Eurogamer: Metroid seems peculiarly ripe for experimentation and collaboration - why do you think that is?
Yoshio Sakamoto: I wasn't really involved with the Prime series, but that team had a very interesting challenge: how to bring Metroid into an FPS experience, and I think they definitely succeeded in doing so. They created a very interesting new game, and brought a lot of new fans to Metroid in the process.
So my own subjective viewpoint is that we've already had one very helpful collaboration that really made the series grow. In that way, Metroid has been an evolving experience. Every time you have a collaboration, you bring something new to the whole, and the idea grows.
Personally, I'm always thinking about how games can find new modes of expressions and new ways of stimulating players, but all of my experience has been in 2D, and games have changed such a lot. With the collaboration with Team Ninja, we're trying to bring in new types of game mechanics, but we're also trying to balance that with new story elements, and we want those elements to work in tandem. On top of that, we've also got another partner, D Rockets, just to work on the CGI cinematics, so it's a real collaboration in every way to bring this game out.
Yosuke Hayashi: When I think about Metroid game design, I think about something that is very simple, and yet very beautiful. So what we're trying to do here is to retain that essence. We want to make sure that the game passes the sniff test for players looking for a Metroid game. We want players not to feel that we've altered the game too much and taken it beyond what they wanted from the series.
Eurogamer: The game seems much more story-driven than other Metroids, but also far less lonely. Samus has lots of other characters around her in what's been shown of Other M so far. Do you worry you've lost some of that crucial sense of isolation which has defined the series?
Yosuke Hayashi: As I said, I think the essential Metroid design is something that's very beautiful, but in each game, I think it's had a slightly different manifestation. For example, if you think about Super Metroid, that was a game that was really characterised by silence. This time for Other M, the scenario that Mr Sakamoto has written for us is really that of a robust adventure game, with a story that makes players want to see more.
It's narrative-driven, and it's also a narrative we're actually telling rather than simply implying via the environments. We're trying to find our own take on Metroid's beautiful design. At the same time, that sense of solitude remains, but it's expressed within Samus's character. I think you'll find that Samus is a character who can feel alone even while surrounded by others.
Yoshio Sakamoto: I think a lot of people who have been playing Metroid certainly have developed an idea of Samus as a loner, and we've read a lot of interesting comments on internet forums regarding where Samus's narrative can go. Is she going to be fighting with inner demons? It certainly seems hard to get a sense that Samus would ever work with team members.
But because that image is so prevalent, we've decided to play with it a little bit. So you'll find that she does have team members fighting alongside her, but, at the same time, the focus, from the narrative perspective, is going to always be on what she's thinking. We want people to get to know Samus this time around.
Eurogamer: Metroid has felt like the odd one out in Nintendo's line-up. It's a lot darker and more frightening than most of the company's other games. Is it fun to be providing a bit of balance to Mario and Zelda?
Yoshio Sakamoto: I definitely do think Metroid is unique in Nintendo's line-up. As a designer, I'm always trying to think about dramatic elements and dramatic moments, so with that, I may have some marked differences from how Nintendo approaches its other games. With Other M, I'm going for something simple, exciting, and beautiful, with a story driving the whole experience.
Within that, there are going to be moments that are darker, that are more frightening, and there are going to be moments which have our slightly more adult theme as Samus deals with her maternal instincts. All of these coming together might seem like a strange combination, but it's the mixture that makes it work: the sense of surprise you get. We want this to be unique amongst Nintendo's line-up.
Yosuke Hayashi: When we talk about Metroid's design, I realise that what we're doing is actually almost whimsical: there's a lot of personal drive here in terms of how we want to combine drama and action. I don't even know what kind of games I'd compare this to, and I guess that means we're very lucky.