Thanks once again to the translation work of Sidier, we present the "Creator's Chat" from the REMASTERED TRACKS ROCKMAN ZERO Telos booklet. What follows below is a lengthy interview with Ippo Yamada (Sound Producer and Designer, Music Composer), Toshihiko Honda (Background Designer), Masaya Suzuki (Character Graphics), Toru Nakayama (Character Designer), Makoto Yabe (Background Design and Scenario Draft), and Takuya Aizu (Producer).
Grab a cup of coffee because this is a long interview you don't want to miss!
|Cover Art of Rockman Zero 3.|
Honda: I am Honda, in charge of background designing. I compiled the initial settings.
Suzuki: I am Suzuki, in charge of character graphics. I’ve been making the player’s environment since Zero 1.
Nakayama: I am Nakayama, in charge of character designing.
Itou: I am Itou, Director & Planner. I am involved with all Zero games.
Yabe: I am Yabe, in charge of background designing. I joined during Zero 2 development. I also did the scenario draft for Zero 3.
Aizu: I am Aizu, the Zero Series Producer.
Yamada: I will begin with the questions I’ve been given. Do you have the X Series in mind when developing the Zero games?
Aizu: Do you mean the effects used in the title logos? That’s but an homage (laughs). That asides...In terms of hardware, the GBA is close to the SFC (Super Famicon) so there are portions the games that use X1 to X3 as inspiration.
Itou: We focus on striking a difference with the X series, but we do add things to the planning such as the relation between the 3 elements being the same as in X1, basically reusing it.
Yamada: You mean the fire, ice and thunder elements?
Itou: Yes. We think that, in terms of planning, adding three elements plus a non-element to make up four elements is more than enough. There’s elements that work like rock-paper-scissors and each boss has an element to them. Thus we create an element to be taken into account when taking on the missions.
Suzuki: But wasn’t the idea to incorporate them brought up towards the end of Zero 1’s development? I was surprised, thinking “can this be done at this stage!?”
Aizu: We embarked on a rush to try to implement it, assuming that we’d delete the idea if we couldn’t. But since it was added posteriorly, I think it actually made it harder to figure out the relationship between the missions and the elements (of the bosses).
Itou: Good point. The mission name alone won’t tell you that. That’s why we made the bosses’ portraits appear in Zero 2.
Yamada: I liked how the maps were connected between them in Zero 1, but ever since Zero 2 it’s become a stage select system, no? I’d like to know the reasons for that…
Itou: We wanted to mark a difference with the previous X Series and so we made the maps. We wanted to give a feeling of how the world expanded as you walked across it. It was a bold system, but I guess we overdid ourselves a bit? (laughs).
Honda: In terms of the plot, we’re also showing how Neo Arcadia can use a very precise wireless transfer through artificial satellites while the Resistance has to use a somewhat retro, wired transfer-like system, instead. We wanted to design a difference between them. The devices in Zero 1 do look somewhat retro, no?
Itou: The mission select order in Zero 2 allows for some strategic plotting point of view (as stated previously) as well as a redo of the mission system; the stage select system is a result of a process of trial and error.
Honda: In terms of the series story, the Resistance became able to use satellites as well post Zero 1 thanks to their intrusion into Neo Arcadia. Also, splitting the stages allowed us to make more fancy things in each stage, so we want you to focus how technology has improved in both the games’ development and in terms of settings (laughs).
Yamada: What’s the world of the Zero series, ruled by Neo Arcadia, like?
Yabe: There are still humans out there. They are located within huge domes used for living. It’s also possible to live outside of them, but thanks to Neo Arcadia’s policies they can live very comfortable lives there since food and clothing are very good.
Honda: There’s a setting that Neo Arcadia is working on restoration of human living space across the Earth. That’s the basic role of the 4 Heavenly Kings. They originally aren’t supposed to be weapons… It was our intent to make it very Rockman-like in that aspect. And thanks to their efforts the wounds from the past wars are slowly healing.
Yabe: Yes. But since the domes are more comfortable, then the humans don’t want to come out of them (laughs). The domes are dotted across the world but most of them are concentrated in a single location; our mental image is that that’s the only places (the domes) where humans can live at. “Neo Arcadia” is the name of the government but the location where the domes are clustered at is also used to refer to Neo Arcadia, too. Humans have representatives that are like delegates and who debate with Repliroids to carry out Neo Arcadia’s policies. Until Vile appears, that is.
Yamada: Is “Area X” located where “the domes are concentrated”, too?
Yabe: No. “Area X” is the global denomination for a series of vital bases scattered across the world. They are located at the tip of orbital elevators stretching from the surface, and each one has a number of their own. And so the “Area X” stages that have appeared in the games are in satellite orbit… In outer space, yes. Yggdrasil in Zero 2 is also considered one of those vital locations, in the same category as the “Area X” bases.
Itou: While climbing through the spikes area in-game, you can see the atmosphere layers outside of the windows. That vertical area filled with spikes and stretching upwards is the orbital elevator.
Honda: And you can reach space by just wall-kicking (laughs).
Yamada: Ciel says that she created Neo Arcadia, but how old is she?
Itou: She’s not the one who actually “created” Neo Arcadia. What she created was Copy X. And her creation caused the policies to shift in favor of the humans, which is the “current” Neo Arcadia. Those words are meant to show her feeling of responsibility for having created that status quo.
Yamada: She’s indeed a human, right?
Itou: Yes. She was 14 in Zero 1 and she’s about to turn 16 by Zero 3. Isn’t she too young? (laughs).
Honda: Sorry, I’m to blame for that (laughs). Ciel is a genius child whose genes were modified as part of some experiments when she was still an embryo. She received gifted education since childhood so that she’d develop weapons… So you could say that she’s a “victim” of Neo Arcadia. There’s several “serious” settings to the Zero series that aren’t shown in-game since they’re for kids… And they mustn’t be “shackles” that tie up the game itself.
Yamada: I see. So when did she make Copy X, then?
Honda: If she designed him when she was about 5-6 years old… She was too young to do that, no? (laughs).
Yamada: The Rainbow Devil was introduced in the official guide book’s “complete works” as “Fake Ciel”. Did it have a different name than the actual one, then?
Nakayama: I wouldn’t call it “introduction”... I was asked for a rough design and I made it. Then, several initial setting materials were mixed in and put on a guidebook, that’s how it went like. There was a setting of it turning into an imitation of Ciel so I designed an elastic boss that could transform into many shapes.
Itou: In the first scenario of Zero 1… There was a setting that Ciel would be kidnapped when Hanumachine assaulted the Resistance Base. And then a Rainbow Devil posing as her would infiltrate the base. The plan was for the story to go on as “Fake Ciel” gave out orders right until you reach Area X.
Honda: While the imposter is giving out orders, “her” words would have a different ending to them, would give out missions that put the Resistance at a disadvantage… And she wouldn’t save the game! (laughs). I think there were a lot of ideas for that one.
Itou: Not saving the game isn’t good in terms of gameplay, though (laughs). Even if you make scenes in which Ciel, who’s a new character in the Zero series, acts unlike her, the users wouldn’t catch on… Would they? Or so we thought. There’s the possibility of creating misunderstandings about her to allow people to understand her better.
Yamada: Please tell me about the series’ characters’ names! (laughs)
Itou: Whenever we need to think of the names it often happens when we’re very busy in terms of schedule…And we always struggle to! The Repliroids part of the Resistance were originally called by serial numbers. When they became part of Ciel’s group, she assigned them easy names to each of them; that’s the setting. “Ciel” is a French name… And she feels like giving her friends names of birds that fly across the skies.
Yabe: The Operators Rogue and Joan are properly described through the Card-E system, but Rogue is the red-haired and Joan the blonde. Not much of a mystery, is it? (laughs).
Yamada: Speaking of which… Ethos and Pathos, which is which?
Nakayama: Good point, I dunno (laughs).
Yamada: Aren’t you the ones who named them, Mr. Nakayama? (laughs).
Itou: The names are added posteriorly. They were originally designed as new soldiers of the Resistance and were recruited as Elpis’ personal guard commanders. Elpis, a Greek name, uses Ethos (Balance) and Pathos (Passion) as his right-hand men… As for which is which… Which is which, I wonder? (laughs).
Aizu: You can tell by looking at the program. It should be established in the face graphics… (Looking at the program) Here it is. The blonde guy is Pathos. He has written lines. When the Justice Strike Operation...
Itou: Truth is… Elpis was the Dark Elf’s name. And Ethos and Pathos were the names of the Baby Elves. Mr. Honda thought of them. There’s a secret tale about how they were used for the (Resistance) Commander and his personal guards.
|Elf Genealogy from the music CD booklet.|
Yamada: This CD contains the masterpiece that Alouette’s track is (laughs) Do you staff appreciate her a lot?
Itou: Oh, no! We also appreciate all other characters, too! (laughs) This recording was to depict the relationship between Crèer and Prier and Alouette as well as to tell how the Resistance spend their days… That’s the idea behind the choice. It’s always the case but whenever we’re thinking of the conversations of the Resistance members, you create the character within you, thinking “that one’s like this” or “that one’s like that” and so on. We wanted to transmit the beauty of each of them.
Suzuki: Truly. Speaking of which, wasn’t there a time when odd rumors about Alouette spread within the business? That she herself is actually the plushie and that the girl behind her is a displacement booster or so (laughs).
Honda: Oh yes. That her mouth is a connector and that it’s connected to the core, the plushie. And that if you open the zipper on the back of the plushie… A horrible sight awaited you or so (laughs). The one that’s always worn down and Ciel is always fixing is the girl-shaped displacement booster or so… Ciel feels like she’d be more skilled at fixing that one than sewing, though (agrees with the idea for some odd reason).
Itou: (nervous) That’s not the case, obviously enough! Were that the case then, back in Zero 1, when Hanumachine attacked the base, that which was lying around would’ve been her core (laughs). The Repliroid is Alouette herself and the plushie is but a plushie.
|Back of the Obi from Remastered Tracks Rockman Zero IDEA|
Yamada: Phantom’s 2nd phase (illustration) is printed in the backside of IDEA’s (Remastered Tracks Rockman Zero 2 IDEA) band, but will there be a day in which we’ll see it on the games? (laughs).
Nakayama: When I was designing the 4 Heavenly Kings back when Zero 1, I also did the 2nd phase design at the same time. Back on the day I was told they would appear in Zero 1 but they actually appeared in Zero 2. But Phantom is the only one who hasn’t appeared. Is there some *deep* reason for that? (laughs).
Aizu. The development of the Zero series always means fighting with the lack of storage in the ROM (bitter laugh). Our tech back when Zero 1 would’ve made it very hard to add those forms, given how big they are. I am sorry for that, Mr. Nakayama.
Itou: Yes. With every new game we develop, our tech goes on improving too. And so we’re able to incorporate bigger foes as well. You can probably tell by looking at the size of the 8 Judges in Zero 3 but now we can install pretty huge things in-game. Regarding Phantom… If there was a situation in which he must transform to fight, then his 2nd form might appear as well.
Suzuki: We wanted to make him appear in Zero 2, though…
Itou: But he self-destructed, so… (Everyone laughs).
Yamada: What was the “special bomb” of Zero 2?
Itou: Chaff that can damage Repliroids as well as computer viruses. The Neo Arcadian weapons are made so that they don’t harm humans.
Yamada: It’s about the design of “Original Zero” but… There are some opinions that say they expected the X-Series’ Zero design (to appear)... What can you tell me about that?
Yabe: The “Zero” of the Zero series that we Inti Creates develop is, ultimately, Mr. Nakayama’s “Zero”. Maybe you can call it a different representation. We’re drawing the same “Zero” from the X Series with a Nakayama “touch” to it. In some animes, the characters might change in design for a movie or so, no? Think of it as something similar to the above.
Honda: Well. Nevertheless there are several different opinions within our company and many designs were drawn and Mr. Nakayama’s arrangement was picked… Amongst those there were square-shouldered designs of Zero, too. But they didn’t really match the style of the Zero series.
Itou: We did have quite a discussion about that, yes (laughs).
Suzuki: In the end we went for that design so that they all matched (the style). We reached the conclusion that the Nakayama Zero was the original.
Yamada: Isn’t Black Zero strong because he’s “awakened”? What of it?
Itou: The Black Zero of the Zero series is more like of a prototype. When we added a Hard Mode to Zero 2, we needed a “weak” Zero (a non-calibrated Zero the ATK and DEF of which weren’t balanced) so we used that one. It’s made clear in Zero 3, but given Zero’s history in the series, it wouldn’t be odd for a prototype to exist.
Aizu: There’s a strong image associated to it since its debut in X2 and so many say that it’s but a defective copy (laughs) But now I’ve learn that society associates it with “post-awakening”.
Yamada: I guess there’s some Easter eggs within the games, right?
Suzuki: Anubis can be seen in the regeneration line that’s in the background of the factory’s boss room but if you go there after beating Anubis in the desert stage he’ll be gone. Also, in the Zero 1 desert… It’s something that was used in old anime but cans of a certain carbonated drink can be seen there.
Honda: Aren’t those things made by the same person? (laughs) Always coming up with very dense stages… I was a newbie back when Zero 1 but now I am mid-level and come up with these tidbits each day (laugh).
Aizu: He’s here to come up with those?! (everyone laughs).
Suzuki: The staff is mistrustful so they spread elements and marks from previous and posterior series as well as the settings. Beginning with the Sigma mark in the Zero 1 opening stage, and the warships in the underground fortress having the Repliforce mark.
Honda: The Zero 2 forest dungeons are DASH (Legends) style (laughs). They’re all loaded with the mood to make fan-service so if you look at it from another PoV it’s pretty mild stuff.
Suzuki: Also… Regarding the Card-E stuff, but… The elevator design of the Zero 3 Resistance Base is based on the capsule in which Zero was closed in in X1. If it’s users who’ve been playing all of the series’ games, they surely must grin at that… I think that Easter eggs like those are important.
Yamada: Truly. We also put a lot of details in the sound department too. Casting the VAs is so hard though (laughs).
Yamada: Here’s a question about the history of Anubistep Necromanses.
Honda: His history is very, very ancient… (laughs) The 1st was support for all medical care and sanitation and so, known as “The Holy Sweeper King of Hades” (laughs). Uses nanobots as small as sand grains and revives destroyed Repliroids as if it were a spell as well as freely control remains (of machines), that was the setting… The 3rd that appears in Zero 1 was a special model(?) that self-regenerated on his own…
Itou: If we count the iterations that have appeared in the games, we had the 3rd when Zero 1 came out, the 4th was in the boss rush. And the one that revived in Zero 3 (Vile did it) was the 5th.
Yamada: Why did he debut as the 3rd?
Suzuki: Must be because the transport ship happened to crash where the 2nd was at and he got dragged into the crash…
Yamada: And the 3rd was born on his stead, then (laughs).
Itou: If he were to appear in the future, suddenly, as the 25th or so, wouldn’t we have a problem explaining what the heck happened? (laughs).
Suzuki: You were the one asking us the whole time, so how about we ask something to you, the Sound Team? Omega’s 3rd form words, what is he saying?
Yamada: He’s saying “I am the Messiah!”. Terrorist and anarchists often say stuff like “I am God!” or the likes, no? I wanted to give out that feeling. The words by themselves have no meaning but I think they work to express his cruelty and ferocity in a single line. By the way, what’s the setting for the personality of Omega’s 3rd form?
Yabe: The personality program (Cyber Elf) of Omega’s 3rd form was programmed by Vile as a Messiah. Well then, Omega’s 3rd form’s… Original Zero’s personality… We can’t affirm for sure that all of it is made by Vile.
Itou: We can’t deny the possibility that the original personality of Zero, made by “the scientist who tried to take over the world many times” remained in the original body and that personality has won over…
Yabe: Let’s leave that up to the users’ imaginations (laughs).
Itou: I want to ask something, too. Don’t you get messages asking why is there no “Sound Test” mode?
Yamada: There’s many reasons for that, but… Game BGMs are to be heard in-game are better for ambience, or due to the situation… We want the effect to be demonstrated the better we can. So we were unsure about a mode to listen to the BGMs on their own in terms of balancing things. If they listen to the BGMs there should be a more complete form including things like sound balance and the performance parts with emphasis on each song.
Suzuki: I see. It’s hard to redo the balance just to include a Sound Test mode.
Yamada: Nevertheless, I did get a lot of emails and letters asking for such a mode (laughs). That’s where, cooperating with Capcom, we sold soundtracks with the original in-game tracks. The Zero Series songs has the Remastered Tracks, a form I can agree with, and the original BGMs soundtrack, as a way to answer to what the users ask of us. As a composer, I’m very happy to have been given the chance to release the BGMs in these 2 forms. It’s a media different from the games so I’m happy to provide new topics in the form of booklets, the drama tracks of this CD and settings that weren’t shown in the games.
Suzuki: It’s the true that the games, due to size constraints and development time, we get our own handful of problems, too. We come up with tons of ideas we wanna do at the start, we go on choosing from them and reflecting them in the games… We can never put everything on them.
Itou: When you put it like that, it makes me realize there’s a lot of things we couldn’t express in the games. The history of Zero is now gonna kick off from the end of Zero 3.
Yabe: I’d like to write up about the humans living in the world of Zero. Since only Ciel and Vile have appeared insofar.
Honda: There’s still stuff to be done.
Suzuki: Vile is still alive, so…
All of them: Waahh… WARNING! WARNING!
Aizu: (cold sweat) I hope you keep on supporting Inti Creates and Rockman Zero!
REMASTERED TRACKS ROCKMAN ZERO Telos Translation Project