tl note: In this interview, Kanno is referred to as Kenno, as he was sometimes credited as “Yukihiro Kenno”.
Full Translation of 並 列世界 [“Parallel Worlds”]
Interview With Kanno Hiroyuki
Sega Saturn Magazine, Vol. 24, July 18-24 1997
Aiming for a system that doesn’t blindfold you
―I know that some of our readers have never played YU-NO before. First of all, please tell us about the key aspects in YU-NO.
Kenno: A.D.M.S (Adams), a new multi-system, will be the key element. It stands for “Auto Diverge Mapping System,” which directly translates to “automatic branch mapping function.” In conventional games with branching narratives, it is difficult to identify the branching points in the story. It can be fun to look for branches, but at the same time, there are times when you have to look at the same scene over and over again, and you have to go through a sometimes annoying trial and error process. A.D.M.S. was created to solve this problem.
Depending on the player’s actions and decisions, the story will branch out and be created in a variety of ways. A.D.M.S. is a visual map that displays the branching situation in a tree (see previous page), and a chime (sound effects) is sounded when a branching point approaches, allowing players to grasp the situation with their eyes and ears. Checking your position on the map, collecting various items and information, and navigating various branching worlds…… This is [A.D.M.S].
一Please tell us about the unique worldview of the [A.D.M.S.] system, and the secret story of its birth, if it has one.
Kenno: As I see it, scenario and system are two sides of the same coin. From a certain point, the game design was established through a logical chess match between the system and the scenario.
Is the Player Really “Playing a Role”?
—Kenno, you have been creating innovative systems and scenarios one after another, such as the multi-site system in your previous work. How did you come up with the idea of dealing with parallel worlds in the A.D.M.S. system this time?
Kenno: There is a saying that “necessity is the mother of invention,” and that is exactly what we are doing with A.D.M.S. In dungeon-type RPGs, the auto-mapping function is now commonplace, isn’t it? I’m an old-school game user from the tabletop era, so back then, RPGs were basically mapped manually on a piece of paper, and that was one of the real pleasures of the game. However, times have changed, and the game market is no longer just for a few core users, and the need for improved playability has risen. I think auto-mapping is a good example of this.
–This is the first attempt at a branching story game, isn’t it?
Kenno: When it comes to branching story games, gamebook may have sparked the boom. After that, Chunsoft’s sound novels, which were a clever expression of this system on a mass-market console, became synonymous with branching story games, and I remember being quite addicted to Otogirisō. However, while I personally had a lot of expectations for the depth, breadth, and potential of this system, I was also bored by the large amount of imitation software in the same vein. I had been vaguely wondering if there was anything new. When I play branching story games, I take notes of the choices and actions, and try to avoid doing the same thing over and over again, like this next action, this next action, and so on. But this is a pain in the ass. If you’re an old-school gamer, you might say, “No, that’s what makes it fun,” but I don’t have that kind of sensibility anymore (laughs).
–I think most people are like that now (laughs).
Kenno: The basic idea of engineering is to have machines do the parts that humans find troublesome, and I thought at the time that it would be great to have computers do these things. I was inspired by the old-fashioned idea of, “why doesn’t this genre have the auto-mapping that RPGs have?”
–So the mapping function was the original goal of [A.D.M.S.]?
Kenno: Yes. But it would be boring to just include a mapping function. When I was trying to decide what to do, the question of “God’s point of view” came to mind, which I had always thought about. In RPGs, the literal translation of the word is “role-playing,” and the player in the game is the protagonist himself. So I wondered if the map was created by the main character in the game. But he doesn’t seem to be doing that at all, and that doesn’t seem right. Don’t you think so?
–I guess you couldn’t find a way to overcome that problem.
Kenno: There are more than a few times where the player is looking through God’s point of view. Even if the game claims to be “role-playing”. To put it bluntly, these are all promises made in the game. The player has been convinced a priori. But I had my own opinions about this. That’s why I created the “parallel world” setting. I came up with the idea that the branches of the story in conventional multiplayer games are branches to different worlds. The protagonist has a parallel world search device called a “reflector device,” which has a function that allows him to check his current location. He wanders through various branching worlds while checking his position on the map.
–It’s a world that transcends the uncertainty principle, isn’t it?
Kenno: But just wandering around in parallel worlds is still boring. I’m self-indulgent (laughs). It’s not interesting unless each of the branching worlds created has its own meaning. I thought it would be more like role-playing if each world had different information and items that would be useful in other branching worlds. In the past, I invented a behind-the-scenes secret system, so to speak, where you see a single story from different angles (multiple protagonist perspectives).
So I thought, “This can be applied to this too” (laughs).
–How will you incorporate this into YU-NO?
For example, in the game, there is an event in which lightning strikes. If the protagonist is there, he or she will naturally see the lightning strike. However, if the protagonist is not at the scene of the lightning strike, he or she hears about it from others. In this way, the world changes little by little through the actions and choices of the main character. So, in the last part of the story, several completely different worlds are generated. It’s like playing golf, where a slight change in the direction of your shot can shift the position of the ball from 200 yards away by dozens of yards. I designed the game in such a way that as you travel through the various parallel worlds, the huge truth hidden behind them is gradually revealed. This is how the current model of [A.D.M.S.] was created.
Age Restrictions are Necessary
to Broaden the Range of Expression
–In YU-NO, I think the more of some kinds of knowledge you have (physics, etc.) when perceiving the world structure, the more fun you will have. If you were to release the game on the Saturn, a mass-market console, would it be plain and simple?
Kenno: The fundamentals of the plot will not be changed, but some parts will be simplified. The 18+ recommendation is a necessary category due to “Adult Scenes,” but it’s not the only reason.
So how much knowledge do you need to be 18 or older? (laughs) You don’t even need to fully understand all the settings and scenarios to enjoy this game. Do you need complete knowledge of a car’s mechanics in order to enjoy driving? The A.D.M.S. system makes YU-NO a more strategic game and a more profound story. Anyone over the age of 18 will enjoy this game, and younger players under the age of 18 will one day understand the meaning of the messages conveyed in the game.
–In the PC version, there were many shocking depictions of cannibalism and incest, which are considered societal taboos. What are your plans for the Saturn port?
Kenno: YU-NO was originally an 18-restricted game, so there was a high degree of freedom of expression, including the depiction of so-called “adult scenes.” In porting it to the Saturn, we had many discussions with various sections. I am especially grateful to Sega for fully understanding the storyline, gameplay, and concept of this work. Some people seem to have a negative view of the age restriction, but please take it as a positive sign that this will expand the range of expression, and we will continue to work carefully to keep the flow of the story as intact as possible within the age limit of 18 and older.
YU-NO is Reborn on Saturn
–What are some of the unique features and expressions of the Saturn version?
Kenno: The PC version didn’t have a wide range of effects due to hardware limitations. The Saturn has a lot of relatively basic hardware features, but it also has many advantages that only a dedicated game console can offer. We don’t intend to make it just a plain port. We will continue to search for ways to express ourselves according to the platform and come up with a variety of effects.
–The quality of the CGs are also expected to increase.
Kenno: This time, we plan to increase the number of additional CGs considerably in conjunction with the additional episodes in the story. Please look forward to even higher quality CGs.
–Finally, please give a message to the players.
Kenno: I think that YU-NO is an ambitious work that is very “fun as a game.” The player becomes one with the main character in the game, and depending on the actions taken and choices made, the game will branch off into various parallel worlds. The world may look the same at first glance, but it may be a different world. Even friends who look the same as usual may be different people. Collect various information and items, solve numerous riddles, and find the world you should be in.
YU-NO is the name of a girl. Where in the world is she? …… Finding her will be one of the objectives of the player. And when you meet her, you may be presented with your true purpose.
New information will be posted on our website (http://www.elf-game.co.jp) as well as in this magazine. YU-NO will be reborn on Saturn. Please check it out with your own eyes.
 Translation note: Kenno makes reference here to the “multisight system” from his prior work, EVE Burst Error (C’s Ware, 1995). The game presented a narrative implementation where a scenario would be viewed by both of the game’s protagonists, and the player could swap between the two viewpoints freely to solve puzzles. This Rashoman-esque design was influential on the systems of games such as Fate/stay night (Type-Moon, 2004) and 428: Shibuya Scramble (Chunsoft, 2008).
This translation was produced by Justin Bortnick with the aid of DeepL Translator, and was edited by Luke Powell.