Tony Takoushi - Creator
You are the creator of the 'Mean Machines' section of CVG. Could you tell us a little about how it came about?
I had been working at Big K with Tony Tyler and it was a very different type of mag, more irreverent and 'jazzed'. It was a great experience :) Unfortunately it was ahead of it's time and the sales didn't materialise and the plug was pulled after 12 months.
I had a chat with Tim Metcalfe, the editor of CVG and he offered me my own review pages and comment column in the magazine at the amazing fee of £250 a page! This was an awesome offer as the standard rate for a page was £70 back then so I jumped at it. The 8 bit consoles were arriving and people wanted to know more so after discussion with Tim Metcalfe I starting writing a 2 page spread called Mean Machines every month. It became very popular very quickly.
Was it hard to drum up support for Japanese consoles in a magazine that focused mainly on western home computers such as the C64 and Spectrum?
Not really, the market was ready for the consoles and the games were great, with excellent conversions of hit coin-ops.
I found the PC Engine console from NEC and did a 2 page spread on it and the response was amazing! It was the first review of it in Europe and it was light years ahead of the Master system and NES. I later spoke to someone at NEC who joked (I hope) that he was going to put out a contract on me as he was being hassled to death to release it (which they never did, release the game that is).
Back then some highlights were the first reviews of the PC Engine, the Neo Geo, Engine CD ROM (the first real home CD game system, I still have all the games from back then :)
Could you give us any details on your departure from CVG, and your relations with Julian Rignall, who would eventually take over the MM section from you?
A new editor was bought in and there was a new culture being set up that I was very unhappy about. The editor had some personal problems and I could see his way of running the magazine was not what I would call professional. It came to a head and I discovered that I would not be writing for CVG from a friend, he didn't have the ability to inform me personally after 2 years of writing for the magazine.
So a sad and poor ending to a really enjoyable period of writing for CVG. I never had a working relationship with Julian Rignall, we knew of each other and he was hired after I had gone.
I recall an advert in an early issue of MM for the 'Tony Takoushi' hotline. Could you give us a little info on that?
Yes, this was fun :) I was asked to do a tips line message every week and it ran for around 2 years. It was very profitable while it lasted...
Could you please give us a update on what you've been up to since leaving the magazine?
I've worked in a lot of different areas since leaving CVG.
Programmed 3 games for 3 years on Atari ST/Amiga/C 64/Atari 800/C16.
I was European Product Manager at Sega 1991 thru 1994. It was an amazing experience the company grew from 21 staff to 170 when I left, turnover exploded from £20 odd million to over £500 million. The Sonic 2 launch was the highlight, E3 in stretch limos, world stratgey meetings in Japan, it was a totally amazing experience.
Set up my own studio TAKS and produced an innovative game from scratch in 10 months (Freefall 3050AD for the Nuon chip in Samsung/Toshiba DVD players). Probably the most satisfying phase, while the game was never promoted at all the people who saw it claimed it was hard to learn (agreed, but beyond my control as it was designed for analogue and the DVD units were packed with a D Pad!) and that it was the most innovative game they'd seen in years (see Amazon buyer comments on 'Freefall 3050' if you want to know more).
Worked in Senior publishing, a lot of design work. Head of Development Services at Codemasters was a great challenge with 6 departments and 120 plus staff. Codemasters were going from 12 skus a year to 82 and my brief was to deliver them to time and budget! It was hard work but it all came together and Codemasters had their most profitable year ever :)
Now in Australia loving the quality of life/lifestyle.
What are your thoughts on the current videogame industry?
The industry has grown up and it's a business now. I miss a lot of the energy from the early days but it's a different time and place. I still believe there is room for original product but it has to be a gradual process and well thought out with good promotion. The next gen consoles as ever are exciting to see, but people don't buy hardware, they buy game experiences so the challenege is to deliver them...I've seen many boom/bust cycles over the last 20 odd years and I'm hopeful we'll learn the lessons needed...
I'll sit down and write a book on the last 26 years sometime...amazing characters/stories/experiences...