Platinum Games has rapidly established a critical reputation in keeping with the powerhouse history of its founders. Name a great Japanese game, and the chances are its creator will be one of the Platinum men. With one big exception, of course: Metal Gear mastermind Hideo Kojima, who runs Kojima Productions.
But now MGR: Revengeance is bringing together the combined superpowers of Kojima and Platinum, as the mighty studio handles MGS's Snake-free spin-off...
How did Hideo Kojima first approach you about MGS? We heard a story that you initially thought it was a joke...
Inaba: The first time I approached Mr Kojima was at a party. I asked how Metal Gear Rising was doing, and there was no response from him at the time. The second time was at another party, and Mr Kojima actually asked, "Do you want to develop Rising for us?" And this was very... not business like... It was just instantly, "Do you want to make Rising for us?" So I thought it was a joke!
The third time it was official and at that meeting Mr Kojima asked us if we could make the game. As an independent studio we have to think about the staff members we have available to complete the project, and truthfully there wasn't much opening, but I felt that this was a title we had to do. At that meeting I knew I wanted to do that game.
Have you tried to emulate any particular game in the Metal Gear series for Revengeance?
Saito: We didn't specifically look at a title within Metal Gear Solid. Metal Gear Rising is an action game, and even more a cutting game with the sword. The difficulty of including that in the MGS world was something we had to work hard for. We butted heads a lot with Kojima Productions. Since the stealth aspect was pretty much detached from our game, we had to focus more on the timeline and feeling of the world. But when it came to the gameplay, we didn't do too much to match to a certain game.
How has the game changed since you started working on it?
Saito: When Kojima studios were first making Rising, Boris [Volgin] was included in the initial concept. We did of course look at it and refer to it, and there are some characters we reused from the original concept, but ultimately, the most important concept that we needed to stay within is the Metal Gear world.
The boss battles and the bosses in general were completely different in the original concept. There were a lot of stealth concepts that they were doing internally at Kojima studios, so now that it's solely an action game the design and the action sequences are completely different. All of our boss concepts and any kind of art concept that comes out of Platinum Games are supervised by our art director at Kojima studios, Yoji Shinkawa, and I think that reflects positively in the game.
How do the cultures of Kojima Productions and Platinum compare?
Saito: One thing I did realise is that everyone at Kojima Productions voices their opinion. Everyone butts their head and makes sure their voice is heard. That's something that Platinum games does as well, and it has shown in our relationship. And in the end we believe that this creates something better as an idea and I hope it reflects in the game.
Any studio has their specialities. This time around for Revengeance, we have a limited amount of time so we had to sacrifice a few things. But if we were to work with Kojima Productions in the future, we'd like a little bit more time to show both Kojima Productions' and Platinum Games' unique side.
One big difference is that all of our staff believe Kojima Productions are too detailed when it comes to settings! They're so precise when they're looking at each game setting - it's something Platinum Games has never experienced. It's not necessarily a bad thing, and we believe that their keen eye has made our staff a lot better. So that is certainly something that we took away from our relationship.
Inaba: That's definitely not something we're disrespecting Kojima Productions about. That's a good thing!
Would you say that Rising is a mix of Bayonetta and Vanquish?
"Our staff believe Kojima Productions are too detailed when it comes to settings! They're so precise... it's something Platinum has never experienced."
Saito: We wouldn't necessarily say it's a mix, but of course Bayonetta and Vanquish are past projects, and that experience has led to some of the things we're able to do in Rising. So the experience helps, but Rising isn't necessarily a mix. It's something completely different.
Rising is the first game we've seen with a decent cutting mechanic. Did you have any problems developing it?
Saito: It was very much a challenge to get the mechanic down. The core concept of Rising is the idea that you can freely cut anything from any angle at any time. Of course, the technology is always difficult to implement. But we looked more at the gameplay, and if it was fun or not. And that was the most difficult part for us.