Interview: Konami's Koji Igarashi
We sit down for a chat with Konami's Castlevania man, IGA, to discuss Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia for DS, and the upcoming Wii fighting spin-off Castlevania Judgement.
Few non-first-party series have the same sort of consumer goodwill and critical clout as Konami's long-running Castlevania. Despite running for over 20 years and spawning all manner of sequels, spinoffs, and even a few missteps, fans still get excited every time a new installment in the series is announced.
The series has been worked on by many designers, programmers, and directors over the years, but the man responsible for its most recent outings - and its two newest titles, Castlevania: Judgment and Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, is Koji Igarashi.
IGA, as he is often referred to, started as a programmer and writer at Konami, helping on projects ranging from ports of shooting games to the scenario of Tokimeki Memorial. He officially became Castlevania's leader after taking over the reins of Symphony of the Night towards the latter half of its development.
Since then, IGA has produced some of the most memorable action/adventure games on the GBA and DS - not to mention a few 3D titles for the PS2 and a remake of the much loved Dracula X for the PSP.
It's been a couple of years since our last, video-based interview with Koji Igarashi, so we were pleased when we recently had the opportunity for a chat with him about his latest endeavors in vampire-killing. You might be surprised to learn about how much the direction of a popular series like Castlevania can be affected by the suits...
Kikizo: The announcement of Castlevania: Judgment took a lot of fans by surprise. What made you decide to make a Castlevania fighting game for the Wii?
Igarashi: Well, I know it looks like a fighting game, but I don't really classify it as such. I prefer to think of it as more of a "3D versus action game." [laughs] When I first started exploring the possibilities of the Wii console, I definitely wanted to make full use of the Wii Remote. To do a traditional Castlevania game usually requires, well, a different control scheme. Plus, we wanted to develop a game to could be played in short bursts, something where you could sit and play for about an hour at a time and still get a full game experience.
I know when people first heard "Castlevania" and "Wii" they were thinking, "Yeah, use the Wii Remote like a whip!" But I soon realized that making people do that for long periods of time would be cruel and unusual punishment. A very tiring endeavor, indeed! I thought about things a little bit more, and I came to the conclusion that something like this would be a better fit.
Two main reasons why this type of game felt like a good fit for Castlevania, though... number one, I wanted to put a time restriction on it, so people wouldn't be playing for hours at a time. Number two is that this is the 22nd anniversary of the series, and I thought it'd be the perfect opportunity to bring characters from all of the past games together for the first time. Maybe I should have actually done this for the 20th anniversary, but... [laughs]
Kikizo: You have a very famous manga artist, Obata-sensei, doing the designs. I think a lot of people in the West know him from Death Note in particular. When people first saw his designs, they were a bit surprised...
Igarashi: I think Simon looks the most different. The reactions, I think, are from people remembering the old, old Simon! But when Ayami Kojima drew him, that was a very different type of Simon, also. I think it's very much and individual artist's vision.
Obata-sensei doesn't like to just copy something. He wants to add a different, unique flavor to everything he does. That's probably the reason why they don't look like what you envision.