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An interview with Capcom's Jun Takeuchi

During a recent press event for J-shooter-with-giant-pulsating egg-sacs Lost Planet 2, we had the exceptional good fortune to bag an entire hour of alone time with Capcom’s (in)famous producer Jun Takeuchi. He was the much-pilloried chap behind Resident Evil 5, in case you were wondering, but don’t get the pitchforks out just yet because Takeuchi had some very surprising, interesting and remarkably honest things to say about the survival horror outing that divided an industry, his employers Capcom and a whole host of other red-hot game industry issues. Get ready because he ain’t holding back...

Hello Takeuchi-san. Co-op was a big focus of Resident Evil 5; now there’s four-player co-op in Lost Planet 2. Do you believe that, in a sense, multiplayer is almost the future of the single-player experience?

That is quite possible, though it also means we have to be increasingly careful about the gameplay design! However, it’s proved very popular and I fully expect the popularity of the co-op format to further increase in the future. Rather than AI playing in a prescribed way, you simply can’t predict what a human player is going to do next. That key element of surprise is very interesting for players... and developers too.

What’s your favourite Vital Suit and Akrid enemy type in LP2?

I’d have to say the gigantic Akrid/Vital Suit hybrid where one player pilots and the others are gunning on the leg turrets. You’ve already seen the Salamande and Gordiant, but he’s a particular favourite of mine. From a certain aspect he looks cute and cuddly, but players can actually enter its intestines, and grapple onto its back. It’s a multitalented monster!

In the past you’ve mentioned the shooting of Gears of War and the universe of Halo as being big inspirations for Lost Planet. Have any other games come out in the interim that inspired your change of direction for this sequel?

I’d suggest Forza Motorsport 3. I’m aware it’s a totally different genre, but I was hugely impressed with the streamlined interface; the concept of Lost Planet 2’s integrated single/multiplayer front-end stemmed directly from Forza 3.

 

Korean film idol Lee Byung-hun’s likeness ‘starred’ in the original Lost Planet. Yet none of the cast has returned for this sequel. Why?

That was a deliberate design decision. I’m not a big fan of Final Fantasy, but two of VII’s characters – Cloud and Sephiroth – are still very famous and identifiable today. Nevertheless, I maintain that if you use such strong characters it’s extremely difficult for a player to identify with them. So we’ve deliberately taken the personality out of the protagonists so you can play as ‘yourself’ in Lost Planet 2.

It must be hard helming an established series like Resident Evil. Is it more fun to take control of a relatively new IP like Lost Planet?

It’s a tricky question to answer; working on an established IP involves large elements of mental strength as it’s very draining and the pressure is high. Having said that, to push through new IPs like Lost Planet you need physical strength. The most important thing I’ve learned through these experiences is this though: not to handle two titles at once!

What did you think of Bayonetta – would you agree with a lot of Western commentators that it’s gone at least some way to saving a Japanese game industry that Capcom’s own Keiji Inafune controversially pronounced ‘dead’ at last year’s Tokyo Games Show?

I’m personally very good friends with [Hideki] Kamiya, and I can tell you that with Bayonetta he certainly didn’t go out with the intention of trying to save Japanese gaming! As a developer, he simply created something he was very passionate about, and the result is highly impressive.

But do you personally think Japanese developers can ever catch up with their European and American rivals again?

I have to be very careful with my answer here; I’ve had many bad experiences with people twisting my words! What I will say is this: if the Japanese games industry doesn’t evolve and simply maintains its current status quo, I really don’t think we have a hope in hell. Drastically innovative ideas are needed – and quickly – to equal or exceed the Western games industry.

You made us laugh at DICE last year when you said that, in order to make a game sell in the West, sometimes you would take a really smart and stylish Japanese character and turn him into a big, grizzly macho man! Is that what Dead Rising’s Frank West was?

I suppose Frank West is a very unique character, certainly not your stereotypical good-looking macho guy! Having said that, from my point of view, he’s an average American – albeit it with his facial features a little exaggerated for comical effect. It’s a fine line, but Frank appealed to a lot of people – and I respect Inafune’s research into creating such an unlikely hero.

7 comments

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  • Clovin64 - May 16, 2010 2:23 p.m.

    @JosefMotley You're perfectly right when you say that Resi 5 co op is fun. I've played it several times with a mate and when played in this way its one of the most fun and enjoyable game experiences I've had in recent times. However, I dont always have a mate to play co op with, and when you play Resi 5 in single player, it feels strangley empty...like theres something missing. Its a good game, make no mistake about that, but in my opinion Resident evil belongs in Single player.
  • JosefMotley - May 15, 2010 4:13 p.m.

    I totally disagree with the chap below / before me. Co-op saved resident evil 5 in my book. I hope they don't get rid of it in the next one because of the bad reaction from so many gamers... but then again I have ONLY played RE5 two player, and have heard horrible things about the AI. saying the single player doesn't work is fair enough, AI is a bitch to get right... but co-op certainly worked for me, I had more fun with that than I have with a new game in ages... and frankly fun is more important than all these vague terms like "atmosphere" or "scaryness". I was still scared several times in co-op. It was sillier in places, sure, but plenty of horror films can manage to be both funny and scary. You get what you put in. Try playing co-op in the dark next time or something perhaps?
  • Clovin64 - May 15, 2010 11:53 a.m.

    I got a little worried when he said that the popularity of co-op games is going to increase in the future (he's probably right about that). Seriously, I hope single player games dont get overlooked in favour of co-op. Look at Resi 5: It was a good game, but it had the potential to be just as brilliant as Resi 4, but it was ruined somewhat by dodgy partner AI. But look at something like Bayonetta or God of War III! Single player games CAN be brilliant... please don't forget that developers.
  • Gahmah - May 15, 2010 6:42 a.m.

    If it all possible I'd like to see more articles like this from games radar! This was neat and very interesting to read. It was presented well and actually offers some depth into Tekeuchi and Capcom in addition to a light into the feel people have for the japanese game market. Really cool article.
  • crumbdunky - May 15, 2010 6:24 a.m.

    Well, a whole lot about nothing as far as I can see! Why not ask him straight out "why did you attempt to kill RE as a series when co-op can never work for a story based survival horror game?"? He'd have had to give you more than the fluff he did there about people liking co-op! I LIKE co-op, I LOVE L4D on the PC, LOVE playing Halo with mates but for RE it doesn't work and a five year old could tell you exactly why-and they can't even play the damn games yet! It idn't work AS A RE game because playing with mate makes anything "scary" silly/amusing, kills any atmosphere you try to set up with narrative and so on-not to mention that when translated to SP the AI is nowhere near good enough(seriously, Sheva was pants and in LP2 you better be ready for serious boredom when unable to play with a full human squad as your NPC mates are dim as all hell-to a game ruining degree when a lot of the bigger Akrid are designed for tactical, coordinated attacks!)meaning it gets in your way/you end up babysitting it(like the WORST/Ashley bits of RE4)and immersion is a distant, sick joke. No, there were HARD questions to be asked and it didn't happen which is always the way in the cosy, offend nobody world of games journalism. Sure, you couldn't hammer JT about all the crap Capcom have pulled this gen(from DMC4 being pants, CTYD insulting and the constant shilling of the RE name on the Wii without EVER releasing a new, proper one even when promised or even the DLC Vs key/SF4 costume fiascos)but you should really have managed to say that co-op should NEVER be the king in RE. Not that it shouldn't EXIST in RE-no, playing with a mate was fun, it just wasn't much like RE in feel and resultantly the classic controls didn't feel right either. wWhat they need to understand is that co-op is about the interaction and action and in a RE game that doesn't allow for the right atmosphere to be brought along. So have co-op but don't put it in charge so the core SP where the art is possible gets mangled. It's like they forgot that we liked all the previous RE games built on brilliant SP with story and scares and atmosphere! So why not bloody ask the guy about it til he says something worth hearing! He made the WORST RE ever with the biggest budget and now he's managed to make LP2 WORSE than the first and not got rid of any of the first games problems either! I thought it was a bit rich of JT taking the mick out of his mate Ben for BC when his own work isn't very good! When is games journalism going to find some damn teeth? Was Gerstmanngate the start of a reign of fear where no one asks anything we gamers need to hear answers to? No wonder Acti and their ilk get away with what they do when our voice, teeth and check on the industry are AWOL. The world's full of nice pieces that speak loud and say nothing. We need a gaming Paxman, we need someone to ask the hard questions and we need someone prepared to say "this was shit. What do you plan to do about it?". We need someone to remind these people just who pays their fekkin' wages when it comes down to it so they start making more quality products rather than worrying about preowned game sales(which they don't seem to understand happens because the games aren't often good enough to keep these days or that people sell a game so they can buy a new one!)and DRM. Surely to God, though, someone needs to tell Capcom that co-op need not mean they kill the SP campaigns in their story based games. If we don't tell them I'm scared we'll see the SP of DMC5 only playable with us as Dante with a team of NPC Neros! You've been warned-now ask the questions and tell 'em what we think! BTW-not an attack on GR but the whole games media. Specialist press usually holds a little sway within it's sphere but we gamers are so downtrodden today as a direct result of the gaming media being too in thrall to publishers who place big ads that we're getting no kind of real presence in interviews like this one. You'd never guess bad games were made by reading interviews, honestly, even BC as glossed over here. We need the games media to be our way of getting our views to devs/publishers etc and need it to ask the right people the right questions and I don't see it happening. It's all WAY too nice. Teeth please. .

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