Lastly, I’d like to have you all talk about your favourite levels without revealing too many spoilers. I think it would be great if we could make some related videos for our readers to watch.
I like the mine cart level , especially zooming around the mine cart course that’s shaped like a C in the Cave area.
Speeding and jumping is really fun. How about you, Mike-san?
There are several things I like particularly well, but one is bouncing up and down. For example, when there’s a red flower, you can bounce on it like a trampoline, and it’s really fun to grab bananas as you’re bouncing . Another part I really like is the enemy hippopotamus. That hippopotamus appears on a level atop the trees of the jungle. It pops out hanging onto a wooden power pole .
Why is a hippopotamus on a power pole? (laughs)
At first, we were envisioning a level in which something would pop up from underneath the trees and Donkey Kong would progress by stepping on them. Then someone - I don’t remember who - had the idea of making that character a hippopotamus.
But isn’t it weird for a hippopotamus to appear on top of jungle trees? (laughs)
That’s why I thought we should have it hang onto a power pole! (laughs)
Huh? Oh, I see. (laughs)
The designer made it a really lovable hippo, so I hope everyone will enjoy it.
I really like the level where spiders chase you .
That’s Muncher Marathon.
On that level, lots of things move all at once and crumble and break, and a big cloud of spiders attack. We really calculated that out, so I really like it. I also think we did a good job recreating the thrilling elements in the earlier Donkey Kong Country games.
Tabata-san, how about you?
Can I say my top three?
Sure. Go right ahead. (laughs)
Tabata-san, you said that so nonchalantly. (laughs)
(laughs) But it’s a really fun one to fight! And now for number one! The level I wanted to play right away when I saw all the levels was one called Flutter Flyaway.
But that’s a slightly difficult level, isn’t it?
It’s difficult, but the platforms move in a variety of ways, so I want to try it over and over again. Flutter Flyaway is my very favourite!
I like the levels with a Rocket Barrel . It’s an ability that wasn’t in the series before. You control it by firing the thruster with the A Button. Rocket Barrels appear on several levels, but especially Gear Getaway and the one with the bats…
These two are particularly challenging levels with Rocket Barrels, but that’s what makes them so rewarding and exciting. I recommend those two places.
Thank you. Now, to finish up, would each of you please say something to the fans?
The team is really proud of the many and varied elements it was able to put into the game. It’s a game that even people who don’t play video games very much can really enjoy, and we were also able to put in elements that die-hard fans can enjoy. Up until now, we’ve worked on the Metroid Prime games, but I feel like we were able to put quite a bit more elements into this game than those, so I hope lots of people will enjoy to the fullest the passion and enthusiasm we poured into this game.
We Donkey Kong fans made this game with Donkey Kong fans in mind. We’ve been playing it together as a team even after completing it, so I hope everyone else will enjoy it as much as we do.
It’s great if, even after development is over, everyone on the team can still enjoy playing a game together that they themselves worked so hard to make.
First of all, I’m proud that this team was able to develop it. And it’s a game that I can recommend with confidence to everyone. I hope players will walk around and find hidden things and try to finish the levels as fast as they can in a speed run challenge, but, more than anything, I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s reaction.
That’s the biggest reward for developers.
How about you, Tabata-san?
I worked on the Metroid Prime series, too, and when I showed my parents what I had made, they would say, “Wow!” but they were a little taken aback.
But with Donkey Kong Country Returns, they’ll be able to play together with me and we’ll be able to spend some quality time together.
I’m thankful and proud to have worked on such a monumental project for both Nintendo and the game industry, and also to have worked on it together with Retro Studios. I would be really happy if Donkey Kong Country Returns becomes firmly entrenched in the memories of players new to the series - just like Donkey Kong Country has - and if a few years down the road from now people enjoy talking about it as a fond memory the same way as its predecessor.
Well, here in Japan it’s almost noon, but on the other side of the earth, in Texas, there’s a 15-hour difference, so…
It’s nine at night.
I find it satisfying that all the way on the other side of the world, where there’s a huge time difference, Retro Studios accepted this franchise with a history behind it and made a game that dispelled all worries about whether it was okay for someone beside Rare to make it and about whether the game would turn out all right even though Retro had lost some key persons. In addressing concerns over what the two-player mode would be like and over whether it would be a little too easy if made for Wii, I think you made a solid game drawing upon everything currently available. In many ways, it is a game with a high concentration of interesting game elements. I think this game has what’s fun for people who remember Donkey Kong Country, people looking to play the next game after New Super Mario Bros. Wii, people who like side-scrolling action games, people looking for a game that can be played as a family, and people who love the feeling of mastering a challenging game. A job well done!
Thank you for the opportunity to work on this project!
I hope everyone who reads this will take an interest in the game. Thank you very much! And thank you for participating in this interview even though it’s late at night where you are.
It’s nothing. Compared to five in the morning, that is! (laughs)
(laughs) Next time, let’s meet face-to-face!
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