Undercover Cops – 1993 Developer Interview
This Undercover Cops interview with creator Meeher (of later Metal Slug fame) and composer Takushi Hiyamuta is mainly centered around the creation of the character Rosa: her design, voice recording, and signature “bump” move. This interview first appeared in the "Gal's Island" special edition of Gamest. I've also translated the first chapter of the Undercover Cops manga, as well.
Designing Rosa Felmonde
Meeher: The idea for Rosa came because we wanted to make a girl character. Naturally then, I pushed for a sailor suit design, but that was shot down by those around me. (sadness)
We never really decided on Rosa’s personality. She was just supposed to be cute. As for her appearance, according the backstory she’s an ex-mercenary, but something seemed kind of cliched about that, so we decided to make her the kind of girl who likes to get into fights, and from there her current design took shape. Well, now she’s an ex-vigilante.
The other developers had a lot of requests for Rosa’s design. They wanted her hair long, and for it to be flowing loosely, so they asked for a barrette in her hair. They also wanted her chest to heave up and down when she walked. We thought we needed to show a little skin, too, so we made her shirt flutter up like that when she does her Arc Saber special move. My image for the Arc Saber special move was Devilman, and I wanted her clothes to just burst apart when she unleashed all that power! …but that idea was also shot down. (laughs)
Graphically, they asked me to draw her with bolder lines, and make her movements cute. Every action she made should be girlish… even if she was swinging a telephone pole around!
In the beginning I tried to make her image match the world of the game, but as I worked on her, I just did whatever–who cares, as long as she’s cute.
We made the “banpuu” [bump] attack (Rosa’s flying butt/hip attack) because we thought jump kicks had become cliche in beat em ups: every damn game in the market featured them. When I talked with the designers about what we could do, I suggested, “how about banpuu?” At first there was a lot of resistance: “huh? banpuu?” But I guess since Rosa’s a girl, it was all good. “Banpuu” is a word we’ve been using at Irem since our earliest days, and we decided on calling that move “banpuu” from the outset, too. When you did that as a kid, you’d yell BANPUU! and then get a running start before jumping into each other. We wanted to do that in Undercover Cops too: have Rosa run at the enemy while yelling out “Haaaa…. BANPU!” But we ran out of memory. (sadness)
Rosa’s profile says “Now Accepting Applications for a New Boyfriend!” That’s because we were very conscious of the fact that she’s just a girl. Her boyfriend was killed, and that serves as her motivation to fight, but she’s the type of person who believes “you can’t change the past.” I think she was 18 or 19 when her boyfriend Thomas was killed. At that time she couldn’t use her plasma powers. After he died she dedicated herself to training, and one day, she cried out THOMAS!! while punching a sandbag in a fit of rage. The sandbag burst open violently, and Rosa looked down at her glowing fist, realizing she had this new power.
There was no actual model for Rosa. She resembles certain characters I would often draw in manga comics I made for myself, as a hobby. Currently she runs a lingerie shop, but she doesn’t wear it. Well, ok, maybe under her jeans she does. If those jeans start getting worn down, it could be trouble…
Recording Rosa’s Voice
Takushi Hiyamuta: The Undercover Cops planning documents called for a lot of vocal synthesis/sampling, and when I first saw it I thought “this is going to be a nightmare.” But I did my best to make it all sound lively and energetic. For Rosa’s voice, we selected one of the girls at the Irem offices, from eight candidates. We decided it based on who said “BANPU!” the best, but all of them were really hesitant and shy about saying it.
The vocal recording itself didn’t take too much time I think. That was because we confined ourself to the recording room while doing it though, sometimes for 4-5 hours at a time. There were lots of sounds we recorded that didn’t get used too. Lots of perverted stuff. Some of them got leaked out of the recording room, and people were like, “what have they been doing in there…”
Even for a simple sample like “Hey!” there were many alternate takes. Some of them sounded too much like you were saying “Hey!” to a friend across the street, for example. We would have two different voice actors say a short line like that over 100 times each. As a greeting, that “Hey!” actually sounded great, but it wasn’t the HEY! that’s needed for fighting.
One of our difficulties was the sound the characters make when they eat food. It needed to be something that conveyed the sense that “mm, this food is delicious!” Even though there’s nothing delicious about eating frog, right?
The eating sound couldn’t be too erotic, and though this is a weird way of putting it, we wanted a kind of “sexy healthiness,” something that would strengthen the image of Rosa as a strong young girl.
The recording room is truly a world unto itself, and within those walls, I formed my own image of who Rosa is. That’s why when I showed our samples to designer Meeher, he freaked out at first: “Wh, what have you done?! This is no good!” But, I think that balance between two visions is a good thing.
Undercover Cops – Gamest Manga Scanlation
Since this interview was short, I decided to translate the first chapter of the Undercover Cops manga. This was the first in a series of game-related comics published by Gamest, starting in 1993. The Gunbird and Mahou Daisakusen comics, which I have translated in their entirety, were also Gamest comics.
Right now only the first chapter is available (scanlating is terribly time-consuming, especially when doing the entire process yourself), but I will likely do more in the coming months, particularly if there’s demand and interest!
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