From the outside, Chris Esaki and Keiichi Yano might seem like an unlikely pairing. The two developers have a long history in the video game industry, but of making very different games: Esaki is best known for creating the cover shooter genre with his game Kill.Switch and for his later contributions to major AAA franchises like Mass Effect and Gears of War, while Yano is responsible for cult-classic rhythm games like Gitaroo Man, Ouendan and Elite Beat Agents. The two began their professional relationship on the Xbox 360 karaoke game Lips, and now, eight years later, they've co-founded Jumo, a new development studio that aims to revolutionize the toys-to-life genre.
We recently caught up with Esaki and Yano and asked them to try their hands at building a level in Super Mario Maker. After an hour or two of work — with Esaki creating the stage on the Wii U GamePad and Yano playtesting and providing feedback — the level was complete: "Bullets for my Neko," an action-packed stage requiring players to improvise to survive an endless swarm of Bullet Bills.
Above, watch Esaki and Yano talk about their process developing the stage — and how their decades of experience designing games informed building this small course. Then, when you're ready to attempt it for yourself, load it up in Super Mario Maker — the course ID is 6F9B-0000-022E-EA6D, and you can bookmark the stage for later by heading to Nintendo's Super Mario Maker bookmark site.
Have a game developer you'd like to see try their hand at Mario Maker? Let us know in the comments, and they may appear in a future episode!