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REMEMBRANCES OF A KOF ILLUSTRATOR: AN INTERVIEW WITH EIJI

This time I changed the course of questioning. It may not mean much, but I introduce the KOF series' producer, C.A.C Yamasaki. Actually he's much more of the consummate designer than a producer.
I never run out of things to talk about with him... (Laugh).

THE NEVER-ENDING INTERVIEW (Laugh)
THE NEVER-ENDING INTERVIEW (Laugh)
And then...
You know...
And there you have it!
Yamasaki's a frank kind of guy.

Just one funny story after another.
It was such a blast!

Our little chat went off on all sorts of tangents.
Too bad I didn't get a word in edgewise though...(Laugh)
So tell me where your pseudonym comes from.
The initials come from my own, my mother's, and my child's name, and I'll be adding one more initial shortly (Laugh).
Hey, congratulations!

So, please tell me all the titles you've been involved with in the KOF series (hereafter, KOF).
All of them from '94 to 2003. ...A real long time.
Tell me what part of KOF you were responsible for.
I was in charge of the "front design."
By "front design," you mean the animated characters, don't you?
Yeah, Mai and Andy. And then from '95 on, Athena....
Among the other titles' characters who didn't appear in KOF, what character did you think, "Man, I really wanted to put that guy in the game?" And what title was it?
Hmm, I'd say characters from Samurai Shodown and the ADK games. But we realized that dream with NEOGEO BATTLE COLISEUM (Laugh).
Each KOF has its own original story, but which story did you like?
I liked the Orochi Saga and the team story with Yamazaki, Billy, and Mary.
Which of the original KOF characters do you like?
I'd say Chizuru Kagura. That's because she was an original character and I had pretty much free reign over her.
Which character did you think, "This guy's really wild!"? What characteristic makes him special?
KOF 2000's final boss, Zero.
As a matter of fact he was imaged after a certain character that was in "Fist of the North Star", but Shinkiro's illustrations were so cute.
(Both laugh).

Which character or characters did you personally think would be popular? And which did you think were less popular than you'd thought?
The character who got the reception I thought was Iori. When '95 came out, I knew for certain that he'd be a hit. And the one who was less popular was K'. He was a little too plain.

Let's step away from the characters a bit...what did you think was really difficult about being in charge of the series.
A new title comes out each year, so you have to worry about continuity.
If there was something you thought was great about working on KOF, could you tell us what that was?
Being able to recall what happened in the year each title appeared; that's the thing...I remember everythingムeven the position of my desk.
If there was a part of the job that made you think "Aw, man, give me a break!" spit it out.
KOF 2001!!! I thought, "We don't have the staff! (Laugh) What do you expect me to do with so few people? I was really on pins and needles then!" (^_^;)
So then, when you think of a new series, how do you come up with things that differ from the previous title?
We think about surpassing the previous game. We go over the good points and bad points, including the game system. Along with those things, we want to come up with new characters every time and we think about stuff like how they are involved with the story and the other characters.
Are there other media you refer to? You know, like movies or novels...?
I look carefully at movies. I like clothes that flap around, and after considering movies like The Matrix trilogy and Volcano High (Laugh). I consider comic books, not novels. Especially fighting comics...like Grappler Baki, Tough, and Shamo.
That's pretty cool...(^_^;).


KOF is played overseas as well, so is there anything that makes you think alarms you or surprises you about the difference between domestic and overseas' players?
Well, this is an anecdote about Hong Kong, but characters who are known for their rigorous training or who come from a strong lineage are popular, but characters who are tough because they are technology modified are unpopular.
Are you able to clear the games that you've designed?
I can clear them all! ...But I haven't cleared KOF 2003 yet. (^_^;)
What kinds of games do you usually play?
I like games on the Nintendo Game Cube, and I'm really good at Pikmin! (Laugh)
I know you can't toss all the work you have now aside, but if someone told you that you could, what would be the first thing you'd do?
I'd like to take a long bass fishing trip all by my lonesome.
Did you know that KOF would be this popular from the very beginning? If you did or didn't, please tell us why you thought so.
While we were developing KOF '94, it seems that the lead programmer thought the game wouldn't sell, but I thought it would catch on. I thought a lot of people would come to the location test, too. But only 10 people showed up for the first one (Laugh). (Both break up laughing)
But subsequently we got long lines of players showing up through word of mouth, so I was relieved.
What sort of hopes do you have for the future of KOF?
To make the Tales of Ash really rock! To make it better than the Orochi Saga and the NESTS Chronicles! I want to make it so great (Laugh) that people think the titles so far were all prelims to the current spate of recent titles (Laugh).
C.A.C.YAMASAKI
CURRENT WORK:
Producer/Front designer for KOF.

EQUIPMENT HE USES:
EPSON MT-4000
CPU: Celeron 600 Mhz
OS: Windows 98SE
HDD 7GB; MEMORY: 190 MB


FAVORITE SOFTWARE:
SNK PLAYMORE's custom-made drawing tools software

IMPORTANT THINGS IN HIS LIFE:
AT WORK: Creating new things, surpassing his previous work.
AT HOME: Spending time with his family even if it cuts into his sleeping time (Laugh).

FAVORITE THING:
Taking long drives.

ADVICE TO PROSPECTIVE ILLUSTRATORS:
Everyday is a test. Seize the day!
Observe life in its entirety. It will show up in your abilities.

WHAT IS KOF FOR YOU?:
The history of SNK.


I discovered that C.A.C Yamasaki and Shiroi seemed to have entered SNK in the same year. It was an interview filled with confidential stories and a lot of hilarious anecdotes.
And the pictures I got from him were really masterpieces from a true craftsman!


a true craftsman!
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