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A Black Falcon
http://www.computerandvideogames.com/r/?page=http://www.computerandvideogames.com/news/news_story.php(que)id=105121

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: HIDEO KOJIMA - "I WANT TO EAT SNAKE"

MGS 3, DS, PSP, eating reptiles and much more as we go head to head with one of the world's greatest developers

17:30 Without question one of the most influential figures in the world of interactive entertainment, Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima is nevertheless a remarkably down to earth, humble man, who seem almost embarrassed by praise levelled at his wildly successful titles.

That these games are among the most important and influential of all time is now broadly accepted, something which compelled respected US publication NewsWeek to vote Koijima-san among the ten people most likely to influence American culture, on the back of the release of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty for PlayStation 2.

With Metal Gear Solid 3, Kojima-san is again attempting to raise the bar and push the boundaries of the gaming experience, the focus of Snake Eater being on man versus the environment, with players required to survive the jungle or perish.

Sat in a mercifully quiet meeting room above Konami's stand at E3 last week, CVG was able to spend half an hour in the company of Hideo Kojima, covering a range of topics from his thoughts on PSP and DS, to the portrayal of global conflict in the MGS series and his great desire to eat reptiles. Without further ado, here's the full transcript.

E3 has now become synonymous with a big Metal Gear presentation and each time, ever since Metal Gear Solid 2, you've had to raise the bar and every new trailer it raises the bar and it's more amazing. Is that something you relish, the opportunity to really raise expectations before the game is out?

Kojima: If that's how you perceive it's great, it's an honour. I try to create, put together, something that the fans will enjoy. That's really my intention.

Have you been able to gauge the reaction of people to Metal Gear 3 during the show so far?

Kojima: Yeah, I get to see their reactions, but with the crotch-grabbing [from the trailer] I thought people would be laughing more, but I haven't seen much of that! I failed in that aspect [laughs].

Do you think people haven't understood what you were trying to do there?

Kojima-san: You remember is MGS 2 when the President actually grabs the crotch of Raiden when Raiden comes in to rescue the President? He does that because he looks like a girl in a way I guess - he does it just to see that he's a guy. So I'm doing a self-parody there.

So it doesn't have anything to do with the story of MGS3?

Kojima-san: Actually, there is story significance there.

On the PlayStation booth Metal Gear Acid is on show on PSP, which is a turn-based strategy game as opposed to a more traditional stealth-action experience. Why did you choose to go in that direction?

Kojima: Metal Gear Solid the series is about stealth-action, and it requires very delicate, very fine button controls, button input. If you make a little mistake with the button input, you might be spotted by the enemy. A handheld system is just not suitable for that kind of fine input, and when I discussed it with the team, we reached the conclusion of coming up with a game that has the Metal Gear Solid look, the feel, the flavour, but something that's not action-based because of the buttons and controls. That's why we've come up with something with more strategic elements.

Can you give us any insight as to where Metal Gear Acid fits in with the Metal Gear Solid universe?

Kojima: It's more like a side-story thing, but the thing is in Metal Gear Acid you'll probably see all the characters from Metal Gear Solids 1, 2 and 3.

Have you thought about doing a Metal Gear Solid game for DS?

Kojima: It would be nice to have a Metal Gear game for DS, but the thing is I personally think that the audience for DS will be like that of GBA - it'll be a much younger audience. And this Metal Gear's not really suitable for them.

What do you think of Nintendo DS? With Boktai on GBA you've proved your commitment to creating innovative handheld products, something which DS facilitates. Are you developing a game for it at the moment, or do you plan to develop for it?

Kojima: I'm not working on a DS game right now; it'll be nice to do one in the future. If I were to do something... If I come up with an idea that allows the player to do things that no other videogames creator would do with the two screens and the touch panel, then I'd come up with a game. I want to do something totally different. We went in the morning to take a look at the DS but there was a large queue and we couldn't see it [laughs]!

If the DS becomes really popular, I think kids will start losing their fingerprints [laughs]!

In the playable version of MGS 3 on the showfloor, there seems to be a lot of cutscenes and text in the game. One of the criticisms levelled at MGS 2 was that there was too much of this type of thing; is the content of the demo representative of the full version of MGS3, or is this predominantly a device used at the start to set the scene?

Kojima: We have to tell the story in the game. Yes there will be the text and the cutscenes but there won't be as much [as last time]. We're spending a lot of time creating this jungle and we want to give you the opportunity to really enjoy this jungle, so while you're actually in the jungle playing the game there won't be much of that stuff.

In the new Metal Gear Solid 3 footage we saw a female assassin character - what role does she play in the game?

Kojima: She's a female spy like in the 007 series who co-operates with Snake, but she's a spy and if Snake starts trusting her 100 percent - you never know, she could be doing things to him. There might be some romantic stuff between them, too.

There's a view that Japanese development in general is in decline in a way. We were speaking to Mr. Nagoshi from Sega [the head of Amusement Vision] yesterday and he was saying that many Japanese developers have trouble thinking outside of Japan now. Metal Gear is a game that has huge appeal in the West; what are your thoughts on the state of Japanese development?

Kojima: I'm personally not really interested in the Japanese videogame industry right now; there aren't really that many interesting games right now, not like looking at the Western games industry. But I don't think we should really look at it like different markets, like different industries. It's like one global videogames industry and it just happens to be that it's more happening in the US and Europe right now.

So I like to present to these areas where it's more active what I'm creating, and these places that accept and like my games so I'll do my best with my games so that people in these areas, like the US and Europe, enjoy my games.

And I'm not going to name any names but I don't really enjoy talking to Japanese videogame creators that much. They don't have fun stuff to say anyway. I actually talked to Dan Hauser from Rockstar Games a couple of days ago and we had a great chat, and Western videogame creators like him seem to be more passionate and energetic so I hang out with him.

So do you think the Japanese games industry is flat, isn't moving forward?

Kojima: I think it's evolving but I don't see the heat, the passion there - it's more like a business now. I guess that people of my generation and Mr Miyamoto, who is not of the same generation you know, but videogames creators who have been around since the beginning of the industry have had to create everything from scratch.

There was really no established job position called "videogames designer", but now the younger videogames designers, when they joined the industry, videogame designing was already established. I guess in that sense the aura that they exude is really a totally different dimension from ours I think.

You've said before that Metal Gear 3 is about a human being versus the elements, the environment. Why is this something you particularly wished to explore in a videogame, in particular the survival elements? What inspired you?

Kojima: I wanted to do something where this person infiltrates enemy ground solo and use his physical body - that's like his only weapon, his body and his will, his spirit or power. When he starts using very hi-tech gadgets you don't see that will, you don't really depend on your body anymore and there's the whole thing about "hard boiled-ness" that this guy goes in there and has the strength of will, and the only thing he can depend on is his physical strength. That's what we wanted to do with a theme of survival.

In MGS3 you have to hunt for your own food when you are hungry, and if you get ill or are wounded you have to treat yourself. Things like that I want people to feel - it's all part of being alive and trying to survive. This kind of power I want people to feel.

In terms of the survival element and hunting for food, can you talk a little about striking a balance between realism and fun? We understand you can hunt animals, but is water involved? Does Snake have to drink liquids to survive at any point?

Kojima: There's no drinking water. I thought about it, but it was just going to be too complicated. And there's no going to the toilet either [everyone laughs]. But he can throw up as you've probably seen already.

Why the Cold War as the era for the game over any other period?

Kojima: As you probably know, MGS to me is like a 007 series where you have this one secret agent who infiltrates enemy ground and completes missions and escapes. But the thing is, when you have the game set in the near future like in the previous MGS titles, now the whole secret agent idea really doesn't work, and you have to get a Special Ops guy so it seems more realistic.

But I wanted to get that secret agent feel so that's why I took it back to the 1960s and the Cold War era when the US and the USSR were against each other in terms of sending spies and using double agents and triple agents and all that information warfare. It's just the best time for spies, the 1960s. You know, the message of Metal Gear Solid is ant-war, anti-nuclear weapons.

It wasn't a real war between the US and USSR; they weren't fighting each other. The people who were actually "fighting" the war were the spies, maybe not shooting each other but it was information warfare. By depicting this in the game I think that young people who really don't know about the Cold War will able to learn why things are like they are right now.

The Metal Gear series, on whichever platform it's appeared on, has always pushed the limits of the hardware. We just wondered what you thought about the next generation of hardware, what you feel the main advantages are in terms of development possibilities they will offer, in terms of game creation?

Kojima: I'm sure that the new consoles, whatever the next console is going to be for the Metal Gear Solid series... I'm sure they'll be very powerful, but if I were to create a game I really don't want to pursue like, you know, great graphics. Like Hollywood films like The Lord of the Rings where you see huge armies, or a movie where you see a meteor hitting the ocean and these tidal waves, like great graphics - that's not what I want to do, I like to tackle the thing from a totally different stance.

Is there anything in particular you think will be made easier by the next generation of hardware?

Kojima-san: I think no matter what they do it's not going to be easy because there'll be more things we'll have to do anyway. So I think what we have to do is select what we want to improve. They are many aspects of a game and I think we have to take certain things where we want to really increase the quality, and I think that that's what game design will be about.

Finally, the subtitle of MGS3 is 'Snake Eater' - have you ever eaten snake yourself?

Kojima-san: Never, but I'd like to try it. I'd also like to eat crocodile. There are actually freak restaurants in Japan where you can eat reptiles. I've been discussing it with my colleagues. We've just never been there, we've never had the chance!

The comments about the Japanese gaming industry are interesting... other than that, how about the DS? Is it a children's machine (like the Game Boy, overall, is) or is it just getting typecast that way because it's Nintendo...

alien space marine
Kojima-san: You remember is MGS 2 when the President actually grabs the crotch of Raiden when Raiden comes in to rescue the President? He does that because he looks like a girl in a way I guess - he does it just to see that he's a guy. So I'm doing a self-parody there.

LOL!

I missed that ! Never finnished the game ,Solidus is either gay or just confused as to weither he can screw a chick or if its just some Guy.

Dark Jaguar
ASM....

Ugh, he means the PRESIDENT, not the FORMER President Solidus!

I just like how this guy pointed out that eating reptiles is freakish even in Japan. For some reason, when someone finds that ONE restaurant in another country that serves some strainge meal, they assume "hmm, what an odd CULTURE" as though their limited experience is indicative of EVERYTHING in that country.

alien space marine
Never played the end of MGS2, So dont piss on me!

Great Rumbler
That part was like half-way through MGS2, possibly less than half-way.

alien space marine
I only got to were Vamp splatterd blood all over the walls.

Dark Jaguar
Oh, you mean like THE VERY START. Okay then.

alien space marine
i got past the Oil tanker level ,I was pissed that Snake got replaced by the dancing Micheal Jackson! I decided to return the game as I didnt want to play such a fruit cake.

A Black Falcon
I don't see why anyone cared. He plays just about the same, provides a different viewpoint and allows for the story to work... so it's a different character. So?

Dark Jaguar
He's just asm, pay him no mind. How he saw him as micheiaal jakscoson and bathtime fun, I don't know. Best not to ask.

And the fact is, Raiden is the only character that could make that part of the story work. They NEEDED a character that represents the masses. Fact is, the average person is EXACLTY like Raiden and would likely react exactly the same. I bet deep down the people realize this and that's why they hate Raiden, because that's what they hate about themselves, people too caught up in their own drama to see the truth.

A Black Falcon
Yeah, in the Big Shell if you were Snake there'd almost be no story, given that 'who is Snake, what's going on' is the whole question and Snake obviously knows most of the answers... they needed someone clueless, definitely.

alien space marine
Snake was cool! He has the Muscles .

They call it metal gear solid! Then why isnt Solid Snake in it through the hole game?

What would a James Bond movie be like without James bond?

Danny Divito is a better actor then Arnold but does that mean he should be the Terminator?

Raiden didnt have as much health points and he waisnt as strong.

Great Rumbler
:screwy:

A Black Falcon
Yeah, those are really good reasons to get so mad at the game. :rolleyes:

Seriously, I've heard complaints like that many times and I still don't get why people care so much...

Great Rumbler
I didn't really care for Raiden that much but playing as him didn't somehow make the game not fun.