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Keiichi Yano's GDC 2007 Presentation

The transformation into agents

by Aaron Kaluszka - March 12, 2007, 9:55 am EDT

From Gitaroo Man to Ouendan to Elite Beat Agents to Ouendan 2, the talk covered the history behind the games, including plenty of concept art and video.

Even though Yano told his team that they would be making US and European versions of the game, they did not believe him, feeling that the ouendan were something tied to Japanese culture that wouldn’t make sense in the rest of the world. Nintendo hadn’t promised localization either. Even still, Yano began to think about how to take the game to western audiences using a different set of characters. He had many influences throughout development. His first idea was to come up with a “Motley Crue" of characters like the ouendan were, but to give it a western feel. The original result was The Village People. Though they even came up with some initial character sketches, this idea was discarded because even though The Village People embodied some of the ideas he was going for, Yano felt that nobody actually wanted to play as The Village People.

The idea for the Elite Beat Agents came about from the combination of three movie influences. The initial idea was from Ghostbusters (guys to call for help), followed by Men in Black (agents arriving in a car), with the biggest influence being Blues Brothers. Concept art was created for the agents, though under a different name. Yano was embarrassed to explain the “DR" logo found in the early art and wished that nobody had noticed, but it turns out that the original name of the Elite Beat Agents was “Disco Rangers." Their designs were intended to keep some of the ideas of the ouendan: they were dressed in black and were a motley crew of characters. Yet, there needed to be some contrast for the new audience; the agents were intended to be cool as opposed to the hot-blooded nature of the ouendan.

Yano felt that the agents needed some “groove," and for that they found inspiration in Austin Powers. Now they had a “mission from God" (Blues Brothers, “Can you get any cooler than that?") and a “mission to groove" (Austin Powers), but something was still missing from the equation: the characters lacked legitimacy. The ouendan didn’t need a leader to send them out, but he thought that the agents needed another reason to do what they were doing. Yano looked to Charlie’s Angels to find a third mission, a “mission from Charlie," which resulted in the creation of Commander Kahn.

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