• Hey, guest user. Hope you're enjoying NeoGAF! Have you considered registering for an account? Come join us and add your take to the daily discourse.
  • The Politics forum has been nuked. Please do not bring political discussion to the rest of the site, or you will be removed. Thanks.

Is Yoshio Sakamoto Nintendo's "Punk Rock" Figure?

Jubenhimer

Member
Nov 11, 2018
1,731
2,341
615
25
When it comes to Nintendo Developers, the most recognizable face for many is Shigeru Miyamoto. The whimsical visionary was known for creative and family-friendly titles such as Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, and Pikmin. He's one of Nintendo's most important assets, and is the reason the company has so many hit franchises under their belt.

But another longstanding Nintendo developer has also been quietly in the shadows, making hit titles, but not many big franchises. A rebellious figure who would take the risks other Nintendo developers wouldn't. That man is Yoshio Sakamoto. Known primarily for Metroid, Sakamoto can be seen as sort of the "Anti-Miyamoto" at Nintendo. Spending most of his carrer working outside of Miyamoto and his EAD divsion, at other departments of Nintendo such as R&D1 and later SPD.

Even his appearance give the impression of a scruffier, more rebellious counterpart to Miyamoto's clean and calm presence. Many of the games he's directed and produced were often weird, edgy, and sometimes dark, while still retaining Nintendo's trademark polish. Of course, he co-created Metroid, but he also worked on Kid Icarus, Famicom Tentai series, Gumshoe, etc. He played a key role in the production of the WarioWare series, which has always been weird and wacky, even by Nintendo standards. And when he was sick of making Game Boy games, he fought tooth and nail to develop Super Metroid for the SNES. That said, Sakamoto never saw himself as competing with Miyamoto, rather he sought to "always come up with something very different from what Mr. Miyamoto is likely to do".

However, there is one massive blemish on his resume. When Sakamoto finally got the chance to make a console Metroid again, he jumped at that chance with open arms. Bringing in Koei Tecmo's Team Ninja, and some Veteran Metroid staff, to co-develop Metroid: Other M. Despite the initial hype, it quickly became one of Nintendo's most infamous games. The problem lied in the company giving Sakamoto too much creative free reign over the project. This is where his punk-rocker persona didn't work in his favor, as he had a totalitarian grip on every aspect of the game's development, even threatening Team Ninja that he'd cancel the game if they didn't make it work with the Sideways Wii Remote.

Despite this though, Sakamoto has shown he's willing to learn from his mistakes as 7 years later, He and his team worked with Mercury Steam to develop Metroid: Samus Returns, which was a much better received game. Even with the Elephant in the room that was Other M, Sakamoto has routinely shown to be Nintendo's most creatively rebellious figure, and has more power within the company's software department now more than ever as Executive Officer of EPD, allowing him to help pass down his more rebellious attitude to even those who previously worked under Miyamoto.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: iconmaster

DunDunDunpachi

Patient MembeR
Apr 18, 2018
29,326
70,254
1,405
USA
dunpachi.com
No, Sakamoto is a cover band. He glommed on to the Metroid name and hasn't let it go since. Retro did a better job of handling Metroid.

If he was so creative, he'd dip his toes into a different franchise. As a game designer, he did fine when he was surrounded by a team of talent. Don't forget that Gunpei Yokoi actually designed Metroid, not Sakamoto.

The flip happened when Sakamoto directed for Super Metroid. Most of the team from the previous Metroid games came back, but Sakamoto acts like he "birthed" the series because he wrote and directed one of its most cherished games. Yokoi and his team at R&D1, plus the team at Intellligent Systems, were the ones who actually made Super Metroid.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: SLoWMoTIoN
S

SLoWMoTIoN

Unconfirmed Member
No, Sakamoto is a cover band. He glommed on to the Metroid name and hasn't let it go since. Retro did a better job of handling Metroid.

If he was so creative, he'd dip his toes into a different franchise. As a game designer, he did fine when he was surrounded by a team of talent. Don't forget that Gunpei Yokoi actually designed Metroid, not Sakamoto.

The flip happened when Sakamoto directed for Super Metroid. Most of the team from the previous Metroid games came back, but Sakamoto acts like he "birthed" the series because he wrote and directed one of its most cherished games. Yokoi and his team at R&D1, plus the team at Intellligence Systems, were the ones who actually made Super Metroid.
fpbp
 

iconmaster

Banned
Jul 18, 2013
7,466
14,099
1,060
Sakamoto acts like he "birthed" the series because he wrote and directed one of its most cherished games. Yokoi and his team at R&D1, plus the team at Intellligence Systems, were the ones who actually made Super Metroid.

Point taken, but... that's video games in a nutshell. Miyazaki didn't single-handedly create Dark Souls, and Kojima didn't produce Metal Gear Solid without help. But we give the most credit to the directors -- in movies too -- and so long as we keep in mind these are team efforts I don't mind that. Directing and writing the game means Sakamoto had tremendous influence over Super Metroid, and no later fumble can take that away from him.

Retro did a better job of handling Metroid.

Someday I'll post the "Metroid Prime is overrated" thread and we can discuss it there. 😁
 
  • Triggered
Reactions: SLoWMoTIoN

DunDunDunpachi

Patient MembeR
Apr 18, 2018
29,326
70,254
1,405
USA
dunpachi.com
And he has. WarioWare, Rhythm Heaven, Card Hero, Tomodachi Life.
As the director and the scenario writer?

It's true, he has been a producer and a director for those game franchises. I did not take those into account. However, those games do not imply the competence to handle the Metroid franchise. Sakamoto has either remade Metroid games by better designers than himself (Metroid Zero Mission replaced Metroid, and Metroid: Samus Returns replaced Metroid II), or he made crap.

The Metroid games that he is responsible for -- without the handholding of Yokoi or Satoru Okada -- are Fusion and Other M, both of which were huge steps down compared to other Metroid titles.

The dude is a fraud. He's even worse than Aonuma (who should stop making PuzZelda and instead should make his precious Marvelous 2).

Point taken, but... that's video games in a nutshell. Miyazaki didn't single-handedly create Dark Souls, and Kojima didn't produce Metal Gear Solid without help. But we give the most credit to the directors -- in movies too -- and so long as we keep in mind these are team efforts I don't mind that. Directing and writing the game means Sakamoto had tremendous influence over Super Metroid, and no later fumble can take that away from him.
See above. Sakamoto has enjoyed playing the lofty writer/director while doing very little design himself. The credit should go elsewhere.


Someday I'll post the "Metroid Prime is overrated" thread and we can discuss it there. 😁
Setting aside whatever gripes one might have about Prime, Retro pumped out three Prime games across two consoles in five years, and each of them is good-to-great, depending on one's taste.

In that same timeframe, Sakamoto released a mediocre 2D Metroid -- Fusion -- and a remake of the first Metroid. His 'magnum opus' didn't show up until 2010. And what's his next big contribution after that? A remake of Metroid II.

The two big games that one can say Sakamoto truly deserves credit for -- Fusion and Other M -- are both way down the list of best Metroid titles, in my book.
 
Last edited:

Jubenhimer

Member
Nov 11, 2018
1,731
2,341
615
25
As the director and the scenario writer?

It's true, he has been a producer and a director for those game franchises, but those games do not imply the competence to handle the Metroid franchise. Sakamoto has either remade Metroid games by better designers then himself (Metroid Zero Mission replaced Metroid, and Metroid: Samus Returns replaced Metroid II).

The Metroid games that he is responsible for -- without the handholding of Yokoi or Satoru Okada -- are Fusion and Other M, both of which were huge steps down compared to other Metroid titles.

The dude is a fraud. He's even worse than Aonuma (who should stop making PuzZelda and instead should make his precious Marvelous 2).

He's made mistakes with the series, true. But he helped made Metroid an iconic name to begin with. Just because he wasn't the sole creator, doesn't mean we shouldn't credit him for the creation of the series. He was the director, so he should be getting some recognition.
 

DunDunDunpachi

Patient MembeR
Apr 18, 2018
29,326
70,254
1,405
USA
dunpachi.com
He's made mistakes with the series, true. But he helped made Metroid an iconic name to begin with. Just because he wasn't the sole creator, doesn't mean we shouldn't credit him for the creation of the series. He was the director, so he should be getting some recognition.
I can't fault you for feeling this way. My opinion is subjective, after all.

Just so you know where I'm coming from, I don't think a director/producer/designer/whatever should be given a pass just because of good games they made a long time ago. You are only as good as your latest album (or so the logic goes in any entertainment industry right now). As a producer and director, if you aren't surpassing your older work, then I'm going to heap on more criticism. I feel the same way toward other Nintendo "game gods" like Aonuma and Miyamoto.

In the case of Sakamoto, his early gameography is working in the shadow of significantly more accomplished and more talented Nintendo personnel. It's not about me trying to deny he was on those teams. I'm just pointing out the reality that the best games he can hang his name on are games with other talented Nintendo employees handling it with him. On projects where Sakamoto takes the reins and pick the team, it flounders.
 

O-N-E

Member
Jul 11, 2018
3,686
9,303
755
Honestly, despite my conflicted feelings about him, someone like Tetsuya Nomura is more impressive to me.

Keeping it to Nintendo though, I particularly like the work of Shu Takumi (Phoenix Wright, Ghost Trick). They should give him a bigger budget and team.

Edit: wait, nevermind.... Shu is with Capcom.
 
Last edited:

Jubenhimer

Member
Nov 11, 2018
1,731
2,341
615
25
In the case of Sakamoto, his early gameography is working in the shadow of significantly more accomplished and more talented Nintendo personnel. It's not about me trying to deny he was on those teams.

He was lead game designer for many R&D1 creations, and had overseen some of Nintendo's most original series with WarioWare and Rhythm Heaven. I don think it's fair to say he was living in the shadow of other people on the development teams. In the Shadow of Miyamoto and his division? Sure I'll buy that. In the shadow of Yokoi? Not really, both were equally instrumental.

Just so you know where I'm coming from, I don't think a director/producer/designer/whatever should be given a pass just because of good games they made a long time ago. You are only as good as your latest album (or so the logic goes in any entertainment industry right now). As a producer and director, if you aren't surpassing your older work, then I'm going to heap on more criticism. I feel the same way toward other Nintendo "game gods" like Aonuma and Miyamoto.

I agree, which is why creators tend to step back and take more advisory roles when they start loosing their steam. It's best to step back when you're on top than when you are forced to. Miyamoto has been merely a creative advisor for Nintendo for a few years now. And Aounuma hasn't directed a Zelda game since Twilight Princess.

I think Sakamoto currently works good as a producer role on the Metroid series, offering input and guidence to the directors and designers working on it. I think the problem with Other M is that Nintendo gave him the complete freedom to do whatever the hell he wanted, with no higher up executive or anyone on the development team challenging him. Giving 100% creative freedom to a developer is never a good idea, as they eventually become drunk woth that power and start getting lost, which is exactly what happened with Other M, a textbook example of why giving complete power to the director doesn't work in practice. It's why developers answer to publisher and studio executives instead of themselves.
 

Lionel Richie

Member
Jun 22, 2014
13,748
14,665
1,030
The dude is a fraud. He's even worse than Aonuma (who should stop making PuzZelda and instead should make his precious Marvelous 2).

I disagree with your Sakamoto take, but that slight towards Aonuma borders on insanity. He has been the producer and manager of the Zelda series for over 20 years and he managed to keep it as the golden standard for quality in the industry. Maybe you could say that Skyward Sword wasn't so good, but other than that his track record is pristine.

Aonuma was one of the directors in the highest rated game of all time. That's not a man you want to compare someone negatively to. Aonuma is a boss.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: iconmaster