The director of Thunder Force VI drops some science on side-scrolling shooters.
As much as I'm put off by the goofy fashion affectations and aloof artist behavior that seem to pop up with Japanese game designers, I have a certain amount of respect for the seriousness with which they approach their craft. There's a great interview over at Edge with Tez Okano, director of such modern shooter classics as the equally brilliant and punishing Astro Boy: Omega Factor, and I've never heard someone speak so passionately and insightfully about side-scrolling shooters. The bulk of the interview revolves around the current development of Thunder Force VI, though Okano stresses that this is just the first step in a larger plan for shooters at Sega, which could potentially lead to the revival of Space Harrier, a prospect I could not be happier about. I've got some fond memories of playing Space Harrier in the arcade, and I'm still a little sore over the fact that Planet Harriers, a 2001 arcade-only sequel, never made it to the US. While I'm not convinced that the traditional Space Harrier gameplay would play today, Okano seems like a good candidate to make it work, and there's some great potential for that peyote-fueled fever-dream of an art style.