By John Szczepaniak, April 28 2012
Tomonori Otsuka, programmer on Metal Gear for MSX
JS: Metal Gear takes place in the country of South Africa, can you tell me about this decision? It was very interesting! Does Kojima-san like South Africa?
TO: I donít think Kojima-san likes South Africa especially. It depends on the story. He was excited to find the idea that soldiers have to hide from observation. The story was decided to emphasize the unique gameplay. I really didnít know the game takes place in South Africa. It might have been written [in the manual].
JS: Why did you decide to use MSX hardware when Famicom was the dominant platform?
TO: Konami had development teams for several platforms at that time, such as coin-op, Nintendo, MSX. The Family Computer was launched after the MSX, and the MSX team had already released many titles. Famicom was the brand new platform and it was not deemed successful yet. MSX had a bigger market than Famicom. The reason why the platform was decided was Kojima-san belonged to MSX team. We couldnít work on the Famicom in the MSX team.
JS: Life was so different in 1987 Ė was it a fun time to be developing?
TO: We developed 2 or 3 titles a year and the teams next door were the rivals because the number of companies that developed games for the MSX was very small. We were very busy every day and didnít think about the story of the games. I was a programmer and the work was to write the codes [while following] the directions.
JS: It must have needed a large amount of skill and time to program all the areas/stages.
TO: I donít remember how long the programming took, the work did not go as scheduled. However, the program was reused on several stages and creatures to save time.
JS: Was the team influenced by other games, manga or films?
TO: The game story and character design were imagined by Kojima-san. I didnít deal with that sort of thing.
JS: What was the most difficult part of developing Metal Gear?
TO: I think the highlight of Metal Gear is hiding from the view of cameras and enemy soldiers. The game screen is seen from the top down and users can see the position of the player character and cameras. If there are some obstacles between the player and cameras, he has to not be found and must succeed in hiding. It was very difficult to determine if player is viewed by someone or not.
JS: Did you play later sequels in the Metal Gear series? What do you think?
TO: I donít have any experience with later versions.
JS: Would you like to add anything else? Can I include your photo?
TO: Iím very pleased if my memory helps you. Most of the memories on developing video games are going to be lost. I hope your work plays the role of recording history. I don't mind if you use my photo on your article.