Ryozo Tsujimoto talks Monster Hunter
With E3 nearing we sit down for a few words of wisdom with Mr. Ryozo Tsujimoto, producer at Capcom's vastly successful Monster Hunter development team. The veteran game maker talks up the series' latest release on the Wii - Monster Hunter Tri - while also being grilled on Japanese game development and the IP's notable failure to so-far enrapture Western audiences.
Has the success of the Monster Hunter series in Japan surprised you?
We first aimed for sales of a million copies and we did everything we could in terms of promoting the title. As a result our sales greatly exceeded a million and it is already above our initial expectations. However, having seen the effect of what we've done I now feel we should be aiming higher.
Why do you think Western audiences have so far failed to embrace the series in the same way as Japanese gamers?
It is very popular in Japan. However, it was five years until we brought the franchise this far in Japan - I suppose word of mouth tends to spread quicker in Japan where everyone speaks the same language but I am aware some of the franchise hasn't even been released in the West and think there is still some room for some tender loving care for the western market with more MH franchise releases over the next few years.
How have you brought the game world to life in Monster Hunter Tri?
When we constructed the Monster Hunter universe there were many aspects we wished to address, including the relationships between and within people and monsters, the environment, the items and so on. However it is easy to create some random universe and that is the way it is, but in order for people to feel empathy with the world we create, it has got to somehow relate to the real world. So although everything that appears in game is imaginary, they somehow resemble the real world equivalent and help people feel the fantasy a little closer.
Which Wii control scheme do you prefer using with the game?
My favourite weapon is switch axe. Due to my own personality I'm not very good with weapons that are defensive - I'm all about dealing damage in berserker style. I used to use the Hammer due to its destructive nature but now I am in love with the cool 'shape-changing motion', so this is my main weapon category now.
How much further can the Wii's graphics be pushed?
I suppose each game has its own direction it wants to take in terms of graphics, and this will greatly affect on the visible aspect. What we wanted in MH Tri is a game that is fun to play and watch. This meant we had to satisfy the eyes of the spectators too, and for that purpose I think MH Tri utilises the Wii's potential in full.
How does MH Tri make use of Wii Speak?
Although MH Tri provides two means of communication, typing or Wii-Speak, considering that MH Tri is a relatively fast-paced action game it is not always easy to type at crucial moments, especially when playing with a few others online. For this reason I think it is really useful because it allows the players to communicate without their hands leaving the controller!
Where next for the Monster Hunter series? Do you have plans for new games in Japan?
The MH franchise is all about co-op play and it needs to accommodate this play style in each era, for it to be widely accepted. I obviously can't say much more than what we have announced already but one thing is for sure, MH will go on!
Why were Nintendo involved in delivering this game to Western audiences?
Capcom is still publishing MH Tri - but Capcom and Nintendo have a long standing relationship since the 8 bit days and recently our titles 'Resident Evil 4' and 'Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles' did really well through a similar set up. What we have attempted here is to assimilate that success.
Lastly, what is your favourite feature in Monster Hunter Tri?
The fact that even when some really high level hunter plays with a beginner they both get rewarded accordingly - eliminating the situation where a low level player never gets help because no one wants a low level reward anymore.
Thank you for speaking with us.