Meet the brains behind Wario Land
The staff at Nintendo Online Magazine in Japan sat down with the developers of Wario Land: The Shake Dimension to discuss Wario’s latest adventure. The following is a transcript of that interview.
Nintendo Online Magazine: The first thing I thought when I started playing was, ‘This isn’t cartoon rendering?’ (using computer-generated 3D models to look like traditional cel animation) Wario’s comical movement was so smooth, but no matter how closely I looked, it didn’t appear to be using 3D models... So more than anything, I wanted to know how the characters were animated. Staff from Good-Feel Co., Ltd. answered my questions and shared behind-the-scenes stories from development of the game. They also talked about the time they pulled an all-nighter. Read on to learn more!
NOM: What led to the creation of Wario Land: The Shake Dimension?
Takahiro Harada, producer: I had participated in the development of a wide variety of games, but I especially liked platform games and had always wanted to make a Wario Land sequel someday. One day I was playing a platform game for the DS released by a major game developer, and it was so much fun, I thought I would like to work on a Wario Land sequel there. I did some research, and learned that Ebisu-san had been involved in its development.
Etsunobu Ebisu, producer: At that time, I had just quit working for that company and had founded Good-Feel. I had told Nintendo about the new company and was asking if we could work together on something.
Harada: It was perfect timing, so we met face-to-face and I asked if he would like to make a Wario Land action game.
NOM: What incredible timing! It’s almost like you were destined to make this game.
Harada: Yes, it was amazing, like fate brought us together.
Ebisu: When I first heard he was interested in making a Wario game, I was envisioning a shooting game. (laughs) A real western-style shoot-em-up! For some reason, my colleagues and I were playing lots of shooting games in those days. When I suggested that to Harada-san, though, he said, ‘Why not a platform game?’ (laughs)
Harada: They knew a lot about how to make good platform games, so we weren’t thinking about any other genre.
Ebisu: Most of the guys at our company had already made a lot of platform games, so I guess I wanted to suggest something different. After hearing Harada-san’s reaction, we advanced plans for a platform game.
NOM: What kind of an image did you have of Wario?
Ebisu: I thought of him as reckless. But for some reason he doesn’t die. (laughs) He’s completely different than Mario.
Harada: Wario uses strength to overpower opposition. Part of the fun of Wario platform games derives from that dynamic. We had everyone at Good-Feel play the previous games in the Wario Land series and asked them to make an extension in that style.
NOM: Why were you interested in shaking as an element of the game?
Madoka Yamauchi, director: I got the idea once when Harada-san said that when he sees something placed high up, he wants to knock it down. Then we began developing plans for tilting the Wii Remote and shaking it up and down or side to side.
Harada: The concept was to hold the Wii Remote sideways to play a platform game like for the NES or Super NES. Then we added the very Wii-like element of shaking the Wii Remote, and it all came together well.
NOM: What was the first obstacle you ran into?
Yamauchi: The first obstacle was...not enough development staff. (laughs)
Ebisu: Another obstacle was that during the planning stage, we’d been thinking about shaking the remote horizontally as well as vertically, but when you actually played the game, there wasn’t much difference between the two.
Yamauchi: We were thinking about having different effects for shaking the remote sideways and up and down, but since it wasn’t working, we cut it. How to hold the remote presented another challenge. When you hold the Wii Remote sideways, you can only use the D-pad and 1 and 2 buttons. You don’t have the L and R buttons, or X and Y either. We worked hard to allow Wario to perform as wide a variety of actions as possible. Several times I tried using the A and B buttons, but it interfered with game operability. In the end we decided on tilting the Wii Remote and building a variety of devices into the stages. Since only a few buttons are used, game operation will be easy even for people playing a platform game for the first time.
Click here for part two of this interview.
Wario Land: The Shake Dimension is in shops 26 Sept., only on Wii.