Ryota Niitsuma is working on one of the biggest collaborations in video game history: Marvel vs Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds. We recently got the chance to talk to Niitsuma-san about the game, and probed him on the general state of the fighting scene. Here's how it went down.
Q: How did Marvel vs Capcom come to fruition? If it wasn't for Street Fighter IV bringing the fighting genre back into the eye of the industry, would the game still exist today?
Ryota Niitsuma: Due to the complications of the license, and the vast amounts of time it takes to process such a title, the plan was already there before the launch of Street Fighter IV. Obviously we've been encouraged by the success of Street Fighter IV, but this wasn't started in reaction to the success of that game.
Q: How many of the mechanics from Marvel vs Capcom 2 have made it into 3?
RN: I'm not sure exactly how many, but, for instance, the buttons are quite different to MCV2, but if someone who has played Marvel vs Capcom 2 played this, they will be familiar with the game. So, it depends on how they think, but perhaps half of the philosophy from Marvel vs Capcom 2 has been inherited.
Q: Obviously the first two games in the series are aimed at a very core demographic. With the fighting genre so popular today, Marvel vs Capcom 3 looks set to have a much wider audience than its predecessors. Do you think a newcomer to the series will be able to pick up the game and have as much fun as the core player?
RN: The previous title I produced, Tatsunoko vs Capcom actually had a simple command mode, and by using that we received good feedback from the users, that enabled them to play the game even though they weren't that into hardcore fighting. So in Marvel vs Capcom 3, we'd like to do that too, and narrow the gaps between veteran players and beginners so that they're actually able to play on equal terms using two different modes.
And how will the online lobby system work? Will it be using a system similar to that of Street Fighter IV?
RN: We're actually in the process of doing some online work right now, so we can't really say for sure, but it will be somewhat different from the Street Fighter IV lobby system.
Q: Do you predict that the game will have the same long term support as the first two games had? Will people still be playing this 5-10 years down the line?
RN:It's been almost a decade since the previous Marvel vs Capcom, so we're trying to brush this up so that it will be played in the next ten years. So yes.
Q: Obviously you can't talk about the final character roster, but I wanted to ask how it's put together. Is it restricted much by licensing? Do you choose a character based on how well their moves might work? What's the general procedure?
RN: So at the start of the project, we both created a super-duper wish list - so Marvel listed out all the characters they wanted, and we listed all the characters we wanted, and then we matched them up, and those characters we both had went in. We kind of negotiated saying "ok, we'll put this one in, but instead we'll take that one out" - we're continuously negotiating.
Q: Players have been very vocal about what characters they want in there. Recently, for example, there's been a huge fan outcry for Phoenix Wright. Are you listening to these kind of requests?
RN:We've actually got a team gathering information from online forums and things. But we've got to be careful. Obviously we do listen to comments made by the community, but what we've got to understand is that they tend to just say things that they want then. So, when the game's out - will they still be saying that? So we really have to focus on the big picture rather than the emotional outcries of each instance.
Q: Street Fighter IV has been ported to the iPhone, and will soon be heading to the 3DS. Does Capcom has any plans to take Marvel vs Capcom 3 to other platforms?
RN: As you probably know, Street Fighter IV hadn't planned to move to iPhone and 3DS from the start - it was a consequence of the success of the console version. So I think Marvel vs Capcom 3 will be the same - so we first want to see how it does on 360 and PS3, and then we'll think of what to do afterwards.
Q: And that's the same for Wii and Arcade versions?
RN: So yeah, everything is an option, but all subject to the success of the PS3 and 360 versions.
Q: In the past we've had Capcom vs Marvel, Capcom vs SNK and soon Capcom vs Namco. What would your dream collaboration be? Who would you love to see Capcom join together with?
RN:This is not something that's been done - and it would be very difficult - but without restraints, I'd like to mix more than two parties into one game. So rather than one vs one, it would be a three party game, or perhaps four. I think that would be pretty interesting.
Q: Obviously Marvel was bought out by Disney a little while back - can you see Capcom ever collaborating with Disney in any shape or form?
RN:It's probably up to Disney actually, if they want to then we'd look into it. I can't really think of any fighting Disney characters though! [laughs]
Q: Do you think the recent announcement of Street Fighter X Tekken has stolen any of MVC3's thunder?
RN: I see no cannibalism happening here because I support more voice for the fighting scene. I think Street Fighter X Tekken and Marvel vs Capcom 3 are projected at different audiences anyway. So I don't see a problem with it, in fact I welcome it and the buzz it creates for the scene.
Q: One last question then: do you think that the fighting genre is reaching a point of saturation - there are a lot of games out there now - or do you think the genre will keep going from strength to strength?
RN: Obviously we don't want to saturate the market, but then you don't want leave too much time between titles as people might start forgetting about it. We want to find a balance of releasing something now and then just to keep everything going, and we do think it's going to keep going from strength to strength.