Thanks to generous MOTHER fan Nabeneko-san, I’ve acquired magazine scans for a large handful of retro gaming magazines. These interviews with Itoi and other MOTHER staff were the bulk of my NaNoTraMo work, but I decided to wait on posting these until I managed to get images for the articles.
Lo and behold, after much scanning and organization, our Japanese hero sent me the files to accompany the translations. It will be time consuming, but I will now be able to slowly edit and upload all those magazine interviews I slaved over last fall. Apologies for the mysterious lack of follow-up.
To start it off, I’ve provided a special full-page article translated as-is for you to essentially read straight from the magazine. This is one of the earliest interviews for Earthbound 64, as it is the November 1996 issue of The 64Dream (significant because it was the first official issue of the magazine, and Earthbound 64 was supposed to be one of the first games available for the console). Even though the translation was already posted, the graphics are a lot of fun (or radical, should I say), so even if you had read the original text, I recommend skimming through it again because I also made some edits in the translation. I do not plan to continue full-page editing like this; I’ll cut out all the images and paste them into text posts as I had done previously.
This week’s issue covers the MOTHER 2 Pre-release Party attended by all staff involved in the game. This time the article is not an interview, but a description of the event.
This week’s issue introduces the MOTHER 2 Times: a weekly section in the magazine that ran for eight consecutive weeks. Its main feature was the walkthrough, but also included such things as interviews, comics, and behind-the-scenes peeks. I don’t plan on including the game walkthroughs, but I’ll continue to post any particularly interesting sections.
This week’s issue highlights an interview with the two main programmers for MOTHER 2, Kouji Malta from APE and Satoru Iwata from HAL.
EDIT 2/14/2012: I’ve fixed a mistranslation about “freedom”, which refers to post-programming putzing, not post-ending gameplay (see left of Iwata’s photo). A big thank you to Ice Sage for pointing it out!
In the late 1980′s, before founding Game Freak and hitting the jackpot with his sensational product of grueling labor, Satoshi Tajiri was a freelance writer for gaming magazine Famicom Hisshou Hon. He ran a column in the magazine and covered the newly-released MOTHER in its October 20, 1989 issue. His review offers some interesting criticisms of the game.
Just a quick note that while most of my NaNoTraMo translations are done (all old magazine interviews about the MOTHER series), I’m going to hold off on posting them until I follow through with a lead I have on magazine scans. It’d be better to post the interviews along with article pictures from the beginning, instead of editing it after everyone has already read the article and tucked it away.
In the meantime, it’s always a pleasant treat when Itoi’s interviews and works are already translated into English. Here’s a blog entry of an American marketing professional who recently interviewed Itoi via mail. There’s some interesting insight into how Itoi chooses to run his company and website.
This is a dialogue showcased in a section featured once every few months in Weekly Famitsu. One of the editors, Yasuhiro Nagata, conducted several interviews with Itoi during his time with the magazine. Nagata later went into freelancing for a few years before eventually working for Itoi’s company, where he is now.
This dialogue is different from other interviews in that it has a very casual tone to it and is less focused on the nitty gritty. It feels more like you’re eavesdropping on three Japanese men at the bar who just happen to be talking about Nintendo 64 games. The bolding of the text is preserved from that in the magazine article.
Before the dialogue segment comes a plethora of screenshots and character showcases. The article was one of the first to feature so much visual information on the game, so click to enlarge the screenshots and feast your eyes on the glory that never-be!
This is the first ever official issue of The 64DREAM (currently “Nindori”), but Volume #2 after an initial unofficial release in June. It treats us with a treasure trove of juicy insights into the creation of Earthbound 64. Itoi’s team had an impressive amount of the game finished even by 1996, which really accentuates the troubles they went through and how looong it had dragged on. (The editors from this interview got the impression it would be on sale by summer 1997.) It’s amazing to think about how the project was scrapped even after taking years and years of their time!
In interviews and statements over the past five years or so, it seems clear that Itoi thoroughly enjoyed his game-making experiences but sees it as a closed chapter of his life. We can see this in interviews like this one from 2009.
Itoi: [...] Games demand many more lines of dialogue despite the fact that the main characters don’t talk, so I couldn’t keep making them. That’s why I felt deep down after making three of them, “Well, that was a neat experience.”
Shiraiwa: So you’re done with them?
Itoi: Yes, that’s right.
In the nineties, however, when Itoi was at the height of his video game endeavors, it was clear in interviews at the time that he was so passionate about making video games, he’d be brewing with ideas for new ones before his current game was even close to completion. (Earthbound 64 had been the same way; he was well into the brainstorming stage by the time they were still putting together the puzzle pieces of Earthbound programming.)
The fact that this interview takes place in the early stages of MOTHER 3 development means the game was still in the process of being programmed for the Nintendo 64DD.
Interesting points in the article include:
- Itoi’s aversion to assigning “themes” to video games
- Itoi’s original intent to make MOTHER 3 in 2-D
- The extent of completion of MOTHER 3 even by the fall of 1996
- Itoi’s inspiration for the story of MOTHER 3 and desire to make a detective novel in game form
- A Mr. Saturn spinoff game!?
- Itoi’s phone calls to his game designer about MOTHER 3 in the middle of the night–before MOTHER 2 was even done
- The origin of the name of the Nintendo 64
- Itoi’s personal relationship with Nintendo
This issue has some of the best and 90′s-est layouts I’ve ever seen, so to preserve this, I edited the page scans to allow you to read the article as-is. Just click on each page to enlarge the image. Read more…