Nintendo R&D1 Interview

Kikizo dropped by at Nintendo's enigmatic global HQ to chat with the six-member "Wario Ware All-Star Team", headed by Metroid talent Yoshi Sakamoto.

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As they entered the room, Nintendo rep and global head of PR Yasuhiro Minagawa referred to them as the "Wario Ware All-Star Team", and he couldn't have been more right about that. Representing the very core of Wario Ware are Yoshi Sakamoto (who's also the driving force behind the Metroid series), Goro Abe, Ko Takeuchi and Ryuichi Nakada. These four men were responsible for what's probably the most innovative series to come from Nintendo since Super Mario Brothers.

These four men, plus Taku Sugioka and Naoko Mori from Intelligent Systems - who were also large contributors to the Wario Ware series - were able to take some time out of their schedule to sit down with us in Nintendo's Kyoto headquarters and discuss the history of the Wario Ware games, as well as giving some insight on the development process of the game.

The oldest development team at Nintendo, R&D1 retains its name internally, though officially all of Nintendo's R&D divisions were integrated into EAD last year.

Kikizo: So first thing's first, what games have you worked on in the past?

Yoshio Sakamoto: Well, I've been at Nintendo for a long time, and actually I wanted to let you know that I have had a big part of the Metroid games since the beginning [poses with Metroid shirt].

Ryuichi Nakada: Wait, we have to talk about all of the games we did? No? Oh, good! [laughs] Well, I directed Wario Ware Touched! but before that I was involved with Wario Land Advance (a.k.a. Wario Land 4).

R&D1 Team, Clockwise from top-left: Goro Abe, Ryuichi Nakada, Yoshio Sakamoto, Naoki Mori, Taju Sugioka & Ko Takeuchi

Ko Takeuchi: Actually, I didn't start with Nintendo. I was working on Sega Dreamcast games before I came to Nintendo. When I first came to Nintendo, I have worked on Wario Land Advance as well, that's where I started

Goro Abe: I also started work with Wario Land Advance, and I was also responsible for Wario Ware: Mega Party Games for the GameCube.

Taku Sugioka: Well, before the Wario Ware games I was working on Panel De Pon, which is known in America as Tetris Attack, I believe. I also worked on the Gameboy Advance version of Mario Kart.

Naoko Mori: I also worked on Mario Kart for Gameboy Advance, and I was involved with the Pokemon version of Panel de Pon (a.k.a. Pokemon Puzzle Challenge)

Kikizo: What games are you currently playing?

NM: Actually, I'm not playing anything right now, but about three weeks ago I played some Super Mario Brothers on my Famicom

TS: [laughs] Sorry, I haven't been playing anything either.

GA: Well, a couple of days ago I finished the new Castlevania game for the Nintendo DS!

KT: I have also been playing the new Castlevania game, but I haven't cleared it yet.

Yoshio Sakamoto

RN: Recently I've been playing some Grand Theft Auto: Vice City on the PS2.

YS: Well, I usually play games with my children at home, so together we play Donkey Kong Jungle Beat. Otherwise, I haven't been playing anything recently.

Kikizo: When you were growing up, what influenced your creativity?

YS: It's a tough question, but I suppose it depends on where you lived and how old you were. For example, when I was growing up they had the very first Japan World Expo (ed. Note: similar to the Aichi Expo that's going on in Japan right now) in Aichi, and I remember going to that when I was young. They had all of those new words like psychedelic and that really got my attention.

Kikizo: Who in the game industry do you respect now?

Goro Abe

YS: Well, I guess I would obviously have to say Miyamoto Shigeru, as he's the only person I can think of right now. I think you have to respect someone who was the man who created a game like Super Mario Brothers!

NM: Who do I respect? Mr. Sakamoto of course! [Everyone laughs and says 'good answer!'] When I was younger I used to live in the countryside, so I didn't have a lot to do. I remember playing Metroid on my Famicom, so I think I would have to respect Mr. Sakamoto!

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