This short interview was something I translated as part of a casual STG tournament at shmupforums that I participated in last year. It was meant to be added at site launch, but it somehow slipped my mind. Considering how influential Gun Frontier was on the development of Battle Garegga, I hope to find a longer, more detailed interview in the future.

This interview was found at the GSLA, a Japanese a website that, among other things, preserves game developer interviews from older, now-defunct print sources. The GSLA often redacts the original interviewer questions, so the text ends up reading more like a narrative than an interview.

1990 Gun Frontier Developer Interview

Takatsuna Senba (Project Gun Frontier Producer)

For Gun Frontier, not only me, but the entire staff really wanted to see how far we could push the F2 hardware. We really struggled with it while making characters and such. We’d have a calculator handy and constantly check whether we had exceeded the memory; there was a 64k character limit, so we had to be vigilant about removing extraneous things and keeping it as optimized as possible.

The vertical raster scroll was something we had developed ourselves, and we had been thinking about it for a long time. It took a very long time to get working.

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Very cool artwork for Gun Frontier, artist unknown.

We had planned a lot of ideas for the stages and enemies, but it was difficult to know whether players would ultimately find those ideas enjoyable. For example, if we were to add a midboss to Stage 1, experienced players would think it’s great, but it would be too difficult for beginners then. Players always want to play at the limits of their abilities, you know? Though I think we may have over-advertised the difficulty of the game.

As for the rank increase from autofire, that came from something the programmers had been struggling with; that is, how to create a game with a “relative” or dynamic difficulty. Preventing operators from installing autofire circuits was not our intention. After all, the game doesn’t just increase the rank from autofire. It also uses the number of ships destroyed and a variety of other factors. But I do think all those things resulted in the game feeling too difficult, and that is something I would have liked to change.

There’s also lots of hidden bonuses in Gun Frontier. Before the game was released, 2 employees at Taito had managed to 1CC it. We feared that it would be cleared too quickly by players, so we added a bunch of secrets in for longevity.