Famicom Disk System:
The More You Play It, the More You'll Want to Play! [Disk 1]

Introduction | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8


Though you are the creator of Wario, Mr. Kiyotake, what did think about the Disk System?

Kiyotake: Its number one appeal point was it could be overwritten... So everyone said, "It can do anything!" However, in reality... (Smiles bitterly)

Sakamoto: This is going to be a dangerous story! (Laughs)

Kiyotake: As storage capacity increased, although they said lots of good things about it, naturally, there were limits, and it felt like my workload had increased.


Osawa: I remember, "My work load increased." When we compare the Disk System with ROMs, factory production was speedy. So Kid Icarus was finished three days before release date! (Laughs)

You finished it just before release?

Osawa: They told me three days before, "If you don't put out the master version today, we won't meet release date."

And yet you met it in time.

Osawa: With Disk System production, the factory has lined up an entire row of disk writers, and there are factory workers who pump out disks like a machine, using brute force* to check for manufacturing errors.**

*Literally "human-wave tactics".
**For more detailed information on the manufacturing process behind Famicom games, see also Chris Covell's translation of The Stars of Famicom Games: How Video Games are Made, particularly pages 24-25.

Is it like copying data to a floppy disk?

Sakamoto: That's right. It depends on how willing you are to do it. (Laughs)

All: (Laughs)

Nintendo Famicom Disk System Kiosk
You could buy games from this storefront disk writer. Machines [like this]
were lined up in a row in the factory, so try imagining a scene of many
people operating them. [Note: Factory machines look different than the
Disk Kiosk. -Ed.] (From Pink Gorilla Games.)

About how much time does it take to make just one disk?

Osawa: Because everyone at the shop copied the same with a Disk Writer, I think it only took several seconds. So, at the last moment, they told me, "If this doesn't have any bugs, it's finished." If I'm not mistaken, Kid Icarus was released on December 19, so I was told that three days before! (Laughs)

Sakamoto: That's the date; you have a good memory! (Laughs)

Osawa: It's amazing! (Laughs) And they also told me, "What will you do if you don't make it by Christmas?" However, they didn't say "It's your neck!" (Laughs) Therefore, everyone on the staff put on stoic faces.

Sakamoto: As I remember, lots of staff participated in the all-night party we put on.

Osawa: Yes, they did. At any rate, it was a catastrophic environment. (Laughs)

Sakamoto: In those days, it was intense to do anything. At the time of Icarus, only Osawa was married. With something like Metroid, while initially a few were making it, when it came to the final stage of development, everyone worked together to help finish it. So when everyone worked on Kid Icarus, because Osawa wasn't there, if we heard, "What's he up to?" we'd answer, "He seems to have gone home." (Laughs)

Osawa: Why did you tell him I was married! (Laughs) I expected to get married when development was finished. However, it wouldn't end! (Laughs) Therefore, I said, "Although we had the wedding ceremony, we gave up on having a honeymoon. However, please give us a three-day vacation. I need to tidy things up around the house." And although I took a rest...I was called back in two days! (Laughs)

Everyone: Roars with Laughter

Osawa: In addition, my boss at that time called me on the phone and said, "Osawa, I'm terribly sorry. Until know, you have been patient so far, but anyhow, you should come back." And with that I had no choice but to answer, "...Yes, sir." (Laughs)

Sakamoto: At that time, Metroid was finished and since immediately afterward we entered into development on Icarus, we were very irritated. Because of this, I said, "Osawa, what are you doing? Can you come?" as we were in that kind of mood! (Laughs) And so when he heard, "What are you doing?" he said, "I'm eating." He was summoned while he was eating dinner. (Laughs)

Osawa: So I told my wife, "Excuse me, but I have to go to work."

Did your wife become very angry?

Osawa: No. Rather than become angry, I think she said, "It can't be helped." She felt these things happened if you work for a company that makes games. Although the beginning of our marriage was a lonely experience, after that, the rules were less lax! (Laughs)

That's a clever way of putting it! (Laughs)

Sakamoto: At any rate, a teammate who summons a newly wed who is eating dinner at home is truly amazing! (Laughs)

That's meddling in other people's affairs! (Laughs) Well, did you take a honeymoon in the summer?

Osawa: We didn't go. In those days, even though I worked on one game, perhaps I should say I had a lot of passion. But if I say that, perhaps you will think I don't have passion anymore, so that's not good! (Laughs) In those days, that was the period when the feeling of, "We have to do it!" came out foremost.

In those days, since only a small number of people could make games, why did you feel like that?

Osawa: That might have been because in those days the extent to which hadn't visited with third parties of the Disk System, there was a strong feeling that "We shouldn't pull ourselves ahead of them."

Kid Icarus Title Screen NES 1986
Because the developer gave up his honeymoon and was summoned back two
days into his marriage, Kid Icarus was released into the world.

I see.

Osawa: Icarus was my first work. Considering I was a rookie who had joined the company with only about two years of experience, and considering I was able to request a game, I also felt, "I have to do it!" By the time I could see my objective, I'd joined the company and had two years experience, and since I was brimming with incredible energy and also had ambition, that was when the timing was good to request work... I think that was how the Disk System era worked.

They entrusted a rookie with two years of experience with one game, but now they would never consider that.

Sakamoto: However, I hope it's OK to do that even now. But in those days, designers could draw pictures, so many people thought they could naturally make games too. It was rough-and-ready! (Laughs) Miyamoto was a design director, so many people thought every designer would do things like Miyamoto.

Ah ha ha ha! (Laughs)

Sakamoto: But that is a terrible misunderstanding! (Laughs) That is why whenever they found a designer, people at that time tended to say, "Complete one no matter what!" It didn't matter whether or not he was a newcomer. Somehow, we managed to end up with something in the end. Where "Release date is next month" was concerned, in the end, everyone gasped and strained to contribute to making it. But these days, they will extend a release date that is in doubt. How should I put it, in that era, there was vigor for them to somehow get things done.

Shigeru Miyamoto
In the period when Mr. Miyamoto joined Nintendo, his main work was
designing the hardware [arcade cabinets] and packages. But unexpectedly,
he could also make games, and so created Donkey Kong.

Introduction | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8