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Castlevania: the mega-interview

GR: That brings up an interesting point. Rondo of Blood may be the last game in the Castlevania series that's linear: play the level, beat the boss, finish the level. Is it interesting to work on a game with that old-style Castlevania feel? Is it teaching you anything about Castlevania or reminding you of its roots?

KI: That's a good question actually. Because another reason I brought Rondo of Blood to PSP this time was to test case with the consumers if they would accept the linear type of game. Because, obviously, the linear type of game is not mainstream level design in the current industry. From my end, my keyword to the game creation was "longevity." How gamers could last the gameplay and play it over and over again. So I really want to hear the consumer reaction to the linear type and see if it would fit for the future Castlevania series.

GR: Do you feel it has something to offer that the exploratory style doesn't? Could they work together in harmony?

KI: [Exploration] was one the keys to the success of the Castlevania series, linked with the linear possibility. I don't know about the US, but this is like a phenomenon in Japan that not many people could heavily play games nowadays. And that they are only asking for a short time of gameplay. That's why one of the phenomena is the Nintendo DS - it's been really popular.

My thinking has been, in the past, like back with SOTN, longer gameplay has been everything to me. But probably, the trend might have changed in modern days, in that probably, though linear level designs are getting much less popular, there might be potential to the industry where consumers are able to have short gameplay but provide a heavy game [experience] in that short period of time. If we could get consumers' understanding for that point, we could probably keep on working on the linear type.

So New Super Mario Bros. on DS could be a good example. They've got linear level designs. They do have some exploration elements in it. They've got tons of things in it like items and everything put together in one game, and we can't do that with Castlevania, unfortunately, because we know that Castlevania fans all want detailed graphics and they want to see everything different with the stage designs. So it's kind of hard to follow purely like Mario. So personally speaking, going back [to what I said] earlier, I would like to see the consumer reaction with our linear type first, and see if we could do something [different] with the Castlevania series, maybe including some exploration.

GR: That sort of goes back to our discussion earlier - about SOTN and how it kind of set the tone for the series for the next ten years. If you made a really good game that wasn't like SOTN, do you think you'd have a problem getting fans to accept it?

KI: So... we love Castlevania fans, to start off with. So we're not neglecting them. But we have to move forward. And to move forward, we have to challenge many new [ideas], and it obviously goes back to the gamers' perception - if SOTN is the number one Castlevania game. It [was released] maybe ten years ago. They're all good memories, and [gamers] add depth to that memory of the game experience. They might have something really huge... their expectations might have expanded bigger and bigger, maybe. Or they might have... you know how when people's memory is not accurate and as time passes, they think's something's better?

GR: Nostalgia.

KI: Nostalgia. So we know that we can't overcome if people think SOTN is the masterpiece. We can't overcome that part, or win over those Castlevania fans [who love] SOTN. But then again with Portrait of Ruin we [experimented with bringing] over the SOTN graphic parts, and we're quite happy with the graphics that we brought over. But as you know with POR it wasn't all about the castle. There were outdoor stages and you saw some graphic changes over the stage designs. So anytime we develop Castlevania games we're moving forward to look for new opportunities, and we challenge to expand our series. So we will keep on a lot of staff to develop new experiences, for the consumers. However if fans are still thinking that SOTN is the number one game we can't help it. We can't erase their memories.

GR: What we're trying to say is that, we think that people will love what you do with Castlevania and we'd like to encourage you to think outside of the confines of SOTN, or any other games may have created for the series. It would be really good to think different when approaching making the next 3D Castlevania. It would be good to think fresh, and we think people would love it.

KI: It's always in my mind, actually, to overcome SOTN. From my end SOTN made a drastic departure from the past series by adding the RPG elements to the game. That was a real evolution to the franchise. We want to do something like that for the future Castlevania series - but then again we're thinking from a business standpoint, that bars to consider new challenges. Hmm. I guess I need to think and find to make a drastic change like we did for SOTN.

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