At this year's Tokyo Game Show, we had the luck to sit down with a very talented man. Atsushi Inaba is a maverick game creator who's had his hand in a number of off the wall game titles. He first became known for the one-two-punch of Viewtiful Joe and the incomparably complex and obscure Steel Battalion (that Xbox game that required a $200 cockpit controller.) Now, he's back with two big hits: Okami and Phoenix Wright, and topping it all off with the absolutely off-the-wall God Hand. We've dived into his mind on all three titles, as well as getting his views on the success of PS3 and Wii... and the failure of the PSP.
It's interesting... God Hand initially came out of nowhere. It was a surprise. But people seem to be warming up to it a lot. The Japanese version sold well. What do you think of the reaction so far, and what you were expecting?
Inaba: So when you first look at God Hand, it's not something that we focused on being very graphically intensive. So it kind of looks a little bit like it might not something that... You know you look, your first impression isn't necessarily what it truly is. But once you actually sit down and play the game you realize it's a really fun, enjoyable game. So, Japanese users have bought the game and given us feedback and the sales have been pretty good. I'm really happy that people that have bought it enjoyed it. And I'm looking forward to more people buying it and enjoying it.
Capcom used to be well known for beat 'em-up games - you know, back in the days of Final Fight. And last year a couple came out but they didn't do very well. But this seems to be more of a success. Why do you think that might be?
Inaba: So, Capcom is obviously known for fighting games... for those kind of beat 'em-up fighting games. I think that in general, Capcom is actually a pretty good environment to make those kinds of games and that's why they keep coming out. But compared to say Beat Down and Final Fight: Streetwise, I think God Hand is obviously very, very different. And I definitely have a sense of security in knowing that we've made a good game and that it stands out very well to Beat Down and Final Fight.
Something that's also very different about God Hand is it's got a strong sense of humor. Why pursue a sense of humor? Is it difficult to make a funny game?
Inaba: As far as why there's humor in the game, Shinji Mikami, the director of the game, really wanted to make a lighter, funnier game because he's known for the very serious Resident Evil series, so he wanted to make [something] lighter. But putting humor into a game is a difficult endeavor because if you don't do it right, it kind of falls flat. So God Hand being this very serious kind of fighting game - if the humor doesn't work then the game becomes even more serious. It detracts from what we're trying to do... trying to have that balance. So I have confidence that the humor that we put into the game and the way we put the jokes and the physical humor in - as far as it being a realistic game, which also makes that more difficult - I have confidence that we were able to successfully blend that serious realistic fighting with the humor.