Interview with Akira Yamaoka (EGM)
Date published: 2004.09.17
EGM: SH4 came out relatively soon after SH3. Did you work on these two games simultaneously? The two games stories seem to overlap a bit; with the Cult and mentions of Claudia...did you plan them to work together to tell a larger story?
Akira Yamaoka, Producer & Sound Director, Konami Computer Entertainment, Inc.: We developed the two games almost simultaneously. We did not have any intention to have the two stories overlapping with each other though. Rather than trying to convey a larger story with the two games, I just wanted to convey the different game style in Silent Hill 4 as early as possible.
EGM: Silent Hill 4 has almost no bosses, was that a conscious choice? Do you dislike having many boss fights in a horror game?
Yamaoka: I simply thought that having boss fights would be something odd in this story concept. I did not intentionally stay away from the boss fights. In the future series, you might see more boss fights.
EGM: It seems incredibly difficult to get the best ending. Can you give us some tips on how to purify the room completely? Also, is there a UFO ending...and how do we get it?
Yamaoka: Well, I would like you to think what is the best ending (laugh). With regard to a UFO ending, we did not include that in Silent Hill 4.
EGM: The note you find from the old apartment Superintendent, is that from Harry's (from SH2) father? Will we ever know more about Harry?
Yamaoka: Well, maybe so...(laughs) With regard to Harry, you might find out more about him.
EGM: The first-person sections in the room are extremely effective and scary...do you think that direction is the future of the Silent Hill series?
Yamaoka: Thank you for the comment! Due to the concept direction, it is rather intentional, in some way. Please look forward to future Silent Hill games not being inferior to the current mainstream FPS style.
EGM: Is it better to not take the doll from Walter? When you put that in your item box, it seems to get haunted. Are there other items like that?
Yamaoka: It is a secret!! Please try to solve it!!
EGM: You never really go to Silent Hill in SH4...you go near it, but never in it. Do you find that a bit odd? Will other future Silent Hill games not take place in Silent Hill?
Yamaoka: Well, maybe, maybe not...(laughs)
EGM: Are you excited about working on horror games for next gen hardware systems? Do you think better graphics will allow you to do new things in your games?
Yamaoka: Yes, I have great expectations, but I feel some anxiety as well. When we make new content using new hardware, there are quite a few walls which we must overcome. On the other hand, we should be able to achieve what was not possible before. It should give us a broader method in expressing our ideas and to expand the Silent Hill series in various directions.
EGM: SH4 was very different from past games, but it still had one thing that all of the previous games had: a hospital. Do you think every SH game must have a trip to the hospital?
Yamaoka: I think the situation of where people do not exist (where people exist in normal hours) is a scary situation. For example, that can be a school or other assembly areas where people gather. It is not a must, but videogames which take place in those places surge horror.
EGM: Your games have given plenty of players nightmares...do you ever have scary dreams about Silent Hill?
Yamaoka: Not really. However, one of my staff members told me that he had a dream where he was sleeping while he had somebody's hand in his chest. "That is your wish" – I told him so.
EGM: Are there any secret phone numbers that Harry can dial to get a response?
EGM: Are there any secret costumes? How do you get them?
Yamaoka: Yes, however, the method is secret.
EGM: Do you get any reward for collecting all the golf clubs? Are you a big golf fan?
Yamaoka: No, I do not play golf. In Japan, golf has an image of being "middle-aged man." I am the one who hates being a middle-aged man, so I do not play golf.
EGM: Can you tell us anything about Meikyu Tansaku Gata Monster Shooting for PSP? Are you involved with that project?
Yamaoka: No, I am not. It must be somebody who has the same name.