Capcom Partnership Project – 2000 Feature
Taken from a 2000 issue of Arcadia magazine, this short interview with producer Tatsuya Minami outlines the motivation behind the Capcom Partnership Project, an initiative that saw Capcom partnering with various STG specialists to produce new arcade games, focused on their ageing CPSII hardware. Also included are brief comments from members of collaborators Takumi, Raizing & Psikyo.
Tatsuya Minami (Capcom Partnership Project Producer)
—What lead you to start this project?
Minami: There were many reasons, with one being that we were working internally to come up with things to do with the CP System II hardware. Also, there are still a lot of shooting game diehards out there and we felt there was definitely an under-served market there, so we decided, "for the first time in a while, let's make a shooting game". However, we didn't have a production line within the company, so I thought, "come to think of it, I wonder what happened to the people who worked at Toaplan?" and that's how we ended up getting in contact with Takumi. That's also how we ended up talking with Cave, but that's a story for another time. In Psikyo's case, things went a little differently: [arcade division head] Okamoto-san came to me like, "let's work together with these guys!" and decided on the direction, and then basically left me in charge of everything else. (laughs)
—What makes this project unique?
Minami: The fact that it's a joint project with dual developer branding. We ask our partners to put their company names up-front, with the idea that it would help to further motivate the creators.
Also, we put a lot of work into Giga Wing on the graphics side: aside from fighting games, one area of expertise that we're very proud of is our skill with pixel art, so by combining our skillsets in this manner, we can foster a good working relationship. That's what the Partnership Project is all about.
—What do you look for in a partner?
Minami: They need to have some unrealised potential, and to possess know-how that we don't have. Something I really appreciated when I started the project was that our partners were able to teach us those tricks of the trade that we were missing: Takumi, Raizing, Psikyo, that goes for all of them. I even respect that know-how that only they have: for instance, even when it comes to something like constructing bullet formations, they're the only ones who could calculate such precise arrangements. Similarly, even if we're both working on our hardware, the number of bullets that can be displayed at once will be orders of magnitude higher if their techniques are involved—things like disabling hit detection in all the areas outside the proximity of the player, to give one example. Any companies that have cultivate these kinds of practices are most welcome.
—What does the future have in store for the Partnership Project?
Minami: Out most recent work was Mars Matrix, and the next one will be Cannon Spike (Gunspike), made with Psikyo. We've received a certain amount of acclaim for the works we've released thus far, and they've allowed us to establish working relationships with some great game makers and meet some excellent creators, so I really think we have to keep going. At the beginning of the year, I'm pretty sure I declared, "we're going to release five shooting games this year!", so look forward to those. I'd also like to expand the Partnership Project to cover home console games, as well as other genres.
Partner Comments, Takumi Corporation: Takafumi Nishi (Manager, Planning & Development Office Software Division) & Yoshitaka Kobayashi (Assistant Manager, Planning & Development Office Software Division)
We were lucky enough to be approached by Capcom and we decided to give them a hand, and that's how Giga Wing came about. Just quietly, the initial proposal and the final game are completely different (laughs). That initial pitch didn't include the Reflect Force, the score counter that goes into the trillions or any of those distinctive systems—those ideas were conceived through discussions with Capcom during the production process, and eventually settled on the form seen today.
Actually, Mars Matrix was also quite different from the final design: at first, we'd planned to use three different weapons assigned to three buttons, but then we decided to merge them all into one weapon that used one button. (laughs).
Based on how things went with Giga Wing, we were given free reign to do whatever we wanted with Mars Matrix. Most of the graphics in the last game were drawn in 2D but for this game, we switched over to pre-rendered 3D graphics, so I think the quality's even higher than last time.
There's still plenty to be gained from the Partnership Project, so we'd like to continue working together in the future.
Partner Comments, Raizing: Yuichi Toyama (Director & General Manager)
While I understand the difficulties facing the arcade industry nowadays from first-hand experience, I do believe that if we continue to think about and create games that are different from those that have come before, the opportunities will continue to expand, and when I asked, "how about a Mahou Daisakusen sequel...", Capcom was kind enough to accept.
Capcom told us we could use whichever Capcom characters we liked, so at first I was considering including the player ships from Last Duel or Varth, but they felt a little out of character with the world of Mahou Daisakusen (laughs). The idea for adding tons of items came from Capcom—they said "we need an extra element that's deep, super fun and easy to grasp" and so I said, "nothing to do with the 108 Vices, but how about 108 different items?", and that's how we ended up with the current system.
Capcom thought very carefully about how to present the game and the systems to the player, and it was a huge learning experience for me. I have a feeling that our next game will be even better.
Partner Comments, Psikyo: Shinsuke Nakamura (Director & General Manager)
I'd participated in a conversation with Capcom's general manager Yoshiki Okamoto for a magazine and he said, "if there's an opportunity, I want to work together", so our relationship began from there, and when the Partnership Project launched, we were asked to participate.
Regarding our arcade game—which I've heard is titled "Gun-something" (laughs)—it's almost ready to be released. Capcom's handling the character design and we're handling the game design: I think it'll be a big cause for excitement, and something you can definitely look forward to.
—If you could freely come up with your own project, what would you like to make?
How about a Hot Gimmick game with character illustrations by Capcom? The opponents would be Capcom director Funamizu and Arika's vice-president Mihara.
—Would they be wearing fully-body tights?
I ran it by director Okamoto and he said, "tights, OKOKOK" (laughs). I mean, even if it did become a reality, Capcom would have absolutely nothing to gain (laughs). First things first, please look forward to our upcoming game.
A Final Word from Minami
The current arcade landscape is certainly tough, but I think it's an abdication of responsibility to simply say, "PCB aren't going to sell". Director Funamizu is heading up arcade development right now and he's thinking very seriously about how we might attract more customers to arcade—we might add link functionality between NAOMI and Dreamcast, for example, or release a home port as the same time as the arcade version in order to encourage home players to visit the game center, and while it might be hard for arcade operators to understand where we're coming from, I'd like them to think along these lines as well. To that end, I think we manufacturers needs to come to them with a presentation.
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