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Shinji Mikami interview: 'To be told Japanese games suck is a bit harsh'

Shinji Mikami was the creative force behind many of Capcom's biggest titles. But is he really set to hang up his directorial hat at his own Tango Gameworks studio?

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Why do you think the Japanese developers who are highly regarded abroad are the ones with a strong personality or extreme character?

I think it's a cultural thing. Japan is an island country. In Europe, almost every country is attached to another, and you can meet all sorts of people very easily. America was originally made up of people from other countries around the world, right? But Japan is an island, and it's nearest neighbours are a long way away. So the culture that has bred here is bound to be unique. To westerners, the facets of Japanese culture that are most interesting, whether good or bad, are the extremes.


Is it harder to do collaborations now you're already wearing two hats at Tango?

Yes, I can't do that anymore. I don't feel too sad about that. Collaborations have their good and bad points.

Did Shadows Of The Damned, your collaboration with Suda51, turn out as you'd initially intended?

No, it became a completely different game. That was a bit disappointing. I think Suda was unable to create the scenario he'd originally had in his head,and he rewrote the scenario several times. I think his heart was broken. He's such a unique creator, so it seems to me that he was not quite comfortable with making this game.

It did get good reviews in the end.

Yes, pretty good, but it's not a case of whether it was good or bad. The game was nothing like Suda had planned, which is rather sad. Mind you, if we'd made it as he originally planned, it probably would have sold even less, but it would have been very unique.

With Resident Evil 6 just announced, are you pleased that the series you created is continuing without you?

I'm not especially happy or sad about it. I think they're working very hard on it. The guys at Capcom are working hard.

Will you play it?

I don't know until it comes out. I didn't play Resident Evil 5 until a year ago, which was long after it came out. They sent me a copy, but I didn't open it for a long time. Whether the game was good or bad, I knew that someone other than me had made it so it would be different to my style. I didn't like the idea of that.

Some people are sick of all the zombie games and movies anyway.

Yes, that's right. That's the problem. When I saw the trailer for 6, it looks as though it's more like a Hollywood action film than a zombie game. Well, that's just the trailer mind you.

Did you know that God Hand recently came out on PSN?

I had no idea... ha ha. No idea at all. I'd love to make a sequel, but Capcom own the IP, so I can't... ha ha.


Sega's Binary Domain seemed to take a lot of cues from Vanquish. Do you feel flattered?

Actually, the director of Binary Domain was one of my juniors at Capcom - Daisuke Sato. He sent me a copy of the game, but I've been so busy I've yet to play it. That's bad, isn't it? He's coming to visit next week, so I'd better play it before then, in case he asks me about it. I don't even know what kind of game it is.

It says on Tango's website that your hobby is collecting watches.

Yes, that's true. I collect everything from expensive watches to junk watches, and especially mechanical watches. I used to try to wear a different watch every day. But I had to wear several each day - it exhausted me! If you wear an expensive watch, you have to wear suitable clothes too, but these days I dress down at work. A good watch doesn't suit casual clothes, so I rarely wear those watches now. Today I'm wearing a Seiko, a Japanese brand. This cost about 6,500 yen (£50)... a very cheap watch.

What do you hope Tango will be like in five or ten years?

My wish is to have a maximum of 100 staff. I hope that I feel satisfied with our games, and that players feel satisfied too. I hope we have a constant flow of games, but I'm not driven by quantity. I hope to release games that will sell and games that are unique, with a high level of quality. That's the sort of studio I want to build. More than anything, I want for our young creators to make great games that become hits so that they become as well known around the world as I am.

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