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Interviews

Masahiro Sakurai

One of Ninty's 3D wizards speaks...

Nintendo's pulled the cloth off of 3DS - and it's got everybody talking.

We recently got the chance to sit down for a chat with Masahiro Sakurai to find out more about the gob-smacking device.

As well as owning the brain that conjured up Kirby and Smash Bros, his Project Sora company (part owned by Nintendo) is bringing Kid Icarus Uprising to 3DS and he's been heavily involved in the design of the console...

What has been your involvement with the 3DS?
The first discussions were with Mr Iwata (the head of Nintendo) in July 2008. And I was asked to create a game specifically for the platform. But at the time I didn't have any staff so started hiring and created Project Sora and was able to start development in May 2009.

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Did you have any influence on the development of the 3DS?
I made a lot of suggestions from very early stages on until now. Early on, Nintendo were soliciting lots of feedback from within the company and from me. And I had very specific requests from Mr Iwata in regard to what my ideal picture of the device was, etc.

What do you think 3D will bring to your game?
Up until now, 3D games as we know them have been sort of like driving with one eye closed which is of course very dangerous. But now, bringing 3D depth is bringing a feeling of that depth of measurement and spatial navigation. Especially for people who have been uncomfortable navigating 3D space, it brings that very natural depth and this technology is especially good at that.

So what does your game do in 3D that wouldn't be possible in 2D?
It's not a matter of being able to or not being able to do things in 2D or 3D. It's a case of personal preference of how you like to use the 3D. With the 3D slider you can switch the degree of depth and people who have adverse effects to 3D - they might get tired eyes - they can switch it off entirely. It just adds that extra flexibility for gameplay richness.

In your experience of using 3DS does it cause any eye strain?
The screen on the 3DS is a really beautiful screen and achieves very nice effects. In my experience of development and actually using it, when you have a lot of objects flying towards the user I find that it's more likely to cause eye strain so during development I'm using objects moving away from the user which doesn't have that effect.

Was it important to have the slide pad and touch panel on the 3DS?
Having the combination of the Slide Pad and the touch panel is very important. In 3D games you have to have good control of the player and the camera. So what this does is provides a system that can become a standard moving forward for game control for using and navigating 3D space. Being able to control the player with the pad and the camera with the touch panel. And going forward I would like to think this could become a commonly used control mechanism.

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What moments in Kid Icarus will we think are particularly cool?
The 3D certainly has a lot of benefits. You might notice that the bullets or shots have an arc to them. In standard shooters or FPS games you see the bullet travel to its destination and it's just a dot because it travels in a straight line. But because of 3D technology you can use arcing shots and get a sense of a bullet travelling with real depth.

How does the online capability work in Kid Icarus?
The online capabilities are currently being tested. There could be some versus play but we can't go into the detail. As far as going forward, there are lot of capabilities that expand on what was in the DS that people are taking advantage of.

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