Every once in a while, I have the chance to put together a story that makes it all worthwhile. This time around, it’s a huge retrospective on the Umihara Kawase series. This isn’t much in the way of a gameplay description or level breakdown, though; instead, it’s based on a lengthy interview with the series’ creator (Kiyoshi Sakai) and focuses on the inspiration for the series, its development, and its place in the Japanese games industry. As a small bonus, it represents (so far as I’ve been able to find) the only English-language conversation with Sakai that’s ever been published.
I met long-time game dev heroes at Tokyo Game Show this year — Yasumi Matsuno, for one, and Hideo Kojima — but my meeting with Sakai was actually the one I was most excited and anxious about. I think it turned out well. Now we just have to wait for the mystery U.S.-based publisher who picked up Sayonara Umihara Kawase to announce a release date.
Other random tidbits not included in the article: Sakai was unaware until we spoke that his games have a small but enthusiastic group of fans overseas already; and while he was aware of the Game Center CX episode about Umihara Kawase, he had no idea that the Akihabara Super Potato retro game shop uses drawings of Yumi as “shelf talkers” to promote interesting games.
I’m sure this article will only be read by a few thousand people at most, and that the traffic doesn’t at all justify the time I sank into putting it together. That’s bad business. But, you know, every once in a while I just have to write an article for my own benefit. Hopefully a few others out there get something out of it as well.