Satoru Iwata, Director and General Manager of the Corporate Planning
Division of Nintendo Co. Ltd, recently discussed GameCube with
Japanese gaming publication Famitsu. Iwata is responsible for
Nintendo's global corporate planning. Prior to joining Nintendo in
2000, Iwata served as President of Hal Laboratory, where he
coordinated software development and production of several Nintendo
games, including the Kirby series. Iwata has worked with Shigeru
Miyamoto on numerous projects. He shares some insight into some of
the most desired GameCube games in the interview...
Question: The GameCube has been available for more than three
months already in Japan, your thoughts?
Iwata: The reception has been excellent in North America.
While sales have been slightly below expectations in Japan, we're
confident we'll meet projections.
Question: Shigeru Miyamoto was quoted as saying his upcoming
title 'Mario Sunshine' is nearly complete already. The revelation
was reportedly made during a conversation with Sega's producer Yuji
Naka. What's the status of development on the game?
Iwata: Mario Sunshine will definitely be ready for release
this summer, and we hope players continue looking forward to it. The
software development process is meticulous, especially at Nintendo.
Mr. Miyamoto's games are never really finished until the last
minute. He's always changing something and very nervous about the
completion process until the game actually hits shelves. [laughs..]
We weren't even sure if Smash Brothers DX would be ready by the end
of the year, it was a tense situation. [laughs..]
Question: Smash Brothers DX ended up being a tremendous
success. How will you decide what other series to continue on the
Iwata: One of the strongest aspects of Smash Brothers DX was
the evolution of the characters, much like the leap from 2D-3D in
Mario 64. That's become one of Nintendo's trademarks. All sequels
must be legitimized by our staff depending upon how they can evolve.
Mr. Miyamoto plans to take the Mario series to a new level with
Mario Sunshine. He's also working on 4-5 other titles, some of which
are sequels, others will offer completely new gameplay experiences.
One of the challenges we've posed to developers is coming up with
new ideas. The creator of the Mother series for example, Sigesato
Itoi, has teamed up with other producers to create games. Rare's
'Star Fox Adventures' for the GameCube is a jointly developed
project as well.
Question: Do you anticipate more third party support?
Iwata: The GameCube has been well received by the development
community, but we don't believe in overwhelming third party support.
However, we're certainly talking with more developers about the
possibility of working together. Frequently, developers use our
platforms solely for their own self-interests, so it's hard to form
management relationships. Rather than business to business
relationships, we've chosen more personal collaborations such as
creator to creator. Capcom's decision to release Biohazard on the
GameCube is a direct result of that.
Question: What about the completion status of GameCube titles
currently in development in America such as Metroid Prime?
Iwata: Metroid Prime is coming along well, I'm confident it
will be ready in 2002. Developers have remarked about speed by which
they can develop GameCube games. It's literally cuts the development
time in half compared to other consoles. You'll really begin to see
that difference by the second half of 2002.
Question: Nintendo has been reluctant to discuss networking
plans for the GameCube. Any updates on that situation?
Iwata: I don't think the online aspect of the GameCube will
be available until late 2002. We're putting considerable resources
into research and development on the network now. However, we
realize that games won't immediately sell a million copies simply
because they're network compatible. The technical hurdle associated
with creating console-based online games is high, and it's something
Nintendo is pursuing earnestly.
Question: Sony has made some interesting statements regarding
their PlayStation2 network in recent weeks. Sony's president said
the future of the network may include games which can be played
against people using other platforms. Your thoughts?
Iwata: I think our networking plans are much different.
However, we realize the importance of online gaming in the PC
market. Broadband services such as ADSL have spread quickly because
of them. It would require significant resources and pose a technical
challenge to unite GameCube and PC players.