- The "Metal Gear Solid: Rising" game was initially canceled
- The project was revived with the help of a third-party developer
- "Rising" involves action and sword fighting instead of the usual sneaking around
The name he chose for the next installment in his "Metal Gear" video game series makes Hideo Kojima seem prescient.
As the famed shepherd of the spy franchise he created 25 years ago, Kojima remains deeply involved in the game development process. Yet, Kojima hadn't foreseen that his project would undergo a death and rebirth, like the phoenix bird from Greek mythology.
As it turns out, the irony of the name "Metal Gear Rising" is unintentional.
"I canceled it," Kojima said of the game, in a recent phone interview with CNN. "I made the decision. I just thought that nothing good would come out of this."
Instead, "Rising" is back on track. The new chapter is meant to be a sort of departure for the series, emphasizing action and swordplay over the stealth movements that "Metal Gear" games are renowned for. In June, a fresh take on the game that was once killed will be ready for gamers to play for the first time at the E3 industry trade show, reports Japan's Famitsu magazine.
Developers at Konami and Kojima Productions had initially spearheaded the project, then called "Metal Gear Solid: Rising," as they've done for most games in the franchise. A version for Xbox 360 was announced in the summer of 2009.
Kojima had placed "Rising" in the hands of some young developers within his company, but they didn't have the expertise to deliver the action game he wanted, he said.
"It was almost lost when they were making it," Kojima said. "It's not that we do not have any good game designers in our development team. However, the concept for 'Rising' was completely new."
With "Rising" shelved, Kojima and his teams continued to work on their various other "Metal Gear" projects, including a high-definition remaster of older games that hit stores in November and a mysterious open-ended game that Kojima is reluctant to talk much about.
Rumors had begun to surface that the game would not get made, and that piqued the interest of a little-known Osaka, Japan, developer named Platinum Games. When Kojima spoke with executives there about reviving the project, they were enthusiastic, he said. Platinum delivered a thorough proposal, which won Kojima over, he said.
The game and its story have changed considerably from the original concept, said Kojima, who is an executive producer on the project. Even the name is different. It will be called "Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance" when it debuts this year.
"If this game becomes hugely successful and popular, then we might make it into a franchise," Kojima said.
In a game about sword fighting, support for the latest motion-control gaming systems -- Microsoft's Kinect and Sony's PlayStation Move -- would seem to be a natural fit, but Konami has not described how it will be controlled. In a previous interview, Konami President Shinji Hirano declined to comment on the game's control scheme.
After "Rising," Kojima expects more "Metal Gear Solid" games to be made, but he hasn't decided whether he will design them, he said. Gamers recognize Kojima's meticulousness, which is why he has such a dedicated following. (He has about 136,000 people following his Japanese Twitter account, and another 89,000 following an official English-translation page.)
Evidence of his perfectionism can be found in the development of "Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D," a remake of an 8-year-old game to be released on Nintendo's 3DS hand-held system. The 3DS has two screens, one of which can display games in three dimensions without requiring the player to wear special glasses.
"We are trying to make it as easy to use as possible," Kojima said. "We're taking a lot of care in the very small details, like when you lay down, using the screen below to change your weapons."