Interview with Keiji Inafune, producer of Onimusha: Warlords.
Arnold: No question about it that Onimusha: Warlords is the Playstation 2's first epic title. Shipping nearly 900,000 copies [in Japan] in a matter of two or three weeks is a big deal for a game that has been released on a console that has just turned one. Even though there was a lot of media-hype surrounding this game, were you still expecting this kind of tremendous welcome for Onimusha: Warlords?
Keiji Inafune: I was confident that I have created a game with a huge production value and I was expecting the success of Onimusha. It is doing tremendously well in Japan. Onimusha just shipped in the US and I hope it will do even better in the US!
Arnold: As many should know, Onimusha was first planned to be released on the N64, then PSOne, and finally on PS2. I understand that PSOne development went a long fine, so why not release a version for the 32-bit era as well?
Keiji: Onimusha was not originally developed for N64. It was originally developed for PS1. I wanted to release this game on the best system available. When PS2 was announced, I was very excited about it and shifted the project to PS2.
Arnold: There have been numerous developers who have been complaining about the PS2's difficulty of programming, and we all know that even one developer left the Sony scene for another next-gen console. Have you or any one of your partners run into problems while developing Onimusha? Or is the PS2 not as hard to develop for as they say it is?
Keiji: PS2 is indeed a very difficult system to program for. It took us a while to get used to it.
Arnold: Who ever completes Onimusha will get to see a hidden sequence of the sequel to Onimusha at the end. Do you think that some form of online gameplay can be implemented into the second Onimusha title? Or perhaps a co-op two player challenge?
Keji: From a global stand point, I would like to include something like that. However, since the internet infrastructure in Japan is still not good enough, I don’t think I will include that kind of feature in the sequel.
Arnold: For those who have done their research should be well aware that Onimusha takes place during the 16th century. Why 16th century Japan, any particular reason?
Keiji: Sengoku period (civil war period in 16th century in Japan) was a time when a lot of warlords battled it out to be the sole king of Japan. I thought it would be a very interesting background for a game.
Arnold: Were there any features that you would have liked to include in Onimusha: Warlords but weren't able to for one reason or another? If so, do you see an opportunity of adding them in the sequel?
Keiji: There are many many things that I wanted to but couldn’t include in Onimusha. I would like to include as many of them as possible in the sequel.
Arnold: Let's switch gears just a bit. Personally what did you think of Sony's PS2 US launch? Did you think it was the right move for Sony to cut-back on hardware shipments in order to avoid some delay?
Keiji: I cannot say if it was a right decision or not. I just hope that more PS2 hardware will reach consumers. PS2 hardware supply is clearly not enough right now.
Arnold: What are your thoughts of the Nintendo GameCube and Microsoft X-Box? Have you had the chance to tinker around with one of their development-kits? If so, can you share some of the pros and cons with us, based on what you experienced first-hand, or from what you've heard from fellow developers?
Keiji: There are many pros and cons in each system and I cannot say which is the best. I can say PS2 is the easiest system to develop for me right now in a sense that my team is used to it most.
Arnold: Currently, do you have any favorite videogame that you play? And is there one particular game you are anticipating anxiously?
Keiji: I like action games, and I am especially looking forward to Metal Gear Solid 2. Mr. Kojima is one of the creators I highly respect. My current favorite system to play on is Game Boy Advance.
Arnold: How do you see Sony's videogame position, three years from now? Do you think the X-Box and GameCube are much of a threat?
Keiji: This is a tough question. Personally, I think the videogame market will be like Japan in the 16th century, nobody knows who will dominate the market (laugh).
Arnold: And finally, what is your view on the recent bombshell that Sega has dropped on us, deciding to halt Dreamcast production and become 3rd party? Sega is without a doubt one of the most experienced game developers out there, does this now raise the bar of challenge higher than ever for you?
Keiji: Sega will of course be a strong rival for us. I think Sonic team will especially create good games.
Arnold: Mr. Keiji Inafune, on behalf of the staff here at PSX Extreme, I thank you for your time, and wish you the best success with all of your projects, including Onimusha: Warlords, you certainly deserve it!