There’s a reason that you made a StreetPass counter-attack one of your themes. The Tag Mode of Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies was incredibly popular, so even though your son didn’t often go with you out about town, he started saying, “I wanna go, too!”
Yeah. He didn’t say that for Nintendogs! (laughs)
We went to Osaka together, and went into a big furniture store, and my son kept glancing sullenly at his Nintendo DS system.
He looked glum, so I asked, “What’s the matter?” and realised for the first time that he had only come with me to use the Tag Mode!
But he didn’t get any hits at the furniture store.
Nope. I said, “Shall we go somewhere better?” and took him to an electronics store.
And data started pouring in?
Yeah. (laughs) One after the other! He was smiling from ear to ear, and I thought, “Man, this is what I wanted to happen with Nintendogs!”
So I was frustrated.
I egged him on, though.
I said things like, “The users just weren’t that serious about it,” and “I bet you really didn’t think you’d use it yourself when you made it.” (laughs)
In times like these, Miyamoto-san rubs salt in your wounds. (laughs)
But that gives you renewed energy, right?
Yes. So this time was a StreetPass counter-attack!
What exactly did you think of for your StreetPass counter-attack?
I was producer of Nintendogs + Cats as well as producer of the Nintendo 3DS system, so first of all I wanted to make it so StreetPass could be active as a function of the system itself for multiple games at the same time.
Last time, you had to put in the Game Card, set it to Sleep Mode, close the lid, and walk around with it. But this time, you can exchange data even if the Game Card isn’t in.
Right. So even if you’re playing a different game while commuting, when you get home and put in Nintendogs + Cats, you might find that you have exchanged data with someone.
What happens when you exchange data for Nintendogs + Cats?
While you’re walking your dog in the game, you may encounter people whom you exchanged data with in StreetPass, and may enjoy some sort of small communication. And when you open your in-game diary, you can find out who you passed and arrange to meet in the park that’s in the game.
In that StreetPass communication, you can exchange photos, like we discussed earlier.
Right. And the owners’ Mii characters may show up, so you can get an idea of the pet owners you encounter while going back and forth to work or school each day.
You can give presents or send simple messages, so you can use such occasions to brag about your pet. (laughs) You can establish loose communication with owners you may be passing everyday while commuting.
When a father goes to Tokyo on a business trip, his child can give him his or her Nintendo 3DS system. You can even do that overseas this time.
Right. Last time, Japan’s Tag Mode only worked in Japan, and America and Europe were compatible, but this time we plan for StreetPass to be universal worldwide. So if you go to America, the Mii characters of Americans and their puppies will come to play!
Whoa! You can brag about your pet on a worldwide scale!
I also heard that the Walk mode where you may encounter people you pass by is significantly different this time.
Yes, it is. Last time, you drew a route and then it just scrolled sideways. It was a little like routine work.
It did feel a little like work.
For the previous game, we put in those specifications pretty late.
The Walk mode?
Yes. Pretty late in the process, Miyamoto-san said, “I think we need to be able to walk the dogs,” and I said, “What?! Now?!” (laughs)
Was it a kind of upending the tea table?
I thought so...but maybe not?
I don’t think it was so late during development. But I did say that sometime during the latter half.
Yes. I thought of it as a little extra and there wasn’t much time to do it, so I couldn’t put enough effort into it. In the end, it turned out a bit like a chore.
But you want to say, “It’s different this time!”
Yes. (laughs) The path is really wide and you can go this way and that way.
You walk away, toward the other side of the screen.
Right. You hold the leash with the stylus and walk off into 3D space. Then a Mii and a dog will approach from up ahead; you meet, and you communicate.
You’re passing someone, and their Mii is walking their dog.
Are the approaching Mii characters with dogs only for people you’ve actually passed by in real life?
No, some people are programmed into the game. As owners of real puppies know, when a puppy doesn’t listen, it pulls you along. That feeling of being pulled is something you can really feel in 3D space. I think we were able to represent that feeling of pulling on the leash to say, “This way!”
In real puppy training, if you walk your dog by pulling the leash tight, it becomes increasingly hard to control.
It just keeps pulling its owner along.
Right. But if you jerk it in, then give the dog some room, it learns what distance is comfortable for itself as well as for its owner and learns how to walk without pulling. But sometimes... (making a tugging gesture) you see people walking their dog like this. I heard this is like training your dog for tug-of-war!
The dog thinks that’s the way it’s supposed to be and keeps on pulling.
So I hear. Some think a leash is for pulling on their dog, but actually it’s a tool for giving your dog instructions, like “No!” and “Go!”
Ah, I see.
At first, dog owners tend to think you put on a leash and use it to restrain your dog so it won’t run off. But if you go to a dog training class, you learn that isn’t right. I heard that a well-trained dog only needs a leash just in case of special circumstances. I think you can learn such disciplining techniques in this game.
This time, there are two types of Walk mode.
You can do more than just walk your dog with a leash.
Right. The Nintendo 3DS system has pre-installed software called Activity Log. It has a counting function like a pedometer.
The Nintendo 3DS system has a motion sensor6, so just by walking around with it, it records the number of steps you take every day. 6Motion sensor: an electrical circuit element that can detect changes in speed. You can use the motion sensor in the Nintendo 3DS system to record the number of steps you take while carrying it.
Yes. You can use that function to take walks for Nintendogs + Cats, too.
In other words, if you’re busy and can’t take walks in the game, but you walk a lot in the real world with your Nintendo 3DS, it’s like you’ve walked in the game, too.
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