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Prope's Naka On Let's Tap's Origins, Simple Fun

Where does one get the idea to create a game "that even penguins can play?" Sonic The Hedgehog co-creator and Prope head Yuji Naka talks with Gamasutra as part of a
January 01, 2009
Where does one get the idea to create a game "that even penguins can play?" Sonic The Hedgehog co-creator Yuji Naka recently talked with Gamasutra about his new studio Prope and its first title, Let's Tap, an innovative rhythm game that Wii owners play without even picking up a controller. Released in Japan earlier this month, Let's Tap features a collection of minigames in which players rest their remotes on the box used to package the game, then tap on the box [YouTube link] to affect the onscreen action. "It was something I came up with while we were working on another action game," Naka says, speaking as part of a Gamasutra feature interview. "I had noticed around that time that the Wii controller was a remarkably precise device, capable of detecting even very small, faint vibrations." "We did a bit of a test where we placed the controller on a desk and started tapping on the desktop around it," he continues. "Not only did the Wiimote detect that, but it also detected when we tapped on a desk placed adjacent to the one it was lying on." The Sega veteran was impressed with the results and thought that his team could create something based on these findings. "From there, I thought about how up to now, rhythm games have been largely digital in nature -- made up of 0s and 1s representing 'off' and 'on' -- but this controller could measure more gradual levels of input in between those two extremes," says Naka. He adds, "So, it was a process of discovery that ultimately led to the idea, the idea to take a digital game and make it analog and able to accept a wider range of input." Finding the fun in this simple interaction -- tapping on a box -- wasn't difficult for the Prope founder. "Think about it -- sometimes, do you find yourself just idly tapping on something during the day?" he asks. "I know I do it pretty much all the time, and I think everybody else does, too. So, I thought about making that into a game somehow. That's what makes this game fun, I think -- the fact that it's something everybody does now and again." "Now, of course, there are other music and rhythm games, titles where you're matching some kind of rhythm onscreen," he adds. "But even in the case of Guitar Hero, it's still a matter of 'on' or 'off,' 0 or 1. There isn't any measure of strength." "Meanwhile, with this there's a whole spectrum of strength to the tapping. It's something that's really pretty innovative even within the field of rhythm games." You can now read the full Gamasutra interview, in which Naka talks more about his new studio and why he left Sega after working at the company for 20 years (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).

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