The Iwata Asks series is a quirky little tradition at Nintendo that was started sometime during the last generation of consoles. Each post revolves around Satoru Iwata - the President of Nintendo - interviewing key developers behind various major titles that come to Nintendo consoles. After a year long hiatus, the series came back on with the launch of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D. Evidently, it’s going to be a regular thing for the foreseeable future, as an interview was recently posted regarding the impending release of Xenoblade Chronicles 3D.
The interviewee in this case was Tetsuya Takahashi - the Executive Director - as he explained the origins of Xenoblade Chronicles and its recent port on the New Nintendo 3DS. Takahashi-san started out by explaining how he got his love for sci-fi through watching various TV shows, movies, and stories as a child.
The first thing I remember is loving to watch shows like Captain Ultra and Ultra Seven when I was really little, before I even entered kindergarten.
(laughs). I also loved Star Trek and Star Wars. At the time, I lived in Shizuoka, so I could stay in the theater all day…
That's true. When I was...I think it was in middle school...there was a sci-fi magazine called Starlog. I read sci-fi magazines and armed myself with all the knowledge I could. I really started to express myself then, thinking up my own stories and things like that.
In regards to the pacing and gameplay of Xenoblade, Takahashi explained that his philosophy is like imagining the story as the y-axis on a graph and the gameplay as the x-axis; finding the right point on the graph is important. Xenoblade was born out of Takahashi’s dissatisfaction with Final Fantasy titles that he had worked on previously, which he believed were too focused on story.
To give a brief outline of the structure of JRPG, first you have the story as the y-axis, and the game system and game play as the x-axis, and it's really important to keep those two things balanced.
But after that - and this is my own failing as well - I felt like...more and more, the y-axis of the story started to overtake the x-axis of the gameplay…
Also, Xenoblade was very much the result of the team wanting to redeem themselves after their perceived failure on the Xenosaga series. Xenoblade was their attempt at righting all of the wrongs after the team had received several more years of experience in the industry.
That's right. We released three games in the Xenosaga series, but they weren't very well received. It was really mortifying. All of the young team members felt that way, not just the leaders. So we all decided, "Next time we need to make a game that players will enjoy." So that made the atmosphere during the Xenoblade Chronicles development very different compared to other games.
In regards to the 3DS port, Takahashi stated that he was just as surprised as consumers that the game actually ran on the portable’s rather humble architecture. Monster Games - the studio that handled the port - was tasked with Xenoblade Chronicles 3D both because Monolith Soft was busy with development of Xenoblade Chronicles X and also because they had impressed many executives with Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D.
I felt a bit like one of our consumers. "Wow, it works on a portable device!" (laughs)
The staff from Retro Studios, who had made the Wii version of the game, were shocked when they saw it. We were also surprised, but impressed with how well 3D fit the game...We asked Monster Games to do the porting for us because Monolith Soft was already working on Xenoblade Chronicles X.
We’d recommend you read the full interview here, these Iwata Asks interviews are always good reads.
What do you think? Will you be picking up Xenoblade Chronicles 3D when it comes out? Share your thoughts in the comments below.