News Article

Koji Igarashi Discusses Leaving Konami and Being Inspired by the Mighty No. 9 Example

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

"If you have the fans, you can provide them the games they want"

Earlier this week we reported the news that Koji Igarashi, best known for the Castlevania series, had left Konami. Affectionately known as IGA, his role with Castlevania: Symphony of the Night before going on to lead the Castlevania franchise throughout its exceptional years on Game Boy Advance and DS, in particular, had made him a favourite with dedicated fans. Commercial struggles for these games saw the franchise get passed to Mercury Steam for a 3D revamp, however, and the era of 'core' 2D Castlevania games was phased out.

Speaking to Kotaku about his departure, IGA explained that following his final Castlevania title he worked in social games, which he didn't dislike — he's realised that he needs to go it alone and work on the games he and his fans want, however.

I keep getting messages from fans, via Facebook and such, telling me that they wanted me to make consumer games. The people who like my games tend to play traditional video games. I'm in my mid-forties. If I don't strike out on my own now, then when will I? The voices of those fans will just get softer and softer over time. I'm not getting any younger, and there are games I still want to make.

As for reflecting on when the Castlevania franchise was moved to Mercury Steam, it's clear that IGA is keen to avoid expressing ill-will over the decision, acknowledging that he and his team couldn't necessarily deliver what Konami wanted.

We made two 3D Castlevania games. And to be honest, they didn't turn out so well. Mercury Steam is very skilled at creating beautiful 3D images, so they were brought in to develop the game.

Kotaku: Couldn't you still have been in charge?

It would've been difficult, with them in Europe and me in Japan. And since the quality for our 3D Castlevania games wasn't that high, it wasn't really our place to tell them how to do one. They had that expertise.

Ultimately, the odds seem good that IGA's new venture, whatever form it takes, could certainly be exciting for fans of his work. References to making games he and his fans want bodes well for 2D action game supporters, while he'll explore multiple funding options. While the ongoing role of venture capital can't be ignored, it seems that crowdfunding could be an option; considering his source of potential inspiration, perhaps we should keep our eye on Kickstarter in the coming months.

I was really inspired by the reaction that Keiji Inafune got with Mighty No. 9. It showed me that if you have the fans, you can provide them the games they want.


From the web

User Comments (37)



Tasuki said:

So it sounds to me like he is planning his own Metroidvania game with out the Castlevania licensing. Well if that's the case I will support him like I have been Mighty No. 9



antipop621 said:

I'm ashamed to admit I had no idea who he was until now. His Castlevania games were amazing, I played all of them I think and I will gladly support his future endeavors.



Epicnessofme99 said:

Yup seems like he'll make his own Metroidvania games without the Castlevania licensing, unfortunately though as much as i'd love to see him do that I don't think it would be easy to create nearly as memorable characters and atmosphere as the Castlevania games.



PepperBug said:

I'd love to see what he brings to the table as I loved the Castlevania franchise. I wish him good luck!



HyperSonicEXE said:

Inafune (arguably)
The guys who have left Rare/M$

I just cannot believe things are so bad that these creative minds have to leave the industry in droves. Castle-freaking-vania, no less.



sinalefa said:

Another thing to thank Inafune for, then. If he makes a kickstarter, I will be there to support his project.



Kaze_Memaryu said:

Admittedly, I was not aware that IGA only started with CV around SotN. But I also think that he would be better off doing something more independent.
From what I could gather, he didn't really have any original projects at Konami, instead having worked on established/planned projects instead of taking his talent into consideration for the entire getup.
Maybe this helps him realize his own ideas, I can only wish him luck for now.



unrandomsam said:

@HyperSonicEXE Compare how much control they have over what they do to say a film director (Of something expected to make a similar amount of money). That is why.



Aerona said:

How exciting, I'm looking forward to seeing what he comes out with.



Technosphile said:

Igarashi made some really questionable decisions with the Castlevania franchise over the last...13 years. The two best in the entire series are both from the mid-90's; he and his teams were never able to replicate the greatness of Dracula X when they tried the action style, and none of the Castleroids come even close to Symphony. He oversaw a (terrible) Castlevania fighting game, a light gun (whip) arcade game, dumbed down Dracula X on the PSP, and made more Castleroids for handhelds than I can even remember. Castlevania was oversaturated in the market ever since 2000 or so, that is why these games have seen declining sales.

So I don't feel sorry for him, though I do think Japanese publishers handing off their beloved franchises to Western devs is sacrilege. Konami isn't as bad as Capcom in that regard, but it is still heinous. Igarashi will likely try to crowdfund another tired Castleroid game instead of trying something new, once again demonstrating that he doesn't get it. The reason Mighty No. 9 has been successful is because that type of Megaman game has largely been absent from the market for a long time; you could trip over how many bland would-be successors to Symphony of the Night Konami has published over the years.

Castlevania needs a break.



AcesHigh said:

A higher res 2D sprite-based Metroidvania (like the DS Castlevanias) on the 3DS with breathtaking 3D planes and lush pixel art? IGA, if you make it, we will fund it!

Serioulsy, doesn't have to be a barbarian, or vampire hunter. Im ready for a fresh pallet anyway. Even sci fi, D&D or Metal Slug meets Metroidvania. Doesnt matter to me. I've just been so craving the discovery/rewards/progression mechanics of a good metroidvania for sooooo long!

DO IT IGA! DO IT NOW!! GET TO DA CHOP... <oops... sorry. The excitement >



AcesHigh said:

@Technosphile I respect your opinion. And some of those fringe games you mentioned WERE stinkers indeed. But I think Konami wanted him to take the series in the directions that he could not. And where he could not, the 2nd parties could. He pretty much admitted it. Konami just asked him to take the series into directions where he was not comfortable or where they shouldn't have gone anyway. I fault Konami for that more than IGA. Any good coach will design their offense or defense around the strength of their allstar players. And if they dont have the players for a hole in their scheme, they'll look to the draft or free agency.

But I have to disagree on the DS versions after SotN. Those are among my most favorite games of all time, not just to mention in the CV series. As a fan of those games, I'm very much looking forward to him getting back to the style of game that hes really good at.

Honestly, from a completely selfish perspective, I really don't care if he's a one trick pony. If he's great at making only that one kind of Metroidvania game, if its my favorite, I'll buy the body of his work. There are so many other great and talented developers out there to make other great games. If he wants to make what he knows he excels at, let him! We can get our fix of other kinds of games from other developers. I kinda think that's what he was getting at.



FriedSquid said:

I'm really happy for IGA, it sounds like he is very determined to do what he wants to do in the industry and I think that's great. Best of luck to him, I hope he gets to reach his goals and please his fans.



DreamOn said:

He'll likely have a kickstarter but needs time to write and prep that demo and get partners



unrandomsam said:

@Technosphile There has been as little really in the Rondo of Blood style as Megaman recently. (That is the style I like - The player gets better not the character).



Superiorspider said:

Wow I can't believe some of you blind Nintendo fangirls don't even know who IGA is. You guys have been playing waaaay too much Mario 64. Anyways, this guy was the man. He crafted so many fine games that showed Nintendo who their superior was in terms of game design.



V8_Ninja said:

While it's a bit sad to see the people responsible for lots of great Japanese video games leave the companies that they found success with, it's probably for the better. From what I understand, Japanese game development heavily leans toward the two extremes of triple-A boxed products and extremely niche, low-grade doujin (read; fan-made) products. There are certainly exceptions (see Grasshopper Manufacture), but they're exceptions. Hopefully these more experienced individuals leaving the big game developers/publishers will be able to create a healthy middle ground between the two extremes.



HyperSonicEXE said:

I guess so. Still, you'd think the companies would change to help them out.
Then again, Japan does tend to give the reigns to the younger generation because "it's progress," rather than keep all bright talent, young and old.

But again, these companies make it so darn hard to know if it was people like Inafune or Igarashi, or the company's own misguided, suited up Yes Men that made the bad calls.

That's the most infuriating part. Even Nintendo's going through that. I'm beginning to suspect Nintendo's protecting Miyamoto and their reputation, especially with Wii Music and Pikmin both being his pet projects.
Nothing wrong with any of those games, mind you, but they're extremely and incredibly niche.



Gorlokk said:

Fantastic news imo. Can't wait to see if he has anything to show us in the coming days.



Ralizah said:

Awesome. The Westernized Lords of Shadow Castlevania series has effectively killed my interest in modern entries into the franchise, so perhaps he can create a new IP with his new-found creative freedom.



Einherjar said:

@HyperSonicEXE I blame the whole "AAA Game craze". Games today are expected to sell in ridiculous quantities be be viewed as successful and everything below that is instantly regarded as a failure and given NO chance to evolve, even if the idea or the concept behind it is pretty brilliant.
Think of it like, say, early minecraft:
In its early stages, it was a pretty boring "tool" you could play around, but simply nothing more than that. A "Level Editor" without the necessary game behind it. If it would have been a major release and not a one man project, it would have ended right there. It wasnt successful from the get go, better kill it instantly. And look at it now, roughly 3 years old and the hype / craze is STILL going. There was no one halting development as a point, the game had time to develop, the idea and concept behind it had no barricades to evolve.
You dont have that kind of freedom with the AAA market model. You must either create the "perfect game" from the start or youre finished right away.
Thats why most devs stick to their formulars pretty tightly and smother any form of creativity or risky chance, even though we have more than enough examples that this is exactly what we are needing.
Without that kind of attitude, games like "Dark Souls" wouldnt exists, and it became a massive instant hit, even though it didnt follow any "tropes" established in its genre:
It featured an open world...if you dared. No handholding, no quasting, no mercy. It didnt treat the player like a total idiot. Either you learn to play by its rules or you simply fail. No "easy mode" to make it more accesable for the masses, no elaborate explainations of items or mechanics.
On paper, it simply looks like "the anti-game" but it worked. To make a silly quote: "It was the game the industry needed, not the one it deserved"
My bet is, that there are more people to follow in his footsteps.
Weve seen it with folks from Capcom or the creators of Bioshock earlier.
It simply is an industry, that lives from creative in- and output. Once you suck that out of it, its less about making games because youre good at it and more about making games that sell like hot buns but are forgotten at the end of the day. You can live by it, but not in the long run, and thats what counts.



Gridatttack said:

Why not classic side scroller action, like the first 4-5 games. Too many metroidvanias already, dont you think?



SecondServing said:

No offense this guy isn't as big as a deal as Keiji Inafune is. I mean Symphony of the Night really was the only good game in the series, the rest are eirther extremely dated, or just flat out suck. I aint supporting any of his games.



ogo79 said:

"And since the quality for our 3D Castlevania games wasn't that high, it wasn't really our place to tell them how to do one. They had that expertise."



SuperCharlie78 said:

The lack of Metroidvania games from him is what makes the DS' line up better than the 3DS one.
I'm excited about these news though, just give me 2D Castlevania like games and call them as you wish, I don't mind if you call them Mighty N. 10.
Konami is diyng softly and he made the right decision, now let's Kickstart something cool.



Kafei2006 said:

@Epicnessofme99 Some of the latestt IGA produced Castlevania games didn't even have more than a reference to the Belmonts (see Order of Ecclesia), and Dracula was barely even mentioned until you have to fight him at the end so... He should be fine managing to do something with a similar theme without infringing on Konami's copyright. After all, as far as I know, Dracula is public domain by now, no one can prevent IGA from using the character and start out with a new bunch of heroes, it's already been done within the Castlevania series itself.



Peach64 said:

I hope this works out for him, but the vocal fans on the internet are such a small group. Games can be hugely popular on message boards, stuff like all Platinum's games, Shenmue etc, and then flop, because those few thousand people on forums are nowhere near enough. It's like how we keep hearing about fans pestering Platinum about Bayonetta 2, but in reality it's just a couple of hundred people which don't even matter when talking about sales figures.

I'm sure all of US would love to see a new Castkevania that's along the lines of SOTN or the GBA games, but we've already seen that those games struggled at retail.



unrandomsam said:

@SecondServing Keiji Inafune has also had lots of poor quality games. (And only one at the highest level I think - The first Megaman X).

@Peach64 The reason Shenmue flopped is because in order for it to break even every single owner of the Dreamcast would have had to buy two copies.

He did better than Shantae (Which had a pretty successful kickstarter - and there is only one the first that is really good).

Megaman ZX2 flopped as well. (Didn't affect Mighty Number 9).

Don't see why he couldn't make something that could break even day 1 (Dragon's Crown did).

Platinum's games are a different thing again because they cost loads to make.



3MonthBeef said:

Didn't turn out so well? IGA, CV:LoI sold better on the PS2 than LoS for the PS3. The ONLY reason overall sales were better for MercurySteam was because LoS was on both the PS3 and much more mature Xbox 360. I compare the games based on console availability and LoI wins in my book.



SparkOfSpirit said:

Konami is such a shell of its great 8/16 bit days.

Unless you think Metal Gear started with the PS1, that is. Then you get plenty from them!

Leave A Comment

Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...