It will be a problem if we don’t manage to ever introduce the new product so…
I came today because I wanted to talk about the past. (laughs)
There are a lot of interesting stories and I want to hear more, but I think we should start talking about the NES version. Wada-san, could you please tell us about how Punch-Out!!, which had been made this way, came to be released on the NES and Super Nintendo?
We were making the NES version of Punch-Out!! right after I joined Nintendo. Up until that point, Research and Development Department 3 did not have a dedicated designer and I was the first person to be a designer there. At the time, Takeda-san was the main person drawing the pictures.
In the NES version, too. (laughs)
I was just a young pup then and he wouldn’t let me touch anything.
The memory limitations on the NES were severe, so we had to break the pictures into parts and rotate them, or call up these parts partially. But no matter how you looked at the drawn images, the proportions were strange.
But when you actually made them move, the movements started looking right. I thought that this is how you make video games. I was impressed and I wanted to get my hands on them as well.
You wanted to get in there and you were all excited to work, but they wouldn’t let you, huh? (laughs)
They wouldn’t let me touch anything at all. Right.
Even though you were hired as a designer. (laughs)
You were still in your first year then.
When did you join Nintendo, Wada-san?
The same year as me.
You joined in the same year?
I clearly remember Wada-san grumbling about not being able to touch the tools.
This is a great opportunity, so I have something I’d like to say. In Punch-Out!!, the game gives you a lot of hints about effective timing of punches. There is a big boxer called Bald Bull in the NES version, and when he charges a light flashes to the right in the audience. If you punch when it flashes you will land a body blow.
Nobody has known about that for about 22 years…
I was wondering when I would have a chance to tell people that.
You’ve been holding that information for 22 years since the release. (laughs)
Now that I had the chance. (laughs) There are a lot of hidden elements in the NES version.
So Wada-san, when did they finally let you touch the game?
Well for example, before the bout, when you see the display with the larger faces in the opponent’s introduction.
They finally let me draw those pictures. Also, Mario became the referee for the NES version, and I drew that myself without permission.
You could get away with a lot then. (laughs)
We didn’t have an approval system when using Mario images back then and it went right past my check. (laughs)
That’s why it is a slightly strange looking Mario.
But I went to all of that work and it was just a golf prize.
A golf prize?
Even though it was sold in a nice package in America, in Japan, it was a prize for the “Second Family Computer Golf Tournament.”14 14 Second Family Computer Golf Tournament: A golf tournament for players that used the Famicom Disc System’s golf game Golf (US Course), which was released in June, 1987.
I wrote the program for the Golf (US Course) used in that tournament.
That’s right. And the cartridges for the prizes were gold and really nice, but the game still wasn’t for sale.
But after we gave out those prizes, we started hearing that a lot of people wanted it.
That’s why, within a year, they started selling it normally.
After that, there was a Super Nintendo version.
We released it in 1998, eleven years after the NES version.
So I’m sure at the time Takeda-san didn’t start this on his own?
Not at that time. (laughs) The Nintendo 64, which Takeda-san had been involved in, had already been released (in Japan).
Was the content of the Super Nintendo version pretty close to the arcade version? Or did it have elements just for the home audience?
It was more or less unchanged.
I think it was pretty hard because we did introduce a lot of new characters.
Just a few minutes ago, Mr. Iwata was talking about this not being a pro wrestling game, but even in the original arcade version of Super Punch-Out!!, a lot of different kinds of characters appeared. We continued with that and created a lot of strange ones. For example, there was this opponent who dressed like a clown, throwing balls. (laughs)
Did you think up all of those characters?
At that point, there were several people in the design staff and we thought them up together. The Japanese version was for rewritable media.
It was for Nintendo Power15. 15 Nintendo Power: A Japan-only dedicated service for the Super Famicom [Japanese Super Nintendo] and Game Boy that used terminals (Loppi) placed in Lawson [a Japanese convenience store chain] or at Nintendo service centres. The service started in 1997 and ended in 2007.
So it wasn’t sold in a package that time, either.
They did it to you again.
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