Keiji Inafune Shares His Thoughts on PlatinumGames, Working With Fans and Mega Man's Creation
Posted by Thomas Whitehead
Kaio: King of Pirates' fate is in the hands of its publisher, Marvelous
Keiji Inafune caused a bit of a stir a week ago, satisfying the fantasies and dreams of many Mega Man fans by announcing Mighty No.9, a 'spritual successor' to the Mega Man franchise that's steadily creeping towards its crowdfunding stretch goal that will bring a Wii U release onto the table. As a result Inafune, for so long the recognisable face of Capcom's franchise, has been everywhere, sharing his views and promoting his company's project.
Much of interest has been said about Mighty No.9, but an interview with Destructoid from PAX Prime has revealed some other intriguing opinions and nuggets of information.
First of all, when Comcept's latest project was announced some eagle-eyed Nintendo Life readers asked "but what about Kaio: King of Pirates?", the cute animal/pirate adventure for 3DS that's dropped off the radar since 2012. It seems to be a scenario not unlike Rodea the Sky Soldier, as from the game creator's perspective the project is finished and good to go; Inafune has simply stated that the game is in the hands of publisher Marvelous, which is yet to come up with a launch strategy. If the aforementioned project from Yuji Naka still has a chance — as the Rodea publisher claims — perhaps we'll finally see this project in 2014; we can only hope.
Meanwhile, Inafune shared an interesting perspective on fan projects and engaging the enthusiast community, particularly against the context of the ongoing proliferation of fan-made Mega Man games. Street Fighter X Mega Man showed Capcom's willingness to team up with a fan project, and Inafune feels its an area that can be explored further.
If you are a fan and you really want to make something like that that you love, then I think you should make it. Obviously that's going to be what makes you happy.
But if I was an IP holder and I saw that there was somebody that was that impassioned to work with the content, that they were willing to dedicate their own time and energy and potentially money to make it, then I think the smarter approach would be to contact them and see if there wasn't a way to do a project with them, very much like Kickstarter, get them somehow involved in it so that it really is you as a creator being [able] to make sure that you're controlling the quality and direction and stuff like that, but also getting lots of good fan input and really finding a perfect blend between fan and creator to make something very unique.
We're not sure we want to see Capcom take to Kickstarter — definitely not — but the idea of utilising keen fans seems worth pursuing, as long as those that do the work are rewarded financially. Considering finances, Inafune was asked about his fellow Capcom breakaways at PlatinumGames, a studio prominent on the Wii U in the current and future. With The Wonderful 101 struggling to date in Japan and Europe, however, the issue of combining creativity and great games with commercial success is a key area to be addressed.
I think that they are a very talented group of people. I've known them when they were all at Capcom and we were working together, so it's really hard to say what their strengths and weaknesses are, certainly in an interview like this. But I think that they have their own style and they're really good at that style. It's different from how I would necessarily build out or develop a game, but I think it certainly works for them and allows them to create something that's very unique and cool for sure.
I guess if I was going to say there's one area for improvement, maybe it's on how they produce things. They're great at building out great games, but they never really seem to hit the sales marks that they need to, so that gap needs to be decreased, shortened by stronger producers, etc. That will make their games hit a wider audience.
Finally, it's been pointed out to us that the status of Keiji Inafune as the 'creator of Mega Man' is up for debate; the man himself explained the process behind the character's genesis when asked about the "exclamation mark" helmet protrusion.
This is probably a little known fact... it's true that I did not design Mega Man, but what happened was there was a planner [confirmed to be Akira Kitamura, credited as A.K. in Mega Man 1 and 2] that whenever they made a Famicom character, they had to look at it on the screen and see how it popped, whether it was visible, whether you can play as it and it would pop off of the background. This planner put together a pixel character that really had good read against the Famicom backgrounds, then went to me and said, 'Okay, I want you to make a character that looks like [a] Famicom graphic could have come from that character.'
So it was like a reverse character design, the fact that Mega Man's birth came from this pixelized character that the planner initially created, but the actual animation, the rendition of him as a character I did create. But I had to look at the pixels and try to envision what that would look like as a character, and all you can see from the pixels was that, okay, this was where the helmet was, then it looks like there's a line. And that's all you can really tell. So when you're going to design a character, I literally could have put a triangle here or a square or an equal sign, it could have literally been whatever. So I just put what I thought matched well with the line, but it wasn't intentionally meant to be an exclamation mark or anything like that, unfortunately.
It's certainly worth checking out the full interview, and let us know what you think of Inafune's comments below.