2. Rhythm Tengoku: The Arcade Game

Iwata:

Before we talk about Rhythm Heaven, I'd like to reminisce about one other game. After Rhythm Tengoku became a hit, Sega approached us with a surprise offer, and an arcade version was released. Osawa-san, what did you think when the idea first came up?

Osawa:

…I thought it must be a joke.

Iwata:

(laughs)

Osawa:

But when I met with Sega and talked to them, they appeared to really like the game.

Iwata:

Apparently it was popular among their development staff.

Osawa:

Yes. I was happy that they liked it so much, but…an arcade game? It wasn't something I could make the call on.

Iwata:

That's not so! (laughs)

Osawa:

I said, "Thank you very much,"…and the meeting ended there.

Iwata:

Just like that?! (laughs)

Takeuchi:

(laughs wryly)

Yone:

(laughs wryly)

Osawa:

Well, first I thought I should check with Iwata-san and others.

Iwata:

And when we heard about it, we immediately gave the go ahead, saying, "Why not give it a shot?" When you heard that decision, what did you think? Weren't you like, "Really?! I can do it?!"

Osawa:

I…don't clearly remember.

Takeuchi:

(laughs wryly)

Yone:

(laughs wryly)

Osawa:

But…I was happy about it.

Iwata:

I was able to tell that you were practically ecstatic as you talked to Sega. Probably because the staff at Sega had picked up on what you thought was important about Rhythm Tengoku. I think your intense passion for the game passed wordlessly into the product and was conveyed to our customers, of course, but also to development staffs at other companies.

Osawa:

Takeuchi:

I think so, too. People within Nintendo who were dealing with Sega were that way, and while we, too, were talking with them, we started getting energetic about it. I even drew up some illustrations for them. It was that kind of atmosphere.

Iwata:

And that work could pay off when it came time for the next game in the series.

Takeuchi:

Yes, I had thought of that.

Iwata:

So, when the arcade version of Rhythm Tengoku came out, what did you think? Were you impressed when you saw the housing?

Osawa:

I thought, "Wow!"

Iwata:

I see. How about you, Takeuchi-san?

Takeuchi:

When it was first released, I was so happy that I went to a video arcade to see it. I was surprised, or rather happy, to see couples and girls playing it.

Iwata:

Makers of household game systems don't usually get to see people actually playing their games.

Takeuchi:

That's right. Of course, I know girls play our video games, but to actually see them so excitedly playing was a nice surprise.

Iwata:

I see.

Takeuchi:

Then, during the location tests, I was taking some pictures to document the occasion. The arcade staff got suspicious because they didn't know who I was and pulled me into their office.

Iwata:

Just what were you doing?! (laughs)

Takeuchi:

When I explained, they understood.

Iwata:

And later you made character goods.

Takeuchi:

Oh, that's right. I was grateful for that opportunity. They were mostly onions, though.

Iwata:

Yeah. Lots of onions.

Takeuchi:

Nothing but onions. I thought, "Couldn't they have come up with something cuter?" Oh well, I was the one who drew them.

Iwata:

The onion's plucking the mustache in rhythm makes quite an impression.

Takeuchi:

At first it wasn't an onion, but a person's face. We were using a real photo of someone's face, but it was a little too gross.

Iwata:

Setting aside the onion topic…Yone-san, did you work on the arcade game?

Yone:

Yes. The sound data was to be the same, but since the mechanics of arcade games are different, I had to make some adjustments in order to recreate the same sounds. Also, the arcade game had some modes that didn't exist in the Game Boy Advance version, so I supervised the sound for those as well.

Iwata:

Then, as development of the arcade game progressed, the challenge of figuring out what the next game in the series would be like began. And it wasn't easy. Right, Osawa-san?

Osawa:

…that's right.