The new project went nowhere, with the company waiting for a greenlight for months. Yano joked, "I was having some very nice conversations around the third month with our CEO about samurai swords and how warm cardboard can be."
They went to E3 after that project was canceled, and ended up seeing two future platforms for the company, the PSP and DS. The Ouendan attitude of "courage in the face of adversity," the "spirit to fight on, [and] never give up," pushed Yano and iNiS forward. He said, "We wanted to create this hot-blooded rhythm game that would make the world dance like crazy."
The team put together a Flash pitch for the new idea. "When we presented this to Nintendo, I played it on my notebook. I had them use a regular pen. They were touching my PC screen to get an idea for how the game would play. ... I got a lot of scratches."
He showed Nintendo a rousing scene -- and also played it at the session -- of people trying to hold back a speeding train from crushing a wet-eyed puppy. The gameplay looked fairly close to the final version, with the same circles closing on numbers and even some of the rolling beach-ball items.
Nintendo loved the pitch and approved the project the next week.
Yano and his team wanted to include that demo level in the final game, but he realized that would be a problem. He said, "I discovered one glaring design flaw in the stage. What happens when you don't succeed?"
The team and Nintendo liked the original version of the game, but later, Yano considered, "How the heck are we going to translate this into something the Western audience can appreciate?"
He needed to change the Ouendan characters to something with Westerners would understand. Early on, he thought of a substitute that may fit. He said, "We thought that a team like the Village People would kind of be interesting and fun to play... We thought that they had it all. They had a cop, a construction worker, a Hell's Angel. ... What more could you want for a [team] rooting you on?"
But Yano eventually changed his mind, drawing on other Western influences. He considered the Ghostbusters and Men in Black. He added the swagger of the Blues Brothers, melding the three into The Agents.
Yano added, "The biggest [difference between Ouendan] is, instead of these hot-blooded guys, they were kind of these cool guys who... [cheer] in a cool manner." He combined the Austin Powers style to this aesthetic, saying the Blues Brothers were on a mission from god, and Austin was on a mission to groove.
Finally, he thought that the Western audience needed a little more prodding from an authority figure and added the Commander Kahn character in the same way Charlie would send his Angels on missions. Yano slyly said, "[Kahn] was derived from one of the Village People characters. ... He kind of looks like the cop."
Yano was asked about some of the concept art he showed, charting the progress of the original characters and their translation into the American game. Some of them had a "D" or "R" on their belt. He laughed, replying, "I'm really embarrassed to say this. I don't want to talk about this. [Early on,] they were called the Disco Rangers. I really wish you [hadn't] asked that question."
Whatever they're called, we like both versions of the game and enjoyed Keiichi Yano's overview of the development process. Before ending, he confirmed a Japanese sequel to Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan that we can anticipate this year.