Information
Answers by: Published: April 26th, 2007  
Keehwan Her - Producer
Conducted by:
Anthony Romero
Interview
Toho Kingdom: It was previously mentioned that you have been a fan of the Godzilla character since childhood. To follow up on that, what film started you off on the series and which would you cite as a particular favorite from the long running franchise?

Keehwan Her: I was pretty young when I first started seeing Godzilla® films on TV, so I can't remember the first one that I saw. I do recall that they were all black and white back then. One of my favorites was clearly, Destroy All Monsters, because it featured a battle royale that included all of the classic kaiju such as Godzilla®, Rodan, Anguirus (one of my personal favorites), King Ghidorah, and Mothra. It blew my mind to see so many giant monsters in the same movie all battling each other.

Toho Kingdom: In 2002, Kirby Fong produced both the Gamecube version of Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee and the Game Boy Advance title: Godzilla: Domination!. This time around, there are three titles all related to Godzilla: Unleashed (Wii, DS, PSP) in the works. Will you be producing all of these, or have the responsibilities been divided between the three offerings?

Keehwan Her: I am currently producing all three versions of Godzilla® Unleashed for Atari. One of my main responsibilities is to provide the overall creative direction for these games. I think it's important to have a unified and coherent vision of the project as a whole. Even though each of these three versions is unique and different from one another, they all share the same basic premise: There are giant, mysterious crystals transforming all of earth's cities. These crystal formations are wreaking havoc with nature and creating freakish weather patterns all over the world.

Toho Kingdom: The Wii has been selling fantastically since its launch, to the point where the system could very well become the top selling console, on a worldwide level, by the end of the year at its current rate of sales. However, leading up to its release many publishers saw the system as a questionable variable, coming off of Nintendo's lowest console market share with the Gamecube; in fact, many analysts had predicted the system would get lost in the shuffle against the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. So what led Atari to pick the Wii as the home console for Godzilla: Unleashed before the system had debuted?

Keehwan Her: It was clear to us from the very beginning of this project that the Nintendo Wii was the perfect console for this game, because Godzilla® Unleashed will take advantage of the Wii's unique features like no other game has (so far). When I first heard about the Wii-mote and its unique capabilities, I immediately thought that a fighting game would be perfect for this kind of controller interface. The wireless motion sensors in conjunction with the accelerometers in the Wii-mote (plus nunchuk) allow us to map many of the monsters' moves directly onto our own natural body movements. This intuitive aspect of the control scheme allows the player to almost literally become the monster. At the same time, we did not want to lose the complexity and responsiveness that a player demands from a deep fighting game, so we've combined this gesture-based input with button-based input that will sometimes initiate and other times modify the player's moves. The result is this game will be easy to play and yet hard to master.

Toho Kingdom: We know that Pipeworks is developing the Wii version of the game, while Santa Cruz Games is creating the DS title. However, it has not yet been stated who the developer is on the PSP version of Godzilla: Unleashed. Is it possible to divulge this information at this time?

Keehwan Her: Pipeworks is also developing the PSP version of Godzilla® Unleashed.

Toho Kingdom: On February 21st, 2007, IGN gave a report citing that “more than 16 different” playable monsters would be found in the game. Consequently, this figure became controversial due to past experience with the fighting game franchise, where it was stated that Godzilla: Save the Earth was going to feature “18+” characters when the intended total was 19 (before Biollante was cut). In particular, a lot of concern has arisen that the game will slash a lot of Save the Earth's roster, or that there won't be many new Toho characters included. Without going into much detail, would you say that the figure was around the intended total or that Atari took a more conservative approach in estimating the total this time?

Keehwan Her: That figure is our conservative approach to announcing the number of playable monsters that will be featured in Godzilla® Unleashed. We were so excited about this game that we wanted to release some info about it, but since we did not have a final confirmed number of monsters we had to be careful about how we announced the monster count. However, it should be clear that 16 is only the minimum number of monsters that have been officially confirmed for the game. We will definitely have more than 16 playable monsters when this game is done.

Toho Kingdom: The two “original monsters” in the game has become a heavily debated feature since its unveiling, sparking very passionate arguments at a variety of forums, including this site and ones unrelated to the fandom such as IGN and GameFAQs. Had Atari anticipated this type of initial reaction to both the feature and the designs, or did the response come as a surprise?

Keehwan Her: We were very excited when Toho gave us permission to create two brand new “original monsters” for Godzilla® Unleashed. This was our opportunity to introduce something new into the Toho-Godzilla® Universe. Toho was completely supportive of this idea and would not approve anything that they felt would tarnish their Godzilla® brand. That is why the designers at Pipeworks have been working in conjunction with Toho to make sure that these monsters fit appropriately into this very prestigious line up. Personally, I'm very excited to see brand new monsters in this game, especially because they will have Toho's stamp of approval on them. We were somewhat surprised by the initial reactions to the new monster concepts, but after reading and responding to many of the comments posted on various message boards, I realized that most of the criticism could be boiled down to two misunderstandings:
(1) “Were these names the official names of the monsters?” No, they were merely placeholders until the final names are approved by Toho. Do you think that Toho would approve a name like “MagMouth?” Me neither.
(2) “Were these two original monsters replacing two classic Toho monsters that would otherwise have been in the game?” No, we have already slated all the classic Toho monsters that we can feasibly put into the game. When the final roster comes out I think that Godzilla® fans will be surprised and pleased by both the number of monsters and the variety of monsters that make it in. However, there will inevitably be those fans who are disappointed, because of the fact that we simply cannot have all of the Toho monsters in the game.

The two new original monsters are being designed independently from the classic Toho monsters since there is no pre-existing model or film archive to base them on.
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