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Kamiya & Inaba Talk About Game Difficulty & Returning to The Wonderful 101: Remastered

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    With the Kickstarter for The Wonderful 101: Remastered coming to an end, Siliconera caught up with Hideki Kamiya and Atsushi Inaba at PAX East to talk about why The Wonderful 101 has always stuck out in their minds, the feelings they’re experiencing in coming back to this title from seven years ago, and to talk about their own thoughts on challenging games.

    Joel Couture, Siliconera: Wonderful 101 seems to hold a large place in your hearts. Why do you think it has always stuck out in your mind?

    Atsushi Inaba: For Platinum Games, this has been a game that we’ve always been really proud of – a game we had a lot of confidence in. Unfortunately, it did not reach the audience we had hoped for. So, it’s been on the back of our minds to find the time to revisit it at some point. It’s a game that we love, and we want more people to play it. This is our opportunity, and we’re saying “Everybody please check this game out!”

    Why now? What made now feel like the right time?

    Inaba: We’ve always wanted to revisit it, but it’s not something you can just jump right in to. It was a lot about timing. As we want to move toward self publishing – with that movement happening, right now felt like the best time to bring the two parts together.

    What sort of feelings were you going through as you began a Kickstarter, as using Kickstarter is quite new for you? 

    Hideki Kamiya: We were really nervous with the Wonderful 101: Remastered Kickstarter. Really terrified. This is the first time we’d done anything like this. We really didn’t know what to expect. We were thinking “What if we don’t hit the first goal? What are we going to do?” Thankfully, it was a success very quickly, so now we have nothing but happiness. We’re glad for all of the support .

    When we were in the office and it hit the goal, we were watching it on a large screen that we have. When we hit the goal, everyone in the office cheered.

    the wonderful 101: remastered

    Did you talk to any other Japanese developers for Kickstarter ideas? You had some interesting ideas, such as the Defense of Blossom City Social Media challenge, and we were wondering how you came up with them. 

    Inaba: We didn’t talk to any other developers. We just used our imaginations about it. That’s part of why we were really worried, as we didn’t know what to expect.

    For the ideas we came up with, we talked to a lot of people in the company, and we threw a lot of ideas together. We were thinking “What would the fans enjoy?” We gathered a lot of these ideas and implemented them, because one of the main reasons we did this campaign was to unite the fans together.

    Now that you’ve moved into publishing, what sort of new challenges are you facing as a company? Do you expect to face in the future?

    Inaba: It’s hard to say at this point, as we’re in the process of going in that direction. It’s not completely finished yet. I expect a lot of challenges to come about, but I can’t really say what those are right now. I do want to say that I just really want to have fun in doing it and enjoy the experience of it. For a lot of the staff, it’s a first time for them as well, but I’m confident that people in the office will have fun in moving forward and overcoming these challenges.

    We’ve recently announced that we’re opening a Tokyo office. The purpose of that is to allow us to pursue a lot of the projects that we want to. We get a lot of offers from a lot of companies, but we’ve had to refuse them. In doing this Tokyo office, we’ll be able to pursue a lot of these new things.

    To get back to your questions about challenges, even being here at PAX East has been a new challenge for us. Because the booth is actually Platinum Games ourselves. This is the first time we’ve had our own booth. Making the booth, showing the games, and doing all that while coming here is all a new challenge for us. However, when we see the booth and see people playing the games, we’re really happy to be moving in this direction.

    With the game coming to PS4 and PC, what challenges are you facing in porting over some of its mechanics and features?

    Kamiya: As for the two main aspects that are going to be different from the Wii U version in the new ports of The Wonderful 101: Remastered, the first is the touch panel aspect. A lot of people have been asking about this, but as a matter of fact, when we were first designing the game, it was built to use the right stick anyway. It’s no problem at all to go back to its original concept for Switch, Playstation 4, and PC.

    However, with the Wii U, as you know, there was two screens. There would be information on one and gameplay on the other, so implementing that into a single-screen platform has been a bit of a challenge. I had to design and figure out a way to move the screen about, change the size of it, and allow the users to turn it off and on so that the experience was just as accessible as it was with two screens.

    After I made the Wii U version, there was a lot of things in my mind that I wish I’d implemented into the original game, and I made up a list of all of those things. I didn’t know if I was ever going to be able to implement them – maybe one day – but I kept that list, and now that I have the opportunity with The Wonderful 101: Remastered, I’m able to implement those. And a lot of these involve making the game more user friendly for players – added menus, added directives, and things like that.

    Another big thing I wanted to change was that the original Easy Mode, as it was not easy at all. I wanted to make a proper Easy Mode for the players. Those are some things that people can expect from the remastered version.

    the wonderful 101: remastered

    It must be challenging to balance an Easy Mode, as you know the game so well and likely aren’t as challenged by it as a new user would be. What are your thoughts on how you get difficulty right with your games? 

    Kamiya: That’s a good question. When I design the game, and I see the players go through the game, like if they get caught up on something or if there’s a difficult part, that’s when I realize something should be redesigned. So, within the company we’ll have employees play the game.

    For me, after the game was released, I was watching playthroughs and thinking that I should have changed this or should have done that. In terms of the Easy Mode, though, there was just no time to fix that and it just couldn’t be helped.

    You have designed many challenging games, but do you yourself prefer hard or easy games?

    Kamiya: I’m an old guy now, so I don’t like difficult games [laughs].

    Inaba: I’m kind of the same. If it’s too hard, it’s not even fun. I feel like my skill level is going down. The people in the company are really good and have all of these ideas on difficulty that are great, so the challenge keeps going up.

    What emotions and memories are coming up as you work through the old code for your game? In making those changes you always wanted to now?

    Kamiya: When I make my games, one of the things I look forward to is the feedback from the players. Some will say “Oh, that was a really awesome game! I love it!” and some will go “Oh, I didn’t like that game.” That’s something I look forward to and take with me as I make my new games. With The Wonderful 101, as I mentioned previously, we didn’t feel like it reached the audience that I wanted it to. Returning to this game from seven years ago, I’m once again looking forward to hearing what everyone thinks about the game. I’m very grateful for this chance to revisit it.

    Even among a lot of Platinum Games fans, there’s a lot of people who haven’t played this game. I want those people, in particular, to play this game and think “Oh! Platinum Games even made this kind of game!” I’m really looking forward to Platinum Game fans having this opportunity to experience The Wonderful 101: Remastered.

    The Wonderful 101: Remastered is projected to release on May 19, 2020 in North America and May 22, 2020 in the European Union.

    Joel Couture
    Joel has been covering indie games for various sites including IndieGamesPlus, IndieGames.com, Siliconera, Gamasutra, Warp Door, CG Magazine, GameDaily, and more over the years, and has written book-length studies on Undertale, P.T., Friday the 13th, and Kirby's Dream Land.




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