Ryozo Tsujimoto told me he had no complaints about the horsepower of the Wii, when I interviewed him last week. He's the producer on the game Capcom is marketing as "the most beautiful game on the Wii."
NOTE: The screenshot that originally appeared atop this post — which I've now moved to the bottom — was from the game's FMV intro. I've replaced it with an in-game screenshots. I apologize for the confusion.
The Wii isn't the most ideal platform for making the most beautiful graphics," Tsujimoto, producer of the Japanese hit and U.S.-bound Monster Hunter Tri, told me as we sat down for an interview in Capcom's media suite at the 2009 Tokyo Game Show. "You can can [make them] within the limitations, but you need a sense of design."
There would be no technical talk during my chat with Tsujimoto. No discussion of textures and shading. No mention of numbers except for the likely key stats that Tri was developed by a team of more than 100 people over the course of two and a half years.
Instead of talking tech, Tsujimoto wanted to talk about something more ephemeral: Design. He asked me to imagine a cluster of five trees that might appear in the game. Maybe the game can't render all five trees, so you're stuck with having to use four. How do you place them? That's the kind of thing focused on by his team. Their goal, from the start, he told me, was to develop the best looking game on Nintendo's system, focused on.
"We can't say how other companies work," he said. "But as we we talked about it, it's not enough to make a game that looks great technically.... It needs to have good design but good atmosphere."
Capcom's developers have rendered a lot of detailed visuals with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, but Tsujimoto declined to question the power of Nintendo's system. "There will always be some limitations no matter which system you are working with," he said. "Oddly, we didn't have anything we were not able to do on the Wii.. even things we thought weren't going to happen somehow the programmers were able to make happen."
Tsujimoto credited "a lot of know-how" as the way his team pulled this off. Not specific enough for you?
"As you can tell, we are a very positive team." Yes, I could tell. From my own experience I can say that I was surprised at how good Monster Hunter Tri looked when I walked into Capcom's media suite and saw it running on flat-screen TVs. It doesn't look as good in screens — and it doesn't come close to the graphical fidelity of the best-looking games on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. But it does look very good. Capcom's marketing slogan for this game might not be far off.
Monster Hunter Tri, which features four-player online and off-line hunting of monsters and is part of one of Japan's most popular game series, ships for the Wii in the U.S. in 2010.
The following screenshot, which originally appeared at the top of this post, is from a pre-rendered video. It is not in-game graphics.