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Edge's big feature on Nagoshi's career: Monkey Ball, F-Zero GX > 1.5M WW, Yakuza origins and future

Oct 25, 2017
5,060
UK/FR
#1
Super long feature in the latest issue of Edge (received today) about Toshihiro Nagoshi and his long career.
Games covered are Virtua Racing, Daytona USA, Scud Race, Shenmue, Spikeout, Super Monkey Ball, F-Zero GX, Yakuza, Yakuza 6, and the new Yakuza. So I'm only covering a few bits, and really recommend getting the magazine for the full read.

Super Monkey Ball:
Around that time our CEO kept changing, and the newest one asked me why making games cost so much money. I told him we couldn't do it any cheaper, but at the same time I was quite upset about it. I decided to make a game with minimum resource, minimum time and minimum budget.
(...) Looking back, that's no way to work (laughs). But there are some huge fans of this game. When we gave up on making hardware, we knew the Gamecube was coming, and when it would be launched. We didn't think we had enough time to get a game ready for release day, but (...) Super Monkey Ball came to mind. I think we had ten people on the game, maybe less. We made it just in time somehow
F-Zero GX:
Compared to us, in the big picture, we are similar. But in the finer details - their decision-making and timing - things are different, and I learned a lot from them. In short, it's about objectivity. (...) It's hard to describe, but when I'd say about some part of the game, "It's okay like this, isn't it?" they'd say, "Our company does not allow this kind of thing. Ever." I didn't manage to change their minds about anything. Not even once. But that's why Nintendo has such a solid brand, even after all these years. That is why we lost the hardware war.
I really liked the Super Famicom game, and while we made a few proposals - Metroid for instance, and others - I was most confident in making a driving game because of my experience in the genre, though I'd never make a sci-fi one.

Even though we'd lost the war in the hardware market, I wanted Nintendo to see how great Sega was as a company. We made lots of characters and courses, and we did the best we could for the graphics using the best technology of the time.
Even though we'd tried really hard making games for Sega hardware, they never sold too well, but F-Zero sold over 1.5 M copies worldwide. We realised the only thing we needed to admit was that Sega did not have the ability to sell hardware (laughs). That as a developer (...) we did not need to be pessimistic at all.
After it released, I got a call from Nintendo. They said they wanted to see all the source code for the game, and wanted me to explain how we'd made that game, in that timeframe and with that budget, in detail. They were wondering how we'd done it - they couldn't figure it out. We were able to achieve something a lot higher than what Nintendo had expected.
Yakuza (1):
It became difficult for Japanese companies to compete with western games of high quality and big budgets (...) if we wanted to do, it would have to be sports, or military, or fantasy (...)and it would need to release worldwide. (...) since everyone was thinking the same things, everyone was making similar games (laughs).
But I thought it wasn't right to follow that direction. So, first, I abandoned the idea of selling worldwide. Next, I decided I wouldn't mind if female players didn't like the game; then that no children were allowed. When I decided all that, the only target left was the japanese male.
My bosses took some convincing. I did a presentation twice, and didn't get approval. (...)
Sega was struggling for cash and was very close to bankruptcy, so it merged with Sammy. As soon as it happened, I went to see the new owner and presented the game to him, looking for his approval. Professionally, this was highly irregular and quite wrong. But I knew if the owner said "yes", it would be good for the entire company. (...)
I got his approval, but our CEO was really mad about it (laughs). He said it was unfair.
I've never said this before, but while we released this game with Sony, I'd done presentations about it to Microsoft and Nintendo. Back then they said "No we don't want it." Now they say, "We want it!" (laughs) They didn't understand the reason why I created it.
I'm often asked how I did all the research, but it's Japanese culture (...) but I did some of my own, yes. I like drinking. I also like women. I was having lots of fun in my life for a long time - whether to shake off my stress from work, or deepen the connection with my subordinates. (...) I learned a lot of interesting stories from the people I met. And some surprising stories, and some sad ones. They became elements of Yakuza's story. The name Kiryu is one of them (...). I often do that in my games - I use the name of a person I liked or who looked after me well. I still do that today.

Ryu Ga Gotoku New Project:
It will still be quite hardcore at the beginning, but I want the player to think "Oh this game seems really interesting" - that's what I'm aiming for this time. That goes for the technology too, though I don't want to say more as it will spoil the fun. By introducing a new and more current systems, I'd like to increase the number of players. And if I do that, I can re-introducing Kiryu-san to some new fans. That would be ideal.
A lot more in the magazine for the other games.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,196
#5
My bosses took some convincing. I did a presentation twice, and didn't get approval. (...)
Sega was struggling for cash and was very close to bankruptcy, so it merged with Sammy. As soon as it happened, I went to see the new owner and presented the game to him, looking for his approval. Professionally, this was highly irregular and quite wrong. But I knew if the owner said "yes", it would be good for the entire company. (...)
I got his approval, but our CEO was really mad about it (laughs). He said it was unfair.
Nagoshi is a fucking boss. He's IRL Kiryu.
 
Oct 27, 2017
1,887
#8
Hasn't F-Zero GX often been claimed to have been a sales flop? It selling over a million sure as hell says otherwise!
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,720
#9
I've never said this before, but while we released this game with Sony, I'd done presentations about it to Microsoft and Nintendo.


He actually has said this before

"At the beginning of the project we spoke to all the platform holders including Sony and Microsoft," he said, "Every platform holder was negative about this prospect, but we kept on pushing because we believed in the potential, and as we kept going one platform holder that showed interest and saw the prospects of this title was Sony."
https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2011-08-24-yakuza-unlikely-on-xbox-360
 
OP
OP
Eolz
Oct 25, 2017
5,060
UK/FR
#11
So what's Nintendo's excuse for no new F-Zero then?!?
GBA games selling poorly and Miyamoto wanting to add something new to F-Zero I guess. And probably thinking that Mario Kart is enough anyway.
Hasn't F-Zero GX often been claimed to have been a sales flop? It selling over a million sure as hell says otherwise!
I always thought it was below a million before this interview yeah.
 
Oct 28, 2017
10,905
#12
I'm so excited about Shin Yakuza. The new lead looks like a badass. Too bad he has a similar backstory to Kiryu. I'd like to see someone who tries to rise into the rank of the Tojo clan, and get the family that Kiryu was never able to create.
 
Oct 27, 2017
437
#16
It's hard to describe, but when I'd say about some part of the game, "It's okay like this, isn't it?" they'd say, "Our company does not allow this kind of thing. Ever."
Really curious what sort of changes he's talking about lol
 
Nov 4, 2017
1,120
#18
People gotta remember that F-Zero GX was bomba bin prices real quick like. I'd doubt the majority of those 1.5 million copies were sold at full price.

As for Yakuza being made for adult japanese guys, wonder if it surprised him just how many other people which didn't fit that target demo took a shine to it.
 
Nov 1, 2017
2,984
Australia
#19
After it released, I got a call from Nintendo. They said they wanted to see all the source code for the game, and wanted me to explain how we'd made that game, in that timeframe and with that budget, in detail. They were wondering how we'd done it - they couldn't figure it out. We were able to achieve something a lot higher than what Nintendo had expected.
Lmao that F-Zero quote is amazing. Sucks that we never got a new one after that though.
 
Oct 25, 2017
22,519
#22
People gotta remember that F-Zero GX was bomba bin prices real quick like. I'd doubt the majority of those 1.5 million copies were sold at full price.

As for Yakuza being made for adult japanese guys, wonder if it surprised him just how many other people which didn't fit that target demo took a shine to it.
For what it's worth, Hashino was super surprised at how popular Persona 5 was worldwide, so I imagine Nagoshi was too.
 
Oct 28, 2017
1,349
#23
Last edited:
Oct 25, 2017
4,526
#24
That's super interesting about F-Zero GX sales, Nintendo has never officially provided them as far as I know, and thus it was assumed to be a sub million seller. I wonder why, that's a really solid number for a GC game.
 
Oct 27, 2017
5,533
#25
1.5 million?! All my time on this forum and the last, people told me F-Zerp GX bombed into the core of the Earth.
 
OP
OP
Eolz
Oct 25, 2017
5,060
UK/FR
#26
Didn't Miyamoto say he wasn't impressed with F-Zero GX (the mad man)? I reckon because he created it, he's the one who greenlights the next project. He says he doesn't know what to do with it.

Edit:

Yep

http://www.ign.com/boards/threads/miyamoto-calls-f-zero-gx-a-disappointment.141532419/

http://www.nintendolife.com/news/2012/11/miyamoto_puzzled_as_to_why_anyone_would_want_a_new_f_zero
Eh, in the interview he was happy with how it turned out.
Years later it's more that he can't see where to go from this, and why people would want to play that when they can play Mario kart at 200cc.
Edit: your first link is also not about GX, the GBA games were not developed by Nintendo.
 
Oct 28, 2017
1,349
#27
Eh, in the interview he was happy with how it turned out.
Years later it's more that he can't see where to go from this, and why people would want to play that when they can play Mario kart at 200cc.
Edit: your first link is also not about GX, the GBA games were not developed by Nintendo.
Changed it
 

yyr

Member
Nov 14, 2017
449
White Plains, NY
#28
Super Monkey Ball the GOAT made by 10 people.
Not to take away from an awesome achievement and a fantastic game, but Super Monkey Ball is first and foremost a port of the existing Monkey Ball arcade game. They added a few multiplayer modes and there you have it. So a 10-person team doesn't sound out of the question.

F-Zero GX/AX remains one of the most amazing racing games ever created and the fact that Nintendo doesn't even want to give us an HD version frustrates the heck out of me. I'm not sure whether I'm more upset about that or the fact that there's still no Ridge Racer 8 =\
 
Oct 28, 2017
3,336
#29
Didn't Miyamoto say he wasn't impressed with F-Zero GX (the mad man)? I reckon because he created it, he's the one who greenlights the next project. He says he doesn't know what to do with it.
F-Zero had two outsourced games after GX though (for a console with a much higher user base than the GameCube). And the series stopped after them. That comment isn't necessarily referencing GX...
 
#30
I hope he'll get the chance to work with Nintendo again. We need a new Monkey Ball at least. I wish the Yakuza Wii U release wasn't in the way of having the older titles on Switch. Having 1-5 and the spin offs in portable form would be nice. So many other are finding success with the back catalog releases it's odd they haven't done too much.

The last game on a home console was 15 years ago...

Obviously they wanted a high quality production with who they were trying to tap, but Criterion could not be the only developer up to the task.
 
Apr 18, 2018
230
Santa Cruz
#31
I just started playing Yakuza about a week ago and it’s one of the most entertaining games I’ve ever played...yakuza 0 that is.

I cannot wait to see where the story can even go after this game ends.
 
Oct 25, 2017
14,216
#35
despite what Nagoshi says, Nintendo doesn't list the game on their sales charts. I'm wondering if there's something we're missing here, maybe Nagoshi is incorrect?
 
Oct 28, 2017
3,336
#37
Good point actually, I'm just assuming the secondary source knows more about the interview. Perhaps not.
You can see the original the interview here

https://ew.com/article/2007/05/08/man-who-made-mario-super/

Miyamoto doesn't mention the game, and the context doesn't make it clear, just that it was made by an outside development house, so it could be every single one including GX, or just the more recent 2004 one that's usually forgotten due to being a portable game.

You’ve had great success in your ability to predict what players will find fun to play. Have there been games that you thought would be fun but didn’t turn out that way?
Yes, that has definitely happened. In the past we’ve worked with some outside development houses on titles like F-Zero and Starfox — and let me just say that we were disappointed with the results. Consumers got very excited about the idea of those games, but the games themselves did not deliver. And, well, to be honest with you, Zelda: Twilight Princess is not doing very well at all in Japan. It is very disappointing. But it is doing okay here in America.
 
Oct 27, 2017
1,156
#38
That F-Zero number is surprising, and improbable. The last NPD leak I have, from Sep 2006, had it at 338k. The other regions were far lower. As of January 2005 (well over a year after its launch), Media-Create had it at just 80k, and the last number I have out of Europe was 99k.

Maybe Nintendo shipped 1.5 million? But even that would surprise me.
 
Apr 18, 2018
836
United States
#39
Then go with someone else, get Codemasters' Evo to work on it. Get Sumo Digital. There isn't a shortage, lol.
I’ve been saying for a while that Monster Games would be a perfect choice to handle a new F-Zero. Lots of racing game experience with their NASCAR releases plus previous collaborations with Nintendo including the Excite series on Wii. It’s too obvious.

Didn't Miyamoto say he wasn't impressed with F-Zero GX (the mad man)? I reckon because he created it, he's the one who greenlights the next project. He says he doesn't know what to do with it.

Edit:

Yep

http://www.ign.com/boards/threads/miyamoto-calls-f-zero-gx-a-disappointment.141532419/

http://www.nintendolife.com/news/2012/11/miyamoto_puzzled_as_to_why_anyone_would_want_a_new_f_zero
“What do you want that we haven’t done before?”

Oh I dunno, there’s this thing called “online multiplayer”, Miyamoto, something F-Zero never got a chance to take advantage of since you abandoned the series far too soon. Oh, and I’m sure you’re just dying to shoehorn gimmicky motion controls into a futuristic racer like we saw in your futuristic space shooter with talking animals. Yes, just what on earth could they possibly add to a new F-Zero?! I’m drawing blanks here, guys!
 
Oct 25, 2017
14,216
#40
That F-Zero number is surprising, and improbable. The last NPD leak I have, from Sep 2006, had it at 338k. The other regions were far lower. As of January 2005 (well over a year after its launch), Media-Create had it at just 80k, and the last number I have out of Europe was 99k.

Maybe Nintendo shipped 1.5 million? But even that would surprise me.
given that it never showed up on nintendo's updated sales charts, I'm thinking Nagoshi got something wrong somewhere
 
Apr 27, 2018
1,691
#41
Wait a moment WHAT!!!

F-Zero GX!? As in that famous GameCube bomba, actually sold 1.5M!!!?

This is a huge deal, why did Nintendo ignore sales numbers for that game in their reports?
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,005
#42
The immense sadness you feel when you remember that the last F-Zero game was tie-in for a crappy anime and ultimately killed the franchise.
Actually the last F-Zero game was an awesome sequel to GP Legend that ditched most of the anime stuff and had a track editor... but never left Japan :|

 
Oct 25, 2017
200
#43
I didn't manage to change their minds about anything. Not even once.
So what's Nintendo's excuse for no new F-Zero then?!?
Literally that, I'm afraid. If Nintendo won't change or make up their mind about it, they won't.

Still think the best thing to do is a Hokuto no Ken reskin like for F-Zero with equal parts Captain Falcon bounty hunting punching fools for a living and racing for his life against his usual rogues gallery like Samurai Goroh.
 
Apr 27, 2018
1,691
#45
Also very interesting to know that one of my favorite childhood games of all time was made by 10 people with limited time and budget. That's what i call talent, hell, even borderline wizardry.
 
Oct 28, 2017
1,349
#46
I’ve been saying for a while that Monster Games would be a perfect choice to handle a new F-Zero. Lots of racing game experience with their NASCAR releases plus previous collaborations with Nintendo including the Excite series on Wii. It’s too obvious.



“What do you want that we haven’t done before?”

Oh I dunno, there’s this thing called “online multiplayer”, Miyamoto, something F-Zero never got a chance to take advantage of since you abandoned the series far too soon. Oh, and I’m sure you’re just dying to shoehorn gimmicky motion controls into a futuristic racer like we saw in your futuristic space shooter with talking animals. Yes, just what on earth could they possibly add to a new F-Zero?! I’m drawing blanks here, guys!
As much as I love the guy, sometimes things are just good as they are and don't need to be super innovative all the time. At this point I'd even just be happy with F-Zero GX remastered with online play, I'm worried what they might try and turn it into.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,060
#47
I vaguely remember seeing an NPD dump like 10 years ago on NeoGAF that had F-Zero GX at maybe 280k copies in the US.

To get to 1.5 million from there seems fairly far fetched.
 
Oct 26, 2017
7,829
#48
So F-Zero GX was Nagoshi’s best selling game? Super Monkey Ball also did over 1m globally so that’d be his second best seller I assume. Interesting that he hit these sales heights on Gamecube and wasn’t able to replicate them on far more successful platforms like PS2, DS, PSP, Wii, 360, PS3, 3DS or PS4.
 
Last edited:
May 20, 2018
3,302
Ponds
#49
All I need is a new Monkey Ball game with some of that sweet HD Rumble support and a compilation of all the mini-games from one and two and I’ll be happy with the Switch’s game line-up for this generation.
 
Nov 4, 2017
1,120
#50
given that it never showed up on nintendo's updated sales charts, I'm thinking Nagoshi got something wrong somewhere
I'd say maybe he's including AX sales figures... but the number of units of those made was prolly only ever in the 100's.

GX did get a Players Choice re-release in NA which is pretty odd. Anyone know what the requirements were to achieve the Players Choice label back then?