*Please note this interview was published in its original Japanese version on October 17, 2008.
This time is a little different than usual. One reason is that one of the participants is overseas. Another is that while Iwata Asks usually treats titles developed by Nintendo in-house, this time we’re going to talk about something created by another developer together with Nintendo.Nintendo presents: Style Boutique is a completely new game. I gathered everyone today because I thought we should tell the world about the unusual process and various twists and turns over a long period of time that this product went through. First of all, I’d like everyone to introduce themselves and tell us how they were involved.
I’m Yamagami from the Software Planning and Development Division (SPD). I served as game producer. Along with Tajima-san, who’s overseas, I became involved during the first stage of planning, and my involvement lasted until the very end.
Now Tajima-san from overseas.
I’m Tajima in Seattle. I was originally working in Yamagami-san’s group, but about one year ago I was sent to Nintendo of America. Um…what was my title?
Director should be fine.
Alright, I was the director. (laughs) I was the first person to find the plan.
By “find” you mean you discovered a plan that someone else had come up with.
Yes, that’s right.
You’re next, Hattori-san.
I’m Hattori, also from SPD. I’m in Yamagami-san’s group. During the latter half of development, I was director. I was mainly active in implementing the various ideas coming from the co-developer and Tajima-san during the first half of development, and boiling them down into a game that would be easy to understand for as many people as possible.
I’m Ito from SPD. I joined this project about the same time as Hattori-san. I mainly lent technical support in realising the plans for the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection shopping towns.
Originally, Ito-san was mainly involved with technical support for a variety of software in the SPD division. Tajima-san was originally in Yamagami-san’s group, and so was Hattori-san. For Ito-san to come in from outside the group is a little unusual, isn’t it?
Yes. It was the first time I joined the development of one particular piece of software. When I got called in for the project, I was a little surprised.
Later on I’ll ask how that came to be, but right now let’s discuss the earliest phase of development. Yamagami-san, could you tell me about how the planning for Nintendo presents: Style Boutique first began?
Sure. I did a little preparation beforehand… (to the monitor) Tajima-san, can you hear me?
Let’s see… Do you remember when, toward the end of 2005, Syuji Yoshida, president of syn Sophia1, told us he wanted to make a game with clothing as the theme?
1 syn Sophia: Developer of such games as SimCity DS, Ganbaru Watashi no Kakei Diary, and Mawashite Tsunageru Touch Panic. The company was formerly AKI Co., Ltd., headquartered in: Tokyo.
Yes. If I remember correctly, at first there was only a single-page concept sheet…
Right. One page isn’t enough to understand the game, so I asked for something more detailed. Today I’ve brought the project proposal book that I received as a result.
Where was it?
Tajima-san’s desk. (laughs)
Hm? She still has a desk? I didn’t know that… (laughs)
This proposal is about fashion, but it’s full of huge print without a single picture! It’s dated January 26, 2006. That’s when the Nintendo presents: Style Boutique project began.
Tajima-san, you were the liaison for syn Sophia. What made you interested in that proposal?
I had always been interested in clothing, so the idea of a game focusing on fashion really attracted me. Even that single sheet made an impact. There had never been a game like that, and since the theme was something I myself liked, I thought we could make something fun. I had a vague sense of confidence, and definitely wanted to give it a shot.
You play lots of games, don’t you?
Yes, that’s right. I’m what you might call a hardcore gamer, but at the same time I’m also a casual gamer. I absolutely love puzzle games, and also enjoy playing games like Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training: How Old is Your Brain?.
I suppose you were somewhat unsatisfied since there weren’t any games about fashion for you to play.
Exactly. I’d always been incredibly interested in the fashion world, so I thought it would be fantastic if that interest joined together with my other favourite thing, which is video games.
When you told Yamagami-san you thought it would be fun, did he share your excitement right away?
Yamagami-san usually tells me, “If you think it’ll be fun, then it should be fine”…right?
Yes, I suppose I do. Most of the time I understand what’s good about a project, but this time, I didn’t get it at all. I kept asking her, “Is it alright? Are you sure it’s alright?” and she always replied with great confidence, “Just leave it to me!”
Tajima-san can be quite forceful when she tries to get a proposal through. (laughs)
After I received the first proposal in January, I had it reworked further, and then in May finally presented it to you, Iwata-san. Even at that time, I didn’t understand what was so interesting about it…but I told you that it was alright if sometimes we began projects I didn’t really get but Tajima-san said would be great. She understood fashion, and she was saying she would see it through to the end.
Sorry I couldn’t fulfil that promise!
No, it’s entirely understandable. A year and a half after the project started, you went overseas! (laughs)
Tajima-san, did you have a clear goal in mind right from the start?
To be honest, I don’t think so. I wondered how it would turn out…
You insisted you would see it through to the end, but didn’t have a clear goal? (laughs) But since it was eventually completed, I think there must have been something in the original concept that remained to the end. What do you think it was?
Girls trying on different outfits, using real fashions, and enjoying co-ordinating clothes. That’s what I thought of at first.
And that never changed. Is there anything that did change?
No, I think it basically stayed the same…
But development of this project went on for a relatively long time and went through a process of trial and error so extensive that you could even say it began to wander at times. Times like that, you don’t simply arrive at your original goal. While some things may stay the same from beginning to end, you get lost along the way and changes happen. You don’t remember anything like that?
Well, um… The last period I was involved was about a year ago so my memory is a little vague, but early on, the first interface syn Sophia proposed was really childish. Hattori-san, you remember that, don’t you?
Yes, there were hearts all over and practically the whole thing was pink…
Yeah, with cat paw prints everywhere… It wasn’t very stylish!
Pink everywhere…with hearts. (laughs)
I really didn’t like it. Since the game was about enjoying fashion co-ordination, I wanted to make something that was stylish all-around, but it seemed geared towards children… So we made some big changes.