Last week’s Famitsu had a feature on SNK to commemorate the release of the NEOGEO Mini, and four of the developers who had a hand on classic NEOGEO games talked about how the working environment was like, and some of the stories behind the development of those games.
Famitsu: How was it like working on Metal Slug, Tanaka-san?
Kazuhiro Tanaka, designer: “Well, we worked on it with a determined spirit. (laughs) One of Metal Slug’s great points is how the machinery moves fluidly. It doesn’t move rigidly like something made from polygons, but instead moves like a living creature. We thought it would have more of a presence that way, which is why we made the graphics and animation like that.”
Nobuyuki Kuroki, designer: “Metal Slug’s machinery does move like it’s alive.”
Naoto Abe, designer: “In the first place, wasn’t the tank the main character of the game?”
Tanaka: “That’s right. At first it was a tank shooting game, but in the middle of development it was changed so that humans got into the tanks instead.”
Abe: “With Metal Slug’s human characters being so small, wasn’t it really hard for you?
Tanaka: “Yeah. If even one pixel was off, it would look like their jaw was unhinged, so it was like we were spriting 0.5 pixels at a time.”
Famitsu: What do you mean by 0.5 pixels?
Tanaka: “It’s a technique where by slightly changing the color of surrounding pixels, to the human eye it looks like the pixels move by around 0.5 pixels.”
Fatal Fury & SNK’s sound team
Hideki Asanaka, sound team: “For SNK back then, the sound team would start development work around 4-5 months before the development deadline, so we were able to see the game in a relative state of completion. We would look at that, then create the BGM based on the planner’s orders.”
Famitsu: When composing, were there any requests?
Asanaka: “They would say they want it a certain way, then leave use to our own devices. The other developers were probably thinking what the heck were up with us.”
Kuroki: “No we didn’t.” (laughs)
Asanaka: “There were around 15 people on the sound team, and each specialized in a different music genre. The KOF series has such a variety of music because a lot of staff were involved with it.”
Famitsu: So it was like a music festival.
Asanaka: “However, although everyone became sound team staff because they liked music, because the genres we liked were so different, we couldn’t discuss music that much. It was such a pain, having such different tastes!”
Famitsu: By the way, did the staff do character voices?
Asanaka: “The KOF series had voice actors from the very start.”
Abe: “For the Fatal Fury series, the first game had voices done by staff, while starting from 2, we had an Osaka drama troupe do it instead.”
Asanaka: “Why starting from 2?”
Abe: “We were told off by the president of the company for doing the voices for Fatal Fury.”
The King of Fighters and Garou: Mark of the Wolves
Famitsu: SNK’s game character designs were full of various traits earlier on. Did the development heads tell you to design them like that?
Kuroki: “Not in particular, it just so happened a lot of the designers liked them like that. (laughs) However, when we saw the character designs from The King of Fighters, we were like, “Wow!”
Kuroki: “We were thinking, “The main character is wearing a school uniform?” and “Wow, he’s got such small arms!” The Fatal Fury series was always about macho fighters.”
Famitsu: However, Rock and Terry in Garou: Mark of the Wolves were more of the cool sort of character.
Kuroki: “That’s because the dev team talked about it at the start of development. Things like how our character design senses were outdated. (laughs) Looking back at the Fatal Fury series, it’s nothing but old men with mustaches and other macho characters. We thought, “this is a bad trend”.”
“Garou: Mark of the Wolves ended up cutting down on that element, and adding a bit more of what the markets wanted.”
Famitsu: Because of KOF, the number of female fans began to increase, right?
Kuroki: “Around the time Garou was in development, the term “moe” started to be used. We thought, “We want to add in moe, but what is moe?!” and had a lot of trouble with it. Thankfully, some staff were familiar, and Hotaru was created with the teachings of those staff members.”
Garou: Mark of the Wolves 2
Famitsu: Garou: MOTW ends with something of a cliffhanger, so was what was next in the story for Garou 2 thought up of already?
Kuroki: “I’ve been asked this a lot, but I don’t know the story of that game. I think none of us did.”
Abe: “Huh? I read the scenario for 2.”
Abe: “I’m pretty sure it was written up to the ending.”
Famitsu: So it was already in development?
Abe: “I believe the characters were done, including new characters.”
KurokiL “I remember coming up with new moves for Rock and B. Jenet.”
“However, old SNK was dissolved during development, so unfortunately it’s all been archived. Yasuyuki Oda keeps saying that he’ll make it, so if fans speak up, continued development on Garou 2 might become a reality.”
The NEOGEO Mini Japan ver. is currently available.