Star Fox 64 is fully voiced. What was on your mind as you became involved with the script?
Giving the characters voices was unprecedented for Nintendo at that time, so it was all trial and error. In a shooting game, it’s normal for the enemy to come in from ahead of you. Attacks from behind are one thing in 2D, but tricky to pull off in 3D.
In 3D, you can’t see the enemy, so attacks from behind were a big no-no.
Yes. But if you have a companion who says, “You've got an enemy on your tail!” then you can keep an eye out for rear attacks, which broadened gameplay a lot.
I remember how refreshing it was when my companion would say, “Do something!” and I’d shoot down whatever was tailing him and he’d say, “Thanks!”
Each character has his or her own role. For example, if you help Peppy the hare, he’ll give you hints here and there, so it works out to your advantage. But if you help Falco the falcon…
He’s more, “Can't you go and bother someone else?” (laughs)
That’s what he says, but then he will help Fox out.
He’ll help out in an emergency.
Yes. And the frog Slippy will show a meter with the bosses’ weaknesses, so if you save your companions, it all comes back to benefit you.
That’s a function, too.
Yes, it is. But it wouldn’t do to emphasise functions too much, so I tried to write lines that are as cool as possible. And I had Mr. Shigesato Itoi look at them once before completion.
Oh? What did he say?
I doubt he remembers it, but I thought he would say, “This is good.” Instead, he said, “It’s like a historical drama.” (laughs)
You were trying to make science fiction, but it came out like a historical drama? (laughs)
Yes. (laughs) In other words, there were lines like, “Take this with you to Hell!” that everyone would feel familiar with.
Oh, I see. You used set phrases like those in historical dramas.
Yes. Itoi-san was pointing out how there were a lot of old-fashioned lines like that. But I thought that instead of using completely unfamiliar lines, it would make a bigger impression on the fans to use somewhat tried-and-tested lines that would make them think, “I’ve been waiting to hear that!”
A phrase like, “You're becoming more like your father.”
Right, exactly! (laughs) It’s a stock phrase, but it functions to lay the foundation for the second half of the story, so I thought it would resonate with players. But…they are a bit corny. (laughs)
Another line was “Use bombs wisely! B Button!.” We do want Fox to be cool, but lines like “I guess it's your turn to be thankful,” sound showy when he says them. So we try to have Falco say cool things.
I see. You thought of the lines that way, but it’s fully voiced, so you also had to consider the voice actors. That must have been a nightmare for you, Takano-san.
Yes, it was. (laughs) But our policy is to stick it out until the very end so it turns out right.
Right before the end, you wouldn’t have been able to change lines you had already recorded. How did you handle that?
The conclusion I came up with was to record everything we might use.
You recorded every line you could think of? (laughs)
Yep. We came up with every conceivable pattern and recorded them all to cover whatever scene might arise. We never used a lot of them.
Otherwise, you wouldn’t have been able to adapt.
That’s right. For example, I might think of a line like, “I’m going down!” only to have the scene suddenly require going right!
We don’t hesitate to make such a change if it will make the game more fun. (laughs) So we needed to record every pattern we could think of.
In other words, you recorded “I’m going down!” and “I’m going up!” and “I’m going right!” and “I’m going left!”
Exactly. You might anticipate the line “I’m hit!” and prepare it only to find out in the end that the situation turned out alright!
For example, there’s a stage on which the Blue-Marine submarine appears.
The only underwater stage.
Yes. We had designed multiple underwater stages, but as development progressed, the tempo of the overall game suffered, so all the other stages with the submarine disappeared.
In the end, there was only one.
That’s right. Before I knew it, that was all there was. But that course didn’t come together for quite a while. Thinking ahead, I came up with a bland line like, “Wow! It's beautiful!”
The voice actors were scheduled, so you needed to think up some lines.
Yes. I wrote a line like, “They’re raining down!” even though I didn’t know what would be raining down! I wrote, “Watch out!” even though I didn’t know what you needed to watch out for!
Then at the end, I thought it was too bad that we could only have one underwater stage, so I had Falco say, a little bitterly, “This thing will never hold together.”
So Falco’s line expressed your own feelings.
Right. There are actually a few examples of that. At one point, Peppy the hare says, “Never give up. Trust your instincts.”
That was in there because Imamura-san said he wanted a stock phrase like you hear in sci-fi movies. I thought about it, but couldn’t come up with anything good. Then I was playing the ROM, and since I’m not very good at video games, I kept getting hit and couldn’t make any progress. Then, just when I was thinking, “Alright, I’ll give it another shot…” that line popped into my head.
You thought of it to cheer yourself on.
Yes. (laughs) I simply used in the game the words that I used to encourage myself—“Never give up. Trust your instincts.”
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