as the first game, I created this new game from scratch the whole way through. I believe it was because I was the one who did the first one that I could go without holding back.
Maegawa: It had quite a brighter feeling.
Suzuki: I had this feeling in me, always wanting to work on a new installment, so this game became more colorful and brighter.
Iwata: Kind of like, you want them to enjoy it even with such differences.
Iwata: Last is from me. The scale of games has greatly changed along with the times, and the administration of teams has gotten more systematic and more divided, where the range of what one person works on has become narrower. In contrast, the way Maegawa-san publishes games may, in a sense, put an enormous burden on individuals in the creation of modern grand-scale products.
Even so, you challenge this with a “We don’t have anyone who specializes in designing. The artist and the programmer think up the design,” type of policy and consistently create games, continuing to create solid products.
During this time, we talked about many things that that were completely different from what I had imagined before the talk, and I honestly thought it was all very interesting. It’s just that, it is my wish to tell even just one more person about the game that is filled with the abundance of passion and energy of these people. It may be silent, but I would definitely like for players to experience hands-on the energy of these people who imbued the game with such passion. Thank you very much for today.
Maegawa: No, we should be thanking you.
Iwata: By the way, Maegawa-san.
Iwata: I have associated with teams with many different personalities before … but I still feel that the most unique of them all is Treasure (laughs).
Iwata: Of course, I meant that in a good way.
Maegawa: Thank you (laughs).