TREET FIGHTER and 3D gameplay. Fire and water?
Sugar and salt? When Capcom announced STREET FIGHTER 3 would
use the super-2D CP System III, instead of joining the ranks
of cookie-cutter polygon fighting games, many of their fans
breathed a sigh of relief. But a side story, or perhaps an
alternate reality of what STREET FIGHTER could have been in
3D has still been developed... as STREET FIGHTER EX.
STREET FIGHTER EX brings back Ryu, Chun Li,
Guile, Ken and Zangief while adding five new characters who
will go down in the annals of street fighting as some of the
weirdest ever. Pullum Purna, an Arabian fighter in harem
pants, and traditional Japanese warrior Hokuto, are joined
by the increasingly deranged Doctrine Dark (a sepulchral,
gas-mask-wearing creep), Skullomania (who dresses in a
full-body skeleton costume), and Cracker Jack (a thug
wielding terrific punches and a baseball bat which can
reflect projectiles). M. Bison thunders in as the final
Will it be a success? The qualities that Capcom fans love --
character designs and precision gameplay -- are both harder
to emulate in 3D. However, Capcom has provided full
deniability by letting Arika, a previously unknown company,
develop EX. The reason why is EX's president; Akira
Nishitani, a former member of Capcom, who worked on FINAL
FIGHT, X-MEN and STREET FIGHTER II.
Game On! magazine in Japan recently
interviewed Mr. Nishitani, asking about the game, and the
possibilities -- and problems -- of porting 2D games to
Game On!: Did you found your
own company because you wanted to make games Capcom couldn't
or wouldn't make?
Nishitani: I can't say that
didn't occur to me, but, in brief, I wanted to try making
games on my own. I didn't want to make a game that belonged
to some other company. I wanted to make one from scratch by
Game On!: So, that's why you're
making EX. Why did you choose a 3D fighting game?
Nishitani: My biggest
motivation was that I wanted to try using new technology.
Since I myself hadn't ever made a polygon game, I wanted to
try it at all costs. But of course, it was a lot of work. If
a game's 2D, I understand most things, but when it comes to
3D, we had to use a system that none of us knew nothing
Game On!: From what we've seen,
it looks almost done. How long has it been in
Nishitani: Was it in March of
this year that we started? Before then, there was a little
basic research time, but essentially it's taken about seven
months [circa October &emdash; Ed.]. Completing it
appearance-wise was amazingly fast, because it was different
from drawing each cell of an animation pattern. The flow of
the whole body and the parts corresponding to the
characters' frames were finished comparatively quickly. The
more detailed areas, however, we're still working on even
Game On!: If you don't make the
character motions too complex, is 3D faster?
Nishitani: As a
rule I don't think so, but luckily for me, it was fast.
Game On!: Why did you use the
STREET FIGHTER characters?
Nishitani: I was interested in
how STREET FIGHTER would be if it were done in 3D, and I
also felt that the characters were well-known, and would be
recognized by everyone. In addition, I thought I would try
to change a system that was well known in 2D into 3D, make
it look like I had made the impossible possible, and it
would be interesting (laughs).
Game On!: Do you think that a
lot of people wonder about the fact that a STREET FIGHTER II
game is coming out from someone besides Capcom?
Nishitani: After all, that's
what people know, right? (laughs) It's difficult to figure
out how to explain it, but Capcom trusts me, so they lent me
a big title like STREET FIGHTER. They've said they want to
be on friendly terms despite my setting up an independent
company, so from here on they plan to cooperate.
Game On!: By the way, the
character lineup is said to be fifty-fifty, composed of very
familiar characters and new characters, such as the
long-awaited revival of Guile. What were your standards for
the choice of characters?
Nishitani: I imagined the
game's worldview to be the period of STREET FIGHTER II. Not
STREET FIGHTER ALPHA. I thought that STREET FIGHTER II's
simple system was more fun as a game. While the rules
themselves are simple, the characters are very
individualistic, and yet they're balanced strength-wise,
such that anyone can immediately understand. Making such a
game was my ideal. So, in the end I thought about the
distribution of well-balanced character types and the
popularity of the STREET FIGHTER II period, and so the old
characters I picked were Ryu, Ken, Zangief, Chun Li, and
Guile. For the new characters, I made them with the idea of
including things that weren't present in polygon fighting
games so far.
Game On!: Did you create EX
using the STREET FIGHTER II game mechanics as a model?
Nishitani: In trying to combine
simplicity and enjoyment, I made some choices. For example,
because super combos are fun, I put them in, but I decided
that midair guards and prone evasions were unnecessary and
didn't put them in. This is because I wanted clanging
attack-filled play, rather than so-called "hesitation," for
example "guard breaks," which forcibly destroy an opponent's
guard. The guard position is an invincible one to the extent
that one can't be thrown or cut down with a killing move. My
decision came from this, because I didn't think there was
any way I could possibly manage to solve it. With fighting
games, the more you adjust them, the more powerful attacks
end up become impossible from a theoretical stance. You
can't have a game in which counterattacks are impossible,
but when you balance attack and defense well, the fight
becomes a seesaw, and what I attempted earlier ends up
becoming a disadvantage. In short, "hesitation" becomes a
stronger element. To prevent that, it's better to eliminate
the opening after an attack, but doing so puts one in a
corner. If it were children playing, everyone would tacitly
understand it as being like "cheating," but in the case of a
videogame, I can do anything I want since it's recognized as
the game system. I also considered a system where one adds
the ability to automatically distinguish between
guard-breaking and non-guard-breaking moves, saying "just
wait right there," and if he doesn't move, he dies
Game On!: There are already
many 3D fighting games. How do you plan to distinguish
Nishitani: I think the feel of
STREET FIGHTER II &emdash; let's call it the feel of 2D
fighting games &emdash; doesn't yet exist in 3D fighting
games. In short, jump attacks that are actually useful, the
possibility of flips, the ability to parry, and a refreshing
sort of flashy production values. These are the good aspects
of 2D fighting games, and I want to to express them in the
world of 3D.
Game On!: So it won't be a
Nishitani: Yeah, though
thinking of it as a realistic simulation is also right in a
way. I think it's possible to preserve a high level of game
quality by thoroughly investigating reality, but in the case
of this game, I'm aiming for having a pleasing appearance.
There are a lot of realism-oriented games because of the
influence of VIRTUA FIGHTER, which came out first. We were
so powerfully influenced, with VIRTUA FIGHTER's images
strongly in our heads, that while making 3D games, we
thought, "We shouldn't go beyond VIRTUA FIGHTER's limits,
should we?" Everyone thought alike and there ended up being
a lot of realism-oriented games. I wondered if we could go
beyond those limits and make something new.
Game On!: What do you think of
the recend trend that if a game's not 3D, it's no good?
Nishitani: 3D technology is
expanding as a genre that will be used more and more in the
future, and it will be used as the technique of choice. That
being said, as for the question of whether or not 2D will
become extinct, even I expect it to stick around. In
designing a game, 2D or 3D, I think you should choose the
one that suits you. But for myself, I always want to be
connected with the technologically superior position. The
good points related to arcade games can always improve my
technology in a high-end environment, and that's an
advantage you always want to win.
Game On!: Lastly, will you port
EX to the home systems?
Nishitani: Since I have my
hands full with finishing itat the moment, I haven't thought
about porting it yet. Of course, after the game comes out,
if there's a lot of demand, I'll port it (laughs).
Thanks to Game On! for their support and assistance.