Game Music

Comic Con 08: Konami’s U1-ASAMi Talks DDR, Plays On Expert

July 27, 2008 | | 1 Comment Share thison Facebook Comic Con 08: Konami’s U1-ASAMi Talks DDR, Plays On Experton Twitter

U1-ASAMi is a cool dude with lots of style. He’s typically seen decked out in smooth shades, leather pants, and boots. He’s been in the US a lot lately promoting his upcoming Wii title, Dance Dance Revolution: Hottest Party 2, and we caught him for a moment to discuss the title as well as his past at Bemani.

Even if you’re not a fan of the DDR franchise, do you at least agree that the music featured in the game sounds great? Are you looking forward to more waggle-based gameplay mechanics in Hottest Part 2?

Read a touching statement for the fans and find out what makes U1-ASAMi such a swell guy after the jump!

OSV: We’re here with U1-ASAMi from Bemani, producer of Dance Dance Revolution: Hottest Party and longtime composer of music for the DDR franchise. Please say hello!

U1: Hello. My name is U1-ASAMi. I am a director and composer of the DDR series. My first name is Yuichi, and ichi in Japanese means 1, so please call me U1! [Editor’s Note: The U1 in U1-ASAMi is pronounced Yuichi].

OSV: Last time I spoke with you, you had just finished up Hottest Party and you weren’t sure how it was going to do. Given that a sequel is now coming out, I guess Hottest Party did pretty well on the Wii?

U1: Yeah, it sold very well.

OSV: So, enough to warrant a sequel. That’s very good news, and congratulations on that because I know that was your first time acting as the lead producer for a DDR title. So you’re acting as the sound director as well?

U1: There’s actually somebody else who is the sound director. I am the director and composer for the title.

OSV: Okay, so Hottest Party had an accessible style with lots of pop and rock music, and it was kind of catered to a casual audience. Will we see the same approach with Hottest Party 2?

U1: Yes, Hottest Party 2 has the same concept and is very accessible. There are actually three DDR series right now. There’s Hottest Party, DDR X, and DDR Universe, so each has its own unique character, so we would like to preserve this distinct Hottest Party character.

OSV: You said you’re also composing for the title, so I’m wondering if we’re going to hear some new tracks from you, and if so, how many new songs have you created for Hottest Party 2?

U1: I created two new songs.

OSV: Are the teams on Hottest Party smaller teams considering that a portion of the music is actually licensed material?

U1: Well, the teams for both Hottest Party titles consisted of about 17 members, and there is the same combination of original music and licensed material in both titles. There are actually 50 new songs with no repeats.

OSV: Is the team size for Hottest Party smaller than for the X or Universe titles though?

U1: It’s actually similar in size.

OSV: Is there any chance for downloadable content for Hottest Party 2?

U1: There is no downloadable content, but I do want to explain some of the new features for the title. We’ve tried to utilize the maximum strength of the Wii hardware. We recorded and used motion capture five times more than in the first Hottest Party title. There’s also a new mode called Dancing Defense that will enhance the gameplay by making even more use of the Wii’s motion controls.

OSV: What does Dancing Defense do beyond the hand movements that were already worked into the original Hottest Party game?

U1: Well, before you could probably get away with just foot steps, and not really using the hand motions, but this time you have to use lower body and upper body with the Wii controller at all times to get a passing score.

OSV: I have a question about that. Basically there’s more movement in the game because the motion controls, and because you’re using your hands and feet, it’s becoming more lifelike…

U1: That’s actually been our biggest headache. We’re not trying to pursue a lifelike experience. If we pursue that, it’s not like a videogame. We want to leave more flexibility with the player. We also have a new training mode that you can practice DDR and the dancing using the training mode. Then you can use that dance in the gameplay, and as I said, there is five times the motion capture used, so you can use your own dance in the gameplay. So you can play the real lifelike style in the training mode as well as the conventional DDR.

OSV: So how did the team approach the challenge of having both hands and feet moving that’s more like real dancing? Did you hire a choreographer to figure out how to coordinate the hand and feet movements?

U1: Well, the team members are all experts in DDR and they know DDR, so they think of the best choreography by themselves.

OSV: Okay, I do want to go back a little bit and talk about the composing you’ve done. One of my favorite tracks of yours is “Cutie Chaser”…

U1: [Laughs].

OSV: [Laughs] Yeah, I know, I’m sorry. I know it’s a very upbet and kind of happy track. It was written under your Club Spice alias, and it was one of the first songs I heard when I started playing DDR because it was in DDR Max, one of the first DDRs on the PS2. I’m wondering what you can tell me about that track and how you went about making it.

U1: First of all, that was a big challenge. It was a new approach to videogame dance music. It uses three beats instead of the traidtional four-beat dance style. The music has to be very familiar with the game player, and it shouldn’t be too difficult. That song was a big challenge, but I tried to bring in something new. I wasn’t really satisfied with the old conventional dance style so I wanted to experiment with three beats.

OSV: “Drop the Bomb” is also one of my favorites. I want to know how you went about creating this one because there are vocals in it, and I wanted to know the story behind that track.

U1: I actually composed “Drop the Bomb” at the same time Naoki wrote “Dynamite Rave.” I felt “Dynamite Rave” was a great song, but it was too difficult. I like to compose good music, but it needs to be for everybody. That’s one concept.

OSV: So “Drop the Bomb” is a more difficult song that you feel isn’t for consumers?

U1: So “Dynamite Rave” and “Drop the Bomb” were written not for console gamers, but for arcade gamers. Typically the arcade gamers play much harder.

OSV: Okay, and then in Hottest Party you had “Such a Feeling” which was a really upbeat, happy song that I really enjoyed. Can you tell us about that one?

U1: It was 13 years ago that I actually composed that music! Since then, the song has been left behind, but this time I had a concept pop into my head, so I revived that song. It was actually composed for a shooting game, not for DDR. [Laughs]

OSV: [Laughs] I’m just wondering how that could fit into a shooting game!

U1: Well, it was very different, but the concept was the same.

OSV: Okay, so what’s your favorite song that you’ve written for Bemani games?

U1: I would say all of them because I cannot tell you the order of my own children! I love them all the same.

OSV: So do you get to write any music outside of work, or are you too busy?

U1: Actually, yeah I do, but they’re my own creations for my own satisfaction, and not for others.

OSV: So they’re not released anywhere then?

U1: No.

OSV: I’d like to hear it someday, just so you know! I wanted to ask what you’re using in terms of software and hardware to create your music.

U1: I use a Mac with Logic Audio and Pro Tools and CDM effects and so many kinds of software. Recently we’re using so many things, I can’t even remember.

OSV: I have a lot of friends who also do this, but you have so many different aliases. I’m wondering why you have so many different handles that you release under.

U1: I try to open up the window because when I compose as U1 only U1 fans will play, and for [2mb] songs only [2mb] fans. So I utilize these several names to gather a larger group of fans. They usually don’t know. The other reason I use these names is to make DDR popular, and not to make Asami more popular. To make the series more popular, that’s the reason I use so many names.

OSV: Well, that’s very noble. I know that many Bemani artists, such as DJ Taka, have their own original albums at Konami. When will we see the Yuichi Asami first album milestone?

U1: Right now I have no plans. The reason why is that those guys with the albums are focusing on the Japanese domestic market, but I’m focusing on the US market. Those guys in the Japanese market can create that kind of Japanese music, but I’m looking at the US side of things.

OSV: So when you play DDR, what difficulty do you play?

U1: Expert!

OSV: So you play on expert. So you’re pretty good at it?

U1: Well, I’ve been playing it for over ten years! [Laughs]

OSV: [Laughs] So do you have a message for DDR fans as we get closer to the release of Hottest Party 2?

U1: When we first created DDR, it was really a revolution. In ten years time, the series has really evolved thanks to the fans. I would like to create a DDR title for the next generation thanks to the last generation. That’s why I would like to try a new approach. Thank you all for your support.

[Special thanks to Y. Kawasaki for translating]

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