Atsushi Inaba, Vanquish is a very uncommon game, but a good looking and well playing one. Then Capcom's Keiji Inafune (Dead Rising & Lost Planet) told everybody, how bad Japanese games are these days, being five years behind the rest of the world. Do you agree, can you agree?
As an observation you can probably say that, but the Japanese market both on the developer and the user side, people incline to choose games that are less risky for them. They try to avoid venturing new ideas and there are a couple of reasons to it. By looking at popular games that are sold right now, these tend to be either sequels or based on traditional Japanese game styles like an RPG based in a fantasy world. Or it's something which is based on Japanese cartoon or TV-series that would not be understood outside of Japan. So it's true in a way.
There must be a but?
Yes. But any kind of argument that categorizes game developers into Japanese or European is a bit of a overgeneralisation. Even in Europe or America there are brilliant developers who have brilliant ideas and passion and then there are others who are not that good of course. It's as simple as that. At Platinum Games we are not trying to be the first or second best Japanese game developer. We are always trying to be the best in the world at what we are doing. Where ever you come from, that‘s all that matters. For us this talk about Japanese games really doesn‘t matter. We just keep making games that make us proud and hopefully users will enjoy.
I truly believe we will enjoy it. I played the whole first act and it took me like 80 minutes. After that I was completely done. It felt like I had been looking straight into a stroboscope for the past hour. It felt just all too much...
You are probably right about this one. Vanquish is not a game you can sit down with and clear everything in one go. It's a very intense experience. There is a lot of things happening on the screen at once and then there is the sound as well. Plus that constant flow of information, always something new is coming on to you. It can be pretty tiring and exhausting. That is partly what we intended when we made this game. We wanted to create a believable battlefield experience, make it like if you would be thrown into a real battle situation. There are so many bullets flying around, often you can't even find where the enemies are shooting from. These hectic, almost crazy situations were one of our goals.
Did that lead to the decision to have an auto aiming mode in the game or did that idea existed before?
No. That‘s a completely different thing. Even though there is a lot happening on the screen, we don't really consider this being a problem. If you have played Vanquish for a while you will be able to see what's happening and you will be able to enjoy these kind of situations. We really didn‘t feel the need to make the game easier. The reason for Casual Auto Mode is quite simple: It was a random idea our staff came up with. They were just doing it for fun and as we played it it felt really good, so we kept it for the final game.
Is there any way to explain the main source of inspiration for a game like Vanquish. You have worked on Okami, which is something completely different, maybe even the exact opposite of what we see in Vanquish?
It's not like we had a particular game, a movie or any other form of art that influenced us at this game. We always wanted to make a shooter since we have never done this before. Most of the time we made action games at Platinum Games. Us developers always want to make something new - and we had the opportunity this time.
When looking at some of the bigger robots in the game, I see a lot of references to movies and TV-series. Some look like the small Star Wars AT-ATs or even like the Enterprise from Star Trek. There also seem to be more western influences rather than japenese?
We didn't really try to get western influences on robots design on purpose, they are coincidences. The AT-AT from Star Wars is a classic. We try to make interesting variations of enemies and some of them turned out to be similar to something else. There is a long history of sci-fi in movies or games and you can't make something that is totally different from what has been made before. This is totally unrealistic and you end up having something nobody can relate to. We are not trying to make the game Japanese or western, we want it to be a quality game.
What are you most obsessed about with Vanquish?
The boost action. It's speedy and quick and expands the boundaries of play into a whole different dimension. You are now able to go to the front instead of hiding behind the cover and engaging a more aggressive type of shooter action.