Fighter’s Mega Books Interview

Magazine/Site: Fighters Mega Books
Date: 03/28/1997

This interview comes from the Fighters Mega Books: A Fighters Megamix ultimate guide by Famitsu & ASCII.

Concerning Eccentric Consumer Fighting Game

Characters from Virtua Fighter and Fighting Vipers come together in a dream showdown! Instead of wondering whether or not this should really be happening, just have fun with it. And speaking of being easy-going, is there something that you look for in games beyond just fun? And are there any mysteries that need to be clarified? Are AM2 committing a crime of conscience? 

Daiichi Katagiri

Daiichi Katagiri – The game coordinator for Fighters Megamix. Also being a top player himself, he’s known as one of the “New Four Heavenly Kings”. He’s known for playing the Virtua Fighter series, Daytona USA, Fighting Vipers, etc. 

Hiroshi Kataoka

Hiroshi Kataoka – The director of Fighters Megamix. He’s a genius game creator that’s brought about a countless number of hit games such as Sore Ike Kokology, Fighting Vipers, Sonic the Fighters, etc. 

The cover of Fighter's Mega Books, which features a drawing of the character Honey.
The cover of Fighter’s Mega Books

Details Behind Fighters Megamix 

Where did the plans for Fighters Megamix originally come from? Was it AM2? 

(Kataoka) It doesn’t seem very AM2-like, does it? (Laughs) Uh….who did come with it… 

If it didn’t come from AM2, then where did it come from? 

(Kataoka) We were messing around with the concept as an arcade game, just for fun. But then people started talking only about how they thought it would sell, and that we should actually make it. But then there were problems with scheduling. 

(Katagiri) It kept getting delayed and delayed. 

(Kataoka) Anyway, finishing Virtua Fighter 3 and Fighting Vipers had to come first, so we weren’t able to really get started on it. The schedule just happened to end up working out by chance. 

I wouldn’t have thought that it would have! (Laughs) 

(Katagiri) I finished Virtua Fighter 3, and Kataoka finished the Saturn version of Fighting Vipers. Then the conversation turned to working on Fighters Megamix, and Kataoka and I talked about how it would be fun to try making it. 

When did you start working on the concept for fun? 

(Kataoka) Right after the arcade version of Fighting Vipers was finished. 

(Katagiri) Yeah. The characters and systems themselves were very similar to Virtua and Vipers. Then it was just an issue of creating the character motions and animations. So, we decided to just try it and put in some character models. Akira, Wolf, Jacky, and… 

(Kataoka) Lau. 

(Katagiri) Was it Lau? Those four were used for Fighting Vipers. 

What two characters were in the first match? 

(Katagiri) Eh? Who was it…? Maybe it was Akira. If I was playing, the other character would have been Bahn. So as far as I know, it would have been Akira vs. Bahn. 

For a first match, that’s a pretty inexcusable combination, isn’t it? 

(Katagiri) Ahh, that’s amazing. You’re talking like you made it yourself. But yeah, you’re right. 

(Kataoka) Then I think we made Honey-Pai. 

(Katagiri) Yeah, we put Pai’s head on Honey’s body. It was like cosplay! (Laughs) But that’s how we got it started. We didn’t have much free time until those other games were done though. 

What was it like when you finally got to really start working on it? 

(Kataoka) Well what we were working on was pretty well defined, so we weren’t exactly taking too many detours. 

(Katagiri) In terms of design anyway. In terms of programming, there were various things that were re-worked 

For example? 

(Katagiri) Redoing the ukemi system, and managing to free up enough memory to redo the way motion worked. The allotment of memory for the motion of the moves was completely different, depending on the character, and we couldn’t fit it all in. The final stages were pretty tough though. That may have been the hardest part. 

(Kataoka) We couldn’t fit the music in either. 

(Katagiri) The stages were big to begin with, and we added even more. Then we whittled things down here and there, and finally made it all work. And just when we were talking about whether or not we could have all these characters in the game, Famitsu wrote about wondering if the AM2 palm tree was going to be in it. And then we thought “The palm tree huh…we should put that in!” (Laughs) 

(Kataoka) Right, right. Famitsu wrote that they didn’t expect the palm tree to actually be in the game. They said that because most of their other predictions had been right, this one probably wouldn’t be. And then they said that they shouldn’t make assumptions! (Laughs) 

(Kataoka) We’d already made the model for the Hornet, so it’s not like that wasn’t going to make it in. So, we figured we’d make something that people said wasn’t going to be in it, which was the palm tree! (Laughs) 


(Kataoka) The designer finally ended up asking “What about the Robo Pitcher?” And we thought that was a good idea too. 

You really wanted to put it in. 

(Kataoka) Its punch would have been throwing the ping-pong balls. 

(Katagiri) But of course we didn’t have time for that. 

(Kataoka) But if we’d had just one more month, we probably could have gotten it in there, though it would have been working pretty badly! (Laughs) 

Was there anything else you thought would be able to make it in, but didn’t? 

(Kataoka) Yeah, we talked about putting all of the Virtua Fighter Kids characters in. 

(Katagiri) Then there was the Harrier, and the guy and the car from Virtua Racing. 

(Kataoka) And then the jet from After Burner. But we didn’t have the assets for that! (Laughs) 

(Katagiri) Sonic would have been impossible, no matter how hard we tried technically. 

(Kataoka) If we would have been able to, we would have had Sonic the Fighters. 

Could you not put Sonic in it because he belonged to Sonic Team? 

(Kataoka) That wasn’t the reason for it. Well, it might have had a little to do with why we held back on it. It was more because of technical hurdles. 

(Katagiri) The transformation into his spin attack may seem like it would be easy, but it was actually pretty difficult. 

(Kataoka) Miraculously, Bean and Bark didn’t transform. 

(Katagiri) And what’s more, they were both AM2 characters. I think there may have been some people who were disappointed that Sonic wasn’t in the game. 

(Kataoka) We wanted to put all kinds of characters in. Toru Kurosawa, Temjin… 

(Katagiri) Now that you mention it, we were talking about Fei-Yen too. 

(Kataoka) When we later talked with someone from AM3 about wanting to do that, they told me that we should have! (Laughs) 

(Katagiri) We were like “Oh crap!” 

(Kataoka) If only they’d have told us that earlier. 

AM3 should make their own Megamix game. 

(Katagiri) That would be great. “AM3 Megamix”. 

(Kataoka) Absolutely. It’d be Mankichi vs. Temjin. 

(Katagiri) Now I really want to see that! 

(Kataoka) All of these departments are busy with their main projects though. They have no time for these kinds of oddities! (Laughs) 

Was Megamix an oddity? 

(Katagiri) It was an oddity! (Laughs) 

(Kataoka) Yeah, it’s an oddity. 

(Katagiri) But I don’t think it’s the kind of game you take super seriously. We wanted it to feel like the sort of thing where if you try something and lose, you just try something else. 

So, like a party game? 

(Katagiri) Right. And it has a lot of fan service. Just look at the kinds of characters it has in it. You can talk about who’s stronger, Jacky or Raxel. And well, we even do a bit of that ourselves. It’s a game that people who know about Sega’s…well at least about AM2’s work, can have a ton of fun with. 

Fighting Games Played at Home 

nd Hiroshi Kataoka at a table

You could argue that this game should have sold a lot more just on name value alone. 

(Kataoka) Yeah. The people who think that were hoping for a million seller. But in comparison it only hit about half of that. 

(Katagiri) Though there are people who think that means it didn’t sell anything! (Laughs) 

(Kataoka) But we feel like it did pretty well. From a project perspective. It wasn’t a completely original idea, but it also wasn’t a port. For something that was using things that already existed… 

Things that already existed, you say! (Laughs) You mean things from Virtua Fighter and Fighting Vipers? 

(Katagiri) (Laughs) But you know, it wasn’t something made completely from scratch. So, I think we may be looking at it through rose colored glasses. 

To summarize what we’ve talked about so far: Megamix was a project initiated by those who thought it could sell a lot of copies, but the creators did not have to stick rigidly to that project plan. So, I get the impression that though it may have originally been  planned to be this way, it was made with the expectation that it was going to sell like crazy. 

(Kataoka) But I think it did sell pretty well. Though I guess it just ended up not being that far from our own expectations. 

For example, and I think this was the case for the Saturn port of Fighting Vipers as well, but it’s selling well for Sega. However, there’s this lingering feeling of questioning whether or not that’s good enough. 

(Kataoka) That’s something that can’t be helped with fighting games, to a certain extent. 

Yeah, that’s true. Home console fighting games are a completely different thing. Playing them at home is a completely different feeling than playing them in an arcade. 

(Kataoka) It may even be something that requires more thought. At first it was like “Oh my god, I can play Virtua Fighter at home!”, but now that’s just a given. We need to think about what else is required in order to relax at home and play these games. 

Maybe something like Tobal’s quest mode. 

(Katagiri) That’s a really good game, isn’t it. The fighting mechanics are solid, and it has that mode as well. 

Hidden characters, like those found in Fighters Megamix, are another possibility. 

(Katagiri) That’s true. 

(Kataoka) There was talk of wanting to put Sugoroku in too. 


(Kataoka) You know…when you throw the dice, Mahler appears or something! (Laughs) 

(Katagiri) Yeah, and then Mahjong. The match replay would start, it would be like “Ron, ron, ro-n!!” (Note: This may be referring to the idea of “Ron” is mahjong, which means winning a hand from someone else’s discard, but I’m no mahjong expert!). Then his armor breaks and the glass cracks, and it’s like “Boom!”, strip mahjong! (Laughs) 

(Kataoka) That’s a pretty extreme example though. But I fundamentally believe that there should be home ports of arcade games. If possible, I’d like to make them games that can be played for long spans of time. 

And if there are online matches, that makes for yet another different feel. 

(Kataoka) Fighting games are fairly difficult to make work with online play. 

(Katagiri) I’m most worried about response latency. If we can clear that technical hurdle, we’ll be close to realizing online matches. 

(Kataoka) It would be cool if we could create a user interface that gives the user a way to think about creating algorithms for AI characters to use, instead of having real-time online matches. Then you’d make the algorithms determined by both users face-off against each other. It’d be like “Let’s go, Bahn that I created!” 

Ahh, that’s an interesting idea. 

(Kataoka) I actually talked about wanting to do this for the Saturn port of Fighting Vipers… 

(Katagiri) Yeah, we talked about there being simple logic that you could use, and you could save it on the RAM cartridge to bring it to other people’s houses. 

It would be watching a match, basically. 

(Kataoka) Taking a step back and just watching would definitely be interesting. It would definitely increase the fighting game audience. 

That’s true. And it would be so cool if you could do something on the Saturn version and then take it with you to the arcade. Like bringing along a character you created at home. 

(Kataoka) Bringing data into the arcade version from home would probably be difficult. The conversation would probably end at “What if they put gum in it, or something?”. 

(Katagiri) Well at least we’re thinking about a lot of different things, when it comes to fighting games… 

Playing them at home is a particularly big topic these days. 

(Kataoka) I think there’s been plenty of news about arcade perfect ports of titles, but that has to be the case these days… 

(Katagiri) There are a lot of well-made games out there. Especially when it comes to home games, there are a lot of really great ones. But I believe that just being well-made isn’t always good enough. They have to be made in such a way that they’re fun to play alone, and even more fun to play with someone else. It’s difficult. 

The Cry of a Developer’s Soul 

Next is a port of Virtua Fighter 3 and Fighting Vipers 2, right? 

(Kataoka) I wonder how we’re going to port Virtua Fighter 3? (Laughs) 

(Katagiri) I want to see that myself. 

There’s a rumor that it will be out within the year. 

(Kataoka) That was published in magazines, right? (Laughs) 

(Katagiri) Soon we’ll have a better idea, but I’m not sure when. It could be tomorrow, or it could be two years from now. 

And naturally one of you must be in charge of the port… 

(Katagiri) Nope. 

(Kataoka) No, not at all. 

(Katagiri) There were a lot of people saying we were working in the port of VF 2, but we weren’t. 

Please make sure that the Saturn port of VF 3 is arcade perfect. 

(Katagiri) I’ll say again that we’re not working on that port! (Laughs) Even if there’s some elements of VF 3 in Megamix, it’s just the character motions, the balance tuning of the game and…data changes. But it’s fundamentally helping in building the know-how of the people working on the port. 

(Kataoka) Right. Apparently, the prospect of porting it is looking pretty good. 

Huh!? It’s looking pretty good!? 

(Kataoka) Yeah, well that was at least printed in magazines! (Laughs) 

(Laughs) Alright, what about Fighting Vipers 2 then? 

(Kataoka) What about it? 

Did you say before there were about 3 centimeters left? 

(Katagiri) What are you talking about? (Laughs)!? 

(Kataoka) How many meters are you away from the finish line? (Laughs) 

(Katagiri) I’m not sure how far away the finish line is, but if it was 3 centimeters before, then it’s about 30 meters now. 

Oh! That much!? 

(Katagiri) Oh, well uh, let’s make it 5 centimeters then! (Laughs) I do feel pretty good about it though. 

(Kataoka) Your motivation just keeps increasing! (Laughs) 

(Katagiri) I think a lot about how it’ll turn out when we do it. The attacks and such…Well, I don’t want to say too much! (Laughs) 

So then, work on it hasn’t actually started on it? 

(Katagiri) That’s right. Just inside my own head… 

(Kataoka) Yeah, the ideas and motivation are steadily coming along. 

Does that mean that “Fighting Vipers 2” is on some sort of roadmap, somewhere behind the scenes? 

(Kataoka) That’s our hope! (Laughs) 

(Katagiri) We’ve been saying that we really want to make it. 

Oh, you have? 

(Kataoka) We’ve been saying “It would be cool if it were like this”, and “Oh hey, let’s get it on the roadmap!” (Laughs) 

(Katagiri) Saying that I was going to create the character motions for Fighting Vipers 2, I’ve made the argument to work on the game and have made a character behind the scenes.

(Kataoka) It’s the cry of a developer’s soul. 

Is there anything else you’d like to make? 

(Kataoka) I’d like to make another Kokology game. 

(Katagiri) You say as much to the department head too. 

(Kataoka) He runs away as soon as I start talking about how much fun it would be! (Laughs) 

To Hamachan… 

A closeup on Daiichi Katagiri and Hiroshi Kataoka at a table

There’s one last question I’d like to ask: What in the world is going on with Deku?  

(Kataoka) At first, he was the dummy in training mode, and I imagined him as being like a living doll or something from the movie Shaolin Wooden Men. And when I asked one of the ladies on the design team to make sure she did a good job with him, she really put a lot into it! (Laughs) 

(Katagiri) It far surpassed anyone’s expectations. 

(Kataoka) I figured it would be a waste for this to be just a training mode dummy, so we made it into a character. And he went from being a regular character to a hidden one. 

Then was it that same lady that came up with the idea of there being a bird under his hat? 

(Kataoka) Yes. But what’s amazing is that it just came right from her mind in a very pure way, without referencing anything else that exists. It came from nothing. That’s why we’re not allowing questions on it! (Laughs) We’re not saying anything about motifs or where it came from. 

(Katagiri) That’s right. 

I…I see. 

(Katagiri) And plus, I’ve completely blanked out on who that bird is anyway. 

(Kataoka) Kumachan and Pandachan are both her creations too. 

She’s a very important part of AM2, isn’t she? 

(Katagiri) Yeah, it seems so. 

(Kataoka) Mr. Meat and the AM2 Palm Tree were both hers as well. 

That’s amazing, they all came from the same person. 

(Katagiri) Yeah. 

What’s her name? 

(Kataoka) Hamachan. 


(Katagiri) Hamachan. 

Is she new? 

(Katagiri) Somewhat. She’s in her third or fourth year? 

(Kataoka) She worked on the Virtua Fighter 2 and Fighting Vipers ports… 

(Katagiri) She wasn’t doing anything particularly standout at that point, but Kataoka… 

(Kataoka) I noticed her work. 

That’s a great story. 

(Kataoka) It is, isn’t it. 

(Katagiri) So this mysterious person is named Hamachan. 

(Kataoka) Well, we’ll leave it with some mystery behind it still… 

(Katagiri) Like we’re saying “To be continued”! (Laughs) 

Thank you very much. 

(Written 01/22/1997, by the Editorial Department)