Published on August 20th, 2013 | by Andrew Vestal1
Interview: Kaz Ayabe & Attack of the Friday Monsters!
Kaz Ayabe talks with us about Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale, 1971, Ultraman, Western and Eastern nostalgia, and how the silent films of Yasujirō Ozu influenced the game design.
Gaming Intelligence Agency: Was there concern about how Western audiences would take to the game? While Godzilla and Ultraman are well known, Attack of the Friday Monsters isn’t exactly a fighting game…
Kaz Ayabe, Millennium Kitchen CEO / Game Designer: We weren’t concerned at all. We know that Western audiences have acute senses, and we believed they would pick up on the appeal of ATTACK OF THE FRIDAY MONSTERS! A TOKYO TALE.
GIA: Why do you think this GUILD02 title has gotten so much buzz amongst US gamers?
Ayabe: It’s been receiving a lot of buzz? That’s very delightful to hear. Thank you!
Perhaps the non-violent game mechanics seem appealing when there are more and more games centered on enjoying battles. We’ve been creating these types of games for 16 years now, ever since 1997. As part of the GUILD02 compilation, the development team was smaller than usual, but we were able to fully draw on our past experiences to create an alluring game within the GUILD concept’s framework.
GIA: How does the game balance its tone between tranquil countryside and skyscraper-sized monsters?
Ayabe: This is an interesting question. Butting two different tones against each other – ordinary vs. extraordinary, small humans vs. giant monsters and peace vs. violence – we wanted players to get a strong sense of these conflicting factors. For example, in this game, we wanted to show the juxtaposition of the monsters’ magnitude with that of the small humans.
In actuality, kaiju are relatively small once placed in a metropolis forested with skyscrapers. For example, the “giant hero” that appears in this game is the same height as Ultraman, at 130 feet (40 meters) tall, which is roughly 20 times the size of a human. On the other hand, the Empire State Building stands 1,454 feet (443 meters) tall, amounting to 10 times the size of our giant hero. Perhaps the enormous architecture created by human civilizations that now constitutes massive cities has an even greater monster-like presence in our society than the kaiju.
GIA: Animal Crossing has found new life on the 3DS, and its “no conflict” gaming style has a lot in common with your games. What would a fan of Animal Crossing find in Attack of the Friday Monsters?
Ayabe: The game system differs greatly, but both ATTACK OF THE FRIDAY MONSTERS! A TOKYO TALE and the ANIMAL CROSSING series are set in a peaceful society where dramatic stories unfold. In both games, players can station themselves in an extraordinary space that provides a pleasurable experience.
GIA: Attack of the Friday Monsters is set in 1971, before any of the Summer Vacation games. Why was this early date chosen?
I have strong feelings for 1971; it’s the year The Return of Ultraman started airing on television.
For those in my generation, born around 1965, the first Ultraman series we saw on TV as it aired was The Return of Ultraman. Previous entries in the series included Ultra Q, Ultraman, and Ultra Seven amongst others, but we were too young to remember their initial runs, and we only recall those shows from reruns.
Personally, I feel this type of “uniqueness” is an important factor in creating games. But of course, there are various opinions regarding the matter.
GIA: Americans love the 80’s. But for Japanese people, most genre nostalgia seems to be focused around the 70’s. Recently, Western developer 17-Bit’s GALAK-Z is also steeped in a specifically Japanese 70’s anime aesthetic. What is it about this era that speaks to gamers?
Ayabe: Currently, the 80s and the 90s are quite popular in Japan. It’s probably the same in any country, but “anything goes,” really.
If gamers are attracted to the 70s (and most likely the early 80s), it might be because they see a different art form unique to that era.
Japanese people have long considered 1955 – 1965 as “the good old days,” and that specific period was “in” for some time. The caring nature of people back then, the diligence and drive that helped Japan grow into the second largest economy in the world, and the financial poverty (though the economy was booming, it was an era where people still faced financial distress) created a lifestyle very different from this day and age… All of these factors are quite alluring.
And 1971, the year ATTACK OF THE FRIDAY MONSTERS! A TOKYO TALE takes place, was a time when the atmosphere of those good old days still remained. Rather than a yearning for the art form of the era, our game is more an adoration of the era itself and the people who lived in those times.
Personally, I’m quite into the 1920s – 1930s, especially the silent movies of the time. The “spells” the children pretend to cast in ATTACK OF THE FRIDAY MONSTERS! A TOKYO TALE are based on the children’s spell games from Yasujirō Ozu’s masterpiece, I Was Born, But….
That period was the first golden age of Japanese movies, and all the dialogue was in text. The orchestral accompaniment was often times very simple, i.e. only piano. Everything was so simply expressed, and much of it needed to be supplemented by the audience’s imagination. As a result, this style invokes emotions, and audiences become emotionally engrossed in the film. An interesting thing about videogames of the 8-bit era is that they’re constructed on the same principles.
ATTACK OF THE FRIDAY MONSTERS! A TOKYO TALE was a bite-sized experience, so I’ve answered the interview questions in depth!
Thanks to Kaz Ayabe and Level-5 for taking the time to answer our questions.