Now I’d like to ask some questions to the Nintendo staff. Yamagami-san, you worked on the previous game, right?
Yes. I was the producer this time, but I was director for the N64 version.
Yamagami-san, what was it like working together with Treasure then?
To put it bluntly, they were a weird company.
Maybe it just shows how limited my experience was, but among all the people I had worked together with…
They were different from any other company.
Exactly. They were different. Even now I often say that among all the companies I’ve dealt with, they’re in the top three most difficult.
And what’s more, the original Sin and Punishment is among my top three most difficult games to develop. As for what was so difficult, usually when you ask when it will be done, the director will give you an estimated date.
Whether they can make that date is another thing, but they will give you an estimate.
But with Treasure, they say, “We don’t know. We’ll show you something when it’s done.” I’d say, “Well, that causes some trouble,” and they’d say, “But if we don’t know, we don’t know.” We went back and forth like that for a long time.
They’re polite about it, but what they’re really saying is “No idea” over and over again. (laughs)
Right. Then they’d say, “Anyway, we’ll do our best.”
And in truth, you were doing your best, right?
(nods in silence)
Then after I’d waited a while, the prototype was done. When I played it, I was amazed.
You wondered how they could do anything like that on Nintendo 64?
You guessed it. I was truly amazed. And everyone at Treasure is a perfectionist, so the difficulty level was staggering.
When I said, “It’s too difficult. I can’t do it,” they responded, “Then you’re not good enough to be in charge of this project.”
When I said, “But normal people can’t do this!” they said, “Everyone in our company can do it. Anyone who can’t do this can’t be on our team.”
That discussion dragged on for almost one year…
Yeah, it went on for a while. (laughs)
Saying “Make it easier” is easy, but if you do, it loses that distinct Treasure style.
We wouldn’t be worth much if we crumbled just because we were ordered to do something. If you do something just because you’re told to, even though you don’t agree, the game will fall apart. But Yamagami-san was persistent in continually hammering away at our staff.
If I had really laid on them, we probably could have brought the game out before 2000, but I told them I wouldn’t order them to make it easier. I kept saying, “I won’t order you to do it until you understand. I’ll keep talking to you until you understand.” If I hadn’t, there would have been no point in working with them. Eventually, toward the end, the overall difficulty level did fall, but without losing that distinct Treasure flavour.
I see. By the way, it was Yamagami-san who came up with the title, wasn’t it?
How did you decide on that?
At first, we were using the title Glass Soldier during development.
Because the main character is fragile, like glass.
Around that time, all the games coming out had titles in katakana, so I suggested thinking up a title using kanji. Editor’s Note: Katakana is one of the three Japanese writing systems. Katakana is phonetically written, and is typically used to show how foreign words are pronounced. Kanji is another one of the three writing systems, and most of the Kanji characters can be pronounced in two or more different ways.
Yes, it wasn’t uncommon for games with titles in katakana to get buried amidst all the others coming out, but what was your reason for deciding on those particular words - sin and punishment?
It just so happened that at that time one of the titles being developed by the Entertainment Analysis and Development Division was called Red and Black.
Oh, you mean Perfect Dark.11 11Perfect Dark: A first-person shooter for the Nintendo 64 released in Europe in June 2000.
Yes. Red and Black was the working title during development. It was eventually sold as Perfect Dark, but if Red and Black was all right, why not Sin and Punishment? We thought that title might be too obscure, though, so we decided to add a subtitle that would make the theme more apparent. I consulted the younger staff members, and they suggested using kanji that typically reads Chikyu (Earth) but reading it hoshi (star). I thought, “That’s it!” Editor’s Note: Although the typical way of pronouncing the Japanese Kanji for “Chikyu” (Earth) does not include “hoshi” (star), purposely giving Kanji characters alternate pronunciations by placing corresponding Hiragana or Katakana characters aside them is commonly done in Japanese pop culture to suggest alternate meanings.So, in consideration of the theme of the story, we came up with Hoshi no Keishosha (Successor of the Earth).
And this time?
I wanted a tie to the original game, so we looked for a similar title. Since this time the underlying themes in the background are larger in scale, we left chikyu (Earth) behind and decided on uchu (universe).
And suggested reading it sora (sky).
But this time we used kokeisha (another word for “successor”), and settled on the subtitle Sora no Kokeisha (Successor of the Skies).
Maegawa-san, what did you think when the title changed from Glass Soldier to Sin and Punishment?
I was surprised. (laughs)
I suppose it took some time to get used to it.
Um…I was glad about it.
You liked the title Sin and Punishment, Nakagawa-san?
Well, one of the other final candidates was really wild. I think it was Dark Apocalypse.
No, it was Dark Wasteland.
Yeah, that’s it!
At the time, I really didn’t want it to be Wasteland.
And while we were using Sin and Punishment, we gradually took a liking to it.
Yeah, we did.
If we had released it as Glass Soldier, I don’t think the title would have grabbed people the way Sin and Punishment did.
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