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Hidemaro Fujibayashi is a video game director for Nintendo.

Biography

Career at Capcom

Prior to pursuing a career in video games, Hidemaro Fujibayashi was exposed to the Zelda series as a child, having used his New Year's allowance to purchase the NES Disk System to play the first Legend of Zelda game.[1]

After graduating from university, Fujibayashi was considering a creative career in designing and creating layouts for haunted houses at amusement parks, and planning attractions for theme parks. Subsequently, a job opening at an unnamed video game company (not Capcom) inspired him to try joining the games industry.[2] Fujibayashi joined Capcom in 1995 and worked as a planner on the interactive movie Gakkō no Kowai Uwasa: Hanako-san ga Kita!! Following this, he served as planner and director on Ide Yosuke Meijin no Jissen Mahjong, followed by Magical Tetris Challenge.

In 1997, Yoshiki Okamoto, a veteran designer at Capcom, established a new studio dedicated to creating games for multiple platforms. The studio, named Flagship, was set up as a subsidiary under Capcom and was jointly funded by Capcom, Sega, and Nintendo, with the understanding that it would focus development on the Sega Saturn and Nintendo 64 in collaboration with the three companies.[3] In 1999, Okamoto approached Nintendo about the possibility of the studio contributing to first-party games, including a new Legend of Zelda title. Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto agreed to his proposal, and the staff at Flagship that were free began drafting a story for a remake of the Nintendo Entertainment System's The Legend of Zelda on the Game Boy Color. Okamoto would supervise the project, with the intent being to introduce a new generation of players to the appeal of that first Zelda game.[4][5]

Eventually, this project grew in scope to involve a trilogy of games that could be completed in any order. Fujibayashi, who was still serving as a designer at Capcom, was brought on board and assigned to serve as Okamoto's assistant. Early on, Fujibayashi would compile the ideas Okamoto and his team had, and eventually used them to write the original proposal Flagship had presented to Nintendo.[6] This proposal included a unique idea of his own—the ability to link all three games in the trilogy via a Game Boy link cable, allowing things the player had missed in one game to appear in the next.[7] Eventually, Fujibayashi began taking an active part in development himself and was promoted to director by Okamoto. He then began approaching Capcom artists and programmers to put a full-fledged development team together, and the team went on to release Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons.[8][9]

Following the Oracle games, Fujibayashi served as the director for Four Swords, a multiplayer Zelda game included with the Game Boy Advance remake of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. He then directed The Minish Cap, a game for which he settled upon two broad goals: to do something that nobody had done before, and to make a game that was representative of Capcom's talent for 2D artwork.[10] Sometime after the game's release, Fujibayashi would part ways with Capcom to join Nintendo and become a full-time member of the Zelda team.

Career at Nintendo

Partway through the development of The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, Fujibayashi was requested to join the project as a sub-director.[11] At this point, the rest of the team was still working on the game's controls, experimenting with using the stylus to control Link's movement and writing on the map. After joining, Fujibayashi assisted with the process of helping define the game's scope and wrote a large portion of its dialogue.[12][13][14]

Following the completion of Phantom Hourglass, Fujibayashi volunteered to direct the next Zelda game for the Wii. Upon presenting a planning document to Nintendo's management, he was assigned to be the director of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, taking charge of both gameplay and the game's script.[15] Fujibayashi would later state that, although he initially felt a great deal of pressure working on his first home console Zelda game, his fundamental approach to directing a portable or console Zelda title was the same.[16]

During the development of Skyward Sword, Fujibayashi thought up the idea of having Link skydive from a high altitude, as well as being able to dash over obstacles, rather than being stopped by them, so it wouldn't impede the player's movement.[17][18] Additionally, he also asked for the player to be able to select items using the Wii MotionPlus without having to look at the screen, which led to the creation of the game's new motion-controlled radial menu.[19]

Fujibayashi would eventually go on to direct The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, playing a key role in helping the series break away from its conventions and find a new identity for itself.

Notable Achievements

As the director of the Oracle games, Fujibayashi played a key role in helping establish a four-year relationship between Nintendo and Capcom, whereby the latter would co-develop Zelda games under the supervision of Nintendo. The games developed under this arrangement include: Oracle of Seasons, Oracle of Ages, A Link to the Past & Four Swords, Four Swords Adventures, and The Minish Cap.

After joining Nintendo, Fujibayashi helped introduce a number of new elements to the Zelda series, including skydiving, the stamina meter, and Link's increased mobility, as the director of Skyward Sword. Fujibayashi would eventually go on to direct The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, helping the series establish a new identity for itself, with the game selling over 27 million units worldwide.

The Legend of Zelda Games

Game Position
Oracle of Seasons Director, planner, scenario writer
Oracle of Ages Director, planner, scenario writer
Four Swords Director, planner
The Minish Cap Director, planner, writer
Phantom Hourglass Subdirector, story writer, multiplayer director
Skyward Sword Director
Breath of the Wild Director
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity Scenario Supervisor
Sequel to Breath of the Wild Director

Gallery

References

  1. "Yes. In the case of the Famicon game, I went straight to the toy store to buy it. I remember running to buy it, fist tight around my New Year’s money." —Hidemaro Fujibayashi (The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons/Ages Interview with Director Hidemaro Fujibayashi)
  2. "当時、遊園地のお化け屋敷の設計・レイアウトとか・テーマパークのアトラクション企画とか…なにかモノを作り出す職業につきたいと考えてました。そんなときに某社(カプコンではない)の募集をみつけ、世の中には『ゲームをつくっている会社』があることを知ります。もちろん突然ゲームが生まれてくるわけはなく、それを製作している人たちがいるということを知識では知っていたのですが、具体的に意識したのがこの募集ページでした。さっそく資料請求して、送られてきた資料をみるとそこには、夢のようにたのしそうな世界が! ゲーム製作に勝手な妄想をしつつ、深夜に応募用の企画書を書き始めました。" —Hidemaro Fujibayashi (カプコン 第一開発部 藤林 秀麿さん)
  3. "Yoshiki Okamoto, executive director and head of Capcom Co., Ltd.'s R&D division, not to mention one of the two leading men behind the creation of Street Fighter II (the other being Akira Nishitani) has left Capcom to form his own company. The new startup, called Flagship, is fueled by support from such industry giants as Capcom, Sega and Nintendo, and will concentrate game development on the Sega Saturn, Nintendo 64 and possibly the PC as well."  (Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 100. (Ziff Davis) pg. 28)
  4. "In an interview in the latest issue of the Japanese magazine Dengeki Nintendo 64, Okamoto let it slip that he has recently wrapped up writing the scenario for Resident Evil 64. Okamoto, who is also the president of Flagship, a Nintendo-sponsored company responsible for game scenarios, didn't talk about any story specifics or when to expect the game, but the fact that the scenario is done raises hopes that principal programming is already way underway." — IGN Staff, [1], IGN, published January 8, 1999, retrieved April 3, 2020.
  5. ""From what I heard, our Okamoto [Executive Director Yoshiki Okamoto] told Mr. Shigeru Miyamoto, 'I’d like to create a Zelda at Capcom.' That was about two years ago. After that, the staff without a project on their hands started to create a 2D game based on the Famicon Legend of Zelda. The concept was to convey the greatness of the Famicon generation Zelda to the current generation."" —Hidemaro Fujibayashi (The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons/Ages Interview with Director Hidemaro Fujibayashi)
  6. "At first, I participated as a kind of secretary that put all the ideas together. Back then, I was only an open ear to the concepts being tossed about, but I gradually began to take part in the actual development of the game. The idea was first to make a presentation to Mr. Miyamoto, so I wrote a proposal based on Okamoto’s concept." —Hidemaro Fujibayashi (The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons/Ages Interview with Director Hidemaro Fujibayashi)
  7. "The core of the game was pretty much decided. That is to say, the fact that it would be on the Game Boy Color, the use of the four seasons, and the decision to retain the feel of the 2D Zelda games. It was also decided that it would be a series, so I thought the link system up as a way to make use of that idea. I wanted, for example, that if you missed an enemy in the first game, you would encounter it in the next one. That’s the kind of game I wanted to make it. Zelda is a game with a solid world, so I thought we could express the characters’ “existence” like in the N64 games on the Game Boy, too." —Hidemaro Fujibayashi (The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons/Ages Interview with Director Hidemaro Fujibayashi)
  8. {{Cite person|quote= Yes. Afterwards, I worked on the scenario while reporting regularly to Okamoto. I was the director and planner then.|name= Hidemaro Fujibayashi |url= http://www.gamedesigngazette.com/2017/12/the-legend-of-zelda-oracle-of.html |title= The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons/Ages Interview with Director Hidemaro Fujibayashi
  9. "No, we developed them one at a time with the same team. At first it was just me exchanging ideas with the scenario team. Then, as the scenario progressed, I discretely approached the Capcom artists and programmers I was interested in. This sort of HR thing is normally handled by my direct supervisor Funamizu [Producer Noritaka Funamizu] but I thought I’d best sound the staff off first. Funamizu scolded me saying “that’s my job,” but I still got the staff members I wanted to join the team." —Hidemaro Fujibayashi (The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons/Ages Interview with Director Hidemaro Fujibayashi)
  10. "Our two development themes for a Zelda on the GBA were 1) to do something no one had done before, and 2) to make something that would really bring out Capcom’s style. With Minish Cap we started off by asking: how can we make this feel like a Capcom game? Our answer was to feature Capcom’s talent for beautiful, exquisite 2D graphics." —Hidemaro Fujibayashi (LoZ: The Minish Cap – 2004 Developer Interview)
  11. "I got involved halfway through development. When I joined, they were working on the fundamental parts of moving Link with the stylus and writing on the map." —Hidemaro Fujibayashi (The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass interview with Eiji Aonuma)
  12. "When I joined the development team (slightly extending both hands), I was told the game was supposed to have a certain scale, but I thought to myself that it wouldn’t be possible (laughs). They told me that it was a 2~3 in a scale of 0 to 10, but I had my doubts since the very beginning." —Hidemaro Fujibayashi (The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass interview with Eiji Aonuma)
  13. "Mr. Iwamoto, the director, is the kind of person that starts working diligently on small things and makes them grow fast. On the other hand, Mr. Fujibayashi, the sub-director, understands pretty well the fate a Zelda game can have if you just keep expanding it, and he works with the big picture in mind. So, I think they make a well-balanced team." —Eiji Aonuma (The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass interview with Eiji Aonuma)
  14. "Well, most of the staff is young, starting with the main designer, and there are also many women. Regarding the dialogue... these two people (pointing to Mr. Iwamoto and Mr. Fujibayashi) are in charge of that, so it doesn’t feel very young (laughs)." —Eiji Aonuma (The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass interview with Eiji Aonuma)
  15. "After we finished The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, we began work on the new game in the series. After awhile Fujibayashi-san had finished making The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, and he showed us a planning document saying he wanted to make it. We had him be director and discussed something that would use Wii MotionPlus, which was developed right around that time, so players could freely operate the game. For about half a year after that, I have to say the mood was very nasty! (laughs)" —Eiji Aonuma (Starting with a Detour)
  16. "Fujibayashi: That's right. That was the biggest thing. But before we began this game for the Wii console, since it was my first time working on a home console game, I was under a lot of pressure. But once we made it, I realized it didn't change much. Iwata: You mean that it felt like a Zelda game? Fujibayashi: Correct, in the way that I was making a Zelda game as the director." —Hidemaro Fujibayashi (Starting with a Detour)
  17. "Fujibayashi: Yes. I remembered seeing something on TV or somewhere in which a woman passed out in the middle of skydiving and another more experienced skydiver noticed and swooped over to her, held onto her, opened his own parachute, and landed with her. Iwata: You saw that and thought you wanted to do that sometime. Fujibayashi: Yes. I wanted to do it in a game sometime, but I thought simply starting in the sky would never get approval." —Hidemaro Fujibayashi (Inspired by Course Selection in Super Mario)
  18. "For that reason, I had a strong desire to put in some kind of action so that whatever you hit, it reacts and won't kill your speed. Thus, we made an Link able to dash up." —Hidemaro Fujibayashi ("Have it stop.")
  19. "We were using Wii MotionPlus, so I wanted to do something revolutionary even for switching items, and what I came up with was quickly switching items without having to look at an item screen. I thought it might be possible with Wii MotionPlus, so after I had a rough idea of it, I talked to Tanaka-san and asked for the impossible. I explained it using gestures, like, 'If you do this, then this happens.'" —Hidemaro Fujibayashi (Selecting Items Without Looking at the Screen)


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