As Wii Fit is a game based around health, it’s attracted quite a bit of attention from female customers. Shibata-san, you were the first female member to join the team; what kind of impressions did working on this project leave you with?
There was a time when the overall look of Wii Fit was rather cool and transparent, and didn’t have much warmth. Since Wii Fit is designed to go in the living room and be enjoyed by the whole family, I wanted it to be a bit warmer. That’s why I started bugging Oyama-san with comments like, “Please change the colour of the calendar”, or “Please add more kinds of stamps.”
So you were in charge of adding warmth to the product? (laughs)
Making games is Nintendo’s forte, after all! (laughs)
That’s right. Anyway, the art design of these games was quickly coming into place, but I felt that it appealed more to men and made it hard for women to get into the games. That’s when the director suggested brainstorming ideas with Hosaka-san, and we came to be in charge of Hula Hoop™. We talked a lot about things like how to make it cuter! (laughs)
So it was mainly the two of you who developed Hula Hoop™.
We thought, “Let’s make it sparkly!” (laugh)
We thought, “Let’s make it sparkly!” (laughs)
We thought that it’d look cute and brighten up the game if we made light shine down on your Mii as you twirled the hoop.
We wanted to have something like the fairy dust that sprinkles down when cartoon fairies fly around.
I have the impression that the sound was all influenced by this “glittery” image. Miyagawa-san earlier mentioned a mountain of demands coming from the female team members, so I’m guessing that had something to do with it. (laughs)
Right! (laughs) We constantly pestered Miyagawa-san to create a sparkly sound effect for the game.
I did try making this sparkly sound effect because I knew it was something the game needed to have, but I could never seem to make them happy.
We asked Miyagawa-san to keep the sound of the hoop spinning low so that it wouldn’t drown out the sparkly sound effect, but at the same time make it stand out.
See what a tall order that was?! (laughs) There are a lot of sound effects in Hula Hoop™, and as I mentioned before, the sounds get livelier the more you progress through the game. We were running out of space to insert any more sounds when they asked me to insert this sparkly sound effect. I flatly refused, but they weren’t going to have any of it.
So you somehow managed to find the space for the sparkly sound and squeezed it in! (laughs)
Actually, I thought that the sound of the hoop spinning was clearly more important than the sparkly sound effect. But that sparkly sound effect left quite an impression amongst the staff, and I knew that if I took it out I’d be sure to get a lot of flak for it.
So in that way, I’m pretty glad I was assigned this job. Of course, we also realised that it’d be no good if we made it so cute that it would turn off men, so we tried adding various flourishes to prevent that from happening, such as taking the game in a comical direction.
Miyamoto-san demonstrated the game at the Nintendo Conference with guests Shinji Morisui, Miho Nakai and Sayo Aizawa. You must have felt something special when you saw them playing the game and having so much fun with it.
I was so delighted. Even though it was my first project, it was put on display on such a big stage, and there were even celebrities playing it!
It makes you realise how everyone has their own way of rotating their hips, which I think is why it’s so fun watching people do it.
Incidentally... I couldn’t spin a real hoop when I started this project. However, I found myself spinning an actual hoop thousands of times to get the details right with Hula Hoop™. After continuing this almost every day, I’ve now learned how to spin a real hoop as well!
That’s quite an anecdote! (laughs) The day after I tried Hula Hoop™ for the first time, I was happy to see (holding hip) that my hips were sore! (laughs) What else were you involved in aside from Hula Hoop™?
That’s pretty likely. I can imagine kids trying to get their parents to buy Super Mario Galaxy and Super Smash Bros. Brawl, but I can’t see them doing the same for Wii Fit. However, what I can imagine is parents playing Wii Fit with their kids, and before you know it, the kids are inviting their friends over to play Wii Fit.
It was really a breath of fresh air for me. I was thinking about a good game which would allow parents to introduce their children to Wii Fit, when I was asked to take charge of Bubble Balance. So I worked on that with an image in my mind of a mother doing strange poses in the living room, her child coming up and asking her what she’s doing, and then the mother getting the kid to have a go too.
Aside from Hula Hoop™ and Step Basics, I also worked on positioning the flags for Ski Slalom and Snowboard Slalom. Of course, I had to go through the games myself to make sure the flags were positioned correctly, so I must have run through the courses at least 100 times a day. At the end of the day, I would be utterly exhausted! (laughs)
You must have felt like an amateur athlete training for a competition! (laughs) Developing Wii Fit was quite a different process compared to the development of past games, wasn’t it?
Right next to me, someone else was putting the finishing touches on the Muscle Training exercises. They spent a lot of time lying on the floor and panting for air...
I guess that’s why the development room smelled a bit sweaty! (laughs)
Yes, it certainly was a bit...smelly. (laughs)
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