Core Magazine Interview with Yuji Naka and Sonic Team

Interview Data:

  • Interview Date: 2000? (approximate date)
  • Interview Topics: Samba de Amigo, Design
  • Interview Source: Core Magazine at Y2 external.png

(Transcribed by Andreas Tunek)

"Known for their work on Nights, Sonic Adventure and the upcoming Phantasy Star Online, Sonic Team's Naka-san, Nakamura-san, Okano-san, and Kawabata-san, recently sat down to discuss the upcoming Dreamcast translation of Samba de Amigo;

Question: Finally the Dreamcast translation of Samba de Amigo is nearing completion , can you tell us how everything came together?
Naka-san: To be honest, we've been working on it for a very long time. In the beginning we had to decide how to create the maraca controllers for the Dreamcast, and that took about six months alone. So we're very happy to be nearing completion, so we can begin showing it off. Initially, we wanted to release it on May 8th 2000 here in Japan. As you know, the year 2000 equals 'heisei 12' so the date would look like 1,2,3,8 (if you spell it out in Japanese it sounds like 1,2, Samba). Looking back, developing the maraca controllers took much longer than expected, and it was almost as much trouble as motion capturing.
Nakamura-san: The system used in Samba de Amigo is completely new, so its been very difficult to bring to the consumer market.
Naka-san: In the beginning we made about twenty different prototype controllers.
Nakamura-san: Right, things improved from that point on.
Naka-san: In the final prototype maraca's, we're going to allow the consumer to open up the top and take out the shaking parts. That way, people can play at night or alone without bothering anyone. It's an excellent controller considering how much time and effort we put into developing them. Even the shape and textured handles, we put serious labor into it.

Question: So we can expect arcade quality maraca's?
Nakamura-san: Actually, the maraca's are different in some revisions of the arcade game. But the Dreamcast maraca's are comfortable, and you'll get the knack of using them quickly. Fans of the arcade will notice some slight differences, but it's no problem. We feel it's just like playing the arcade.

Question: It seems a little expensive though, doesn't it?
Naka-san: It will include two maraca controllers, a mat, so inevitably it's going to be expensive. We tried to keep the costs low, but it was important to retain the quality of the arcade.

Question: The premise is completely original, it must have taken courage to even release it in the arcades.
Naka-san: Yes, it did. In development we used to argue; 'People won't really play this game until night time, nobody will dare play this unless they're drunk!' So we were very nervous when we began testing the arcade version cause people had to play in the early morning and sober. Back then, people seemed very interested in the game, but most were too shy to play it. So I think people maybe able to enjoy it more at home.

Question: It seems to appeal more to female players, doesn't it?
Naka-san: Females are playing it much more than we expected, probably because guys are shy. But we're glad they're enjoying it.
Nakamura-san: I think its attracted people who typically aren't interested in arcade games.

Question: So is there any real differences between the arcade and Dreamcast versions?
Kawabata-san: In 'arcade' mode, both versions are pretty much the same.
Nakamura-san: I think we added a little extra to the arcade mode, but mostly we tried to emphasize the existing elements.

Question: But there will be added things also, right?
Naka-san: There are some, yes. I wouldn't say we included mini-games, but there are extra things for two-player games.

Question: So are there added songs?
Nakamura-san: Yes, there are three new ones. The first one is called 'Samba de Amigo,' it's a remix of 'Samba de Janeiro.' The song was actually written by Berini, and he liked the game very much. The second new song is called 'El Mambo,' and it's similar to the 'Mambo No. 5' song. The last song is called 'El Litomo Tropical.'

Question: So are these songs familiar to everyone already?
Naka-san: Right, that was the most important thing. When we select songs, they must be something most people have heard at least once before.
Nakamura-san: They're quite groovy, I hope you enjoy them.

Question: The gameplay system seems extremely complex, and based on what you've said so far, it seems like you encountered some problems during translation. However, based on the early version we've seen, you can't tell whatsoever.
Naka-san: We wanted the game to be fun and cheerful, like Sonic Team. Even though it was hard, I didn't want to stress our problems.
Okano-san: Another thing we had to face was the characters. Initially, we designed them with a cooler look than the arcade, but we were forced to tone them down. So they ended up looking more funny than sleek and cool.
Naka-san: Yes, I thought it was more important to express the fun in the characters.
Okano-san: We tend to pursue developing cool characters in most games though.

Question: The gameplay seems simplistic at first, but later things get much more difficult, such as the speed and response time.
Kawabata-san: That's something we're been working on since the beginning.
Naka-san: We thought it would be better running slightly slower since it's a music game. Still, timing is the key, so things were precise in development. We tested at 60fps, but there was slowdown.
Kawabata-san: We speeded up the calculation when two characters are on the screen, but we hope the players can overlook the little problems and just enjoy the game.
Okano-san: When I first touched the finished prototype for the maraca controller on the Dreamcast, I was shocked it was being used for a home console. It made me feel like a consumer again, being excited at the prospect of playing the arcade game at home.
Nakamura-san: It may be a little expensive, but I'm sure you'll be satisfied with the finished product.
Naka-san: Definitely. If your friends buy it, you should make them bring it over and play with two sets. People who were shy in the arcades can really enjoy the game now. We've added some party modes also, so you can really enjoy the game with friends.
Nakamura-san: It's like a fun party game.
Naka-san: Right, so you can invite over your friends, drink beer and really enjoy the game together. We hope everyone at least experiences it."


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