Koji Igarashi Interview: More Online Castlevania Coming

Author: Chris Kohler

Date: 26 October 2006

Source: Wired

Continuing the Tokyo Game Show full-interview-transcript roundup, we have the always-charming Koji "IGA" Igarashi, the man in charge of Konami's Castlevania series. Hear him pontificate on how to integrate the Wii waggle into his whip-flingin' action series, and think out loud about the direction of the series as a whole.

Not only that, but he confirmed that future entries in the Castlevania home game series will likely feature online gameplay.

Wired News: So I'm wondering to start off, in an interview with EGM you had said that your opinions on doing a Castlevania for the Wii had changed, because he has interesting ideas. So I was wondering if this was true, what he could say about it...

IGA: My opinions haven't changed since E3 where I said that using the controller as a whip throughout the entire game probably wouldn't work. So basically with the Castlevania design, I always wanted to have players to sit and focus on gameplay for an hour or so. With the Wii system it doesn't work. With the controller, whipping for one hour wouldn't work.

So I think I gave the media a comment that said if I'm to work on Wii Castlevania than I'd use the motion sensitivity for a special attack rather than a usual thing. So that might work on Wii. So I'm still on the same page.

WN: Do you think it's going to be important now to develop for the Wii, since it'll be a big deal in Japan?

IGA: Let me talk frankly. I'm seeing the Wii as the most successful next-gen platform in Japan. But then again, Castlevania is US-driven. We have a lot of gamers from North America, so we want to focus on them.

WN: So would that mean you want the next console Castlevania to be on not only PlayStation 3, but also Xbox 360?

IGA: It's more of a chaotic situation than ever now. Just like how yesterday at the Sony keynote they announced a discount on PS3. 360 is out on the market and Microsoft is going to add a lot more products. Wii, because it's Nintendo and Nintendo has many products, it'll do well in Japan and western territories too.

So when we're thinking of working on next-gen games... I don't think we'll see like what we did with PS2, when a lot of casual gamers bought it just because they wanted a DVD player. That's how they were able to get a majority of the audience. I don't think this formula works for PS3. What i'm seeing is: handhelds are reaching the casual gamer, whereas next-gen will get more hardcore gamers. The situation is really chaotic right now. We'll have to just watch what's going on for a few months, or maybe a year. I'm currently wondering which is the right next-gen platform for Castlevania.

WN: At Microsoft's press conference, they had "Castlevania" on a list of Xbox Live Arcade titles. Is that Symphony of the Night?

IGA: Yes.

WN: Is it going to be identical to the PlayStation version?

IGA: We're talking about possibly upping the quality of the backgrounds, according to what I hear. I'm not working on it. Also, I'm really sorry but I haven't seen the actual code yet. So I can't judge what's really going on.

WN: Do you want to try and bring back the PC Engine game, Rondo of Blood, on Live Arcade?

IGA: My feelings are still the same: I have been thinking about bringing back the PC Engine game. Remember that it's out in Japan, not in the US. The Castlevania lovers have played it, but the rest of the US gamers haven't experienced it. So I want to make sure it's delivered right.

WN: I want to ask a question to Michiru Yamane. The Castlevania series right now seems to be very concentrated on Nintendo DS, which doesn't have sound hardware that's as good as other systems, like PSP. Are you disappointed with this, or do you see it as an interesting challenge to overcome?

Michiru Yamane: I take a different approach when working on handheld games versus making a PS2 game. So I actually start with the given restrictions, and try to make full use of the given size. And I do enjoy it.

WN: What's an example of one of those restrictions?

MY: You can use 16 different sound channels on the DS. Back in NES days, we only had three parts. So it's much better on DS with 16. Within this 16 part restriction, I base my music composition.

WN: Can you tell me about the wireless play on Nintendo DS?

IGA: With Portrait of Ruin, we have two modes: Co-op and Shop modes. Let me explain a little bit further. Let me start off with Co-op. When playing a local wireless game, there are 3 courses. In Wi-Fi online, there's one course.

In the shop mode, you can list up to 8 items that you obtain in the main game. The customer actually dupes the items that you get. You can sell your items to up to three people, over WFC and local wireless. So basically you let the other player dupe your items, and the purchaser gets a discount. 20% off. And the shop owner will get to have 50% of the profits. So it's a good deal.

WN: So now that you've had experience with online for DS, have you thought about making online multiplayer for consoles? Nobody thought Metal Gear would go online, but it did...

IGA: Honestly, we would like to get onto the online network systems but we have a lack of experience. So we've started off with [this]. This will be a kickoff to a future Castlevania, where we also want to have online.

I really want to make careful considerations before I start work. I will develop a next-gen Castlevania. In order to make it happen, I have to come up with a game proposal. It's in my mind right now. I'm trying to brush it up.

WN: The more popular Castlevania games lately have been the DS games that use the classic 2D style. But it seems like the 3D ones are not as critically successful. Does that affect what you want to make for next-gen systems?

IGA: It's true. I mean, I worked on many 2D games and all of them are successful. Gamers accept these 2D games. But although we have been working on a couple of 3D games, we haven't had enough time to make successful ones, given development time periods. We'll keep on working on 2D games, but also to do what we really want with 3D games.