Interview With Kouichi Yotsui, Lead Designer of Strider, Moon Diver

We were fortunate enough to get a little bit of time with Kouichi Yotsui. Who’s that, you ask? Well, he’s been the director for a few small movies such as “Run”, and has been the lead designer on many other smaller video games like the crazy, “Suzuki Bakuhatsu”, a bomb defusal game for Playstation one. For most people though, he’s the man who was the lead designer for Strider—how would you like that on your resume!? Our very own Chris Del Castillo interviewed (with laser-like precision) Kouichi San about his new project, Moon Diver, which was released on Playstation 3 recently and will soon be on Xbox 360. Is Kouichi San okay with arcades disappearing? What exactly is Square-Enix essence? These questions answered and more!

NR: What was the driving force for creating Moon Diver?

Kouichi: I’ve always wanted to create a side-scrolling action game, since they capture the basic fun of video games. As games move into the 3D era, there are good opportunities for this type of game on XBLA and PSN.

By adding co-op features, these classic-style video games, such as side-scrolling action games, have been revived on these platforms as a new type of entertainment.

It is downloadable, and we can easily play with friends via network. This means that we are now able to experience the same joy at home that we experienced and enjoyed in arcades in the 80s. This was the clincher for me.

Things get hectic with four players, but it means more magic power to share.

NR: How difficult was it to set up co-op play to keep with all the action between 4 characters at once?

Kouichi: It was difficult. This game has completely different looks in single play and co-op play. In single play mode, I needed to find a good balance that even stoic action gamers could enjoy playing. In the co-op mode, it is more like a fun party play style.

However, if avid gamers get together, the co-op mode can be very stoic and elegant, with flowing play which will fascinate people who watch the match. I look forward to seeing something like that.

Who doesn't like ninjas? Well, okay, maybe pirates, but they don't count.

NR: What was the one thing each member of the team wanted to add to the game?

Kouichi: We are Japanese. We are the people of ninja and samurai, and side-scrolling action was born from us. Running at blinding speed, the extreme sharpness of the swords, the dynamic action of climbing up walls and even towards the moon… I took a lot of care to implement these fun factors with easy controls.

NR: What was the driving force behind the character design?

Kouichi: The challenging spirit — to create ninjas with the Square Enix essence. Square Enix has created many varied worlds and characters in the RPG genre. And there is always a very appealing drama behind them. We created this game to be able to feel the drama and storyline of the characters.

The character designer, Roberto Ferrari, used to work at Tatsunoko Production. Tatsunoko Production is a famous animation studio in Japan that produced Science Ninja Team Gatchaman(科学忍者隊ガッチャマン). Gatchaman was the first animation that introduced us to ninjas in the 21st century. We wondered, ”what kinds of characters would exist if Roberto’s Tatsunoko Production style met Square Enix’s ninjas?” Ah, this question reminds me of the discussions we had back then.

NR: Would any “Special DLC” Characters arise for this game?
We knew that we could add DLC in this platform. We also knew that players would be delighted if we added more characters. So what can be done if we combine these two factors? Please enjoy the game!

Note: Since the interview Square-Enix has released a $1 add-on that has the new character “Silence”, along with a new level and time-attack mode.

Thanks for reading!

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