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GDC 2011: Retro Studios - Donkey Kong: Swinging Across Oceans

Q & A

by Devin Monnens - March 7, 2011, 1:51 pm PST

Afterward, Michael Kelbaugh opened the floor to Q&A from speakers - something that I have never seen from another Nintendo panel at GDC. This merely reasserts just how friendly they are! The first question regarded the similarity between Donkey Kong Country Returns' maps and characters with New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Mr. Tanabe answered that there was no similarity between the two.

The second question regarded how Retro Studios takes the magic of old Nintendo games to the modern landscape. What old games does the company want to tackle? Kelbaugh answered seriously, "Doki Doki Panic." He also responded as a joke that he wanted to make a Tingle game, and mentioned a joke going around the studio called Pokemon Prime. "There’s a huge amount of historical IP. There are no bigger Nintendo fans than we here at Retro. So we don’t get inspiration from only one or two games."

The third question regarded Time Trial mode and whether this had been thought up from the start. "We weren’t focused on time trial, especially at first. We were looking at making 'wow moments' in each level. That feature came later - add Time Trial and see how it works. We wanted to make sure advanced players could find addition worth in the levels." Mr. Kelbaugh also stated how he is aware of the Metroid Prime speedrunners community and how this community is clearly skewed to the hardcore gamer. The speedrun community is also big for Donkey Kong Country, so they wanted to appeal to fans of that series especially.

This was all the time they had for questions. Later on, however, I went up to ask Michael Kelbaugh a couple questions of my own (the entire team panel stayed around for the half hour before the next session, taking questions, exchanging business cards, and even signing games for fans). The first question I asked was whether Retro Studios would be working with their own IP sometime in the future. Kelbaugh said that Retro’s resources are basically used where they are needed the most, and that with Donkey Kong Country Returns, this was where they were used. Of course, Retro Studios also creates a lot of experiments and prototypes, some of which use Nintendo characters and others that use original IP. So we shouldn't expect to see any new IP come out of Retro Studios "tomorrow".

Finally, I asked if Metroid Prime Trilogy would be re-released, as it is now very rare. Kelbaugh replied that Retro Studios is not in charge of publishing, and that’s up to Nintendo. However, at this point, the chances of a re-release are very unlikely.

I would like to thank the entire team at Retro Studios for not only creating such a wonderful game, but also for giving such a great talk and being so friendly with their fans! Retro truly understands the unspoken element that makes a game great is in its fans. I am looking forward to whatever Mr. Kelbaugh and company has in store for us!

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