In the latest issue of Edge, the magazine interviewed SEGA Chief Creative Officer Toshihiro Nagoshi on his long career.
Nagoshi discussed about a lot of topics, but one interesting topic he talked about was F-Zero GX. Nagoshi said during the development of F-Zero GX, he was unable to change Nintendo’s mind on anything and everything, leading him to believe their stubbornness is the reason why the company won the hardware war against SEGA.
F-Zero GX went on to be a success, selling 1.5 million copies after launch. Nintendo called Nagoshi and asked him to show them their source code because they couldn’t figure out how F-Zero GX was made in a short timeframe.
The Chief Creative Officer also talked about how Nintendo didn’t want Yakuza when it was first presented to the company, but now, they want it.
Check out more snippets from the interview below.
Compared to us, in the big picture, we are similar. But in the finer details – their decision-making and timing – things are different, and I learned a lot from them. In short, it’s about objectivity. (…) It’s hard to describe, but when I’d say about some part of the game, “It’s okay like this, isn’t it?” they’d say, “Our company does not allow this kind of thing. Ever.” I didn’t manage to change their minds about anything. Not even once. But that’s why Nintendo has such a solid brand, even after all these years. That is why we lost the hardware war.
I really liked the Super Famicom game, and while we made a few proposals – Metroid for instance, and others – I was most confident in making a driving game because of my experience in the genre, though I’d never make a sci-fi one.
Even though we’d lost the war in the hardware market, I wanted Nintendo to see how great Sega was as a company. We made lots of characters and courses, and we did the best we could for the graphics using the best technology of the time.
Even though we’d tried really hard making games for Sega hardware, they never sold too well, but F-Zero sold over 1.5 M copies worldwide. We realised the only thing we needed to admit was that Sega did not have the ability to sell hardware (laughs). That as a developer (…) we did not need to be pessimistic at all.
After it released, I got a call from Nintendo. They said they wanted to see all the source code for the game, and wanted me to explain how we’d made that game, in that timeframe and with that budget, in detail. They were wondering how we’d done it – they couldn’t figure it out. We were able to achieve something a lot higher than what Nintendo had expected.
It became difficult for Japanese companies to compete with western games of high quality and big budgets (…) if we wanted to do, it would have to be sports, or military, or fantasy (…)and it would need to release worldwide. (…) since everyone was thinking the same things, everyone was making similar games (laughs).
But I thought it wasn’t right to follow that direction. So, first, I abandoned the idea of selling worldwide. Next, I decided I wouldn’t mind if female players didn’t like the game; then that no children were allowed. When I decided all that, the only target left was the japanese male.
My bosses took some convincing. I did a presentation twice, and didn’t get approval. (…)
Sega was struggling for cash and was very close to bankruptcy, so it merged with Sammy. As soon as it happened, I went to see the new owner and presented the game to him, looking for his approval. Professionally, this was highly irregular and quite wrong. But I knew if the owner said “yes”, it would be good for the entire company. (…)
I got his approval, but our CEO was really mad about it (laughs). He said it was unfair.
I’ve never said this before, but while we released this game with Sony, I’d done presentations about it to Microsoft and Nintendo. Back then they said “No we don’t want it.” Now they say, “We want it!” (laughs) They didn’t understand the reason why I created it.
I’m often asked how I did all the research, but it’s Japanese culture (…) but I did some of my own, yes. I like drinking. I also like women. I was having lots of fun in my life for a long time – whether to shake off my stress from work, or deepen the connection with my subordinates. (…) I learned a lot of interesting stories from the people I met. And some surprising stories, and some sad ones. They became elements of Yakuza’s story. The name Kiryu is one of them (…). I often do that in my games – I use the name of a person I liked or who looked after me well. I still do that today.
Ryu Ga Gotoku New Project
It will still be quite hardcore at the beginning, but I want the player to think “Oh this game seems really interesting” – that’s what I’m aiming for this time. That goes for the technology too, though I don’t want to say more as it will spoil the fun. By introducing a new and more current systems, I’d like to increase the number of players. And if I do that, I can re-introducing Kiryu-san to some new fans. That would be ideal.