pro_ohno.jpgGame companies often have their developers speak out on the games via websites these days, and Capcom is no different. No offence intended to these talented people, but what often surprises is how boring a high-level creator can sound.

As The Nameless Room (a small, fan-oriented Japanese news portal) points out, Capcom recently launched Capcom Topics, a column for their various to developers to speak out on, initially focusing on the excellent, underappreciated PSP remake, Rockman Rockman (aka Mega Man Powered Up in the West!), including the sound effects guy.

Wait a minute? The sound effects guy? How interesting can he be? Turns out, very.

Hiroshi Ohno, who has done sound effects for games such as Sengoku Basara (Devil Kings), Power Stone and Pocket Fighter, actually stands out among fans. He says he's received a lot of feedback about a certain type of sound that people are starting to call Ohno Sound (or Oh!no Sound). In junior high school, Ohno uses to play lots of Rockman games and wish he could help design them, so its kind of a dream come true for him.

He mentions how, since he was also a fan of the old games, when it came to remaking one, he was just as wary as the fans were of changing things, and slightly resistant. For instance, if you hear the sound when Mario gets a mushroom even now, does it not make you think of things getting bigger? I remember Nintendo once changed the sound of what bouncing off a goomba sounds like, and from then on, they weren't quite as fun to smoosh. In this way, sounds connect us to fun actions whether or not they sound like those actions, which is what I believe Ohno Sound is.

When the design for Rockman Rockman became focused on extreme cuteness, Ohno had to change the sound effects somewhat to match. When a certain fire ball erupts out of the lava, Ohno created the usual kind of "foosh" or crackling sound that would entail, but it didn't sit right with him, it didn't match the graphic style. Then he took the sound of a flute and created a "animal cry" kind of sound out of it, mixed with the old 8-bit kind of fidelity. When mixed in, the less authentic sound ended up being a lot more "fun."

Ohno's approach certainly isn't new, even in Japan, where you could see someone like Hip Tanaka (Metroid, Mother) incorporate "game"-sounding effects into his music, but it's made the otherwise less fresh game designs he's worked stand out more. One hopes that, if sound designers tried as much as Ohno does to create a sound that will resonate with a specific stored response rather than simply translating realistic sounds, even the most banal of games would get somewhat more entertaining.