News Article

Yoshio Sakamoto Striving For "New Entertainment" and "New Fun" for Franchises Both Old and New

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Naturally thoughts drift to Metroid

Yoshio Sakamoto is perhaps best known as the Director of the iconic early entries in the Metroid series, including the NES original, Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion. Sakamoto-san is not averse to experimentation and different genres, however, with producer credits in the WarioWare series, in particular, while his last director role was on Metroid: Other M, a title that approached the Metroid series in a few new ways — admittedly those ideas weren't all met with approval by the series fanbase.

He can't be accused of standing still, however, and his latest producing role once again brings him into rather experimental territory — at least to Western eyes — with Tomodachi Life. In our own first impressions we said that there "are various moments where the game charges headlong into totally bizarre territory", yet we've thoroughly enjoyed it so far and believe it "has the potential to eclipse even New Leaf when it comes to ensnaring a mainstream audience". That mix of peculiarity and gameplay hooks to keep gamers coming back could be a magical formula in a franchise new outside of Japan.

When asked by CVG whether his recent roles in projects such as Tomodachi Life and his stated desire to create forward-thinking games would limit his involvement in established franchises such as Metroid, Sakamoto-san sought to highlight how the two areas are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

There might [currently] be various tasks I might be involved in with past series. However, even if so I would always like to introduce new entertainment and new fun to those series.

I would like to satisfy fans of those series, but also working with other talented individuals I would like to create entertainment that's completely different and that brings new emotions. I would like to challenge myself in those unique directions.

This might be indirect, but if we can make new types of gamers enjoy video games for the first time through Tomodachi Life, then they might eventually become interested in the more conventional games. I think we need to ensure that video games remain attractive to consumers, and in order to do so new concepts and ideas are important. I would like to challenge myself to do that.

Similar to comments from various other project leaders throughout Nintendo, Sakamoto-san places the emphasis on finding experiences to intrigue and entertain players of various kinds.

I am told by many people that I have developed many different types of games over my career, but I think this is solely because I was able to partner with many different people with many different talents.

Although the types of games are different, what I think is the same for each development is the process of deciding which kinds of emotions we should bring to players.

When we think in that manner, many approaches of game development are actually the same over different types of games.

I think in the end what is most important is hospitality towards consumers. When we develop games we always think, 'what do we have to do to make players happy or satisfied?'

Tomodachi Life has certainly evolved rapidly, in the past week, from a title that was perhaps perceived as a quirky Japan-focused game going through localisation to a Mii-sim that's intriguing plenty of gamers. Rather like Animal Crossing: New Leaf, it may be a 3DS title that increases the portable's market impact further while satisfying gamers both experienced and relatively new to the hobby.

Time will tell, but it certainly has us interested in seeing what projects Yoshio Sakamoto will be involved in next.


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User Comments (40)



MAN1AC said:

Other M was so bad that Miyamoto put him on Tomodachi Life and QOL duty.



Minotaurgamer said:

You can feel the contempt he has to the Metroid fans for (rightfully so) rejecting his maternal instincts vision. It's obvious whose "those fans" is he refering for calling BS on his absurd metroid version.

Well boo-freaking-hoo sakamoto. Videogames are ENTERTAINMENT not art. If you want to create emotions and maternal instincts foolery then be a mime.



Ernest_The_Crab said:

@unrandomsam I thought you were joking about the DLC. Then I checked Steam.......

The game certainly looks strange, hopefully it does well otherwise Nintendo might not feel like publishing anything else quirky/new outside of Japan.



Gerbwmu said:

Am I the only one that reads these interviews with a bad voice over in my head?



Adam said:

He doesn't say anything even remotely contemptuous of Metroid fans — or of anyone — that I see. I feel like I read a different article.



Kyloctopus said:

Is it weird that my thoughts naturally drifted to Warioware instead? I forgot Sakamoto was involved with Metroid as well.
Seriously, Warioware would be awesome on 3DS and Wii U.



Wolf_Link said:

i really love Metroid Other M. Why people cant see what the director tried to make us feel? its full of cliches but the core essence of the game is great. i like samus even more thanks to this game.



TruenoGT said:

Other M gets a bad rap. Indeed some of the cut-scenes were a bit cringe-worthy, but the game was solid and the remote only controls were a bold move that paid off IMO.



faint said:

@minotaurgamer when the art is taken out of video games then i will stop playing. btw how can you be a nintendo fan and not see the art in video games



MeddlingIdiot said:

@TruenoGT Agreed! In all honesty, I'd rather have another entry in the series that plays like Other M than Super Metroid. Don't get me wrong, a new 2D Metroid would be great, but I like that risks were taken with Other M.



Action51 said:

Other M wasn't terrible, but it came at a time when the fanfare and excitement over the Wii was waning, and I've posted before about how the tides of pop culture, gaming media and Nintendo themselves have been working against the big N since 2010, and sort of hit a peak in early 2013.

Same reason Zelda: Skyward Sword and New Super Mario Bros. U get a lot of hate. They were released within that window.

Anyway, I really really hope Tomadachi Life does give the Sims a run for it's money. With later Sims installments being known as system resource hogs with a staggering and confusing amount of overpriced's the perfect time for Nintendo to swoop in and use the knowledge gained from working on titles like Animal Crossing to attempt to unseat EA's life simulator.



Genesaur said:

Everyone drifts to talk of Other M. It was garbage; there isn't much sense in defending it, but the man's track record is overall good. Hopefully, we'll see him realising the kinds of feelings that Metroid games at their core should make us feel.



Kaze_Memaryu said:

Yeah, Sakamoto. We all know how your ideas of "new entertainment" worked out last time. Keep it simple, stop the lousy Hollywood applications.
Now the Metroid series is on hibernation (again), but this time because of bad sales figures. Take notes.

@Wolf_Link It's not about the characterization of Samus, it's about the lack of common logic throughout the whole plot, and the complete disregard of everything the Metroid series stands for.
I don't know why defenders think critical voices (and haters) are just raging about Samus' personality when there are much more glaring flaws all over the place. It was one of the first disconnections, but not the worst part.



Aran said:

I really love Metroid: Other M. Why is there so much hate for it? Some are the kind of people that "want" something new, they get it, and they don't like it because isn't as the past games. Just like Some Zelda "fans". Metroid: Other M feels really different than other Metroid games. Samus really shows her "human part" and I liked that a lot.



ToniK said:

@Kaze_Memaryu Yeah, I didn't mind the whole "making Samus a real person" thing at all, it was the gameplay that made the whole game seem like a chore. I'd like to give it another chance still. You can get it for basically free these days



SpookyMeths said:

Other M was a fantastic game, but boy, people sure do like to complain about the 1 hour of cutscenes mixed into 10 hours of gameplay.



hiptanaka said:


I'm a few hours into Other M, and my biggest complaint is that Adam seems to be more of the main character/hero than Samus. All she talks and thinks about is Adam. It's horrible. I also feel the generic team of badass marines makes it feel too much like an action B-movie. In Metroid, I want to feel isolated and self-dependent. Just me and a planet/ship/whatever to explore.

From a gameplay perspective, Other M has some strong ideas. I do prefer the 2D games, but at least it tries something different (and without aping other popular franchises).



SpookyMeths said:

@hiptanaka The first part of the game does focus on Adam a lot, but still told from Samus's perspective. The story moves on from that though. It's not all about Adam. It just took a little longer than was necessary to introduce his character, is all. The marines play a role in the story, but are barely featured in the game as well. You spend the vast majority of the game alone.



hiptanaka said:

@CaviarMeths Ok, sounds promising. Does Adam unlocking your weapons get phased out, as well? It always felt more satisfying to get a new weapon/ability as a result of finding a hidden item, like in the 2D Metroids, instead of a guy sporadically unlocking it for you.



BertoFlyingFox said:

So hand the reins over to a developer that wants to make a new Metroid?

Tomodachi Life is cool and I'm picking it up, but if this just means an influx of quirky sims....then that kinda sucks.



Geonjaha said:

People didn't hate Other M because it was different, they hated it because it was terrible. Nintendo, stop pretending the response to a bad game means people want the franchise to die. There's no logic behind that.



hiptanaka said:



That's a shame. It's baffling the way they've done that. An especially strange example is the Varia Suit. In other Metroid games, you will encounter an area where heat or cold prevents you from entering without taking damage, sometimes with opportunities for sequence breaking. Then, later, you will receive the Varia Suit and can then come back to those areas. In Other M, you get to a hot area, but it's the only way to go. After a linear path of taking heat damage, Adam says "OK, here's your Varia Suit", and then the same linear path continues. So the Varia Suit has no function as a progression ability, in the sense that removing both the Varia Suit and heated rooms would not have changed the path you can take through the game. Very strange design. And from a story perspective it makes no sense, either. Why didn't he just unlock it as soon as the heat was encountered, if he was planning to, anyway?



SpookyMeths said:

@hiptanaka Lol, there's no sense in trying to wrap your head around Other M's story. It's mostly nonsense. There's some interesting things going on, but it's wrapped up in so much jibberish and poor characterizations that it's best to just take it in stride.

I still maintain that the gameplay of Other M is fantastic though.



hiptanaka said:


The gameplay grows on me as I gradually understand more what they were going for. At first it just felt completely messy because they've thrown precision shooting out the window, but there are some interesting observation/reaction things going on.

One thing I hate about the gameplay, though, is how even things like wall-jumping are contextualized. If there's a wall and you can wall-jump on it, you will need to. If there's a wall you don't need to wall-jump on, you can't wall-jump on it. It reduces the joy of exploring locations.



Kaze_Memaryu said:

The review to end all reviews (cursing doesn't mean he's wrong, just watch it):

Metroid Other M review

And just to drive the point home, the dissection of Prime Vs. Other M:

3D Metroid Dissection

Getting the big picture is much more enlighting than gnawing on parts. And this guy draws you a better picture of the whole picture!



LittleIrves said:

Add my vote to the Pro-Other M contingent. Thought the 3rd person/1st person gameplay was fascinating. I could give a lick about the story. The production values were top-notch, too. Would rather they give us something interesting and new than a shinier, same-y game we've already played.

Anyway. Can't wait for Tomodatchi Life. Not sure if it'll truly unseat the Sims or AC:NL over here in the west... but if it finds a comfortable audience and people appreciate it, I'll feel better about humanity again.



bezerker99 said:

Other M is laughable. If it had been first announced on an April 1st, everyone would have thought it an April Fool's Joke.



Dreamz said:

If the Varia suit had simply been opened the moment you hit the first magma area, there would have been no reason to have it deactivated at all. It's a pacing issue.

I wrote a much larger post on the the subject here.



JaxonH said:


I also have never heard an argument that could convince me video games are not art. But even if they're not, that doesn't mean emotional story isn't a valid pillar of entertainment. Since the dawn of the 3rd generation, video games have been using story to bolster the entertainment value. Some do it better than others. But Metroid Other M, while not as good as some prior entries, was VERY MUCH over-reacted to. At the very least, it's still a great game and definitely in the top 20 for Wii. So the story was a little emo, so what? Since when does that ruin an entire game? A game with solid mechanics and conventional Metroid exploration?



hiptanaka said:

@Dreamz Which begs the question, why have the Varia suit at all? If we leave the story out of it, it fills no purpose, other than having you very slowly take damage for a very short section of the game.

It would've made more sense if you found the cold area early on (maybe against Adam's orders), but could only get so far because of the cold damage. Maybe you could get far enough to fetch an energy tank. Then, later, you enter the magma area as part of your objective and Adam unlocks your Varia Suit, after which you can return to the cold area to do more things there.

I'm not trying to bash the game, by the way. I like some of it, and dislike other parts of it. I just like to discuss game design.



AshFoxX said:

Warioware, Rhythm Heaven and now Tomodachi have become my unsung Nintendo exclusive heroes. I hope the 3DS versions of all three will be announced soon, and the Wii U Warioware seriously missed the mark with it's multiplayer.

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