In a recent interview with Famitsu, the definitive Japanese gaming publication, Mr Iwata, Nintendo’s Director of Global Operations made some interesting comments about the present state and future possibilities for the GameCube.
In this translation courtesy of Core Magazine, Mr Iwata makes some bold statements about projects such as Mario Sunshine, and some worrying ones relating to Metroid and online play.
Question: The GameCube has been available for more than three months already in Japan, your thoughts?
Iwata-san: The reception has been excellent in North America. While sales have been slightly below expectations in Japan, we're confident we'll meet projections.
Question: Shigeru Miyamoto was quoted as saying his upcoming title Mario Sunshine is nearly complete already. The revelation was reportedly made during a conversation with Sega's producer Yuji Naka. What's the status of development on the game?
Iwata-san: Mario Sunshine will definitely be ready for release this summer, and we hope players continue looking forward to it. The software development process is meticulous, especially at Nintendo. Mr. Miyamoto's games are never really finished until the last minute. He's always changing something and very nervous about the completion process until the game actually hits shelves [laughs]. We weren't even sure if Smash Brothers DX would be ready by the end of the year, it was a tense situation [laughs].
Question: Smash Brothers DX ended up being a tremendous success. How will you decide what other series to continue on the GameCube?
Iwata-san: One of the strongest aspects of Smash Brothers DX was the evolution of the characters, much like the leap from 2D-3D in Mario 64. That's become one of Nintendo's trademarks. All sequels must be legitimised by our staff depending upon how they can evolve. Mr. Miyamoto plans to take the Mario series to a new level with Mario Sunshine. He's also working on 4-5 other titles, some of which are sequels, others will offer completely new gameplay experiences. One of the challenges we've posed to developers is coming up with new ideas. The creator of the Mother series for example, Sigesato Itoi, has teamed up with other producers to create games. Rare's Star Fox Adventures for the GameCube is a jointly developed project as well.
Question: Do you anticipate more third party support?
Iwata-san: The GameCube has been well received by the development community, but we don't believe in overwhelming third party support. However, we're certainly talking with more developers about the possibility of working together. Frequently, developers use our platforms solely for their own self-interests, so it's hard to form management relationships. Rather than business to business relationships, we've chosen more personal collaborations such as creator to creator. Capcom's decision to release Biohazard on the GameCube is a direct result of that.
Question: What about the completion status of GameCube titles currently in development in America such as Metroid Prime?
Iwata-san: Metroid Prime is coming along well, I'm confident it will be ready in 2002. Developers have remarked about speed by which they can develop GameCube games. It's literally cuts the development time in half compared to other consoles. You'll really begin to see that difference by the second half of 2002.
Question: Nintendo has been reluctant to discuss networking plans for the GameCube. Any updates on that situation?
Iwata-san: I don't think the online aspect of the GameCube will be available until late 2002. We're putting considerable resources into research and development on the network now. However, we realise that games won't immediately sell a million copies simply because they're network compatible. The technical hurdle associated with creating console-based online games is high, and it's something Nintendo is pursuing earnestly.
Question: Sony has made some interesting statements regarding their PlayStation2 network in recent weeks. Sony's president said the future of the network may include games which can be played against people using other platforms. Your thoughts?
Iwata-san: I think our networking plans are much different. However, we realise the importance of online gaming in the PC market. Broadband services such as ADSL have spread quickly because of them. It would require significant resources and pose a technical challenge to unite GameCube and PC players.