Capcom's Clover Set to Blossom
The former CEO of dissolved Clover Studio, Atsushi Inaba, told Kikizo he'd continue to focus on new, original games.
In a new video feature published on Kikizo, Atsushi Inaba speaks in the final video interview of his career under the banner of Clover Studio - one of the most adored development houses of recent years, with hits such as the Viewtiful Joe series, the fascinating Okami, and most recently, God Hand.
Just two weeks ago, it was announced that Clover was to close down and become part of Capcom again, but Inaba seemingly has no plans for the heritage of high-quality, original games to stop.
"For me personally, the goal of Clover is to continue making new and original games; it's a goal that's shared by my team, and I would never want that to change," Mr Inaba told us. "That doesn't mean we're always going to be making hardcore action games or we're going to start making only casual games or serious games; the possibilities are limitless for us because our focus is new and original games, and that's where I'd like to continue with our focus."
Inaba also expressed an interesting view on the near-epidemic level of sequels and rehashes that are so familiar to gamers these days: "Lots of companies do feel that they need to make sequels, but there's no rule that a sequel can't be original, right? There's no reason you can't grow the original franchise with sequels. We want to continue the cycle of releasing original games and getting feedback from the users, and enjoying that success."
Despite being an internal part of Capcom again, it seems that next-generation developments from Inaba's team can't be too far off: "I'm looking forward to seeing what's going to happen with these systems, because I don't really know yet. I'm looking forward to sitting back and seeing how they do and how the environment develops, and then making a decision on where we're going to go for next-gen development."
The most recent creation of Inaba's team is God Hand, a humorous action fighting game for PS2 that has enjoyed success in Japan and recently launched in North America, and so far has performed beyond the team's expectations: "The users are having a really good time with it, and the sales are much better than we expected so far. We take what our users tell us to heart, and we work very hard to ensure that our games appeal to a broad spectrum, not just Japanese."
"We want games that have that special flavour to them," says Inaba, "and the flavour for God Hand is probably a little different to what you're expecting. When most people look at it they see the humour aspect - it's the first thing that grabs them. But when we first stared designing God Hand, it wasn't very humorous. Its initial component was the feeling of enjoyment of being able to punch and kick in a game.
"We wanted to figure out how we could express that kind of enjoyment that you get from beating up enemies or knocking them flying backwards! Once we got to the core of that, we thought about how to make it even more interesting, and that's when the comedy elements started coming into the game. It came out of an idea to really stay true to the B-movie tradition, and the humour is primarily thanks to the director Shinji Mikami, who didn't want to make a serious game at all. Mikami-san and his staff making the game just kept adding things that they though were funny and interesting."
Asked to talk more about Capcom legend Shinji Mikami, Inaba emphasised: "I look forward to future collaborations with him."
Whether or not his games have a four-leaf clover logo on the box, it seems likely that Inaba's creations will still be of the rarest, most precious variety for a long time to come. "Right now we're having fun, taking the knowledge we've learned and applying it to what we're going to make next."
God Hand and Okami are both available now in Japan and North America, and both scheduled to release in Europe in February 2007.