RPGFan Exclusive Interview #4: Hidetoshi Endou, president, Hudson
translated by Chris Winkler

This week we have had the chance to talk with Hudson president Hidetoshi Endou. A native of Shizuoka prefecture and graduate Tokyo's Sophia University, Endou has been at Hudson for two decades before succeeding co-founder Hiroshi Kudou as company president in November 2004. As president of Hudson, Endou has overseen an eventful year for the makers of Tengai Makyou and Bomberman. Following financial problems, Hudson became a consolidated subsidiary of Konami and then the company moved its headquarters from Sapporo to Tokyo. On the bright side, the company could celebrate the successful release of Tengai Makyou III: Namida in Japan and will post black numbers again during the current fiscal year ending on March 31st.

In today's interview, Mr. Endou will cover a wide array of topics, ranging from the future of Tengai Makyou and Rengoku to his past and future cooperation with Tengai Makyou series mastermind Ouji Hiroi.

Q: Mr. Endou, we have many questions for you. But first, could you tell us about the impetus that made you enter the game industry?
A: I read that in a magazine interview the president of Hudson talked about the dream of sending a communication satellite into space. I thought, "the software industry has dreams" and joined Hudson. Hudson at that point held an 80% share of the PC software market, but afterwards, in 1984 began selling game software for the Famicom (editor's note: Nintendo Entertainment System) and I was in charge of the software business.

Q: How did Tengai Makyou III: Namida which was released for PlayStation 2 in Japan on April 14th 2005 fare in terms of sales?
A: We achieved sales of 200,000 copies.

Q: Hudson is currently working on a number of projects for next-generation consoles, but let's hear about the development status of Tengai Makyou ZIRIA for Xbox 360 and Rengoku The End of the Century for PlayStation 3.
A: Tengai Makyou ZIRIA: Haruka naru Jipang is scheduled for a March 23rd release date in Japan. We are currently looking at a release date for Rengoku The End of the Century, but the game is earnestly in development. Please forward to it.

Q: Apart from Rengoku The End of the Century and a new Bomberman game, you have announced that you are also developing an original RPG for PlayStation 3. Can you give us any details about this game?
A: I can't make any official announcement just yet.

Q: In which direction are you going to take the Tengai Makyou series in the future? Is there a possibility that you will release a MMORPG for the PC platform and next-generation consoles, based on the Tengai Makyou universe?
A: I think the "Strange Japan viewed from a foreigner's [perspective] = Jipang" concept encompassing the [entire] Tengai Makyou series and the Japanese-style taste that draws a line to other RPGs, will probably not change. However, because the ideas of Ouji Hiroi who is in charge of the series' conception and supervision, have gradually changed, there are still a number of unknowns when it comes to the direction in which the world of Tengai Makyou is heading. At the present stage I can't say anything about the possibility of a MMORPG release, but should we expand into the MMORPG genre in the future, we will develop in an environment where we can express the characteristic of characters in a big way, because one of the major charms of Tengai Makyou are its individual characters.

Q: Tengai Makyou Daiyon no Mokushiroku for PlayStation Portable is scheduled for a 2006 release. How will the game's PlayStation Portable version differ from the original Saturn release?
A: Ouji Hiroi was not content with the ending of the Saturn version. Hence we have added a New York part, as we were porting the game over. With the PlayStation Portable version, we will in a true sense complete Daiyon no Mokushiroku.

Q: Ouji Hiroi who is known as the mastermind behind Tengai Makyou and Sakura Taisen is said to have quit Red Entertainment. Will he continue his working relationship with Hudson and work on new installments of Tengai Makyou?
A: I hear that Mr. Hiroi is remaining at Red Entertainment as chairman, but has moved away from the business side of things a little bit and devote himself to his work as a game creator. Because we always receive interesting ideas from Mr. Hiroi, we would obviously like to work with him again, if there is a chance.

Q: Recently, not only Mr Hiroi, but also Hironobu Sakaguchi, Tetsuya Mizuguchi, Yoshiki Okamoto, Yoshitaka Murayama and Masato Katou have left their original employers to become freelancers. As the president of a large Japanese 3rd party publisher, what do you make of this trend?
A: I want them create good games and be successful by all means. Obviously creating games that customer will enjoy [playing], will be a [positive] development for the entire game industry. I think it is good, that there are various styles when it comes to game development. However, the fact that they are going is [also] problematic. Because they had success at the company they were formerly employed at and the fact that staff harmonizing, that allows them to create equally good games in a new environments, takes place. It is also tough, because as figureheads of their former employers they probably were successful in masterminding the creation of titles. That also includes [all] their personal knowledge.

Q: Mr Endou, what games are you playing yourself?
A: When I was young, I produced RPGs like Tengai Makyou II together with Mr. Hiroi. But because I have good memories of being in charge of the business, when Hudson at the early phase of the Famicom back then as the first third party [publisher] (that is, a maker other than Nintendo) released Road Runner, I like and play simple and deep games. I want to convey the fun of the simple Road Runner to today's users as well.

RPGFan would like to thank Hidetoshi Endou and Taneko Makanae for their cooperation and support in enabling us to present this exclusive interview to our readers.