NintendoLegend.com is honored to have, for our fifth interview, a representative from Taito – one of the most influential gaming companies in history, responsible for thrusting Space Invaders upon the world, still actively producing fun in mobile and arcade formats, and maker of some of my favorite NES titles as well. A 22-year veteran game producer at Taito, whose projects include both the original and iPhone-format RayForce, graciously answering questions that were translated into Japanese for him before his answers were translated back into English for me, eight questions with… Takeshi Kamimura!
1) The Elevator Pitch: If you mentioned Taito to someone and they had honestly never heard of the organization, how would you describe Taito, given fifteen seconds?
2) Taito has been in the gaming industry for several decades now, and is still producing new titles. Given their unique position of having hand in both arcade cabinets and mobile gaming, I wonder: What is Taito’s vision for their future?
TAITO aims to supports its customers’ happiness. We hope the entertainment we provide with our arcade and mobile phone games will play a part in creating happy memories.
3) In a broader sense: What do you believe the future looks like for video games in general?
In the past, there was a transition from arcade gaming to PC and console gaming, and now we’re seeing a gradual shift towards smartphone gaming. I think that in the future, smartphones will become the most active platform in gaming.
4) Do you have a favorite prior era of gaming, or do you believe the scene is getting better and better in the present day?
I think my favorite period is when both arcades and the console market were healthiest. Both platforms had their own unique charms, and it was always interesting to see how faithfully console adaptations were able to the recreate the high-spec arcade experience. That had a big influence on sales back then.
5) Speaking of present day, what is Taito currently up to?
TAITO provides a variety of products and services, including developing mobile and arcade games and manufacturing arcade game prizes. Our recent iPhone game GROOVE COASTER received a number of wonderful awards worldwide. We’ll continue to actively release a variety of new games both domestically and abroad. Also, within Japan we operate a chain of TAITO STATION arcades, recognizable by the large SPACE INVADER billboards.
6) Taito has been involved in producing a lot of video game titles of the years; hundreds, in fact. From legendary titles like Space Invaders to old-school classics like Elevator Action and Bubble Bobble to everything in between, the catalogue of games they have had a hand in is quite long. Do you have a favorite Taito game or franchise?
My personal favorite is the original DARIUS arcade game. The three screen extra-wide monitor, giant fish-shaped enemy battleships, and gorgeous sound all resonated with me.
7) Now, my website has a strong focus on the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) console. Taito was involved in many games for the system, from genre pioneers like Renegade to distinctive shoot-‘em-ups like Burai Fighter, to some of my favorite cartridges, which include Qix, Demon Sword, Shadow of the Ninja, and the amazing Little Samson. Do you have a favorite Taito game from the NES console?
My favorite NES game would have to be ARKANOID. It originally shipped with a knob-style paddle controller, and it delivered the same simple yet deep game play I enjoyed at the arcades. The game still stands up today, enjoying a great deal of popularity worldwide.
8)And finally, what advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a career related to electronic gaming?
Don’t overspecialize in games, it’s important to learn about and have interest in a variety of things. Paying attention to movies, novels, comics, illustration, and other media outside the game industry can help inspire your creativity. I’d like to see more people who are able to skillfully fuse aspects of those media with video games, using elements from them to further enrich gaming.
I love Taito’s corporate philosophy, I love the answers here (did you ever think that if you asked an industry professional for advice to pursue a similar career, they would recommend reading novels?! fantastic!), and it is a company that I am happy to see still putting out material and I hope for success in their future. Special thanks to Scott for arranging this. You can follow Taito on Twitter to keep up with their exploits.