Looking back at these games, which years do you think really pushed the gameplay forward?
Taku Chihaya: For me [WWF SmackDown! 2: Know Your Role] and [WWE SmackDown! Shut Your Mouth], were the biggest ones. When we did the first SmackDown! game, we weren't really sure what we were doing. We just looked at all these WWE tapes, we looked at what we thought was cool, and we put it in the game. We just made a game that we thought would be fun for ourselves.
So after that game sold, and we got a lot of feedback, and people said, “This part of the game is good, this part of the game is a little geared too much toward Japanese gamers, and just doesn't fly in the west." So [Smackdown! 2] was the first year where we started to make that switch to understand what western gamers want and like out of this game, instead of just making a game for ourselves. So that was one big transition.
And [Shut Your Mouth] was the second year on PS2. The first one was just getting used to the new platform, and four was the first time we felt, well, we really know how to use this platform now. And we saw so much potential there, in the new hardware, to do all these new things, and a lot of it was just representing a lot of the detail that makes an actual match feel like a match, like small nuances in animation and sound. And also being able to make a backstage area, like a detailed area, that looks like the kind of stuff they do backstage in the WWE.