"Wouldn't it be nice if I could just say that I'm done and retire?" Keiji Inafune, implausibly 50, lounges on a bench, back against the wall, legs outstretched, crossed at the ankles, arms folded. The translator laughs to mask the sense of unease in the room. But it's not unexpected. Inafune, whose career in Japanese game development began in the late 1980s when he joined Capcom as an illustrator (he helped design the original Street Fighter's iconic characters, Ken and Ryu) has a reputation for bolshiness. After designing Mega Man, a game series that sold tens of millions of copies, Inafune rose Capcom's ranks to become global head of production. It could have been a job for life, but in 2010 Inafune announced on his blog that he was leaving to "start...life over." Freedom of employment (he started his own company, Comcept) seemingly brought with it freedom of speech: during a talk at the 2012 Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco, Inafune accused the Japanese video game industry as being in a "tragic state." The verdict made him few friends.
There's a mantra running through my head while playing Mighty No. 9, the new game from Keiji Inafune, a clockwork rhythm that is as appropriate as it is distracting.
There's an episode of Californication where David Duchovny's writer character is asked to provide a treatment of a screenplay by rapper Samurai Apocalypse (wonderfully played by the Rza). The script in question is called Santa Monica Cop. "Oh, like Beverly Hills Cop?" the Duchovny character asks. "Nah, man. It's Santa Monica Cop!" Apocalypse deadpans. This pretty much sums up my interview with Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune about his new Kickstarter project, the recently launched retro throwback Mighty No. 9.