I think some who read this interview may be worried that an action game without any game overs is unchallenging and no fun. As a true gamer, what do you think about that Matsumiya-san?
As a gamer myself, I can, of course, understand those worries. That’s why in addition to reaching a goal, another objective of the game is gathering beads . When you collect beads, good things happen, like you can exchange them for various items or play hidden levels. If you touch an enemy, though, you drop the beads you’ve gathered and they scatter all around . You can, of course, go around and pick them up afterwards, but I’d rather not drop them in the first place.
As a gamer, it’s humiliating to bump into an enemy.
Yes. When serious gamers play, they want to clear a level without any mistakes like running into enemies, so this game is made so you really feel regret when you run into enemies and a strong sense of achievement when you clear a level without any mistakes.
So you don’t think it’s an unchallenging game without any tension when you’re playing it.
No. It’s relatively easy towards the beginning, but in the latter half, the game pushes back, and that’s enjoyable. For a light gamer like Watanabe-san, the way the beads come bursting out is really striking.
It stops my heart. (laughs)
Oh, I see. (laughs) In the first Kirby game, Kirby’s Dream Land 6 for the Game Boy, if you sucked in air, you could float through the sky, and as long as you kept flying, anyone could reach the goal. I remember how at the time we debated about whether it was okay to let just anyone reach the goal. 6Kirby’s Dream Land: An action game released for the Game Boy in 1992.
That surprised me when I first saw it too.
We made it so the player could choose to either float slowly towards the goal or to proceed by toppling one enemy after the next depending on his or her skill. What we’ve been talking about now is somewhat similar to what we thought back then about leaving it up to the players on how they want to play the game.
Yeah, it is.
Sei-san, as director, when did you begin to feel the game was coming together?
After 2010 started. Once a week, we would have Matsumiya-san and Watanabe-san come visit us at Good-Feel and play what we had made up to that point. That was really important. Their banter was pretty funny. (laughs)
They’re total opposites.
Yes, that’s right. Matsumiya-san is a player of consummate skill, while Watanabe-san gets into trouble right off the bat.
I imagine Watanabe-san’s reactions are really dramatic. (laughs)
Ah ha ha ha! (laughs)
As we watched those reactions, we could tell which parts were fun.
I was having a lot of fun. Each week, a new level was ready, so I would go over there feeling as if I were going to open up a new present. And they were always watching me play, so if I had trouble somewhere, the next week it would be fixed. Every time I went, the game was more fun.
Until then, we had only thought about making an interesting game. We just kept thinking about the game system and how it could be interesting. But Watanabe-san said, “Let’s make a fun game.”
So Watanabe-san went each week and showed you in an easy-to-understand way whether it was fun or not.
That’s right. When Watanabe-san said, “This is fun!” I would be watching behind her thinking, “Yes!” (laughs)
Something that Matsumiya-san said that really made an impression on me was “Let’s stretch out the good places.”
Matsumiya-san, why did you think that was necessary?
Watanabe-san’s presence was really important. There was this one scene where she was having a great time, and I thought the players would really enjoy that part, too. But that scene only showed up once.
If it was fun, so you wanted it to appear more often.
Yes. No matter how fun something is, if you play it over and over ten, twenty times, it’s sure to get old, but two or three times is no problem. Also, combining several fun elements together makes for even more fun.
After those two started coming over, it became a drastically more fun game.
So two people from Nintendo performed the role of catching whatever the members of the development team, working so closely on the game as they were, had missed. I can see that. Now can I ask each of you to say a few words to the players? Let’s start with you two from Nintendo.
Oh, looks like I’m first. Let’s see… While it may look different on the surface - with Kirby changing shape a lot - despite being a new game in the Kirby series, I think players who have played the other Kirby games will be able to fully enjoy it as something new and fresh. Also, we put in lots and lots of fun that will also be enjoyable for people like me who aren’t so good at action games or who haven’t played Kirby games before, so I hope each player will find what part he/she really thinks is fun and play the game through to the end.
My message is for people who like 2D action games. We adjusted it so gamers like myself can also enjoy it, so there’s no need to worry that it might be unchallenging. I hope fans of action games will play it.
You’re one of the best players of action games that I know of in the Software Planning & Development Department, and even you give it your seal of approval.
Yes. I vouch for its enjoyability.
And now, Kono-san from Good-Feel.
Putting myself in the shoes of the game’s players, something I had wanted to do ever since the original proposal was make sure that there was no discrepancy between the way it looks and the actual contents. I think we made a game that when actually played doesn’t betray the fun expectations raised by its external appearance. There were a lot of twists and turns during development, but I think that in the end we realised a game that can be enjoyed by everyone from small children to skilled gamers like Matsumiya-san.
You’re glad it turned out to possess the good qualities promised by the proposal.
That’s right. I’m glad about that.
I hope Kirby’s Epic Yarn will give players a pure feeling of the enjoyment that video games can bring. We made a new game in the series, so I hope mums and dads who played the original Kirby game will enjoy it too. And it’s a game that parents don’t need to worry about giving to their children, so I hope boys and girls both young and old will play it.
This is an action game, but I think of it as a fun-filled action game with something for everyone. I get bored easily, so when I make a game, I think about what I can do to hold the players’ attention. This time we included some mission-type minigames drawing upon the fun elements of action games. That’s fun, so while the game revolves around action, there are a lot of different kinds of play to enjoy. I hope everyone - people who aren’t good at action games, newcomers to action games, and people who get bored easily - will have fun playing it for a long time.
I see. Thank you. I think some people may be a little uneasy about a Kirby game made by someone other than HAL Laboratory, or about a Kirby who doesn’t suck things in, but I feel like the way the game turned out will dispel all such unease. It’s made so anyone can play it, but the content is far from childish. People who aren’t very good at video games can enjoy it, but it isn’t unchallenging. It’s the kind of game that can be played a variety of ways. Thanks for your thoughts today.
Now if I could ask you to trade places with the staff from HAL Laboratory, I hope you’ll stay to listen to the rest.
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