Cubed3 Nintendo gaming, Wii and DS

Interview | Kenji Eno Talks Nintendo Support & More

Kenji Eno is somewhat of an Industry legend, working as both a musician and video game designer over the years and having worked on classics such as Altered Beast for the NES, the cult survival horror 'D' series and a collection of audio-based titles called 'Real Sound'. Eno-san has worked closely with plenty of other key Industry players, such as Fumito Ueda (ICO and Shadow of the Colossus) and, more recently, Kenichi Nishi (Chibi-robo). Now, with his new company 'fyto', he has teamed up with Nintendo to bring 'You, Me and the Cubes' to the WiiWare download service. Cubed3's Adam Riley and Mike Mason had the chance to meet Eno-san last week at Nintendo's European Media Summit in London to discuss his WiiWare title, iPhone development and future plans on DS and the Wii console itself. Read on for the full transcript from the day...

Cubed3's Adam Riley: How long have you been working for fyto?

Kenji Eno, CEO at fyto: It is actually the same company that I have worked for now over the past fifteen years. The only difference is that rather than remaining under the name of 'WARP', we are now called 'fyto', which stands for 'From Yellow to Orange' and was founded in 2001.

AR: Other than You, Me and the Cubes, you have done some iPhone games, such as the very popular One Dot Enemies title, is that right?

KE: Actually, if you are talking about what iPhone games are most popular, I would personally say Neutonica is the most famous. However, LOTS of people are asking about One Dot Enemies today. I'm not sure why.

AR: Some people are saying it is so addictive, like Tetris was for the Game Boy. Also, it is probably because they believe that since it is an iPhone game with touch-controls, it would be perfect for the DS...yes?

KE: It could be! If Nintendo wants it to happen, it could happen.

AR: Why did you choose to do iPhone games and could any come to DS?

KE: The touch-screen was definitely a main draw for me, making it easy to create simple games. The DS is definitely a possibility because it obviously also has the touch-screen ability. However, currently I am focused on Wii.

AR: When did you think of the idea for You, Me and the Cubes?

KE: The original concept for the game came around two years ago. I had this thought in my head of people struggling to stay on top of a giant cube!

AR: So why did you put the game on WiiWare then?

KE: When I first started thinking of the game I didn't think specifically for WiiWare, just the Wii console. But then I found out it would be possible to do it on WiiWare and I had two real reasons why I decided to go with WiiWare instead of a packaged game. One of them was because I could create a range of simple games on WiiWare quite well. Also, whilst packaged games may have a short shelf life, on WiiWare it has a much longer life out there in the public eye.

I felt in the past, when I was creating packaged games that it was quite a shame that after two or three months they disappeared from the shelves and nobody could really buy them. With WiiWare, though, maybe in six months time or even a year, they're still going to be there and people can easily buy them - that's why WiiWare is ideal.

AR: What has the reaction been like in Japan so far?

KE: Because of the game being a new, kind of unique and unusual game, before it released in Japan I thought there would be people who loved it and people who didn't like it so much - pretty much an even divide. But it seems that although there are people who like it, there is not such a strong trend of loving it or hating it. So in some ways there is something I think that has been missed, but it is good that people aren't finding it boring, although there is not really a great passion for it either.

AR: Why did you think some people would hate it? Do you think it would maybe be because of frustration?

KE: I will give you an example: imagine there is a group of girls and then there's a boy that they like and everything about him is fine; they all like him. Whereas if there was a boy that had something very different about him, then somebody may say that they like that point about him, then they soon get married, or something. I feel that games also have that feeling, like there's something, a special point about them that is appealing.

I want to create the kind of game where marketing will direct it to the right person. I don't really want a game that everyone is going to love, but maybe one where when marketed to the right people those people will really want to buy it. Something more focus on a particular group.

AR: What are your thoughts on Skip Ltd.'s Art Style games?

KE: Ah, yes.

AR: Do you think your game is similar?

KE: No. The people of Skip are my friends. But there are two main differences, really. Firstly, the feeling the player is going to get is a new one. In the game, the amount of technology and Artificial Intelligence that is used is so great and it is this through technology that players will be able to get this 'new' feeling. Perhaps simple games in the past could be played without that feeling, without a feeling of responsibility towards the game, or something. But what I'm trying to create is a game where the player will always feel responsibility through the technology in place.

AR: So this is not as simple as the Art Style games then?

KE: It is quite simple, but a new style of simple. It still seems simple to the player, but behind that is the heart of technology.

AR: You say you are friends with Skip, yes?

KE: Yes.

AR: Have you worked with them before?

KE: Do you know the game creator Nishi?

AR: Kenichi Nishi, yes.

KE: He left Skip.

AR: Yeah, to Route24.

KE: Ah, yeah, right, you know the situation very well! He and I are very good friends and I worked with him on a game for the iPhone, Newtonica - it was a collaboration between myself and him. However, it was only once.

AR: Would you work with him again?

KE: Yeah, yeah, yeah! I would definitely like to work with him again because he is such a nice guy!

AR: Yes, he's very friendly.

KE: And smart! And he has a warm heart.

Cubed3's Mike Mason: Are you looking into future development on Wii?

KE: Hmm...iPhone or Wii...*long pause* Probably on Wii! *laughs*

MM: So you do have plans for Wii?

KE: Hmm! There is no specific idea just yet, but I want to talk with Nintendo in Japan because I see it as being engaged or married to NCL now, where we come up with the right ideas together for Wii.

AR: For Wii or WiiWare?

KE: For Wii.

MM: Would you consider bringing back the D series of survival horror games?

KE: Ahhh...*long pause*

AR: Who owns the rights to the series?

KE: Although in the D series there was a 'D2', it was sort of a completely different game because I don't really like to go back and do sequels of anything. I prefer to go forward and make completely new games.

AR: But do you not think there would be an advantage of using a popular name, like 'D'?

KE: But life is short!

AR: How many years ago was D now? Maybe 10 years ago?

KE: No, maybe 14, because it was around 1995 for the original videogame and 1996 for the Saturn and PlayStation versions. It's so old!

AR: Well...people who played it then are getting older...and older people play on Wii!

KE: Ah, yeah, yeah, right! Yeah, that's Nintendo's marketing! *laughs*

AR: So...maybe D on Wii...*trails off*

KE: Yeah, yeah, hmm... *laughs*

AR: Would it be your decision or does somebody else own the rights?

KE: There's no problems in terms of rights if I want to make it. But I really came back to the Games Industry to do something new.

AR: That's understandable, sure. Do you think You, Me and the Cubes could be done on the DS, or even iPhone?

KE: Nintendo and I share the rights to the game, so an iPhone version is out of the question! On the DS, though, it may well be possible if we change the style. Using the same concept of the cubes but making a slightly different game could be possible. The current game was really designed for using the Wii Remote, so making a straight port would not work.

AR: Ah, you see my idea would be to control the cubes using the DS shoulder buttons...

KE: Yeah *nods in agreement*

AR: ...and use the stylus to...

KE: ...throw them? Yeah, yeah right. However, I feel that if I am going to develop something for the DS I would like to do something especially for the DS that couldn't be done anywhere else. I have some ideas, but I don't know whether anything will come of them...

AR: So you would like to do something that uses the two screens...

KE: Yeah...

AR: ...the touch-screen...

KE: Yeah...

AR: ...and the microphone?

KE: No...*laughs* I'm not going to really talk about the idea's I have, but what I find very interesting about the DS, more than the dual-screen and touch-screen, is something related to the lid opening and closing. So, for example, imagine a child has an egg that they want to incubate; they can have it in the DS game and try to look at it very quickly then close it again. Something for them to take care of!

AR: Or maybe for use in a horror game!

KE: *laughs* Yeah, yeah, horror!

AR: *imitates looking under the DS lid and screams*

KE: *laughs* So far games haven't focused on that sort of idea enough. Another example could be in Japan they have instant noodles where you need to keep a lid closed for a certain amount of time until they are ready. So maybe you could try to time yourself for two minutes, take a look and then see if they're ready. It could be 'Aw no, too late, I missed it!' and end up being so ugly! Some kind of timing idea might be good...

AR: So...are you going to make a DS game then?

KE: Yes, if Nintendo wants me to! *laughs*

AR: I'm sure they will! *laughs*

KE: In the 1990s I was both a developer and publisher. Now, though, I am just a developer and creator, whilst I have to find some publisher, like Nintendo.

MM: What was it about Wii that enticed you to work with Nintendo?

KE: It was really the Wii Remote that first attracted me, as I mentioned in the presentation. In the past there were the addition of buttons, going from the Famicom to Super Famicom, then the addition of the analogue stick, but for me the greatest development was the Wii Remote - so that is what really attracted me to Wii.

MM: Would you ever want to use other Wii peripherals, such as the Balance Board or Wii Motion Plus?

KE: Maybe I could make a complicated game with Wii Motion Plus because of the technology.

Thomas Bowskill, NintendoLife: Did you find the Wii met your expectations when you first saw it - when you imagined how it would work and how you could use it?

KE: Maybe there was a bit of a positive and negative feeling after having seen it. One positive aspect has to be about when thinking how difficult it must be to make such a controller, but I felt that the response was actually quite good!

From some of the initial marketing that Nintendo sent out, perhaps some people over-estimated exactly what the control system could do. So for those people, maybe it wasn't quite the same as they expected. But that was just them, as I understood right from the start and had a clearer understanding, so I didn't have a problem like others.

TB: How hard do you find marketing and selling a game on the WiiWare service?

KE: Marketing an online game and a packaged one is a completely different thing. With a packaged game you probably need two or three weeks where you really have to sell the game using some sort of advertising, like on TV or billboards. However, as mentioned earlier, online games are there for a much longer time and the style of marketing required is very different.

AR: Okay, one final question - People say the 'D' series was a very good survival horror game. But what do you think of Resident Evil 5 now it has become more 'action'-based, rather than 'survival horror'? Are you disappointed in the change of direction now that Shinji Mikami has left Capcom?

KE: I agree, like you mentioned, that it has moved more to the action side of things. Of course, the reason for that is because of changes in the market, so I understand why it has happened. But I would really like to have a scary game like the original Resident Evil where the scared feeling remains with me. Whereas when people play it now they lose that feeling after a few years, forgetting how scary it was or still is.

I remember the movie Alien - the first Alien movie was so scary and I loved it! But then the second movie was more action-based, yet everyone else prefers this one. But I love the first one!

TB: Does the Wii give you the chance to make more immersive horror games with its feedback and controls?

KE: If you could attach the Wii Remote to you head you would have more interaction, being able to nod for 'Yes' and shake for 'No! *laughs* Then it doesn't matter who you're talking to, you could make a really scary game.

AR: Have you seen The Grudge for Wii? Where you use the Wii Remote as a flash-light.

KE: Ah...*pause*...ah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

AR: It works really well and is very scary...

KE: Ah yes, but my idea of a 'Talking Yes or No' game is soooo scary, especially when talking to a woman who is asking 'Where were you last night?!' That is soooo scary! *laughs* Now that is horror!

MM: How about using the Vitality Sensor?

KE: Ah yes, that would be good for horror, definitely!

AR: Of course, if you're too relaxed, then it could throw more ghosts at you for frights...and when you're then having a heart-attack, the ghosts go away!

Thank you to Kenji Eno for taking the time to speak with us and many thanks to his very patient translator from Nintendo Europe. Look out for a hands-on preview of You, Me and the Cubes very soon.

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23.09.2009 20:44



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Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Article

AR: Would you work with him again?

KE: Yeah, yeah, yeah! I would definitely like to work with him again because he is such a nice guy!

AR: Yes, he's very friendly.

KE: And smart! And he has a warm heart.

Kenji has a thing for Kenichi.

( Edited 05.10.2012 06:48 by Guest )

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I hope You, Me and the Cubes does well enough to justify a DS version as well. I really think the mechanic could easily be transferred to the touch-screen!

( Edited 05.10.2012 06:48 by Guest )

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

sounds like a really nice guy

( Edited 05.10.2012 06:48 by Guest )

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Jump_button said:
sounds like a really nice guy

Yeah he was - a very friendly chap indeed. I thoroughly enjoyed interviewing him.

It will be interesting to see what his Wii game is and what sort of concept he will bring to the DS.

( Edited 05.10.2012 06:48 by Guest )

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

I like his point about making a game someone will Love rather then trying to go for everyone.

Please give our little random review show a try;
We have special effects and umm...stuff...
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Darkflame said:
I like his point about making a game someone will Love rather then trying to go for everyone.

Definitely. Nice to see some developers still trying to appeal to a core sector, rather than always attempting to be as mainstream as possible.

I do think it's a shame he doesn't want to do another 'D' game. But perhaps his disappointment by the changes in Resident Evil to a more action-oriented title and how there are no real 'scary' games anymore, will mean he decides to try another survival horror style effort in the future.

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

I just want him to make the game that was teased as a bonus trailer on the D2 disc. What the hell was that?

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

satsubatsu347 said:
I just want him to make the game that was teased as a bonus trailer on the D2 disc. What the hell was that?

Can you tell us any more about that? I never played D2, so if you can let me know a bit more then maybe I can ask him at some point... Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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