I’ve posted several updates recently with partial interviews as they’ve become available, but with the release of this week’s issue of Famitsu magazine tomorrow morning, this particular interview will be complete.
I am extremely pressed with time and beyond exhausted from starting a crap new job that pays well below what my first job paid when I first came to Japan 12 years ago, so I would appreciate your understanding with not getting this out right away.
Famitsu published this interview in it entirety online a day or so ago, and I took what I’ve already translated and spliced everything together to form the final interview. I still want to add in some of the accompanying images as well, but that will have to wait until I get home from work tomorrow. I’m leaving out the last bit of the interview until I can finalize it tomorrow. In the meantime, please enjoy the first half of the interview below!!
◼︎ Let’s take another look at NieR Replicant since it’s been released on Playstation Now.
Saito: Sorry for the sudden inconvenience, but Yoko is running a little late…
Saito: But, we can start without him. (haha) You can add in his comments after the fact wherever you like. (haha) Or maybe just put them in bold.
ーAlright. (haha) So…… Now that the previous game is available through Playstation Now, may I ask your thoughts on it as you look back at it once more?
Saito: I’ve heard here and there that there are some people who’ve heard the soundtrack from the first game but never actually played it, so with NieR:Automata in the works, this is a great opportunity for them to try it out. It’s absolutely not necessary to play Replicant in order to play Automata—we’ve made sure of that—but still we’d love for more people to give it a try. It will only be available for a limited rental period at a reduced price, though. Even still, we’d love to get more people to experience it. I think there may have been many people who stopped playing after the A Ending, but if you hang in a little longer, the story gets much fuller from the B Ending on, so I really hope you try it out!
ーYou say many people have heard the soundtrack even though they’ve never played the game. It must be pretty special then, the soundtrack.
Okabe: Thank you very much. Actually, as we were gearing up for the NieR concert, I realized how much of the music I’ve actually forgotten over time. (haha) Sometimes I’ve been asked how I came to compose the music, but… The game came out 6 years ago, and I wrote the majority of it well before that—maybe 7 years or more ago? So, I honestly can’t remember what I was feeling when I wrote the score. (haha) I tried to refresh my memory by listening to the soundtrack again, but as I listen, I don’t know if I’m actually remembering anything or just experiencing the music as if it were brand new… That’s sort of what I’m going through as I write the music for Automata.
ーI think you had many tracks feature an imaginary language, too.
Okabe: The lyrics were based on today’s common languages, but since the game takes place far into the future, Emi thought about how they might change through the course of time. For example, if she wanted to emphasize a sense of statelessness, she used Latin as the base language, or if she wanted to express the feeling of the ephemeral, she used French. She thought the sound of the words were more important than the actual meaning.
Saito: There are no songs that use real languages, right?
Okabe: Yes, the only one is the Ending theme, which is in English.
ーWas there any particular reason why that’s the only one?
Okabe: Speaking with Yoko, we wanted players to first imagine what the songs were about, and when they finally reach the end and hear the English lyrics they might get a sort of “ah-ha!” moment.
ーAh, so that’s what you were aiming for. Mr. Yoshida, looking at the previous NieR from the outside, what did you think of it?
Yoshida: I thought that it seemed like I could do whatever I wanted. I rarely ever get that chance. I thought I was pretty free with “Vagrant Story” as well, but it’s relatively difficult these days for artists to have a little more control, wouldn’t you say? I think there are very few titles that let me design characters as I like. I’m very envious.
ーWhat do you think, Mr. Taura?
Saito: I think it was about the same time we released Bayonetta when two other huge titles were released*; I sort of viewed them as rivals. (haha) Looking back now, I think the music and story was great. I feel like “man, they really fit everything in there,” since they managed to include so many different genres. Now that I’m working with Yoko, he’s always saying, “At any rate, make it strange.” I’m sure this put a lot of stress on the planner.
* Possibly a reference to Final Fantasy XIII and Dragon Quest IX.
Taura: Yes, I also question if this is alright… (haha) On the development side, we’re expected to make something different, so it’s not difficult to keep working on this.
Saito: I think Platinum Games is more than capable of making something out Yoko’s reckless behavior. Even if there’s something that makes you think “Is this really okay!?” during development; however, once they get their hands on it, the next time you see it—it will blow you away. This way, even Yoko can continue getting carried away. (haha) This time around, Yoko’s desire to create something better than the original is quite impressive. Welcome to the wide-open World of Yoko Taro.
Yoko: Sorry I’m late.
ーAh! Thank you for coming! We sort of began already…
Saito: We were just talking about what a stupendous creator you are.
Yoko: Somehow, I really doubt that. (haha) Oh, are you going to take photos as we talk?
ーJust the beginning portion.
Yoko: Okay, hold on a second… Let me get ready. (shuffle, shuffle…… takes out “that” mask) Okay, ready.
ーThank you very much for bringing your mask. (haha) I’d like to ask your opinion of NieR Replicant now that it’s available on Playstation Now.
Yoko: ……Did you ask something?
Saito: You can’t hear with that thing on. (haha)
Yoko: I remember all the horrible things that happened because of it the most.
ーThat’s the first thing you think of? (haha)
Saito: It wasn’t that bad. (haha)
Yoko: The development phase was pretty rough.
Saito: Oh, that’s what you meant.
Yoko: We had a tough time putting the Library together. It took a long time putting everything together, especially around the half-way point, but by the end, things finally started to line up. No one really had any clue what the overall picture of the game was trying to express.
ーWow, so it must have been pretty shaky until the very end.
Yoko: Yes, but as the director, I had to get the approval from Square Enix or else we’d have nothing. I worked as hard as I could to deceive them.
Saito: Little by little, he showed us what he came up with, but once all the elements were set, he went in and “fixed” many things by rearranging the order of events.
Yoko: Yes, I fixed quite a lot of the content because I didn’t think it was very interesting. At that time, the English localization was progressing quite rapidly… and they had to edit a huge portion of the script once I had changed things. I think the gorgeous director of the localization team was ticked. I remember kneeling down at their feet at the end. (haha) That is my #1 memory of NieR.
ーYou had that hard of a time? How did things turn out in the end, then?
Yoko: Once it was finished, I never wanted to see it again. You see, once we say it’s complete, I can’t ever go back and change anything… So, if I ever looked at it, I would want to change something. That’s why I didn’t want to see it for a good half-year or so, no matter what. A half-year later, I was able to look at it from the outside and actually watched the opening movie for the first time. Even Okabe’s music—I didn’t listen to the soundtrack for at least a year after it was released.
ーBecause it brings back those tough memories?
Yoko: I simply get tired of it. (haha) Once the game was released, I listened the heck out of the soundtrack, so much that I got sick of it again.
Okabe: Even during the end phase of the game he was like, “I’m tired of this. (haha)