The marriage of Kojima Productions and Platinum Games may have some hardcore fans fretting for the future of Konami’s iconic action franchise, but in my view, it’s the perfect marriage for this particular take on the Metal Gear universe. Even in its previous form, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was always going to offer intense action that departed from the series’ traditional stealth stylings, and based on the insane sequences featured in the recently unveiled trailer—such as cyborg ninja Raiden lifting a gargantuan Metal Gear Ray, flinging it effortlessly into the sky, and slicing it to ribbons—Platinum’s the perfect partner to make that focus a reality. In fact, the trailer specifically reminded me of the in-your-face mayhem many of the folks at Platinum concocted at their former home of Clover Studio with God Hand—one of my favorite action games of the past five years.
But despite the similarities, it wasn’t actually God Hand that inspired Hideo Kojima to take the leap and work with Platinum; in fact, at a Konami press event yesterday, Kojima revealed that he hasn’t actually played Clover’s seminal beat-em-up. “I only saw the trailer, but I thought it was the perfect silly, stupid action game,” Kojima said, his arms gesturing God Hand’s insanely over the top antics. “It was a ridiculous concept, and I loved it.”
Platinum’s Atsushi Inaba, who served as the producer on God Hand, is also clear to distance Rising’s over-the-top theatrics from the former’s literal ball-busting action. “That was a very hardcore game,” he said. “I love God Hand, but I don’t want to take Metal Gear Rising in that direction. At the same time, though, I also don’t want to make it too simple. I want Metal Gear Rising to hit the sweet spot of action games, where you have fun but it also has depth.”
In that light, then, it’s not surprising that it’s actually one of the more mainstream titles from the Platinum/Clover catalog that ultimately inspired the Metal Gear mastermind to work with the irrepressible Osaka-based developer. “Back when the guys at Platinum were at Capcom and working at Clover, I loved the titles they were making, especially Okami,” Kojima said, referencing the action-adventure that saw the rich world of Japanese mythology fused with a calligraphy-inspired art style. “That game had a huge impact on me. When I played it, the action felt so good—the combat and artwork just flowed together beautifully. I played through a few levels, and I actually had to stop; I couldn’t play anymore. I was too jealous! That’s how much I like their games.”
And while Kojima hasn’t announced Metal Gear Rising’s director just yet, we do know that, surprisingly, it won’t be the man who headed up Okami, Hideki Kamiya—but it turns out there’s also some very sound reasoning behind that decision.
“Actually, the first thing I told Inaba when we started to work together on Metal Gear Rising was that I wanted Kamiya to direct the game,” Kojima said. “But then Inaba told me, ‘If you work with Kamiya, you will be delayed. In fact, you will be very delayed!’ So, that option was out. Besides, Kamiya told me that there’s this old Konami Famicom game called The Legend of Getsu Fūma that he loves, and that’s the only Konami property he wants to work on with me. So, we’ll have to see about that.”
Inaba also notes that potential personality clashes between the two headstrong developers wouldn’t be the right solution for a game in dire development hell. “I was worried about the schedule,” he said, “but more than that, I could clearly see that at some point, if they worked together, Kojima and Kamiya were going to have a huge fight, and I’d have to step in as the producer. I didn’t want any part of that. I’d love to see them fight, but not if I have to be involved!”
Kojima was coy about just who’ll take the reins of Rising, other than confirming that “it’s someone from Platinum.” And though Platinum’s had its hands full developing the PS3/360 beat-em-up Anarchy Reigns—set for a January release—that doesn’t mean that the company’s best and brightest aren’t deeply involved with Rising. “The team that’s working on Rising at Platinum has worked with Kamiya for about 10 years,” Kojima said. “They’ve got great experience with making action games.”
Kojima views Platinum as one of the Japanese developers that’s really pushing the industry forward in this time of introspection and uncertainty in the East, and he’s been actively recruiting Inaba and Kamiya for years. “I love both Inaba and Kamiya, and I’ve known them for a long time; I think it’s been 10 years now,” he said. “The first time I met Inaba, my first question was: ‘How much are you earning?’ And I’ve been trying to get him to come to Kojima Productions ever since. Even when I see Kamiya these days, I’m always trying to convince him to come to Kojima Productions.”
While the dream of working at the same company may have to wait, Kojima’s thrilled that he’s finally getting the chance to work side by side with the innovative minds from Platinum. “I’ve always been thinking that someday, I’ll work with them, and with their action elements, we’ll challenge the world making great games,” Kojima said. “And while it certainly wasn’t the ideal process that we came about working together, I’m very honored to be working with them on Metal Gear Rising.”