Jun Munakata aka Jeyem back homepage search
Jun Munakata interviewed by Matthias Heuermann aka Dimpfelmoser in August 2002
(with additional questions by Jon Heywood aka Inchdix, Richard Lawther and René Brooymans aka piega). To note that this interview would not have been possible without the excellent translation work done by Yuichi Kudo aka doc. Thanks a lot for your help!

Matthias: "Are you still building levels - working on anything at the moment?"

Jun Munakata

Jun: "Yes, I've been making my 3rd level, which is about 20% complete. Its plot is..., 'we've lost contact with the moon base so that Lara must go and investigate what is going on there!'"

Matthias: "So your next level is going to be futuristic?"

Jun: "My next level will be about the near future, but I like to keep reality in it. I chose 'Moon' since I wanted to make something different; no ordinary TR style level."

Matthias: "When will it be released?"

Jun: "The release date is uncertain. But I was planning to release it before Angel of Darkness, because people would be interested in AoD after it's out."

The Lost Valley

Matthias: "What inspired you to build The Lost Valley? I take it that the setting is quite different from what you have in Japan. Not that I've ever been there."

Jun: "There wasn't anything special that inspired me. I suppose TV programs and movies I've seen give me the idea to build TR level. I can be imaginative about places I've never been before."

Matthias: "What places would you like to see for yourself?"

Jun: "I'd like to visit ruins in foreign countries, such as Egypt and Mexico."

Matthias: "What do you associate with Australia?"

Jun: "Beef."

Matthias: "That sums it up nicely; Europe?"

Jun: "Pasta, Pizza, and Tomb Raider of course."

Matthias: "Italy: two points! America?"

Jun: "Hamburger and movies?"

Matthias: "Well, I am a Hamburger myself in a way. Have you seen the remake of Godzilla by Ronald Emmerich?"

Jun: "Even though I don't really have an opinion about the original Godzilla, I felt Hollywood Godzilla had a lot of influence from Jurassic Park."

Matthias: "And from Aliens I think. What is your favourite film?"

Jun: "Among those I've seen recently, I liked the French movie called Amelie. That nice movie's heroine was very cute, so she made us (audience) feel all warm inside."

Matthias: "Interestingly enough, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the director of Amelie also did the fourth part of the Alien series: Resurrection. How big is TR in Japan?"

Jun: "In my opinion, oversea games including TR series are not so popular in Japan, because we feel they are difficult to play. There are no TR-like Japanese games as far as I know. Japanese games tend to be more fantastic."

Matthias: "Difficult to play? In what way?"

Jun: "There are less helpful hints, so we tend to get into trouble not being able to proceed in the levels. Japanese people haven't gotten used to such gameplay."

Matthias: "Doc seems to do quite well there and also the Japanese levelbuilder scene is rather prolific. Are you in contact with other level builders?"

Jun: "Yes, we talk about technical matters of level building and say how we feel about each others' levels, via Internet."

Matthias: "Would you like to participate in a joint venture with another levelbuilder?"

Jun: "I won't participate in such project. I think it is very difficult to work on the same level together because each person has a different taste and likes different ideas."

Matthias: "Internet relationships seem to be springing up exponentially, what is your personal opinion regarding this phenomenon?"

Jun: "Because of internet, I can exchange opinions with people in the world (such as this interview), but I think internet world and the REAL world are two different things. Internet isn't realistic enough for me. And I've never met anyone in real life that I communicated over the internet with."

Matthias: "Is there a part of your levels that you are particularly proud of?"

Stunt in Underground

Jun: "Stunt in Underground (released May 20, 2001) --- it was my first level ever made and not more than a study, but I think it's a good entertainment level. The object was to make the best use of motorcycle riding. The Lost Valley (released Dec 1, 2001) --- Lara can crawl under the sand. I'm proud of my work about that. Also enemies can activate traps, and Lara will be able to stop them to do so."

René: "To build a good level it takes at least 6 to 8 weeks to create one. How many hours did it take you do build The Lost Valley and do you think it is worth the trouble to spend all your free time to create a level that is played in a couple of hours by people you'll never meet?"

Jun: "It took me for about 6 months to build The Lost Valley. I make levels because I think it is a worthy thing to do. It is interesting for me that people who have different cultures and languages play my levels and talk about them. I 'm always happy when some of them give me feedback."

Matthias: "How much feedback was there?"

Jun: "Although there was almost no feedback about Stunt in the Underground, I got plenty of mail concerning The Lost Valley from all over the world right after I released it."

Richard: "What is your favourite level?"

Jun: "I like the TR3 levels. They have a good balance between action and puzzles based on complex and solid map design. Also, Lara travels the world so I can enjoy entertaining adventure in variety of sceneries."

Matthias: "What is the scenery of your own life?"

Jun: "I live in suburb area where it is just like an ordinary city. I have a small room with a tiny kitchen. It takes about 30 minutes from Tokyo by commuter train.

Matthias: "Bearing in mind that there are more Sushi shops than McDonalds in New York; are there more Mc Donalds than Sushi shops in Tokyo?"

Jun: "Probably, more McDonalds in Tokyo."

Matthias: "Japan, from an European view, is always seen as a country where many things are institutionalised and individualism isn't as important as around here. Is that actually true?"

Jun: "I agree with your opinion in some points. However, I can't say a lot about the issue because I've never gone to other countries and I don't know those cultures very well. Still, everything in Japan becomes free from being institutionalised, I guess. Japanese people's way of thinking has been changing gradually. The Japanese idea of love and marriage is more or less the same as in other Western countries."

Matthias: "Do you think they should stop all whale hunting for good?"

Jun: "Personally, I think it is better to stop hunting, except if the ecology will be damaged by the increased whale population."

Matthias: "I dare say that this isn't going to happen in the near future. Who do you think is the most influential person of the 20th century?"

Jun: "I don't recall anybody, but the person who invented the personal computer system and the Internet is great."

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