Iwata Asks: Game & Watch

#53
Bentendo said:
He's also responsible for the fluid flying in Balloon Fight. He and his team were responsible for the arcade version while Miyamoto and his team were working on the Famicom version. The Famicom version wasn't nearly as good as the arcade version, so Miyamoto sent some of his team over to Iwata so he could explain to them what they were doing wrong. Because of him we have the fluid swimming in Super Mario Bros.
wow
 
#54
Zoc, thank you very much for the translation! This is a fascinating article and I'm enjoying the hell out of it. My favorite section so far:

Kano: Yes, what a waste! (laughs) To address that, the second game, "Flagman," could only display the digit "1" in the thousands column, and only by the sixth game, "Manhole," was there a display for "AM" and "PM."

Iwata: Why could it only display the digit "1"?

Kano: Well, for example, to display "10:00 PM," you need display "AM" and "PM," as well as four rows, which use 28 segments.

Iwata: Right.

Kano: If you make it so the thousands column can only display the digit "1"...

Iwata: I see. "AM," PM," and "1" together make three segments, but to display a full digit, you need seven segments, so that way you can save four segments. (laughs)

Kano. It's a significant savings. We wanted to even just four extra segments for gameplay, if we could get them. It did mean that the highest possible score was 1999, though.
That's just fantastic.



These guys? All totally awesome.

Here's looking forward to the next installments!

FnordChan
 

Shikamaru Ninja

任天堂 の 忍者
#55
Makoto Kano is one of the original designers at Nintendo. The man has designed so many characters and games.

A Billion Game& Watch Games
Wild Gunman
Hogan's Alley
Metroid
Super Metroid
Super Mario Land
Kid Icarus
Famicom Detective Club
Famicom Wars
Super Scope 6 Game
Battle Clash
Balloon Fight
Balloon Kid
Wrecking Crew
TeleroBoxer
Wario Land
Kaeru no tame ni Kane wa Naru
Urban Champion ( i think)
Mach Rider (i think)

Masao Yamamoto (programmer) and Takehiro Izushi (engineer and programmer) were responsible for the technology of sooo many R&D1 games. Arcade, console, and hand held.

These are Nintendo R&D1 legends right here!
 

Shikamaru Ninja

任天堂 の 忍者
#57
One of many things that separates him as well. Dude is also an incredibly talented programmer (he completely reworked and ported the entire Pokemon battle code to the N64 in under a week)
What? Iwata? For what game? He has no development credit in any Pokemon N64 game other than a general producer. His last game coded was on the SNES I am pretty sure.


He's also responsible for the fluid flying in Balloon Fight. He and his team were responsible for the arcade version while Miyamoto and his team were working on the Famicom version. The Famicom version wasn't nearly as good as the arcade version, so Miyamoto sent some of his team over to Iwata so he could explain to them what they were doing wrong. Because of him we have the fluid swimming in Super Mario Bros.
SRD Technology was absolved as a Nintendo programming team initially. At first they worked for R&D1, R&D2 and R&D4. So basically on Balloon Fight.. SRD Technology was working under Nintendo R&D1. So Miyamoto and his design team weren't involved in Balloon Fight. It was R&D who did both the arcade and console version. The difference is R&D1 had different programming teams coding each version.
 
#58
Even though I never played the original games as a kid, what really sold me on the last Smash Bros. was the inclusion of Mr. Game and Watch. I love that he was still dedicated to his primitive animation style, and flat.

Since then, he has remained one of my favorite Nintendo characters. that original Octopus game looks damn sexy! I Might have to Ebay one of those suckers :D

A quick search revealed this awesome find XD

http://cgi.ebay.com/GAME-WATCH-MR-GAME-AND-WATCH-FIGURE-/300441623267?cmd=ViewItem&pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item45f3b75ae3
 
#60
Shikamaru Ninja said:
SRD Technology was absolved as a Nintendo programming team initially. At first they worked for R&D1, R&D2 and R&D4. So basically on Balloon Fight.. SRD Technology was working under Nintendo R&D1. So Miyamoto and his design team weren't involved in Balloon Fight. It was R&D who did both the arcade and console version.The difference is R&D1 had different programming teams coding each version.
I see, so HAL programmed the Famicom version while SRD did the arcade version, while R&D designed the game? The only reason I thought Miyamoto was involved was because of this conversation they had in Iwata Asks:

Iwata said:
There were a lot of games that were developed both for the arcade and the Famicom. HAL Laboratory worked on the home console version of Balloon Fight while SRD…
Nakago said:
We worked on the arcade version. Then after we'd completed it, we wondered why the player's movements were smoother on the home version developed by HAL and asked Iwata-san for some advice.
Iwata said:
That's when I told Nakago-san everything I knew. One thing I recommended was that instead of calculating the character's position using integers, they should also calculate it using decimal points, thereby doubling the precision. In this way, calculating gravity, buoyancy, acceleration and deceleration all become more precise and the movements look smoother. That's the kind of thing I explained at the time.
Nakago said:
When Iwata-san explained all this to me, the scales fell from my eyes! (laughs) But I remember Miyamoto-san complaining: "Why do you have to go to another company to find this stuff out?" (laughs)
 

Shikamaru Ninja

任天堂 の 忍者
#61
I see, so HAL programmed the Famicom version while SRD did the arcade version, while R&D designed the game? The only reason I thought Miyamoto was involved was because of this conversation they had in Iwata Asks.
Well. Nintendo R&D1 developed both games. When it comes to programming. Nintendo had its own programmers and sub-contracted programmers. Iwata was a sub-contracted programmer contributing to a bunch of games here and there. So.. technically you had pure R&D1 programmers (Masao Yamaoto, Takahiro Harada, Takehiro Izushi), R&D2 prorammers, R&D3 programmers, SRD programmers and Intelligent Systems programmers (who moved into Nintendo's building), and contracted programmers like Satoru Iwata (HAL) and Tomoshige Hashishita (paxsoftnica) all working for Nintendo. Some games have 2-3 programming collaborations. It gets really messy. Miyamoto's R&D4 eventually exclusively took the SRD Technology team as their inhouse programmers.

But there are lots of Nintendo games that have programmers from several different groups on a single game. Donkey Kong arcade versions had R&D1 and Ikegami Tsushinki working together. While the Donkey Kong famicom ports were R&D2 and SRD programmers working together. Metroid had R&D1 and Intelligent Systems programmers working together. But then Metroid 2 was all programmed by R&D1, while Metroid 3 was all programmed by IS. Pinball had R&D1 programmers and Satoru Iwata. Excitebike had SRD and Paxsofnica programmers working together. Mother had Nintendo R&D and Paxsoftica programmers working togeher.
 
#62
Shikamaru Ninja said:
Well. Nintendo R&D1 developed both games. When it comes to programming. Nintendo had its own programmers and sub-contracted programmers. Iwata was a sub-contracted programmer contributing to a bunch of games here and there. So.. technically you had pure R&D1 programmers (Masao Yamaoto, Takahiro Harada, Takehiro Izushi), R&D2 prorammers, R&D3 programmers, SRD programmers and Intelligent Systems programmers (who moved into Nintendo's building), and contracted programmers like Satoru Iwata (HAL) and Tomoshige Hashishita (paxsoftnica) all working for Nintendo. Some games have 2-3 programming collaborations. It gets really messy. Miyamoto's R&D4 eventually exclusively took the SRD Technology team as their inhouse programmers.

But there are lots of Nintendo games that have programmers from several different groups on a single game. Donkey Kong arcade versions had R&D1 and Ikegami Tsushinki working together. While the Donkey Kong famicom ports were R&D2 and SRD programmers working together. Metroid had R&D1 and Intelligent Systems programmers working together. But then Metroid 2 was all programmed by R&D1, while Metroid 3 was all programmed by IS. Pinball had R&D1 programmers and Satoru Iwata. Excitebike had SRD and Paxsofnica programmers working together. Mother had Nintendo R&D and Paxsoftica programmers working togeher.
Whenever I read your posts I'm amazed about how much you know about Nintendo. Thanks for all of that!
 
#63
I got umm Donkey Kong (working), Gold Rush (broken because of being a dumb kid, jeez) and Donkey Kong mini

awesome IA, especially the hardware/software part
 

The Technomancer

card-carrying scientician
#65
Shikamaru Ninja said:
What? Iwata? For what game? He has no development credit in any Pokemon N64 game other than a general producer. His last game coded was on the SNES I am pretty sure.
From the sounds of it, even though he was president of HAL and producer of Stadium, he took it on himself to do the porting anyway. Its from this one:
Iwata Asks: HeartGold and SoulSilver said:
Iwata: Right. (laughs) You decided to release Pokémon Stadium for the Nintendo 64 and the first task was to analyse Red and Green’s battle logic and send it over to Miyamoto-san and his team. You’d normally expect there to be a specification document, but there was nothing of the sort…

Morimoto: I’m so sorry! (laughs)

Iwata: No, no, it’s fine! (laughs) Studying the program for the Pokémon battle system was part of my job.

Morimoto: I created that battle programme and it really took a long time to put together. But when I heard that Iwata-san had been able to port it over in about a week and that it was already working… Well, I thought: “What kind of company president is this!?” (laughs)

All: (laughter)

Morimoto: I was saying things like: “Is that guy a programmer? Or is he the President?” (laughs)

Iwata: To be blunt, at the time I was more of a programmer than I was a company president. (laughs)

Morimoto: (laughs) I was really taken aback that you could get to grips with such a complicated programme in such a short space of time.

Ishihara: I remember thinking that there just weren’t that many people out there who would be able to read the entire Game Boy source code, which was by no means written in a highly-refined programming language, and grasp how everything connected with everything else. So Iwata-san, you analysed the whole thing and reworked the code, decided on the way to localise Red and Green, got the battle system running on N64… I was gobsmacked that you managed all of that…

Iwata: Well, at the time, I felt that for the whole team at Nintendo, the biggest priority was not to do anything that would adversely influence the development of Gold and Silver. So I very naturally slotted in on the development side for Pokémon.

Morimoto: What's more, there were the tools for compressing the Pokémon graphic code…

Iwata: Ah yes, the compression tools.

Morimoto: You were kind enough to create those tools.

Iwata: Yes. (laughs) Well, I had heard from Ishihara-san that you’d been rather concerned about it.

Morimoto: At that point, we got a little carried away and were making all sorts of demands, saying: “This part isn’t quite right – do you think you could fix it?” We had some nerve to be making those requests to a company president… (laughs)

Iwata: Well, I was willing to do whatever I could! (laughs)
 
#67
Shikamaru Ninja said:
What? Iwata? For what game? He has no development credit in any Pokemon N64 game other than a general producer. His last game coded was on the SNES I am pretty sure.
I'm pretty sure he said he helped some with Super Smash Bros. (N64). It was in an interview with Sakurai either in an Iwata Asks or the E3 interview about Kid Icarus.
 
#69
Wow, thanks, Zoc. This interview is pretty interesting. I have no real nostalgic feelings towards Game&Watch, but I love when they interview with old people about games from the 1980s. They get into the more technical details and concept art. This, the Spirit Tracks, and New SMB Wii ones are like that.
 
#71
Part 3

Building a Prototype with LED Bulbs

Iwata: Now that we've discussed how the ideas for the games were created, let's discuss the next steps.

Kano: Everybody brainstormed a setting for the game, and once that was decided, Mr. Yokoi would say "I leave the rest up to you." (laughs)

Izushi: And when he said that, it was definitely you he was leaving it up to, Mr. Kano. (laughs) We would draw up a rough draft of the game on the blackboard, and Mr. Kano would clean it up for us. At that point the game would start to look like fun, and we'd think "let's do this!"

Kano: (taking out a folder) As it happens, I brought some old files, too... These are those rough drafts, the mock-ups.



Iwata: This is another amazing treasure you've brought out. (laughs)

Izushi: This old relic!?

Kano: These documents have all faded with age.

Izushi: This is from "Manhole."

Iwata: And this is from "Fire."





Yamamoto: This is from "Octopus."




Izushi: This really takes me back...

Kano: This is the hand-drawn copy we used to build the prototypes.

Iwata: I've heard that those prototypes were much larger than the final Game & Watches, and lit up. How were they made?

Yamamoto: First, we would take the mock-up Mr. Kano made for us to the darkroom, and have it exposed onto film.

Iwata: You took it to a darkroom? (laughs)

Yamamoto: Yes. We'd make a negative exposure onto film.

Izushi: Then, we'd lay the film down over a 5mm-thick acrylic board, cut out the pattern with a band saw, and lay the acrylic over a blank circuit board...

Yamamoto: And then we would fill up the holes with small LED bulbs.

Iwata: Were those the same kind of LED diodes used in model-making? This all sounds like an arts and crafts class! (laughs)

Yamamoto: That's just how it was. We had to be clever to fit all those lights in.

Kano: We used opaque acrylic, so that the light wouldn't bleed out of the holes.

Izushi: So, rather than software programming, the work was more about cutting, gluing, and cutting out holes. It was mostly done by hand.

Iwata: It sounds like a bunch of schoolboys in shop class making a huge Game & Watch. Just how big was it?

Kano: About the same size as the paper used to make the mock-up, so A4-sized.

Iwata: So with a giant, A4-sized Game & Watch, you checked that the game was fun to play?

Yamamoto: Right, we would try it out and say things like "we should change this," or "it's difficult to see what's going on here."

Kano: It was difficult to make the movements looks natural. If it wasn't good enough with the LED protoype...

Izushi: Yeah, we never got it right in just one try. Naturally, Mr. Yokoi's gave us feedback. We called it the "Yokoi Standard," and that feedback was strict.

Kano: Speaking of Game & Watch generally, out goal was to ensure that if the player made a mistake, they would think to themselves "that was my fault."

Izushi: So their next thought would be "let me try that again!"

Yamamoto: Right, so for example, if the player felt they caught the ball, but the game registered it as a drop, they would feel that the "bzz" sound the game made was unfair.

Izushi: So we wanted to make sure that whenever the player thought they had caught the ball, the system would register it as a catch. Even if the player actually missed by a little bit, we made the system register it as a catch.

Iwata: So you put some "play" into the system.

Izushi: That's exactly right. Our motto was "timing is everything," so we had to rework the game and tune it many, many times. Another colourful thing about Mr. Yokoi was that he would constantly ask to make changes to improve the game. When he was trying out the prototypes, he would say things like "you've got the timing OK, but what about adding some kind of obstacle here?"

Kano: As far as I'm concerned, it was good to have that kind of feedback at the prototype stage, with Mr. Yokoi telling us "Hmm... let's try again!"

Izushi: That was his catchphrase.

Kano: And at that point, he didn't care about the staff's opinions. We were very always reluctant to go back to the game's mock-up...

Iwata: These are the roots of "overturning the tea-table." (laughs)

Yamamoto: That's right. After you think you're done, start over...

Iwata: You had to go all the way back to the darkroom?

Yamamoto: Yes. Right back to the darkroom.

Kano: But after we tried again...

Izushi: Yeah, it turned out well.

Kano: Slowly but surely, the game would get better.

Iwata: It must have been a real pain, but to hear you talk about it, it sounds a little fun, too. (laughs)

Izushi: Everybody had a good time.

Kano: Yeah, it was great.

Iwata: How much time was there between the release of titles, back then?

Kano: Sometimes only a month.

Izushi: With Mr. Yamamoto and I taking turns writing the software, we could make a new product every month.

Iwata: That's amazing. These days, even though games are far more complex than they were back then, with one touch of the keyboard, you can make a change and test it out. In the era of the Game & Watch, on the other hand, you had to go back to the darkroom with your hand tools. It sounds like it was a lot of work. What was the programming like?

Yamamoto: Mr. Izushi and I were rookies until the fourth title, "Fire," but I do remember that at the beginning, the games weren't programmed as much as they were built in hardware.

Iwata: You mean the games weren't made by being programmed like they are now, but by building the actual hardware circuits.

Izushi: That's right. Actually, it was the same as it was for "Racing 112" and "Block Breaker." Keeping the gameplay in mind, you would put together a circuit schematic in your head, and pick up a soldering iron. That's how I made the prototype for "Fire."

Iwata: So you used a soldering iron instead of a keyboard. (laughs)

Izushi: I always thought it was faster that way. It was faster then, actually.

Yamamoto: It was, wasn't it?

Iwata: But at some point, you changed over to conventional programming.

Izushi. Yes. When I learned to use programming languages and started to make games that way, I thought "this is so much easier!" (laughs)

Iwata: It was easer and definitely faster. (laughs)

Izushi: It was faster, and I didn't have to get my hands dirty. (laughs)

All: (laugh)
 

Vic

Please help me with my bad english
#73
Zoc said:
Izushi: That's exactly right. Our motto was "timing is everything," so we had to rework the game and tune it many, many times. Another colourful thing about Mr. Yokoi was that he would constantly ask to make changes to improve the game. When he was trying out the prototypes, he would say things like "you've got the timing OK, but what about adding some kind of obstacle here?"

Kano: As far as I'm concerned, it was good to have that kind of feedback at the prototype stage, with Mr. Yokoi telling us "Hmm... let's try again!"

Izushi: That was his catchphrase.

Kano: And at that point, he didn't care about the staff's opinions. We were very always reluctant to go back to the game's mock-up...

Iwata: These are the roots of "overturning the tea-table." (laughs)

Yamamoto: That's right. After you think you're done, start over...

Iwata: You had to go all the way back to the darkroom?

Yamamoto: Yes. Right back to the darkroom.
hehehe
 
#75
Bentendo said:
He's also responsible for the fluid flying in Balloon Fight. He and his team were responsible for the arcade version while Miyamoto and his team were working on the Famicom version. The Famicom version wasn't nearly as good as the arcade version, so Miyamoto sent some of his team over to Iwata so he could explain to them what they were doing wrong. Because of him we have the fluid swimming in Super Mario Bros.
That's almost correct. HAL actually developed the Famicom version while Nakago's team at SRD worked on the arcade version.

If I remember correctly, the programmers at SRD were using integers to determine the placement of the characters instead of a decimal. They figured that since that characters couldn't move in incriments smaller than one pixel, it made more since to define the variable as an integer. They overlooked how important acceleration and momentum were to the overal fluidity of the controls. Iwata's suggestion of using a decimal instead of an integer was basically the simplist solution imaginable, but SRD hadn't even considered it.
 
#76
blizzardjesus said:
The japanese club nintendo version of ball is probably the most affordable. Other than finding one at a flea market or garage sale or the ds remakes.
Thanks I'll check it out. I've been looking for originals for a while and don't think I can afford them now.
 
#78
Thanks for the translations.


donny2112 said:
I'm pretty sure he said he helped some with Super Smash Bros. (N64). It was in an interview with Sakurai either in an Iwata Asks or the E3 interview about Kid Icarus.
This isn't very specific but according to Nintendo Magic:

Once he became president [of HAL], Iwata's almost simple-minded passion for creating games led to two hits for the company: 1992's Kirby's Dream Land, a Game Boy game, and 1999's Super Smash Bros. for the 64. Both were released as Nintendo games, but HAL Laboratory had developed them behind the scenes, with Iwata occasionally writing code himself to finish them.
 
#79
What I wouldn't do for a nice, professionally-bound version of Iwata Asks. Truly the best interviews in the biz.

Also, as mentioned already in this thread, Nintendo Magic is absolutely worth a read if you're into this kind of stuff. It devotes a ton of time to Gunpei Yokoi's (and, really, Nintendo's) motto of "lateral thinking with seasoned technology." Great stuff.
 

Shikamaru Ninja

任天堂 の 忍者
#81
That's almost correct. HAL actually developed the Famicom version while Nakago's team at SRD worked on the arcade version.
HAL did not develop the Famicom version, Iwata was involved in coding the game as a sub-contractor. Nintendo R&D1 developed the games. Remember there were 3 versions. Balloon Fight (famicom), Balloon Fight (G&W), and Vs. Balloon Fight (arcade). Same game, slight differences between each of them.
 
#83
Thanks Zoc! You da man!

Anyway, since this has sort of Become a G&W general, I thought I'd share some cool (imo anyway) trivia:



This character right here is named Oiram Repus, the villain of the G&W version of Balloon Fight. I was looking through G&W manuals a while back when I noticed something wrong about his name: no human would ever create it without it being some kind of reference to something. Immediately I thought of Yensid, and sure enough when read backwards his name is Super Mario.



This character is actually a human version of Mr. Game & Watch from the G&W title greenhouse. The artwork is taken from the cover, though in the actual game he looks like he always does.

Finally, you remember the cat from Chef? Well, as far as I'm concerned a cat has appeared in three G&W games:



(above) Chef



(above) Tropical Fish



(above) Greenhouse

In Tropical Fish, they even made artwork for the cat:



Note: All the images are from the Nintendo Wikia or Intheattic.
 
#84
Kano: As far as I'm concerned, it was good to have that kind of feedback at the prototype stage, with Mr. Yokoi telling us "Hmm... let's try again!"

Izushi: That was his catchphrase.

Kano: And at that point, he didn't care about the staff's opinions. We were very always reluctant to go back to the game's mock-up...

Iwata: These are the roots of "overturning the tea-table." (laughs)
:lol :lol I never get tired of reading these. Thanks for translating them Zoc.
 
#85
I would so pay cash money for an annual collection book of these interviews, particularly if they included larger images of the design documents and such. Legendary stuff.
 

Lord Error

Insane For Sony
#86
Reading all this takes me back. I really thought making games was some amazing process back then, and frankly, finally being able to read how they did it, it was pretty amazing.

I just read a review of the Octopus game, and I remember thinking just the same things author of that review did. Amazing animation and characterization, the legendary expression of Octopus' face, the perfect concept where you constantly had to decide whether to try and be greedy and grab the treasure as much as you can, so that you put your life at risk, or to make more trips to get extra points... It was probably the most perfect two-button game ever made, and seriously, seeing those tentacles move up and down in the fast Game B mode was just mesmerizing.

Then the build quality of the unit itself. So damn good, I can see it and almost feel it so vividly now even though it's been so many years I've held it. Nice, red, high quality hard plastic, metal plate on top of it polished and lacquered to a light gold shine, high quality rubber buttons that gave that nice sense of pressure under your thumbs, finely machined edges on everything. Just look at that thing:



Sigh, now I want to have the game, but the best I could find on ebay is this key chain:

http://cgi.ebay.com/New-Game-and-Wa...pt=US_Vintage_Video_Games&hash=item3caecd23ee



Which while nice, and even made to work on solar power, is sadly not playable :(

Also, reading this is very discouraging:
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090208215927AAZjOK5

Sorry but your not going to get it for less than $200; it's a collector's item now.
 
#90
Lord Error said:
I just read a review of the Octopus game, and I remember thinking just the same things author of that review did. Amazing animation and characterization, the legendary expression of Octopus' face, the perfect concept where you constantly had to decide whether to try and be greedy and grab the treasure as much as you can, so that you put your life at risk, or to make more trips to get extra points... It was probably the most perfect two-button game ever made, and seriously, seeing those tentacles move up and down in the fast Game B mode was just mesmerizing.
Is this the review you're talking about? From the Handheld Game Museum? Note to readers: it's a review from 1982:

Octopus review said:
This is a review of a hand-held game "Game & Watch" made by Nintendo (makers of the Donkey Kong video arcade game). The model I have is called "Octopus". The store where I bought mine had five different models, each costs $35.

First a general description of the physical configuration. The case is quite thin; about 3/8 inch thick, 4 1/2 inches long, and 2 2/1 inches tall. About the size of a wallet calculator. It has a large LCD screen in the middle. The dimensions of the screen are 2 1/8 inches by 1 3/8 inches. The game is held with the long dimension horizontal. To control the action there are two large red buttons, one on each side of the screen, each conveniently near the lower left/right corner where your thumbs would naturally rest. The left red button causes movement to the left and the right red button causes movement to the right. In the upper right hand corner are three buttons; two select the level of difficulty, game A and game B, the third button turns on the clock display as the game can be a clock while it isn't being used. It has a little swing out stand in the back so that it can be stood up on your desk.

The game: to get as much of the treasure out of the sunken ship as possible. The scenario: in the upper left corner is your boat floating on the surface of the sea with a rope dangling to the ocean floor, in the lower right corner is the sunken ship with the treasure chest. Filling up most of the area in the water is a large octopus with four tentacles that grow and shrink at random rates and intervals. The rightmost three tentacles don't move around, they just grow and shrink. The leftmost tentacle can grow either in a downward direction or in an upward direction. In the upward direction it can snag you while you're climbing down the rope. If one of the tentacles touch you you're dead. As the game starts you have three divers in the boat and you use the right button to move the first one down the rope and over to the treasure then you use both buttons to make it dance back and forth to avoid the tentacles or when you're all the way over to the treasure you press the right button to make it grab some of the treasure. For each piece of treasure you snatch you get one point. After you've picked up any amount of treasure you can climb back into the boat and get a three point bonus. While the game is being played it makes a ticking sound; reminds one of a time bomb and adds to the sense of tension and panic. When the octopus gets you the game makes a buzzing raspberry sound and the remaining diver(s) do a left shift in the boat in preparation for the leftmost one going down next. Game A and B are the same except the tentacles move faster in game B.

It's quite fun. It's difficult enough to keep you coming back but not to difficult to frustrate you. The design of the characters is very humorous. The octopus has a sappy, lugubrious expression. When the diver is grabbing some of the treasure it's arm moves back and forth from the treasure chest to the bag it's stuffing it into. When it gets back into the boat it's arm swings up and down with the bag to show it unloading the treasure. They have comical positions when walking over to the treasure. When the octopus gets one of the divers he pulls it up towards him and the diver flails its arms and legs frantically.

Features: As mentioned before it has a clock. When the game isn't being played it can stand up on your desk as a clock with the time displayed in the upper right hand corner of the screen. While in clock mode the display is active with the divers marched down to the treasure and pranced around until the octopus gets them but it is all done silently with no ticking or beeping. It also has an alarm. The clock and alarm are 24 hour.

Misfeatures: to set the clock or alarm requires a thin object to poke the recessed buttons. A paper clip straightened out will do. It remembers the highest score but setting the clock causes it forget it. There is no on/off switch (being LCD I suppose that's not a misfeature).
 
#91
Zoc, you roc! What an informative thread.
Zoc said:
Iwata: Amazing! This is a precious document... This is "Chef," isn't it?

Izushi: You're making fun of me! This is just an old, tattered notebook.
Iwata's such a superfan. In a recent interview he talked about having a GBA 3D prototype in his dresser drawer.
 
#92
Game and Watch games were awesome when I was a kid. I remember going to the store with my father, and they had a HUGE collection of them under a display classes, and I would carefully study them until buying one. They were 30-50$, and it seemed like such an epic amount of money when I was a kid.

I remember getting the dual screen Zelda one for christmas from my godfather, and it was sooo awesome.

I also had this:
 
#94
Part 4

Continuing at a Feverish Pace


Iwata: When the Game & Watch was being made, the word "PC" was unknown. There was no such thing as a hard drive.

Yamamoto: Yes. I can remember having to insert an eight-inch "system disc" into the computer to boot it up, and then a floppy disc for data and applications.

Iwata: You've spoken about how the prototypes were made for the Game & Watch. How was the mass manufacturing done?

Kano: It was my job to pass along the completed schematics for the games' screens to Sharp.

Iwata: How long did it take after sending off the completed ROMs to receive the finished product?

Yamamoto: About two months.

Iwata: New Games & Watches were put out at a rate of about one every month, meaning Mr. Kano had to design a new game every month, and Mr. Izushi and Mr. Yamamoto, by turn, had to finish programming a new game every month. That cycle was repeated over and over. New designs were pushed out like sausages, and the Game & Watch series came to be.

Kano: That achievement wasn't just made possible by the three of us. We were greatly aided by the members of the development section, and the ever-increasing productivity of the Uji workshop.

Izushi: Right. The feeling I get is that despite all the many different people who came together to make these games, they were a collaborative effort, and everyone had a personal stake. We could all point to something and say "this was my idea."

Iwata: Turning to the topic of sales, I had it researched for this interview, and it turns out that Game & Watch sold 12.87 million units domestically, and 30.53 million units abroad, for a total of 43.4 million.

Izushi: Wow... that's the first time I've heard those numbers.

All: (laugh)

Izushi: Sales numbers were never communicated to the development team.

Iwata. But the truth is that this product was popular all over the world. Mr Kano, when did you start to feel that the winds of success had to started to turn your way?

Kano: The winds of success... well... really, it was all such a long time ago. I have to say, though, that I knew "Parachute" was big. That title really seemed to take off. We were always too busy working on the next title to pay much attention to sales numbers, though.



Iwata: I see. Rather than worry about how many units were sold, you had to forge ahead with the next task.

Izushi: At any rate, our heads were too full of the next thing to think about what we had already finished.

Kano: Rather than wondering about units sold, we started on the next thing.

Izushi: At any rate, I really just wanted to get started on my next idea as soon as possible.

Iwata: Nevertheless, even if you didn't know the precise figures, you must have known how popular the games were. In the end, there 59 titles made, after all.

Izushi: Well, going around town, we certainly saw a lot of people playing our games.

Yamamoto. And at Christmas time, we had to help out with sales at stores.

Kano: Right, right, we would all actually go out and sell games in stores.

Iwata: At the time, even people working on the cutting edge of development were commonly asked to help out at stores in the Christmas shopping season.

Izushi: Yes, that's right.

Yamamoto: I'd be told "Mr. Yamamoto, could you go to this store" and I'd think "boy, I really don't want to..."

Iwata: Why was that?

Yamamoto: The staff at the store told me "your gift-wrapping is awful."

Iwata: Aha ha ha. (laughs)

Yamamoto: I wasn't used to that kind of work, it was only natural I wasn't great at it...

Kano: But even if the gift-wrapping was a chore, overall, it was a valuable experience.

Yamamoto: True.

Iwata: The wrapping may have been a pain, but actually seeing the customers and how they choose what to buy, being able to see that for yourself, must have taught you a lot.

Kano: I think so. I vividly remember a grandmother who had taken her two grandkids shopping, and their voices saying "This one! I want this one!"

Iwata: And it was a Game & Watch they wanted?

Kano: Right. But the grandmother said "This is too expensive..."

Iwata: The Game & Watch cost 5800 yen [about US$30 in 1980], on the expensive side for toys back then.

Kano: Right, exactly. For that reason, standing at the counter in that shop made me realize that we had to make the products worth it. It's something I might never have realized without standing at that counter, seeing the customer's reaction, and feeling the atmosphere in the store. It was a very useful experience.

Iwata: And when you went on to the next thing, I can definitely imagine you taking that experience into account.

Kano: Right, it was a great motivation to do better.

Iwata: Now I'd like to ask each of you to speak about which Game & Watch title you remember best.

Yamamoto: For me it was "Turtle Bridge." I mentioned before that everyone contributed ideas, but that finally, it was usually Mr. Yokoi's ideas that won out. "Turtle Bridge" was based on an idea that I contributed.



Kano: That was one of the great ones.

Yamamoto: Thank you very much! (laughs) I put a lot of effort into it. That said, even though the LED protoype was very fun, it didn't really do well in testing, and when it became a finished product, it didn't really feel like it was mine any more.

Iwata: There are often subtle details of how a game feels that get lost in the finished product, aren't there?

Yamamoto: They really were extremely minor details, though. Anyway, that is the game that most remains in my memory.

Iwata: How about you, Mr. Kano?

Kano: For me it was "Parachute." That one sold pretty well, too, I believe.

Iwata: That was the first in the "widescreen" series, wasn't it?

Kano: It had an easier-to-see screen. At the same time we were making "Parachute," we had also begun work on "Octopus." It was a very fun time.

Iwata: Octopus was launched less than a month after "Parachute," right?

Kano: They were developed almost at the same time.

Izushi: Even though I was in charge of the development of "Octopus," and Mr. Yamamoto was in charge of "Parachute," I remember that Mr. Kano was the happiest of all.

Kano: Ah, that's right. We talked about whether people from outside Japan would catch the reference we made with the octopus's eyes. (laughs) That and the picture we drew for the alarm were made to look like "Hatchan the Octopus.*" I have a lot of happy memories of making that one.

*A popular cartoon character from 1931. Many senior citizens think of Hatchan when they think of octopuses.
 
#96
I wonder why someone isn't doing a rerun of these? They'd sell like hotcakes! It would be very inexpensive to do, so you could really rake in money.
Of course it would have to be exact copies to have any interest, with the same build quality and all, but still...
 
#97
Thanks for doing the translations, Zoc!

Zoc said:
"Iwata: Turning to the topic of sales, I had it researched for this interview, and it turns out that Game & Watch sold 12.87 million units domestically, and 30.53 million units abroad, for a total of 43.4 million."
Fixed, as 1万 is 10.000, not 1000.
 
#99
Really like this Iwata Asks, thanks again for translating, Zoc. I find it interesting that the sales numbers weren't communicated to the developers. I wonder if it was to prevent them from running off or branching off or something.

Datschge said:
Fixed, as 1万 is 10.000, not 1000.
Wow, I was thinking the numbers were a little low, but wow.
 
Wow, even back the Nintendo were using screens from Sharp.

Nintendo really do like to stick with long term relationships! I fully expect the next Nintendo console to have a Panasonic disc drive (and disc design) and an ATI GPU!

Not to mention that the 3DS looks to be using new game card designs from Matrix (same company who designed the DS game cards)