In an excellent feature interview published on IGN, the outlet spoke to Takaya Imamura about his career at Nintendo following his retirement from the company earlier this year. For decades he worked under Shigeru Miyamoto, and his vital contributions shaped the look and gameplay of various Nintendo classics.
Originally an artist with no technical expertise, he was nevertheless heavily involved in shaping the look of the original Star Fox; this involved overcoming the challenge of the language barrier when working with Dylan Cuthbert and Giles Goddard, at the time young British devs that had produced the technology that drove the project.
Although he wasn’t officially the producer of much loved follow-up Star Fox 64, it sounds like Imamura-san played a key role in its development.
Star Fox 64 is the game of my life. It was a bit like a reboot, but by using a lot of ideas we couldn’t implement in the original, we managed to enrich the game’s scale. From planning to writing the plot, coming up with the gameplay mechanics and graphics, I really worked hard on this game. I also instructed composers on what kind of music I wanted for it.
…As we continued to work on the prototype, more and more people joined and it started to become serious. From modelling the characters, mechs and enemies to working on effects and backgrounds, I really worked on a lot of things. In those days, it was normal to work beyond your official responsibility. For Star Fox 64 I was credited as art director, but in reality I worked on a wide array of tasks.
His last time working with Shigeru Miyamoto was on Star Fox Zero, in particular the anime “The Battle Begins”.
The last time [Miyamoto and I] really worked together was during the production of Star Fox Zero. I was supervising the project, and Miyamoto wanted to create an anime. I worked on the anime very hard together with Production I.G and Wit Studio. I wrote the scenario and storyboard in the early phases of the project, which the professionals then made a really great anime out of. Miyamoto was heavily involved and gave detailed instructions. He was there when we recorded the dialogue, too, so he really cared about the project.
Imamura-san worked on and influenced some of Nintendo’s most iconic games, so we certainly recommend reading through the whole interview.