It sounds like a lot of new features have been packed into Mario Kart Wii, even in areas that can’t be seen.
Since there were things we weren’t able to do using Wi-Fi for the DS game, motivation among the staff members was very high.
There was a lot that we couldn’t put in the DS version, but the effort to have matches using LAN cables13 in the GameCube version also laid an important foundation. 13 LAN matches: By connecting the GameCube to a broadband adaptor and using multiple monitors, play became possible for up to eight people in single player mode and sixteen people in multi-player mode.
So the fundamental research from the GameCube’s LAN matches proved extremely useful in making this game.
That’s right. Even while everyone had been saying from the start that making online battles for games like Mario Kart would be difficult, the staff in charge of it gained confidence.
That’s why we decided to tackle something new like time trial rankings in addition to matches. But Iwata-san wondered what the point to being told you’re ranked 80, 000th would be, and we felt the same way.
I remember that was brought up in one of the meetings during the Wi-Fi Connection’s development process. Something we needed to tackle with Wi-Fi matches and rankings, was how only a few strong players would be happy, among thousands of others who couldn’t become champions. You wanted to avoid that. This was discussed since the time we started development of the Wi-Fi Connection. So for Mario Kart Wii we tried something new.
So we put the rankings on a distribution map. The Miis would stack up depending on their times, and you could now see where you place in a glance.
Instead of being told you’re ranked 83,431, it’s much more rewarding to be shown how many people around the world are playing at your level.
Also, you can easily see how you compare in global and national levels, and even with your Wii Friends. And a family of four can have fun as well. You can switch over to view the standings for those four members. For example, I can tell at one look the difference between me and my son’s times.
Aside from the rankings, what other features have you piled on?
Matchmaking. As I mentioned earlier, there was a tendency with the DS version for one’s opponents to gradually decrease in number. This time up to 12 people can play each other, and new players can join your match after each race. In other words, if six people are in the first race, then even if two of them drop out in the next race, new players can participate for an eight, or even a twelve-player match.
So your number of opponents isn’t fixed?
That’s right. When you want to join players who are already playing, you can watch a live broadcast of the race going on at that moment.
During matchmaking, a globe appears. If you live in Seattle, your Mii is standing there in Seattle. It’s obvious which country the players are from.
I’m sure the players will really feel like they’re facing off against the world.
On the other hand, we’ve really heightened the aspect of playing with your friends. For example, even if Iwata-san is playing with people he doesn’t know from around the world, his friend Miyamoto-san can easily join Iwata-san’s team.
Correct, to make that happen, we created the Mario Kart Channel.
Right. Even if you haven’t inserted the Mario Kart Wii game disc, if you start up your Wii and check the Mario Kart Wii channel, you’ll be able to see if Iwata-san is playing using Wi-Fi. If Miyamoto-san then selects Join, he can join Iwata-san in the match.
So even if I’m playing with people I don’t know, Miyamoto-san might show up to play, too.
People with lots of Wii Friends may suddenly notice that all their opponents are their friends!
Why did you decide to include that kind of feature?
With the DS, when you wanted to play together with your friends, you couldn’t until you phoned them and agreed to a time. It wasn’t convenient. I thought if the set-up could only be more convenient, people would be able to play more often with their friends. What’s more, Ghost Data can be sent to the Mario Kart Channel. So theoretically, someone playing for the first time may end up confronting the world’s fastest Ghost…
But that probably wouldn’t be much of a match. The Ghost would fly by and disappear in an instant.
That’s why we made it easy for players to download Ghosts that fit their own times.
You can improve your time by competing against someone who’s a little faster than you are.
We also added Ghost Battles. There’s also a mode sort of like the 100-Man Brawl in Smash Bros., for racing with Ghosts. Ghost Data is sent to you randomly, and you can battle with a Ghost at about your level.
It must be a completely different experience than competing against computer-generated data.
Course determination, characters and vehicle types differ by player, and there are shortcuts, so players will make all sorts of discoveries as they play.
By the way, I’d like to ask which is better, the motorbike or a kart?
That’s difficult to answer, but the motorbike is pretty good. For some courses a kart may be better, and for others the motorbike may be better. One advantage of the motorbike is that when you do a wheelie, you speed up, but wheel movement doesn’t work during a wheelie, so it’s only good on a straight course. On a course with lots of corners, it might be better to choose a kart so you could drift. We made the game so that each player can decide what works best after trying lots of different things.
I bet there will be players who will be driving in ways you guys haven’t imagined. It sure will be astonishing.
I can’t wait to see the Ghosts on the Mario Kart Channel.
Okay, to wrap up, I’d like to ask the each of you to leave a message for the players. Let’s start with Ashida-san.
I myself am looking forward to playing Mario Kart Wii with my son. Mario Kart Wii only comes with one Wii Wheel, but you can buy Wii Wheels sold separately as well. It’ll be great if everyone in the family played together using Wii Wheels.
I would like people to get together and have a lot of fun with this game. There are so many ways you can play, including features utilising the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. We would be very happy if people could play it with their family and friends, and also with people from around the world. By the way, a new character has joined in from Super Mario Galaxy, so I hope you look forward to it…
And lastly, Miyamoto-san.
Mario Kart Wii is, fundamentally, a game that lets you enjoy communication with others. On the surface it looks like a racing game, but it’s a product that doesn’t have to be about racing at all, so if you connect it to Wi-Fi, it’ll feel like the Mario Kart experience just grew by four times. Miis appear, and you can connect to the Mii Contest Channel, and, while connecting to the world was also possible with the DS, this time you will realise the game has become a communication tool that you can play with an even greater sense of connection to the world.
Since Konno-san told us so much today, there wasn’t much for us to hear from Miyamoto-san.
I tried not to speak out too much today, but I think I still said quite a lot. (laughs)
Everyone, thank you for your time today.
Um, there’s something I’d like to show you.
Sure, go ahead.
Earlier Konno-san was talking about the Golden Wheel, and I thought it would be great if there actually were such a thing, so I made one.
Mind if I say something, too?
Okay, go ahead.
Iwata-san, no one said anything about “chabudai gaeshi”14 this time, did they? 14 Chabudai Gaeshi, or better known to our reader as “upending the tea table”, is a reference to the classic Japanese comic and animated series, Hoshi of the Giants. The father in the series once upended the tea table while the family was eating a meal. Shigeru Miyamoto's working style has been compared to this because of his tendency to make last-minute suggestions that leave everyone else scrambling to implement them before the deadline .
Was there a chabudai gaeshi this time?
No, there wasn’t.
I didn’t think there was. I was watching from afar and didn’t notice anything like that.
But looking back over all the past Iwata Asks, it seems like chabudai gaeshi has become a regular event. I thought the readers may be expecting one to happen, so I asked Miyamoto-san about it beforehand.
You don’t have to force the upending to happen, you know. (laughs)
The staff overseas bring it up a lot when I’m working with them. They say things like, “If we make it like this, maybe Mr. Miyamoto will give it the chabudai gaeshi treatment.
Even the overseas staff is talking about chabudai gaeshi? How do you say it in English?
I think it was something like “upending the tea table.” I tell them no good can come from worrying about the tea table, so they shouldn’t worry about it, and because I’ve mastered upending the table again right when Miyamoto-san tries to upend it.
Then people get serious and ask me what turning the tables when Miyamoto-san upends the tea table is like. The secret is to start crying and plead for help right before Miyamoto-san does it.
Tears won’t work on me. (laughs) But this time, even though I wanted to do it, I couldn’t because there was nothing that needed upending. I have a fundamental belief that as long as the video game is fun, then all is good.
So there are times when you don’t do chabudai gaeshi? I just noticed, though, that Ashida-san isn’t laughing at all about this. It must be because to the hardware guys, one upending of the tea table can lead to a pretty grave situation.
It really can. I mean, I’ll get sweaty trying to figure out how to explain it to all the staff members in our production and marketing departments, as well as our outside companies that we’re working with!
That’s why I’m unbelievably anxious until the release date is settled! Especially since this time the Wii Wheel is being packaged together with the game.
Is everything ready?
Yeah. Well, I think so anyway…
Thanks for your time today, everyone.
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