During a recent press event for forthcoming J-shooter-with-giant-pulsating egg-sacs Lost
Planet 2, we had the exceptional good fortune to bag an entire hour of alone time with Capcom's (in)famous producer Jun Takeuchi.
He was the much-pilloried chap behind Resident Evil 5, in case you were wondering, but don't get the pitchforks out just yet because Takeuchi had some very surprising, interesting and remarkably honest things to say about the survival horror outing that divided an industry, his employers Capcom and a whole host of other red-hot game industry issues. Get ready because he ain't holding back...
Hello Takeuchi-san. Co-op was a big focus of Resi 5; now there's four-player co-op in Lost Planet 2. Do you believe that, in a sense, multiplayer is almost the future of the single player experience?
That is quite possible, though it also means we have to be increasingly careful about the gameplay design! However, it's proved very popular and I fully expect the popularity of the co-op format to further increase in the future. Rather than AI playing in a prescribed way, you simply can't predict what a human player is going to do next. That key element of surprise is very interesting for players... and developers too.
What's your favourite Vital Suit and Akrid enemy type in LP2?
I'd have to say the gigantic Akrid/ Vital Suit hybrid where one player pilots and the others are gunning on the leg turrets. You've already seen the Salamande and Gordiant, but he's a particular favourite of mine. From a certain aspect he looks cute and cuddly, but players can actually enter its intestines, and grapple onto its back. It's a multitalented monster!
In the past you've mentioned the shooting of Gears of War and the universe of Halo as being big inspirations for Lost Planet. Have any other games come out in the interim that inspired your change of direction for this sequel?
I'd suggest Forza Motorsport 3. I'm aware it's a totally different genre, but I was hugely impressed with the streamlined interface; the concept of Lost Planet 2's integrated single/multiplayer front-end stemmed directly from Forza 3.
Korean film idol Lee Byung-hun's likeness 'starred' in the original Lost Planet. Yet none of the cast has returned for this sequel. Why?
That was a deliberate design decision. I'm not a big fan of Final Fantasy, but two of VII's characters - Cloud and Sephiroth - are still very famous and identifiable today. Nevertheless, I maintain that if you use such strong characters it's extremely difficult for a player to identify with them. So we've deliberately taken the personality out of the protagonists so you can play as 'yourself' in Lost Planet 2.
It must be hard helming an established series like Resi. Is it more fun to take control of a relatively new IP like Lost Planet?
It's a tricky question to answer; working on an established IP involves large elements of mental strength as it's very draining and the pressure is high. Having said that, to push through new IPs like Lost Planet you need physical strength. The most important thing I've learned through these experiences is this though: not to handle two titles at once!
What did you think of Bayonetta - would you agree with a lot of Western commentators that it's gone at least some way to saving a Japanese game industry that Capcom's own Keiji Inafune controversially pronounced 'dead' at last year's Tokyo Games Show?