Tet­suya Mizuguchi


so it seemed per­fect. And then, as I searched on­line after that for the word ‘Rez’, I found the Un­der­world song.”

Rez was re­leased in Ja­pan in Novem­ber 2001 on Dream­cast and PS2, then ar­rived in Europe the fol­low­ing year in Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary re­spec­tively on the two plat­forms, and in North Amer­ica on PS2 only in Jan­uary. In Ja­pan, the PS2 ver­sion came pack­aged with the Trance Vi­bra­tor, a sit-on pe­riph­eral that con­nected via USB to de­liver ex­tra feed­back to the player’s back­side and which prompted plenty of sex­ual in­nu­endo in the west. “I thought it was quite funny,” Mizuguchi laughs. “That’s a very hu­man re­ac­tion.”

Rez was well re­ceived among press and play­ers. One common crit­i­cism was its short

Pro­ducer, Rez

Your first project at Sega was a hy­draulic mo­tion ride. Was that in any way a pre­cur­sor to

Yes, the mo­tion ride moved in time to the mu­sic and vi­su­als to cre­ate a good feel­ing, which def­i­nitely fed into Rez. In a way, that was the first step. If a mo­tion ride was in­ter­ac­tive, you’d have some­thing like Rez. Maybe, but it’s not easy to find new ways to make mu­sic games, and there is risk in­volved. Those games do in­no­vate in their own ways, too. Rock Band was a great in­no­va­tion, and [Har­monix co-founder] Alex Rigop­u­los also tried new things with Am­pli­tude and so on. He’s a very artis­tic and cre­ative per­son who makes block­buster games that ap­peal to a lot of peo­ple. Rez is a dif­fer­ent kind of game, but I think it’s im­por­tant to have both.

bosses were on a vari­able dif­fi­culty scale, so that they adapted to player skill. On what cri­te­ria did you base that cal­cu­la­tion?

I don’t re­mem­ber. But I wanted to make sure the player got a dif­fer­ent end­ing de­pend­ing on their skill, and would want to see what would hap­pen if they played through again. I re­ally wanted peo­ple to play it over and over again, and to have dif­fer­ent re­sults de­pend­ing on their per­for­mance that day. The mar­ket­ing team asked me how many hours of game­play the game had, and I said, ‘Sev­eral hun­dred!’

Mu­sic games in the ’90s ex­per­i­mented with me­chan­ics, but now the genre has set­tled into a groove – tap in time with the icons. Is there a lack of in­no­va­tion in mu­sic games to­day?

du­ra­tion for a full-price ti­tle, with just five main ar­eas and some ex­tra play modes, and per­haps this con­trib­uted to the dis­ap­point­ing sales fig­ures. And yet the game’s legacy has en­dured: Rez is con­sis­tently voted highly in best-games lists, has won awards, and was shown as part of an ex­hi­bi­tion at the Smith­so­nian Amer­i­can Art Mu­seum in 2012.

“I was ner­vous when Rez was first re­leased,” Mizuguchi ad­mits. “The feed­back you get is dif­fer­ent than what you get after a year, or five, or ten. Yes, it’s a short game, but a lot of peo­ple played it over and over again. Now I can be like, ‘I told you so,’ but at the time I didn’t know yet whether peo­ple would do that. The re­cep­tion the game gets now, 15 years on, means more to me than the ini­tial re­cep­tion.

“I think the rea­son it is still so warmly re­ceived is that it touched a deep nerve. It tapped into some­thing prim­i­tive in a new way. It took so much ef­fort to achieve that, but now I feel it was all worth­while.” Draw­ing on themes of in­for­ma­tion over­load and dig­i­tal revo­lu­tion, Rez still seems as rel­e­vant to­day as it was at the turn of the mil­len­nium. “I wanted to make a story that would stand the test of time and never get old,” Mizuguchi says. “I wrote a lot of back­story for Rez, but we left nearly all of it out. In­stead we re­lied on themes: com­put­ers and viruses, life, rein­car­na­tion. We kept the phi­los­o­phy as univer­sal as pos­si­ble, and told the story through de­sign.”

Mizuguchi left Sega in 2003, when the company merged with pachinko maker Sammy. He de­cided to pur­sue his own path, found­ing Q En­ter­tain­ment, and would go on to make mu­sicpuz­zler Lumines and Child Of Eden, a spir­i­tual pre­quel to Rez on 360.

Mizuguchi left Q En­ter­tain­ment last year, and now works free­lance on ser­vice-based mo­bile ti­tles, but says he is plan­ning a re­turn to tra­di­tional videogames in the near fu­ture. Although noth­ing is yet con­firmed, he says he hopes to even­tu­ally make a third Rez- style game.

“I had al­ways wanted to make Rez as a tril­ogy, and for the se­quels to come along as the tech­nol­ogy al­lowed new forms of ex­pres­sion,” he says. “I was wait­ing for that [be­fore mak­ing Child Of Eden], and I was al­ways think­ing about it. I still am. If there was an amaz­ing new type of dis­play, or maybe vir­tual re­al­ity, I’d be in­ter­ested. I’d like to try some­thing new.”

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