Running through The Shake Dimension


22/09/2008

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. If you missed part one and part two, click the links to give them a read.

NOM: Someone mentioned rewards for extra effort. Can you give us some examples?

Kentaro Sei, planning: As mentioned earlier, each stage has objectives called missions. One unique aspect of this game is that there’s only one goal, but including the missions, there are multiple objectives. That means you can enjoy playing the same stage over and over again. You can reach the goal just playing the usual way, but the game presents a greater challenge once you try to complete the missions as well. The stages have been constructed so that everyone from novices to experienced gamers can enjoy them.

Nobuo Matsumiya, assistant director: We put a lot of thought into construction of the stages. Partway through development, parts of the game were quite difficult even in the opening stages. In order to make the game enjoyable to players new to platform games, in the end we decreased the difficulty of the opening stages.

Sei: Another rewarding challenge is time attacks. In the latter half of the stages, after you rescue a character named Merelda, a countdown begins. Then it’s like a race game, requiring split-second reflexes. There’s one hidden stage called Lowdown Depths where the time attack is pretty intense.

Tadanori Tsukawaki, design director: We played that a lot during development. (laughs) Matsumiya-san was knocking out the most incredible times. We were all like, “That’s impossible! How did you do that?”

Matsumiya: He’s too kind... (laughs)

Sei: One characteristic of the game is rescuing Merelda and then returning with her. That is perhaps the most challenging, yet rewarding, aspect of the game.

NOM: There are a lot of roads in unexpected places. Did you try to put them in places the players wouldn’t notice?

Sei: Yes. We outdid ourselves and later had to make them easier to find because the most important thing is giving players an enjoyable game.

Takahiro Harada, producer: When you think, “Maybe I should go that way,” and then it works out the way you thought, it feels really good. We had that in mind when designing the stages.

Sei: Also, there’s the element of collecting treasure. We came up with that one night when we camped out at Tsukawaki’s house. Including dead-end ideas, we came up with about 100 ideas that night gathered around the hot pot.

Tsukawaki: We were talking, and eating, and drinking—and drawing—until morning. (laughs)

Sei: Tsukawaki draws really fast. Almost faster than we could come up with ideas. We kept going until about five or six in the morning, with guys passing out along the way. (laughs)

Tsukawaki: The company had moved that day. (Note: While Wario Land was under development, Good-Feel changed locations for the second time.) The day’s momentum swept everyone over to my house for an all-night brainstorming session. We were already exhausted, so we figured why not just keep going? (laughs)

NOM: Wow. Exhausted but ploughing ahead!

Tsukawaki: Sei had been taking random notes on his cell phone. He read them out as we got started, which allowed everyone to get an idea of what direction to take. Then we all started throwing out ideas.

Sei: I saw a new side of my colleagues. Even the more serious among us were saying some pretty unexpected stuff. Each stage has three hidden treasures. I hope players can find them!

NOM: Is there anything you would like to say to NOM’s readers?

Tomoya Tomita, music and sound effects: I hope everyone will complete the missions and listen to all the background music.

Koichi Yagi, program director: There aren’t many games like this for video game consoles anymore, but it contains all the know-how we’ve built up over the years. It would be great if people who used to play these kinds of games would try this one and relive the fun of those older ones. And, of course, I hope newcomers will experience playing a platform game for the first time and enjoy the balance between its easier and more challenging aspects.

Tsukawaki: This is the age of 3D models. Wario Land: The Shake Dimension’s visuals may feel like they’re going against the tide, but you can really see the warmth and hand-drawn character of the images on the screen. I hope everyone will enjoy playing in the world of Wario as rendered through classical animation.

Sei: I want everyone to see how cool Wario is. His behaviour isn’t that crude this time, so I hope even girls will think he’s cool.

Matsumiya: Completing the missions will be difficult at first, so I suggest taking them one at a time. As you get used to the game, though, you’ll get more efficient and enjoy completing more than one mission simultaneously. I think everyone will have fun trying to complete as many missions as possible at once.

Madoka Yamauchi, director: In my past experience making games, most of the time I was under time constraints and never felt as if I’d accomplished all I wanted to. We had plenty of time to develop this game, however, and put in some late nights, so it was a fully satisfying process. I hope everyone will enjoy playing the game, and see the degree to which we perfected it.

Etsunobu Ebisu, producer: Among all the platform games I’ve worked on, Wario Land: The Shake Dimension is the best suited for enjoyment by people who have never played platform games before or aren’t very good at them. I hope everyone will give it a try and experience the fun of platform games. And of course gamers who are good at platform games and like playing them will also find plenty to sink their teeth into!

Harada: Simply clearing the stages isn’t that difficult, so I think beginners can sit back and enjoy playing. Skilled players of platform games will also fully enjoy it because of the treasures, missions and other elements. And, as Sei-san mentioned, we cut out Wario’s coarse antics this time, so we can even recommend this game to your mothers! I hope you’ll check it out.

Wario Land: The Shake Dimension is in shops 26 Sept., only on Wii.