Japanese Gaming’s Unexpected Influences

In this week’s Weekly Famitsu, 12 game creators were asked what their three greatest influences were, from movies to books to other video games. Here’s what some of their answers were.

Katsura Hashino
Game designer for Persona 3 and Persona 4, Hashino’s greatest film influence was the David Lynch film, Mulholland Drive. So much so that he utilised some of the visual mechanics in his Persona games. Sadly, when he made the entire Persona development team watch the movie for inspiration, most of them remarked that the movie made no sense.
Other influences: Night on the Galactic Railroad (book), Shin Megami Tensei (game).

Hideaki Itsuno
Director at Capcom for games like Devil May Cry 4 and the recently released Dragon’s Dogma, Itsuno noted that The Untouchables taught him the importance of supporting characters in a story. “The Untouchables made me realise that the main character does not always have to be the most outspoken and pronounced character, and made me view story structure from a different angle.”
Other influences: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain (book), Pro Baseball Family Stadium (game).

Kaname Fujioka
Director of the Monster Hunter series, Fujioka sited Megaman 2 as the reason for his joining Capcom. As a teenager, the unconventional way in which the game had no score system (something very rare for the time) and the minute details and gimmicks put into the game, as well as the layout of the stages and the strategic element in how the player would have to choose the order in which they battled the bosses cemented the company name Capcom in his mind forever.
Other influences: Spartan X (movie), The Book of Earthsea (book).

Taiichi Inzuka
The producer at Square Enix of the Dragon Quest Monsters series found his gaming influences in the old famicom (the Japanese NES) game, Wizardry. The simplistic depiction of dungeons which allowed the player to fill in the gaps with their own imagination and the basic roleplaying game structure taught him the enjoyment of levelling up and gathering rare items.
Other influences: Back to the Future (movie), Bocchan (book).

Toshihiro Nagoshi
Producer of the Yakuza series, Nagoshi was a huge fan of Bruce Lee movies. His favourite among them, Enter the Dragon. “Bruce Lee is the ultimate character,” Nagoshi explains, recalling how he often tells his development teams that “Simple Is Best” while using Bruce Lee as an example.
Other influences: The Towering Inferno (movie), Kyojin no Hoshi (anime).

Hideo Baba
Chief producer for many of the Tales of series, Baba chose the novel, Jonathan Livingston Seagull as one of his top 3 influences. “The book taught me the lesson that ‘so long as we’re still alive, we have something we can still do’,” Baba explained.
Other influences: The Cider House Rules (movie), Seabiscuit (movie).

Chiyomaru Shikura
Producer of games like Chaos Head Noa and Steins Gate, Shikura cites Back to the Future Part 2 as a direct influence on the creation of the game Steins Gate. “It’s fantasy, and yet it walks the thin line of being just believable enough to feel real without going overboard. My experience watching the movie is the force behind Steins Gate.”
Other influences: Jurrasic Park (movie), Mystery House (game).

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