Here’s an interview from 1999, just before the release of Maken X (thanks, infernalgrape!) where Cozy and Kaneko talk about the very beginnings of the game, some of its main interesting points and a few ideas that were never implemented.
For whose sake are you going to use that power?
The second interview celebrating the release of Maken X, with its developers, Okada Kouji and Kaneko Kazuma. The two talked about their thoughts preceding the release and looked back on the year that has passed.
We have conquered all kinds of challenges using the new gaming platform, the Dreamcast
Maken X is released one year after the initial release of the Dreamcast. How do you feel about the year that has passed?
Okada: We released all kinds of titles on all kinds of platforms this past year, so I’d say we worked a lot (laughs). We’ve never had such a hectic development period before. Among them, Maken X was the most challenging title. It really feels like the development time passed for Maken X in the blink of an eye, more so than for the other games even though we’re talking about a period of two years.
How about you?
Kaneko: We were in the middle of working on Persona 2. I’d say Maken X is a project that came all of a sudden. I kind of feel like it started as an odd job, but then I gradually got completely absorbed in it, and it became a really important work for me in the end.
Have you tried the Dreamcast?
Okada: I used it more than expected. It was interesting, not only because we tried so many new things with Maken X, but also because the Dreamcast itself is much more versatile than I had thought.
And your thoughts?
Kaneko: I kind of fumbled with it in the beginning and tried to see just how far it could go. I would push it and push it and now we ended up here. It’s just that I’m concerned other developers will show it can do something more in the distant future. It’s frustrating, to be honest. I think that should be something to think about from now on.
How did it feel, creating a 3D real time action game?
Kaneko: We both like rather demanding games and the staff is seriously into them as well, so it could only end up as a demanding action game. Doesn’t it have strong enemies before the deadline? Or a certain degree of difficulty? Aren’t you able to play it well or retry something because you got annoyed? A game you’d be able to enjoy no matter how many times you play it. Traditional action games would be able to imitate that kind of balance, but even the action is something completely different here. This type of adjustment was really hard to do.
Was Maken X a long project?
Okada: It was long, all right. We wanted to work on it a bit more neatly, but my superiors said they wanted more. Not to mention that we got interesting ideas while we were working out the contents and the scale got bigger than in the beginning. We thought we should release it sooner, but we kept adding things and we needed more people and it also took even longer to implement them. But to a certain degree I am sure we got a good result. It makes me feel positive, and this includes the challenges we faced too.
I wish the voices and stereophonic sound will make the game even more immersive
Are there parts you want the players to pay more attention to?
Okada: Maken X is a game with so many details that can’t simply be transmitted through a magazine page. It’s something you need to experience yourself. The game itself wasn’t created as something to be played once and then forgotten, but as something you can play over and over again, so you can enjoy its deepest secrets.
And your opinion?
Kaneko: The cool characters. A bit disappointed? (laughs) There are also the themes. I really liked the fact that using the ‘Image’ meant power. I think it would be great if it served as inspiration for people.
What inspired the themes of Hakke and Fuukenshi?
Kaneko: I think I’ve talked about Hakke before, but each part of the body became a theme. That’s why I kept fussing over their attacks and special attacks: they had to be connected to that theme. Malukala? His symbol is his crotch (laughs) and since he had fertility problems, he turned it into a detachable piece and attacks using those dolls that are a sort of offshoot of himself. Other characters have the same type of particularities. Andrei, for example, has his mouth which releases a scalpel.
What are the main points that stand out after playing the game?
Kaneko: Maken’s abilities that change depending on the character doing the brainjacking are the main point. The difference in abilities depending on the character can be really obvious. It also has strong points and weak points depending on the enemy type. I think trying all these kind of combinations can be really fun.
Okada: There may be parts that seem difficult in the beginning, but once you find your own pace it’s interesting to look for different ways to defeat your enemies. Not to mention that all the trial and error is actually what we were aiming for.
Kaneko: The story is also constructed naturally, that you won’t even know when a change will come and you can experience all kinds of courses of events.
I believe there are also a lot of parts in the story really similar to the Shin Megami Tensei series.
Okada: That’s right. It’s not about the good winning and the bad losing. The end result is up to the player and playing from perspectives that differ from their own might make them enjoy numerous aspects of the story.
Kaneko: Truth be told, we have explored some aspects as much as we could in Megaten, but those good/evil, Law/Chaos dichotomies are still important and we can’t just give them up. I actually want to make a game that overflows with even more love (laughs). A world full of kindness and love. However, you can find several mistaken expressions of love in Maken X too. But that’s a sort of tough, painful love, right? (laughs)
Is this the first time you have tried creating a full-voiced game?
Okada: This is a behind-the-scenes story, but at first we wanted to use English and Chinese voices with Japanese subtitles. The event scenes ended up better than expected, so we decided to make it fully voiced, for complete immersion. We had also intended to have stereophonic sound only for the action scenes at first, but we came to have it propagate in all kinds of spaces, not just from the TV screen.
Enjoy Maken X’s depth no matter how many times you play it
Anything you’d recommend in particular?
Okada: I want the players to try using both speakers and headphones. The headphones will help them get into the atmosphere better, while speakers, in the proper conditions, can propagate the sound in a great way. I want them to enjoy the world of Maken X beyond the TV screen.
Can we hope for a continuation?
Kaneko: Like Maken XX? (laughs) Jokes aside, we simply don’t know yet. If we have ideas, then I’d definitely like to do it.
Okada: The buyers’ response is a factor as well. Personally, I have all kinds of systems and possibilities I want to try. I now have the know-how in developing games for Dreamcast and I’d definitely like to have another game on this platform.
And now, I would like you to share one last message with the readers and players who are eagerly waiting for Maken X.
Okada: There have been two years since its conception and one year since the announcement, but the trial and error period has been extremely long so far and now that it’s nearing its completion I finally feel it has shaped up to be a good title. I hope the players will enjoy it starting November 25th. I’m repeating myself here, but I’d like them to play the game more than once. I think each player sees Maken X in their own way, but if they don’t stop just after finishing it once, but experience every little detail of its world, they will see how terribly interesting the depth of the game is. I hope they will enjoy it that way.
Kaneko: We’ve only worked on RPGs so far, but now we have completed a game that will keep you on the edge of your seat. I had a lot of fun with it myself. I’m very pleased with it and I hope it will be the same for everyone. Make sure to buy the game if you see it! Don’t borrow it, just buy it (laughs).
Thank you very much.