I mean, it’s been a while since we bugged our friends over at SNK for an interview so Adrian and Anthony headed over to quiz lead character model artist Yusuke Amano! His pedigree is strong but today we’ll just focus on his SNK work. And thanks also goes to our bud Jonathan Campana at SNK for sorting out the translation. Enjoy!
Tell us a little about yourself and your role at SNK
Currently I am the team leader for the character model artists at SNK. So far, I’ve worked on titles recently released on console such as The King of Fighters XIV (KOF XIV), SNK Heroines and Samurai Shodown.
How did you get the opportunity to enter the video game industry and what was the first game you ever worked on?
I’ve loved video games ever since I was a child, and it was a dream for me to become a game developer when I grew up. Naturally, as I progressed through school, I started to forget about my dream. However, when the time came where I had to start looking for a job, I thought long and hard about what I wanted to become and remembered the dream I had as a child. Thanks to that, I was able to decide on what I wanted to do, and here I am now, working in the industry.
The first title I worked on was for the PSP platform. Players would gather up into teams where they would then battle other teams using gigantic robots.
How did you get the opportunity to work for SNK and were you a big fan of the company and their games beforehand?
I came on board as a character model artist right when SNK first started work on KOF XIV.
I had liked SNK’s games and characters ever since I was a kid, and I had a friend who worked there so I heard what it was like inside the company. That pretty much solidified my reasoning for working there.
What helps inspire your art style and has this always been a passion of yours while growing up?
I don’t have anything I can 100% say for certain has inspired me, but I will say that various things have shaped me to become who I am today. It’s the culmination of layers upon layers of films, manga, games, and art that I have been exposed to over the years since I was a child.
Of course, I’m being shaped by them even today.
Please tell us about a typical day as an Art Director at SNK and how your role has changed since joining the company?
An average day can change wildly depending on the time restraints of the project.
Though, generally speaking, my job consists of checking and deciding on details concerning a game’s visuals and art assets.
Those details in particular are also accompanied by each section’s lead and what they think about them, including my own personal thoughts.
I first joined SNK as a character model artist. Currently I am the lead character model artist, but my position can change depending on the project.
For example, I worked on Terry and King of Dinosaurs as a character model artist for KOF XIV, but I oversaw the art direction for SNK Heroines. I then returned to being a character model artist for Samurai Shodown, where I ended up making Shizuka Gozen!
Your list of accomplish works are extensive and have all been successful and highly praised. Does this help motivate you to continue what you do best in the industry and help others that work around you to motivate them to their full potential?
My motivation stems from bringing happiness to all the players out there.
I would say a lot of my colleagues would say the same.
Personally, I really like seeing players playing our game, and I often watch live streams of tournaments or even attend events when I have the time.
Out of all the games you have worked on, do you have a personal favourite, and if so, please can you explain why?
Gosh, there are so many things I could list… But I suppose I’ll settle for Tactics Ogre. Of course, I love the character designs and the pixel art, but what I love the most is the world setting of the game. The story really brings to life its world, and I used to feel completely sucked in when I played it long ago.
Do you have a personal favourite fighter from any of the games you have worked?
My no.1 pick would have to be Terry Bogard for sure.
He was the first character I made when I joined the KOF XIV team, and ironically he was the first character I picked when I played a fighting game for the very first time as a child!
I remember buying a white and red hat, throwing it in the air and yelling, “OK!” when I was young.
In the future, will we be expecting you to be working on the new King of Fighters XV, or other SNK related projects?
I’ve worked on all of SNK’s consumer titles since I joined the company, so I imagine I’ll be working on more in the future as well.
What pops into your mind when you think of the name SNK?
I would have to say fighting games… Or perhaps even our sound team. They’re really the best out there!
As an Art Director, what advice would you give to newcomers looking to do similar work?
There are many jobs to be filled as an art director, and you’re expected to learn many things if you wish to choose it as a career path. For me, I just focused on something I was objectively OK at and worked my hardest at perfecting that one thing. In the future when you’re hired as an art director, surely your work will revolve around it.
What are your top 3 games of all time and can you briefly explain why?
Fatal Fury Special was the first fighting game I had ever played.
At a time where I had never seen what fighting games could do, FFS took me by the hand and showed me how cool fighting game character designs could get. It’s no wonder why the game is loved by many today for many things including its designs.
And the gameplay? I remember the thrill and excitement of trying to land one of those super hard special moves during matches with my friends. That being said, I played for a while, but I don’t feel like I improved much… *Laughs*
This has to be my no.1 pick for my favorite RPG.
I just adored this game’s OST. I still have it at home. Nowadays I go to Chrono Trigger orchestral concerts to listen to it in person.
Detroit: Become Human
It has a very fleshed out world, and it even makes me wonder if that’s where our world is headed in the near future.
I also love stories with many characters, and this one has quite a complicated one. It really stimulated my imagination and creativity!
If you could meet any of the fighters from King of Fighters, Samurai Showdown or SNK Heroines in the real world, who do you think you would most get on with and do you think you could become friends?
I would like to say Terry Bogard…but I think I’ll give his name a rest for the time being. I think I could get along well with Mian. She first appeared in KOF XIV as a mysterious masked person, but in SNK Heroines, we were able to explore her gentle and humanistic side further.
If you could step inside any of the games you have worked on and live there for a day, which game would you choose and why?
If it’s just for one day then I would say SNK Heroines. I feel like I could experience many wonderful things in that strange and unrealistic world. Would totally help stimulate my creativity!
Of course, I’m interested in the world of Samurai Shodown, but I don’t even think I would last a single day there! *Laughs*
If you could share a few drinks with a video game character, who would choose and why?
Darli Dagger for sure.
She’s very joyful when drunk, so I think it would be a blast to go out drinking with her and her friends!
Anthony & Adrian