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Keiji Inafune Discusses the Indie Experience in Japan and Shows New Mighty No. 9 Footage

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

"It feels like a return to the golden days"

GDC (Game Developers Conference) 2014 is now approaching its close in San Francisco, and has hosted a variety of games, demonstrations and reveals. As is also the norm there have been presentations from various figures in the games industry, with a particularly high profile example being that given by Keiji Inafune, the former Capcom employee widely associated with Mega Man and now running his own studio, Comcept.

Much focus on Inafune-san at present is naturally on Mighty No. 9, not only due to its clear inspiration from the Blue Bomber's series but its origins as a successful Kickstarter campaign. In his talk at GDC the studio's main man explained how going 'Indie', and being crowdfunded, has given him freedom that he hasn't enjoyed for a good amount of time.

Watching the Western indie movement over the past few years has given me an example to follow. There’s a great deal of freedom being indie. I like seeing and feeling like I can do anything. It feels like a return to the golden days.

I was assigned to consumer division [at Capcom]. We were in side-building, away from the main arcade division and we were treated as such. Our job was to port whatever was made for the arcade. Mega Man was the first original title to come from our team.

In a way, if we’re talking about what is or isn’t indie, for us I would say that was our indie movement. We were a) not housed in main building and b) not doing what we were supposed to be doing. It’s this passion, heart and soul that we poured into that first product that I think shows where the heart of indie lies.

Meanwhile, Inafune-san highlighted the differences between the indie and Kickstarter cultures in the West and Japan. The concept of crowdfunding is still young in his homeland, while he hopes that the restrictions and challenges of small developer studios will stimulate a wave of creativity in the country.

After the campaign finished I received a huge number of letters and emails from other Japanese developers. Around half of them had never heard of Kickstarter. If the game industry in Japan doesn’t know about it, then certainly normal citizens wouldn’t.

Being the first to do a successful Kickstarter in Japan was an act of breaking the walls. I hope that when the game comes out it will also break down the wall to reveal the business potential of crowd-funding and digital distribution to other Japanese developers.

We are a small country with limited resources and limited people. In older generations, Japanese made things work by being creative, not by being resource-rich. I feel like that situation is similar to where we indies are today in Japan.

We may work better with restrictions and limitations because, when that situation is in front of us, we are very creative. I feel like the indie situation today will push our nation to be much more creative direction. Perhaps we will find the next Japanese video game creator hero in this era? I feel that there is a small light that will grow into something bigger in the future. I hope we can push that forward.

The emergence of more download and small developers in Japan could certainly be exciting. Let us know what you think of Inafune-san's comments, while first below is some awesome new footage of Mighty No. 9 that was shown at GDC, as well as the full presentation below that.

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User Comments (16)



GuSolarFlare said:

Keiji Inafune is becomeing more and more one of my favorite persons in the gaming industry



noctowl said:

Megaman clone goes for creative these days? Oh well. If that's the kind of games he likes making, more power to him.

I'd like to see what he is capable of outside robot sidescrolling shooters.



FriedSquid said:

Great footage this time, the new characters all look great and unique.

One thing I've never considered is how much of an impact Inafune will make in Japan. Not only is he doing great things that he and his fans want, but as he said he will break down the walls for future creators in Japan, meaning that this is only scratching the surface. With great minds like IGA, I can only imagine who else will follow after Inafune...



Kaze_Memaryu said:

Eh... I certainly hope they won't go for 3D models. The sprites have much more charm and appeal than this.



Bliquid said:

@ noctowl:
Biohazard/Resident Evil
Resident Evil: Director's Cut - producer
Resident Evil 2 – promotion producer
Biohazard 4D-Executer - executive supervisor
Resident Evil 4 – executive producer (PS2 version)
Resident Evil 5 – executive producer (uncredited)
Onimusha: Warlords and Onimusha 2: Samurai's Destiny – producer
Onimusha Blade Warriors, Onimusha 3: Demon Siege and Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams – executive producer
Onimusha – writer (film)
Other games
Street Fighter – Graphic designer
Pro Yakyuu? Satsujin Jiken! (Professional Baseball Murder Mystery) – graphic designer
Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers – graphic designer
DuckTales – graphic designer
Yo! Noid – character design, illustrations
Capcom's Gold Medal Challenge '92 – graphic designer
Breath of Fire – character design, illustrations
Capcom Fighting Evolution, Shadow of Rome and Black Cat – executive producer
Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap – producer
Shadow of Rome - executive producer
Final Fight: Streetwise – special thanks
Lost Planet: Extreme Condition – producer, original story
Dead Rising – producer
Street Fighter IV – executive producer
Bionic Commando – executive producer
Super Street Fighter IV – executive producer
Dark Void – executive producer
Lost Planet 2 – executive producer
Dead Rising 2 – executive producer
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective – executive producer
Asura's Wrath – executive producer
Dragon's Dogma - executive producer (uncredited)
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney/Apollo Justice - executive producer
Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2 - special guest appearance (summon character)
Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory - special guest appearance (summon character)
Guild02 - designer (Mushikera Sensha)[12]
Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z - producer
Soul Sacrifice - Game and concept designer
Kaio: King of Pirates - Project lead
Mighty No. 9 - Project lead
Soul Sacrifice Delta - Game and concept designer
Azure Striker Gunvolt - Promotion producer



sinalefa said:


They were very clear about it in the kickstarter:

"We can also safely say the plan is to use what is often called the “2.5D” setup: 3D models for characters and most objects, with the gameplay in 2D."

I love sprites too but I don't mind 3D models, as they are animating very fluidly and look nice.



Tysamu said:

@noctowl mega man clone? Didn't know mega man could absorb enemies (common), downward dash and multi dash unless you mean when X is in armor or the zx series but we're talking about mega man alone yes? Didnt know megaman could hang onto ledges and whatnot. Considering that people will complain whether ia game series remains too static or too dynamic, you making a statement that this is a clone makes ppl say "damned if you do damned if you don't"; plus it's the game's still in development and has more changes than almost every other megaman game.

I like how mighty 7 has similarities to zero lol



JaxonH said:

This game is a dream come true for me. I've been waiting so long for a new Mega Man game, 2D side scroller, not one of those crazy spinoffs. This isn't exactly Mega Man, but it's the spirit of Mega Man. In a way, being a new franchise allows growth in ways we might have never seen had this been an actual Mega Man game. I'm digging the dash absorbing, the wall hanging, and that crazy ninja star spin move...



Kaze_Memaryu said:

@sinalefa Oh, I completely didn't notice when I read through it.
And the first few concept screenshots also had sprites or heavily cel-shaded models, so I assumed that was the style they were going for.
Thanks for clearing that up!



BlackStar9000 said:

Noctowl got learned, HARD! I would like to see the game further along than this but no complaints as Keji doesn't disappoint. I was gonna be a backer (becker?) of this, then completely forgot, oh well, I'm still backing River City Ransom and Hyperlight Drifter, gonna get em all anyway.



banacheck said:

In 2010 Keiji Inafune announced that "Japanese gaming is dead,” at the GDC Keiji Inafune was asked if the situation in Japan has improved he said.  “To be completely honest, not in a big way." This is what this speech at the GDC is about, it's ashame but thay've still got along way to go to get back to there glory days.



Morph said:

Just on that last point, about a new video game creators. The 80's and 90's gave us guys like inafune, suzuki, naka, miyamoto, kojima, aonuma proper legends of the business, to me we just dont seem to have that now. Those guys are all in their 50's and 60's now, who exactly are we looking at as the next wave of proper legends. Maybe with nintendo we have sakurai but I struggle a bit after that, I miss those days, when you'd look forward to a particular developers new project, rather than a company as a whole.



citizenerased said:

I hope Japan's indie scene takes off like the West's has. I'd love to see a Japanese take on things. If the big guys won't innovate (looking a Square Enix for example), hopefully indie developers can show them the way.

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