Magazine Digimono Station sat down with Kazuo Funaki, the designer of the GamerDriver to discuss its unique design and nostalgic origins.
“The challenge was to reproduce the nostalgia of the age of cartridge games. In the story of Bandai’s Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, a secret organization founds a Cyber Rescue Center in order to combat the threat of destruction from an unknown game virus called the Bugstars, and the story revolves around a game loving young doctor who transforms into Ex-Aid in order to defeat the Bugstars. I think it’s easy for people to make the connection between viruses and game bugs.”
Interviewer: “The combination of primary colors is rather fresh.”
Funaki: “Yes, the colorful design is a great feature of this Rider. I think this is the first time in the history of Rider that we’ve used these particular shades. In the past, the design was usually in the style of the hero, such as black and silver, but in this time, in order to highlight the image of a game character, we expressed it in terms of a colorful pop world.”
Interviewer: “Regarding the Ex-Aid transformation belt, his transformation items, the Rider Gashats, also have their motif in game design, correct?”
Funaki: “Yes, some of the motifs of the GamerDriver is a game console, and the Rider Gashats are game cartridges. However, recent games have been in the style of discs or very small cards, so the sense of fun of games as toys has faded. Our design is expressed in old style of game cartridges. Today’s children don’t remember the Famicom era, so they don’t know what it’s like to put a cartridge into a console, so this is all new to them. I think the older generation will feel a sense of nostalgia about it.”
Interviewer: “In recent years of the Kamen Rider series, transformation forms and power-ups are mandatory. That seems to be highly true in games as well.”
Funaki: “As you play games, the character continues to level up. Specifically, in the case of Ex-Aid, he receives his first transformation after inserting the Rider Gashat into the Gamer Driver and pressing the button, transforming into his Level 1 state. Also, with Ex-Aid, the SD style of the Level 1 form, with elements like his pupils and his hair, have been really important in capturing the feeling of a game character.”
Interviewer: “It’s really cute. Kind of a comical style.”
Funaki: “In Ex-Aid, the monsters are a little comical too, like what’s often depicted as game characters. When the central level or the belt is operated, he transforms from Level 1 into a more intense Level 2 form. Combat is the focus of the Level 2 form. There’s another slot to insert another Rider Gashat and further level up.”
Interviewer: “What sort of collection elements are present, which follows the theme of recent years of Kamen Rider?”
Funaki: “The Rider Gashats represent different types of game software. The fighting style and powers are based on the type of game. By the way, on October 1st, the one included in the DX GamerDriver Transformation Belt is the default style of Ex-Aid “Mighty Action X”.
Interviewer: “Definitely sounds like an action game.”
Funaki: “You’re right. (laughs) In addition, DX Shakariki (Intense) Sports Gashat is up for pre-release, DX Taddle (Trudge) Quest Gashat will be out in mid-October, and DX Bang Bang Shooting Gashat is expected to release on October 15th.”
Interviewer: “A sports game and a shooting game? And “Quest” must be an RPG, right?
Funaki: “Like I said, a wide variety of game genres are going to appear as Rider Gashats.”
Interviewer: “So far, though we know that Ex-Aid is part of the Kamen Rider series, the Rider design seems to have completely changed.”
Funaki: “Certainly, the main body of the Riders are in the style of a game controller, but we’ve also packed in the game motif everywhere. The Level 1 form of Ex-Aid doesn’t look like any Rider ever before. However, the background story and the transformation belt is essential; his most powerful finishing move is still a Rider Kick. In edition, the accent on the forehead of the mask, the “O symbol”, is present as the symbol of the Rider. Though Ex-Aid is quite distinctive than what’s been seen in the past, his identity as a Kamen Rider is definitely not lost. On top of that, he incorporates a large number of fun elements, which is the great charm of Ex-Aid.
Source: Digimono Station