Earlier on in your career you worked on titles like Sega Rally, Channel 5 and Rez. These are all very different genres and styles of game. What's inspired you to create such varied styles in your games?
I don't care about the genre. Somebody once told me that I'm "hopping genres", but I've never really cared about genres. I always think about the human being, the wants that I think people have. Their basic instinct. So my games speak a universal language, so everybody can feel what is fun.
So you don't care what category your games fall into, you just want to include the elements that make the game fun?
Well sometimes we have to wait until new technologies arrive. So on the subject of the Rez concept; I imagined the Rez concept about 1995, but the game technology was poor at the time so I waited a few years until the PlayStation 2 and Dreamcast era.
That's interesting you say that because I remember reading somewhere that you were only going to make a fantasy game when you can put something like a thousand soldiers on screen. So was that the reasoning behind Ninety Nine Nights, your first fantasy game? So what do next-generation consoles like the Xbox 360, Wii and PS3 let you do that wouldn't have been possible with current, or last-gen hardware?
With the Xbox 360, that's a console that includes new technology like High Def and 5.1 sound, so this is a big reason. So I have the vision that if I use this new technology like High Def, I want to express the human characteristics of emotion and drama. With war games you've traditionally only been able to portray one side's idea of justice, but with High Def you can give more than one side's view.
Much has been said about the failure of western game in Japan, you only need to look at the top selling games in Japan to see that only one or two games are from the U.S. and Europe. What do you think western developers are missing in terms of the Japanese market?
Yeah, see everyone is talking about that. They're looking at like if we make a game, how can we sell this in Japan? And likewise, Japanese developers are looking at how they can sell it in the U.S.
Yeah, that was my next question; how far do Japanese developers go to target the western market?
I never think about that. I just try and think about concepts that demonstrate human values.
Do you think western developers are missing these values?
I can say that the game consists of one main element. So this is the representation of deep human wants. These kind of pre-set human wants. So you take a game like Pokemon, that has a universal appeal. Every kid can connect with Pokemon. So if Satochi looks Japanese, nobody cares about that. But for adult people, they say "oh this looks Japanese", but the kids don't care about that.
You've mainly focused on original franchises, so you look at Rez which is entirely different from other games. You didn't make a sequel, you didn't make a Rez 2. So do you think there are creative benefits from shunning sequels? Obviously there benefits in terms of cash flow from returning to a popular franchise...
So I haven't decided anything about Rez 2 yet! But I'd really like to make the sequel from the point of view of the creating side. But I wanted to make [Rez 2]. Always I had this big regret, always. So if I'm chanced to create the next sequel I want to paint a much more fun element, but I couldn't do that.
Rez was a critically acclaimed game, but it supposedly sold disappointingly. Why do you think this happened?
That kind of a game, may become a big hit or not. There's no middle.
So you think it was perhaps a niche game? It captured the niche and that was it?
Yeah, but I can say if you make a very good game, it doesn't matter. If you're taking your time you have the chance to make the next big thing or you have the chance to sell this thing for a long, long time. Just make a good game.