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Q&A: Hudson's Sato On Making Omega 5 For XBLA

Japanese-developed original Xbox Live Arcade titles are still relatively rare - but why? Gamasutra talked to Hudson's Daisuke Sato about the Natsume-developed classic shooter Omega 5, touching on its history, genre, and why the game won't be coming
At the 2007 Tokyo Game Show, Gamasutra spoke to Hudson's Daisuke Sato (member of the RSD production department in their consumer division) about Omega 5, the sidescrolling shooter being developed by Natsume and published by Hudson Soft for Xbox Live Arcade. In this Q&A, he discussed its development process, working with Natsume, and the state of the Live Arcade platform in Japan at present. You're a director at Hudson, right? That's correct, I'm a director at Hudson. How many people were involved in creating Omega 5? Originally the project was just a five-person team from the development firm, Natsume. Is that the reason it was called Omega 5? Heh, good guess, but no. It's been twelve years since Natsume has produced a shooter, with the most recent example being released on the SNES. Was anyone on the Omega 5 team involved with any of Natsume's past shooters, or were these all new members? The team was made up mostly of people who have been with the company since that era; the type of people who had wanted to make something that promoted shooting games. [Natsume confirmed with Gamasutra at the show that the team is composed of people that worked on shooting games like Wild Guns (SNES) and Dead Moon (Turbo Grafx 16).] So, the sort of people who are fans of the genre themselves. Right. What exactly was Hudson's role in the Omega 5 project? Hudson is taking care of distribution and publishing for the game through their American branch, Hudson Entertainment. How many people from Hudson America are working on the game, then? It's only five or six people, if I remember correctly. So this is quite a small team we're talking about. Yeah, I think we're the smallest development team in the company, right now. Will the game be released in Japan as well? Yes. The game will have a simultaneous worldwide release on Xbox Live Arcade. You could say the Xbox 360 is having a bit of a tough time in Japan. Yeah, and Live Arcade isn't seeing much action over here at the moment. Does that have you worried at all? Not that much. I think there's a place, even a necessity for quality shooters on Live Arcade. The 360's fans in Japan are said to be mainly hardcore gamers. Maybe a shooter like this will appeal to that sort of player more. Also, the rotary shooting system our game features is fairly rare for a shooter. We're hoping it will appeal to Japanese 360 fans, almost all of whom have their systems online. Do you have any plans to bring Omega 5 to PlayStation's PSN? Not at present, no. Any particular reasons why not? The specs of the respective hardware were one reason. We also determined that certain aspects of the development would be easier using the 360. The project was conceived of first for the 360, and we kept it exclusive to keep the development team small. How long did the development process take? Well, when Natsume approached us to see if we would produce the game, they showed us an early build they had developed for their presentation. Because they had done that groundwork, the game itself didn't take long to finish. However, when you market a game like this to an international audience, you have to consider issues like localization, which add to the time table. Natsume has a long history of working with publisher Marvelous Interactive. Why the switch to Hudson this time? For one, Hudson is very well established outside of Japan. They would also be able to help us take the game multi-platform if we ever decide to pursue that.

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