Before the release of Shen Mue, Yu Suzuki was best known for his impressive catalog of groundbreaking arcade games. With that in mind, Apple’s decision to approach the influential Japanese developer to create a new game for its Apple Arcade service seems like a no-brainer. The title obtained air tornadois a futuristic rail shooter unlike anything else on the platform.
Shortly after the game was released, Game Rant spoke to Suzuki about the development of air tornado and the future of Shen Mue franchise. The interview has been edited for clarity and conciseness.
Q: How would you describe air tornado to someone who has never played it before?
A: It’s a 3D fantasy shooter.
Q: Over 30,000 people have played it in the five days since it went live. You must be feeling pretty good about that?
A: 30,000 people played it?
Q: According to one of the rankings, yes.
A: I see. I learn something! Yes, I am happy.
Q: What were your main inspirations for air tornado?
A: I visited Apple Headquarters to explore the possibilities of Apple Arcade. When I asked them what kind of game they wanted, they asked me to make it simple and fun like the good old arcade games of the past. I also researched my old games to see what kind of games would be good. I thought it would be a good idea to do a space shooter concept like Space harrier. I had no intention of doing a sequel. space harrierbut rather to create a space shooter with a fantasy world that I love, and I love The never-ending story, and rocks and buildings floating in the air without gravity. I also like the idea of people floating in the air, so I decided to go with the same concept and approach it using today’s technology.
Q: Regarding the way he plays, air tornado feels a lot like space harrier. Would it be fair to call him a spiritual successor?
A: When you create a space shooter, you collect your favorite items. This concept, combined with technology from 1985, was used to create space harrierand the same concept was used to create air tornado using 2022 technology.
Q: The game’s themes and visuals are certainly very striking, but how important is the soundtrack overall? air tornado live?
A: There are many kinds of fantasy, but I always thought that my vision of fantasy and Valensia’s music went well together. When I worked on fantasy projects in the past, I often listened to Valensia’s music and I also loved old progressive rock music, like the band Yes, so I thought if I should do another fantasy project, Valensia would be a good choice.
Q: How did things evolve from there?
A: Well, I didn’t have Valensia’s contact details, so I tried to find him on Twitter or Facebook. I sent him a message explaining that I was the creator of the Yu Suzuki game with a link to my Wikipedia page attached. I asked him if there was a chance to work together and offered to explain the game to him if he was interested. I ended up showing him the world and the characters, and he said he liked it and it was a fantasy world, so we decided to do that.
Q: What was the file you gave him?
A: Regarding the music, there are two kinds: newly written songs and old songs with different arrangements and lyrics, and for these 19 songs, all the recordings have been redone. Some old song lyrics didn’t match air tornado. The melody is excellent and fantastic, but the lyrics are a bit different from air tornado‘s. I asked him to change all the lyrics to air tornado. For instance, air tornado is a shooter, but it had lyrics about breaking up with his girlfriend and it didn’t really fit the content, so I asked him to rewrite and change the lyrics for the game.
Q: I see. There are a few items listed as “coming soon” in the in-game menus. What kind of things can players expect in future updates?
A: It’s a bit of a secret. Please look forward to it. As I mentioned, there are casual game modes, like Fluffy and Tap Breaker. We’ve also included fun and light games for casual users, so hopefully people will enjoy it.
Q: Right now, air tornado is only available on Apple Arcade. Do you plan to bring it to other platforms in the future?
A: I have no information to give you at the moment. We are currently in an exclusivity period.
Q: How did it feel to be working on an arcade game again after all these years?
A: It’s a short period of time, shorter than, say, Shen Mue. It’s good to have a short period of time to do a tight production, and also to have a good balance between the two.
Q: You recently started playing video games after avoiding them before. Do you think this will impact how you approach your future games?
A: I don’t usually play video games, but before making a game I usually play a few different games as part of some kind of market research. I need to learn what the latest trends in video games are. I’m referencing, so if there’s a good system like how the UI is displayed – if it’s better, more comfortable, or easier for the player – I might want to use that as a reference. For example, commands for virtual fighter are complicated, but I think the controls in recent fighting games have gotten smoother. I think such things are a sign of the times.
Q: Regarding future games, what is the next step for YS NET after air tornado?
A: We just released air tornado and we plan to update it, so we will do some events and updates.
GR: Regarding the future of Shen Muein the past, you have talked about wanting to modernize the Shen Mue formula to appeal to a wider audience. How would you do it exactly?
A: The UI needs to be more intuitive as it is a bit confusing and there are many parts where you have to think for yourself. the original Shen Mue had a lot of parts where you had to figure things out on your own, like who you had to talk to to solve certain quests. Open world games today have quest markers so the story is very easy to follow as long as you keep going, but players don’t always enjoy solving puzzles on their own. I think it would be better to do Shen Mue more comfortable for people to think and solve puzzles by themselves. If the game was solved without thinking, it wouldn’t be Shen Mue.
GR: What other lessons have you learned from your experiences developing Shen Mue 3?
A: After release Shen Mue 3, we received comments and feedback from many different people. We have a kind of database and I think the voices of users, fans and new players, as well as our own thoughts, will be the next step for the new game. More Shen Mue fans have given us positive feedback, saying the game is very typical of Shen Mue. For the first time Shen Mue players, however, the game is a bit confusing, progression is slow, and it can be a bit tiring to play. If there’s an opportunity to make another game, I’d like to approach it that way; preserve the good qualities of Shen Mue, but also make it enjoyable for casual gamers. Next time, I want to create a game that will appeal to both fans and casual gamers.
GR: You appeared quite prominently in 110 Industries’ Tokyo Game Show presentation last year and a few months ago there were some strong rumors of a partnership. Are YS NET and 110 Industries currently working together on a new game?
A: I don’t know who started these rumours. 110 Industries approached us for an interview and we just answered their questions. I think rumors are just rumors.
GR: A few hours ago, 110 was questioned about Shen Mue 4 on Twitter, to which they replied “Possibly”. Looks like they know something we don’t…
A: We haven’t talked to 110 industries about it.
GR: In your experience, is it normal for a publisher to comment on a game with which he has no connection?
A: It’s not normal, no. I have no opinion on the 110.[END]
air tornado is available now on Apple Arcade.
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