Here’s an interview with Nasir Gebelli, the legendary programmer who programmed several games for Squaresoft including 3-D World Runner, Rad Racer, the first three NES Final Fantasy games, and of course Secret of Mana (as well as many many other games on Apple II.)
In an interview with Time, Shigeru Miyamoto was asked about Iwata’s involvment with the Switch.
Is there anything in particular about Switch that reflects Satoru Iwata’s involvement? [Iwata was Nintendo’s president from 2002 to 2015, and passed away in July 2015.]
I mentioned that Mr. Iwata, Mr. Takeda and myself provided feedback and made decisions, but ultimately Mr. Iwata was the head of development, so he put a lot of thought and time into Switch. I think that the idea of Nintendo Switch being a device you can take out and anywhere, and the idea of it being a system that really allows networking and communicating with people, I think that’s something Mr. Iwata put a lot of emphasis on.
Because Mr. Iwata was tech-savvy, a lot of our discussion involved trying to figure out how to make the technical things like network capabilities or servers or whatever fun. For example, think about when we added the ability to use a browser on the DS [Nintendo’s two-screen gaming handheld—the browser was added to North American systems in 2007]. As time goes on, all of these services become more and more advanced, and so we need to think about “How do we incorporate mobile devices or new browser features that come up?” That’s something Mr. Iwata and I discussed a lot, really trying to decide what to do and what not to do in our hardware.
There’s a lot more in that interview, so go check it out.
The latest issue of Retro Gamer has an interview with Goichi Suda (Suda51), who is behind games like Super Fire Pro Wrestling on the Super Famicom, Killer7 on the GameCube, Liberation Maiden on Nintendo 3DS and No More Heroes on Wii (also coming to Nintendo Switch.) Thanks to Japanese Nintendo (@japanese3ds) we have a transcription of the bits relevant to Nintendo.
On Super Fire Pro Wrestling Special…
“Super Fire Pro Wresting 3 was supposed to be the final game in the series, but it sold very well, so I had the opportunity to work on Super Fire Pro Wrestling Special which also had had a story mode, as the game sold well, Human said, ‘Make another one. This time, you can make it whatever you want.’
I thought about what I could do to make this game unique so I realised that the Fire Pro series itself was just a simulator, about raising a particular wrestler and having him rise through the ranks. I thought, ‘Well, what can I do within that? I know: I can make this a story, I can make this a story-driven experience.
Pro wrestling at the time was experiencing a boom in Japan – hence the games selling so well – so within that big boom, you have people getting very philosophical about wrestling and writing a bunch of things – analysis – and all these deep things, I’m personally a huge fan of wrestling, so I thought how I could give my take on wrestling? What’s my philosophy? I saw this game as a vehicle to do that.
The final boss is a guy named Dick Slender, which is a parody of Ric Flair, and so originally I thought, ‘We can have two endings here – one, you beat the guy and you get the happy ending, the other, you lose and get the bad ending. I didn’t decide to go with the two endings – instead you go on and beat the last boss, he gets all the acclaim from the crowd, from the people, and the screen gradually goes from white, to black. It shows the character’s house, and he’s committed suicide… For me it was like an apotheosis – the character had become a god. It turned into a shitstorm.”
On Killer7 and on working on a global release…
“From the beginning, Mikami-san told me that this is a game that will be released globally, and that’s something that I was conscious of and thought about a lot when working on the game – for starters the game takes place in America. So I thought, what can I write about America? So that’s where the idea of having Japanese politicians come over. The game takes place around 70 years after the war, so what would happen if the peace treaties between America and Japan were revoked. Thinking very deeply about this and about the scenario, I was able to come up with these characters. It’s a game that has my own take on things, but at the same time it’s a game that was very carefully thought about and planned meticulously.”
On developing for Wii and was this a good choice…
“To start at the end of the question, yes I’m glad I did it. One point though, for Japanese people, they don’t necessarily think of Nintendo hardware as for kids. And so when the Wii was first announced I saw the Wiimote. The action that the character Travis has, this is perfect for that, this is the only thing I can use for that.”
That part about how Japanese people don’t think of Nintendo hardware as being for kids is especially interesting, as that’s often an excuse fake “mature” gamers use to not buy Nintendo hardware in the west.
The full interview can be read in the latest issue (164, Resident Evil cover) of Retro Gamer magazine, on news stands or on the App Store/Google Play. Be sure to check out more of Japanese Nintendo’s content as well.
Eurogamer has an interview up with Zelda Producer Eiji Aonuma. They asked him about the game’s development, the physics engine and more.
When did your ideas for Breath of the Wild become finalised, how long ago did development begin? And how long ago did the Switch version begin development, too?
Aonuma: In terms of the development of Breath of the Wild, I started thinking about it after Skyward Sword was finished.
With Skyward Sword, the way the game world was set out, the areas a player could explore were actually reasonably limited – you would land from the sky into an area, and then explore that area, but the areas themselves weren’t really connected. A lot of people who played the game said to me that they wished they were able to explore the areas between the areas, the gaps between the areas. So that idea of having a large open connected world was in my mind as soon as Skyward Sword was finished, really. And then the Wii U hardware made realising that idea a possibility.
Of course, to actually create that huge open world which you could seamlessly explore, we needed to develop a system for creating that. And actually, just developing the system and tools to create the world, took about a year.
And regarding the Nintendo Switch version, it was spring last year when we made a firm decision to also release on that platform. Obviously that required some adjustments to the development process and changes to be made, and to continue developing the Wii U version alongside Nintendo Switch, that was spring last year.
Playing the game last week, the controls felt great on Switch. The Sheikah Slate looks a bit like the Hyrule version of the Wii U GamePad, and looks like it could be controlled in that way – was that the intention?
Aonuma: Yes, initially that’s true – we kind of pictured the Sheikah Slate as being reminiscent of a Wii U GamePad, but also to be honest with you I think the Sheikah Slate’s size and appearance resembles a Nintendo Switch quite strongly. So we think that comparison works for both versions of the game, and we’re happy with it.
And the fact we didn’t have to change the appearance of the Sheikah Slate in game… we were very grateful for that.
Did you ever consider only releasing Breath of the Wild on Switch, or was it important for fans of Wii U to still have the game released on that console?
Aonuma: No, we never considered not releasing the Wii U version, and changing development solely to Nintendo Switch – that was never on the cards. As I mentioned, this title started development as a Wii U title, so first and foremost we started it on Wii U. After we also decided to develop for Nintendo Switch… if we’d gone more in that direction, using Nintendo Switch console’s other features that Wii U doesn’t have, we felt that a gap might have opened up in terms of the experience between both platforms.
With Nintendo Switch we’re really happy with that functionality of being able to take it wherever you go, but beyond that we really wanted the gameplay experience to be the same, and for Wii U fans to be able to experience the same game people who play it on Switch will be able to experience.
It sounds like a major undertaking and development – it’s a massive game you’re releasing across two different platforms. I’d love to know the challenges of creating such a big game and making sure that it was done in time for the launch of Nintendo Switch.
Aonuma: Yes, this was a development process where on numerous occasions we’ve had to say, “Sorry, we need more time”, and because the process was so long there were actually a lot of problems that got naturally resolved over time.
One of the major problems we faced on a game of this size was actually coordinating everything, and by that I mean creating this huge open world by lots of development staff. Each individual person might be working on just one part of that world, but if they’re working without a broader context, within isolation, then they might think, “I’m creating this particular area or feature or object”, but if they don’t know how that fits into the broader world and context of the game, things won’t tie together very well.
We had to make sure everyone was communicating as much as possible, and everyone had an idea of that broader world, but we really had to make sure all the development staff could play the game as much as possible. That takes a long time for a game of this size as you can imagine. So we had to take time throughout the development period to really play the game and make sure that this cohesion was maintained.
Another example of a challenge we faced was the physics engine. We wanted a consistent physics engine throughout the world that worked in a logical and realistic way. Actually implementing that was sometimes more complicated than it seemed. [For example], one day I picked up the latest build of the game and went to an area, and saw that all the objects that were supposed to be in that area weren’t there. I was quite surprised and confused, and I realised after asking the programmer, the reason the objects weren’t there was because the wind in-game had blown them all away.
That’s the kind of challenge we faced, making the physics engine realistic, but not to the extent that it would negatively impact things – striking a balance between realism and having it work within the game world.
I really think the implementation of this physics engine is a major development for the Zelda series. The way the physics engine underpins everything in the world really offers up a lot of new possibilities. For instance, in Breath of the Wild you might have a puzzle where making use of the physics, there’ll be various ways you can solve that puzzle. That really opens up a lot of possibilities so there’s not just one way to progress in the game or just one way to solve a puzzle.
*inb4 whining by people that the Wii U version held the game back from 1080p60 even though that was never going to happen*
Also, that quote about the physics engine is great lol. They should have random parts where the wind will blow a bolder over a cliff or knock a tree down.
There’s plenty more to read (including a comment about the idiots calling Zelda weak for crying in the trailer), so check out the full interview at Eurogamer.
Also, here’s another reminder about our Breath of the Wild (and Super Mario Maker) giveaway on our forum.
In an interview with Gamespot, Reggie commented that Nintendo “thought deeply” about Wii U’s shortcomings. He admitted the messaging behind it wasn’t clear, stating that the “clarity of the consumer proposition” wasn’t strong enough. He also said that there was a lack of a steady flow of games.
He believes Nintendo has addressed those issues with the Switch:
|“Nintendo Switch is a home console you can play anywhere, with anyone. Clear. Compelling. We see the reaction by consumers whether it’s measured in Twitter trending topics or views of videos on YouTube or just the frequency with which I get called by old high school buddies that I haven’t heard from in 30 years who are asking me how to get their hands on Nintendo Switch. We have communicated the proposition clearly and it is compelling.”|
He added that having a regular flow of strong games is a “critical” component to selling the Switch.
|“Wii U will go down as having fantastic content–the issue was as you look at the reality of exactly when the games were launched, there were large gaps in between.”|
He added that Breath of the Wild is a masterpiece (it is) and that Switch will have a “steady cadence of content.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Takashi Mochizuki did an interview with Yoshiaki Koizumi, the full interview is behind a paywall but here’s a couple tidbits (they were taken from Nintendo Everything so credit to them)
Difference between previous handhelds and the Switch:
|“You could go out with a hand-held game device, but you can’t play with others if they don’t have the same device. We wanted to provide people with more options to play games.”|
When he would call the Switch a success:
|“I want people to share the fun of playing games not just over social media but also on street corners. When we see people playing the Switch at various places and with different styles, then we would call the Switch a success.”|
How the Switch offers a different way to play games:
|“When you play cards, you look opponents in the eye to read their strategy, and that is fun. And we realized no videogame devices have been able to offer that kind of entertainment.”|
In an interview with The New Yorker, Shigeru Miyamoto was asked about what “piece of advice Iwata gave him that he cherishes in his work today.” He replied by saying that he “had this unique ability to rally people around a vision.” He also said that he was able “to take something, give it shape and then to motivate people.”
He also talked about how Iwata had a unique view as a programmer. Saying that most developers would tell designers that something was impossible, Iwata would instead “say he was going to figure out how to make it work.” Listen to his full comments below.
This interview from 1992, which first appeared in the 1/92 issue of Famicon Tsuushin, has now been fully translated by shmuplations. Topics include how they decided on the name, an open-ended Zelda, and stuff they had to cut out. This interview was originally partially translated in 2012, but the transcript used was missing the questions and around 30% of the overall content. This complete translation now has the missing content. Check out some excerpts below, and the complete interview over at shmuplations
—40 hours, wow… yeah, if you get stuck on some of these puzzles, it can eat up a lot of time. That might be a bit intimidating for players used to more conventional, linear RPGs.
Miyamoto: We did include alternate paths/solutions for players that are easier, though. Originally, the system in Zelda we envisioned was more open-ended: for example, if there was a rock blocking your way, you could safely ignore it and keep playing: there was always another way around. I wanted something that players could get so lost in, it would take them a whole year to finish.
—Wow, a whole year—but the payoff for that struggle would be enormous, no doubt.
Miyamoto: The problem with making an “open-ended” version of Zelda like that was the messaging and plotline. If you ignore structure like that, then the plotline can quickly get screwy and NPC messages start to not make sense. Programming in enough logic to handle all the different possibilities probably would have required about 150% more memory than we had.
—Were there other ideas you had for Link to the Past which had to be cut due to the 8MBit limitation?
Miyamoto: Yeah, a lot! But you can’t just throw every good idea you have into a game. The idea has to connect up with something else in the game, and there needs to be consistency between the ideas. There was a ton more we wanted to do, though!
—What kind of ideas did you have?
Miyamoto: One idea was with the lantern: if you used it on a grassy area, it would cause a huge brushfire. If you cut a little circle of grass around you, you could safely stand there in the middle of it!
—That sounds like it would be fun. Anything else?
Miyamoto: In swamp areas, you could use a shovel to dig a ditch, and then it you bombed the swamp breakwater it would cause the water to rush into the hole you’d dug. That idea was actually half-complete… if we’d had another 6 months, we might have been able to make it a reality.
Glixel has an interview with Miyamoto up. He talks about younger devs working on designing the Switch, working on Mario games, and Minecraft among other things,
You’ve lived with Mario as your creation for 30 years. How would you describe your relationship with him? Are you sick of him yet?
I kinda of look at it as if I’m running a talent agency, and I have all these different people that when there’s new technology and we’re doing something new with it, I always choose Mario to be the one to represent it. Then, if we have something else that’s maybe not quite the right fit then we choose one of the other characters. That’s usually how I approach things with him. Also, we’ve always evolved Mario’s look – so we try and keep him fresh.
A few years ago you talked about maybe stepping away or possibly retiring. Do you think you’ll ever be able to walk away from all this?
There was a misunderstanding around my supposed retirement. Really at the time what we were talking about was giving more opportunity and more leadership opportunity to younger people in the company. So rather than me leading everything we were really expanding that role out to others that had come up within the company. Somehow that got misinterpreted as the fact that I was retiring.
We have these younger people in the company who are taking the lead on Switch development and it’s really been them that have put this forward and designed this system. They’re the ones that have really shepherded it through the process. Because of that, what it’s allowed me to do is focus on other projects like Super Mario Run or the Universal theme park. I’m going to keep looking for these kinds of opportunities where I can do something new and fun.
You’ve mentioned in the past that you play the cat-collecting mobile game Neko Atsume. Are there other games that you really love playing?
Not really. I do like Minecraft, but really more from the perspective of the fact that I really feel like that’s something we should have made. We had actually done a lot of experiments that were similar to that back in the N64 days and we had some designs that were very similar. It’s really impressive to me to see how they’ve been able to take that idea and turn it into a product.
Check out the full interview at the link below.
CNET has an interview up with Reggie, they discus Super Mario Run among other things.
Super Mario Run on Switch:
|“Development for Super Mario Run is different than development for Nintendo Switch [the company’s all-new Wii U successor, coming in March 2017]. With Switch we’re going to have a variety of input devices, a variety of ways for you to interact with the game. Here, it’s all the screen. So it’s a different type of development challenge. But at the core, our developers are looking to create content that you really can’t get anywhere else, you can’t experience anywhere else…that’s a core philosophy that’s going to continue.”|
On mobile pricing:
|”Each title is its own approach in terms not only ‘what is the game design,’ but what is the monetization? For Super Mario Run, we believe that the right monetization is an all-in-one price. It’s called Super Mario Run, not Super Mario play, stop, then pay, then run some more. And certainly, I feel that way when I play it. After I’ve had a great run and collected all the coins, I don’t want to be asked if I want to pay for the next level or pay for some part of the game. I just want to keep going and playing.”|
On NES games on mobile:
|“Candidly, no, without a fair amount of modification. And this hearkens back to the questions that we received maybe five years ago saying, ‘Nintendo, when are you going to get into mobile?’ And at the time, it was positioned as, just take all your legacy content and just put it on mobile. The fact of the matter is, to make a great mobile game, you can’t do that. You need to think about the input device. You need to think about, how is this going to be sticky?”|
On the NES Classic
|“We saw the NES Classic as an opportunity to engage with millennials, gen-Xers, boomers, people who had played those games back in the day, but life had gone by, and they had somewhat walked away from gaming. It was a great way to re-engage them, and our belief is that by re-engaging them, it creates an opportunity for Super Mario Run, it creates an opportunity for our 3DS business, it creates an opportunity for Nintendo Switch, because all of a sudden they’re recognizing what they knew 20 or 25 years ago: they love Mario. They love Zelda. They love all of our classic IP, and they’re re-engaging with it right now.”|
Even though I have no interest in Super Mario Run, I liked his quote about the pricing.