Shinji Mikami on Western Games, Vanquish, Influences

Talking about Western games vs Eastern games is all the rage right now. It will all reach critical mass once we start talking about east vs west RPGs using motion controls while viewed in 3D, as told by Peter Molyneux when speaking about how amazing Fable III will be. Then, we will kill all the infidels and this wretched monster will fade silently away into the moonlight. Yes, that is how it will be.

Not one to squander an opportunity to get yet another person’s opinion on the East VS West debate, Joystiq’s interview with Shinji Mikami dabbles briefly on the same tried and true territory. On the subject of why development focus seems to be moving toward the western market, Shinji states that “So, at the most basic level as a Japanese person it does make me kind of sad. Right now the Japanese market and the Western market in terms of games are very different. And on a personal level I enjoy Western games a lot more. And, so, even if I make a game that is closer in taste to the Western market, the Japanese audience doesn’t really appreciate it too much.” Shinji thinks that Capcom is one of the only companies out there that can create games which successfully appeal to both markets.”

On the subject of Vanquish, Shinji had a few interesting things to say. For example, why is Vanquish called Vanquish? Why, its elementary my dear, says Shinji: “Vanquish,” the word obviously has to do with conquest and destruction. In any war there’s always a winning side and a losing side, there’s winners and losers, but one of the themes in the story is, what makes a true victor in any conflict? And so that’s where the name ties in.” Makes a lot of sense to me! He also lets out that Vanquish places gameplay over story, which might explain

Yup, everything makes sense now. As for influences, “Maybe The Rock, Nicolas Cage.”

Lastly, Shinji reveals initial concerns regarding player’s ability to identify with the main character. “Actually, that is one of the largest concerns that I had early on in production where I was afraid that the players wouldn’t be able to identify with the character. That’s actually why the facemask comes off. So you can see the main character’s face from time to time. That’s why we did that, because we were afraid that people wouldn’t be able to identify with him.” Which is strange, because, we’ve already had a bunch of very iconic characters–like Samus and Master Chief–which we grew to love despite the inability to see what they looked like. In fact, not being able to see the face makes it easier to slip into the “blank slate” character, no?

So, since I’m assuming that you have to take off the mask to smoke…is the smoking “feature” included to help us “identify” with the character more closely, too?


  1. Fernando Cordeiro

    I don’t know. I never really loved Samus. In fact, I only considered her an actual character after Metroid Fusion.

    But Mikami… THAT guy is a genius! I hope he figured out that just showing a guy’s face isn’t enough. Samus in Metroid Prime, for example: her face is shown often but because her eyes never display any emotions we never feel anything for her. All it does is to remind us she’s there.

    There may be some subliminal factors though: considering we ofter see Samus’ face when she’s being hit, maybe that makes us only aware of her femininity when she is damaged. On a second thought, the last sentence is bullshit.

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