Takahashi Meijin is something of a legend in his native Japan. You might know him as '16 Shot' thanks to his famed ability to hit a controller button 16 times in a second.
However, if you're a keen fan of Hudson's output then you might also know him as the inspiration for Master Higgins from Adventure Island. However, these days he's given up on skateboarding in a loincloth and is content with handling the marketing of Hudson's games and blogging, and with this in mind we got in touch to discuss the upcoming WiiWare release Adventure Island: The Beginning.
WiiWare World: How long have you worked at Hudson now? What different positions have you occupied during your time there and what is what your job title now?
Takahashi Mejin: I joined Hudson Soft in August 1982, and have therefore been working here for almost 27 years by now. I started my carrier as a sales rep, and was transferred to Marketing division in 1983 where I focused on marketing Family Computer.
After that, I handled various Consumer products as a marketing person, and was also engaged in designing product packages of PC Engine (Turbo Grafx) titles.
Now, I still work for Marketing, doing the comprehensive marketing of our products without dividing consumer contents and network contents.
I received my current job title, “Meijin (Master)”, two years ago. Therefore, my official job title is, “Meijin (Master)”, Marketing division of Hudson Soft.
WW: Can you tell us a little bit about your famed '16 shot' technique? Can you still achieve 16 taps a second?
TM: I will turn 50 in about 2 months. And I was 27 when I did the “16 shot”. Therefore, it is getting more and more difficult to do it at my age. Probably, I can do the “13 shot” at best now!
WW: Aside from destroying watermelons with your impressive finger strength, what else does this skill lend itself to?
TM: Actually, destroying watermelons was a trick, which was created as a movie scene. Although I hit many shots a second, it is a slight vibration of my fingers. Therefore, there is nothing I can do using this skill other than hitting a button!
WW: We hear you are a big shoot-em-up fan. What PC Engine shooter is your favourite? Do you enjoy any more recent shoot-em-ups in the arcades?
TM: My favourite PC Engine (TurboGrafx) shooters are Gunhed (Blazing Lazers) and R-TYPE. Current STGs feature “How to escape from bullets”, not to shoot as many and fast as possible like before. Therefore, I don’t play the current STGs anymore.
WW: Why do you think you have become the celebrity face of Hudson? Is it your dashing looks or some other reason?
TM: I think one of the major reasons was that I was a Marketing person.
Back then, I thought of asking a celebrity to explain game contents to gamers, but it was much easier for me to do it myself instead of explaining everything to the celebrity every time needed. Therefore, I decided to get on to the stage myself.
Also, as I love children and my looks were energetic, that worked better, I think.
WW: We hear a lot about Miyamoto’s hobbies such as gardening, other than tapping things repeatedly what do you like to do in your spare time?
TM: My hobbies are watching movies, and riding a motorcycle (motorcycle touring). Last year, I went down to the Shikoku island of Japan from Tokyo by motorcycle (I live in Tokyo).
It was an about 3000km ride and took a week. I also enjoyed eating nice local foods. That was quite fun.
WW: We know you must be tired of telling this story, but how did you become known as Master Higgins?
TM: I don’t know how, either, but I assume it was because I joined the Hudson’s big game event, “Hudson Caravan” in summer 1985 and visited all the southern places of Japan.
After that, I introduced lots of Hudson games on magazines and also became a cartoon character. I also appeared on a morning TV program, which all in all made me famous and Meijin, I think.
WW: Why did you decide to create a new Adventure Island game after all this time?
TM: I believe that the action games like this one will continue to gain popularity among lots of video games, because there are not so many games which all the generations can enjoy, like Super Mario from Nintendo for example. I hope that not only children but also their parents and other generations enjoy Adventure Island: The Beginning all together.
WW: From the subtitle ‘The Beginning’ are we to think you intend to go back to basics with the WiiWare version?
TM: It’s been a long time since the previous one was released, and there are new generations for video games now.
In that sense, this title can be the beginning of the series and I hope it will unfold more of the continuing stories of the series.
WW: What made you decide on the 2.5D graphical style? After seeing Mega Man 9 did you ever feel tempted to go for an 8-bit sprite look?
TM: I think the 8-bit sprite is good as well, but it is difficult to match to the background and game’s overall atmosphere.
We redesigned a character, and also, we would like to release this title on other consoles in the future as well. Therefore, we chose the 2.5D graphical style which looks more realistic.
WW: Adventure Island IV and Super Adventure Island II, were more RPG-esque in nature. What made you decide to go back to the straightforward platforming style of the original games?
TM: I believe that basically, Adventure Island is an action game. And when you go back to the basics, you will find that the only and all the features of this game are “to jump at a perfect timing” and “to throw an axe”.
Therefore, we have featured these two elements, and I believe the game has achieved to offer a simple but ultimate fun for gamers more than ever.
WW: How long has Adventure Island: The Beginning been in development?
TM: It took about 8 months including tuning.
WW: Will there be any incentives to go revisit stages you have previously cleared?
TM: There are various Master titles shown as “Master Higgins Feats”, which titles you can get by meeting certain conditions set for each feat. Please get all the Master titles by challenging these feats over and over again, and become a real Meijin!
WW: Do you make use of the Balance Board peripheral in this game or not?
TM: This game is not Wii Balance Board compatible.
WW: We saw a screenshot of a 'Shooting Watch' mini game. Do you hope to hold the hi-score on the worldwide leaderboards on this?
TM: The most important thing that I have to do now is not to hold the hi-score on the leaderboards, but to show how exciting and fun the game is to the gamers.
I believe people will enjoy themselves more by looking at young gamers fighting battles rather than looking at a 50-year-old guy getting a high score!
WW: What can we expect from the other mini games?
TM: It is fun to challenge your own record in a single mode, but it is more exciting to try all the mini games in a multiplayer mode for two players to fight battles!
WW: When do you think gamers in North America and Europe will be able to download this game on WiiWare?
TM: It is scheduled to be released in May, 2009.
WW: How likely do you think it is that we might see a game featuring Bonk on WiiWare one day?
TM: Bonk is a very important IP for Hudson. Therefore, we would like to think about the revival of it positively.
WW: Has it surprised you how popular Hudson’s PC Engine / TurboGrafx games have been on the Virtual Console in North America and Europe?
TM: We knew that TurboGrafx had core fans. But Virtual Console generates more sales than we expected. We are very happy about it.
WW: Do you have a message for the readers of WiiWare World?
TM: Hudson will offer various and lots of WiiWare contents in the future as well. Please look forward to it!