NEWS - Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Direct Talk From Japanese Xbox 360 Developers

Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu Xbox has interviewed some of Japan’s top game developers currently working on titles for the Xbox 360, in anticipation of the machine’s end-of-year launch. All in all, it’s looking positive for Microsoft, with the likes of Tecmo’s Tomonobu Itagaki stating, perhaps unsurprisingly given Team Ninja’s well-documented support for the current-gen Xbox, translated from Japanese by Gamespot, "When you consider the essence of video games, you can’t take away its graphics, sound, and interactivity. The Xbox 360 is the best solution at the current time." Koji Ito, director of Yuke’s Xbox 360 wrestling title, Wrestle Kingdom, also praises the sheer graphical might of Microsoft’s wonder box: "Self-shadowing effects contribute a lot to making a pro wrestling game [...] trying to render the wrestlers’ muscles is really the key point. But up until now, we couldn’t even use a virtual self-shadowing effect due to hardware limitations." It’s no secret that the next-generation of consoles are set to offer visuals unlike anything we’ve seen at home before, but according to some comments it may be some time before the full potential of the 360’s multi-core architecture is realized. Capcom’s Keiji Inafune believes that there will be a significant divide in games appearing after launch, split between "games that feel like something on current-generation consoles and games that feel like they’re Xbox 360 titles", while developers work to make the most of the Xbox 360’s undeniable might. This news won’t come as much of a surprise to anyone who’s followed the life cycles of previous-generation consoles over the years. Of more concern though, perhaps, are the words of From Software producer Masanori Takeuchi, currently working on RPG Enchant Arms. It seems that, even at this early stage, Microsoft’s decision to stick with the standard DVD format (as opposed to HD-DVD, or Sony’s Blu-ray system) is causing headaches for developers keen to offer data-heavy games. According to Takeuchi, "The volume of data in Enchant Arms won’t fit into a single DVD. It’s an RPG, so we’re thinking it would be inevitable that we release it on two discs - but to be honest, that’s even looking grim." The issue isn’t likely to affect less data-intensive games, but with the Japanese market still so heavily focused on quality RPG titles, a move to HD-DVD or other high-storage media may be inevitable if Microsoft is serious about capturing Japanese gamers’ hearts, minds and wallets.

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