Interview with Kenji Eno

We sat down with Kenji Eno, president of Warp, to discuss the localization of D2, his thoughts on Laura, and his next game.

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GameSpot News recently had the opportunity to sit down with Kenji Eno, president of Warp and the developer of the recently released Dreamcast title D2. The game is currently in early stages of localization for a US release tentatively scheduled in April, so we wanted to see what would be different in the stateside version. As well, we wanted to see what he has planned now that D2 is complete. Below is our full interview:

GameSpot News: You're currently working with Sega of America on the localization of D2 - what sort of changes are you currently talking about for the US version? Kenji Eno: Some of the scenes that have sexual references will be edited out. Also, we increased the game's difficulty since the Japanese version was quite easy even for average gamers.

GSN: We're aware that this is actually Laura's final appearance in a game. Will you miss her?KE: Frankly, I'm a little bit fed up with her (laughs). We believe that if we keep using her as a main character, our games will sort of become similar - along the lines of another D and Enemy Zero.

GSN: Are there any plans to have Laura make guest appearances in future titles?KE: Probably not for a while. I want to give her a break. We are currently making the model for our new main character.

GSN: Is it going to be a female character?KE: Probably, but we might change our minds later on.

GSN: We found one of the secret files that contained the now-defunct M2 version of D2. Does it mean anything?KE: Well, it is sort of a hint as to what one of our future projects is. It won't be exactly like the M2 version of D2, but it will probably be geared towards a similar direction... though, perhaps, we may have a different, final product. Who knows? We are in preliminary stages of development on it, and after three months, we'll show it to Sega and other companies for evaluation. From there we'll decide if we want to continue the project or not.

GSN: How is Real Sound 2 coming along?KE: The development has been on hold for some time now. This type of game needs a big budget - in fact, the original cost more than Enemy Zero. There is also risk for this type of game in terms of the market. I have to admit it's not a killer title - we'll release it and barely make a profit. But Real Sound is just one of our projects we really wanted to work on. I believe it is not yet the right time for a sequel.

GSN: How about the RPG and other titles mentioned before?KE: Those are also on hold as well.

GSN: We heard that you guys might be working on a title for the Game Boy?KE: After making D2, we sort of reflected and gave a thought on what real "gaming" is about. Games these days are primarily focused on graphics and sounds, and so our next project will hopefully focus more on letting players just worry about gameplay. This one will let players have a constant need to hold the controllers constantly to enjoy the game. When you play a game, it has to be enjoyable and satisfying by pressing buttons on the controller. There has to be some sort of harmonious rhythm and more leverage for players to press buttons in succession. I think a lot of game developers these days forget about that element when designing their "gaming" experiences.

GSN: D2 has a big focus on CG movies, though.KE: Yes, D2 has movies, but in one of our future projects we are trying to go in a new direction... similar to Nintendo's game concepts. We are still studying and experimenting on these aspects, so it will take some time. In terms of releasing it (D2) on a particular hardware, it doesn't really matter. It will probably be the Game Boy, but it could be any of the handheld systems. We could even make it for the NES if we wanted. Although no one develops for the NES anymore (smiles). Most probably we will be working on it for the Sega Dreamcast and/or PC.

GSN: So which one of your projects are you planning to release next?KE: We're not sure yet. We also have other projects that we can't tell you about for the Sega Dreamcast. We've been using the hardware for about three years now for developing our games, and I think we are one of the companies quite comfortable using the hardware.

GSN: What do you think of Shen Mue?KE: I think it's an extraordinary game. It's a type of game I would also develop, but I don't think I could have done it at Yu Suzuki's level of quality. As an analogy, developing Shen Mue is like setting up a perfect domino effect. It's beautiful when you watch all the dominos topple down in succession, but the process of putting each domino one by one is not an easy job. One would ask, how can they make a game with all those details? (He refers to how players can pick up virtually anything from oranges, matchboxes, and other objects.)

GSN: Yes, we've seen a Japanese documentary on Yu Suzuki's involvement in developing the game. It's almost like it's his lifework.KE: One of my close friends Ryuichi Sakamoto (who composed the start-up sound for the Dreamcast and the music score for The Last Emperor) is a world-renowned composer who has won Grammies and other musical awards. After all his accomplishments, he felt like setting a higher goal for himself on a personal level, I think that's how Yu Suzuki felt about Shen Mue.

GSN: What console or PC games are you currently playing?KE: Our development staff and myself are really into this PC game, Midtown Madness. We're also playing a Sega Dreamcast title called Tokyo Bus Guide (a bus-driving simulation released last December in Japan). We didn't expect it to be a really great game.

GSN: Do you have anything you'd like to say about D2 to US gamers?KE: As in Space Channel 5 and Shen Mue, every game has its own unique world.... I hope gamers will experience D2 in its own world - one that can't be experienced in any other games. The end reflects what has passed over the last millennium, and now we are entering into a new one. I hope gamers will sit in front of the TV screen and maybe give a little thought to our world.

Discussion

1 comments
MooncalfReviews
MooncalfReviews

It's "Shenmue", guys, not "Shen Mue." Please hire actual gamers to write for you?

Also, he wasn't just referring to the fact that you can pick up lots of objects in the game when he talked about detail. The game is crammed full of details. Hidden cutscenes, hundreds of NPCs with backstories, hidden unlockable moves, different music for every shop and building you enter, hell there's even an unlockable duck race mini game that most people never even find.