Metal Gear Solid Touch will mark the franchise's debut on the iPhone, but it might not be what you're expecting. It's a well known fact that Kojima and company are big Apple fans, but why the iPhone? How will the game actually work? How much control do you have with Snake? To get more details on the game, we talked to Yasuyo Watanabe, the game's producer and Ikuya Nakamura, the game's director.
G4: Who comprises the team on this game? How is Kojima-san involved in this game?
Yasuyo Watanabe, Producer: The Director of MGSTouch is Mr. Ikuya Nakamura who was actively involved in other projects such as "Boktai" and "Lunar Knights." I transferred in from my position as head of the Kojima Productions web team to become the Creative Producer on the project, and Mr. Kojima supervised the overall planning, production, and direction of the game.
G4: Why the iPhone? Is this because Kojima Productions are known Apple fans? What about the platform appeals to Kojima Productions?
Watanabe: The main reason that we chose the iPhone/iPod Touch as our next platform is because we wanted to reach beyond our traditional gaming audience and allow a wide range of people, including music fans, to enjoy the world of MGS4. We think it would be wonderful if people could get a glimpse of the MGS world through MGSTouch, and then become interested in the MGS series.
Also, the iPhone/iPod Touch as a platform offers many cool features that we wanted to take advantage of, such as its unique input methods and large high resolution screen. As game creators, we were very interested in the capabilities of the system and felt compelled to challenge ourselves by creating a game for the device.
Click through for the rest of the interview, which will discuss the game's control methods, as well as the underlying idea behind the game's development.
G4: The iPhone isn’t that popular in Japan. Do you think Metal Gear Solid Touch will help sell iPhones and iPod Touch’s in Japan or is this game aimed at Western audiences?
Watanabe: In comparison with the US, the iPhone has not sold as well in Japan. However, mobile service providers have started campaigns to sell the iPhone at lower prices, which we believe could lead to a dramatic increase in users down the road. Naturally, we would be very happy if the release MGSTouch could also play a role in increasing iPhone/iPod Touch sales.
G4: Kojima Productions is known for taking advantage of new hardware for some great gameplay. How will multi-touch change the way we control Snake?
Ikuya Nakamura, Director: The theme for MGSTouch is "Simple MGS."
As a result, we have come up with a simple, yet strategic control scheme that takes advantage of the unique strengths of the iPhone/iPod Touch platform.
G4: How does the actual gameplay work with targeting and shooting? Is it an on-rails shooter? How much control do you actually have with Snake?
Nakamura: Players can trace their finger along the screen to move the targeting sight, then tap the screen to fire at enemies. Headshots are possible.
In addition, you can pinch out on the screen to switch Snake's weapon to a sniper rifle, or lift your finger from the screen to take cover and hide behind walls.
G4: As far as the story is concerned, is everything taking place within MGS4’s story line, or is there any additional content that builds on the story of MGS4?
Nakamura: MGSTouch is a retelling of MGS4's storyline.
G4: The trailer shows the return of the Beauty and the Beasts – will the other MGS4 cast members return, as well? Will you earn money to spend in Drebin’s shop to get new weapons and upgrade them?
Nakamura: Nearly all of the enemies who appeared in MGS4 will appear in MGSTouch.
In addition, players will be able collect Drebin points and trade them in for exclusive iPhone/iPod Touch wallpapers available only through MGSTouch.
G4: How hard was it to bring MGS to the iPhone? How is the experience programming for this hardware versus a traditional console or handheld?
Nakamura: That's difficult to answer, since MGSTouch is not a port of an existing MGS game. Our goal from the beginning was to create a new "pick-up-and-play MGS" that caters to the unique strengths of the iPhone/iPod Touch.
As a result, it's not possible to simply make direct comparisons between each hardware platform. The entire project was approached from a different angle.
We'll have our review of Metal Gear Solid Touch up when it is released next week on March 19 for $9.99.