We chat with the localization man extraordinaire in NYC.
Nintendo certainly did the recent launch of Wii Sports Resort right, sectioning off a portion of Times Square in New York City and turning it into a mini-resort. NWR’s Neal Ronaghan, Lauren Lewandoski, and Jared Rosenberg caught up with the longtime Nintendo translator and game localization guru to chat about the game, and a few other choice topics.
Nintendo World Report (NWR): What is your role at Nintendo of America?
Bill Trinen (BT): I've been with Nintendo for over 10 years and spent a good deal of that time in the localization group localizing the games. Now I'm a product manager in the product marketing group, which means I work closely with the developers and our marketing teams on both working on the games and…marketing the games. So, it's kind a nice, fun role. It essentially means that I have to know all there is to know about all our products, which is a spectacular job.
Nintendo World Report (NWR): What do you think Wii Sports Resort can do to expand the audience that Wii Sports hasn't done already?
BT: I think Wii Sports Resort and Wii MotionPlus are going to serve two purposes for us. Number one, Wii MotionPlus adds a great deal more precision to the gameplay control, and what that means is that the Wii user who has played a video game for the first time with Wii Sports is hopefully going to pick up Wii Sports Resort and get an idea of what that more precise control is, and get an understanding of what the deeper gameplay experiences that longtime gamers have been enjoying for years are really all about. Hopefully then, we'll be able to watch them slowly graduate [from] Wii Sports…[to] Wii Sports Resort, and then hopefully onto the Marios and Zeldas.
Obviously Wii Sports Resort is a great social game, but what's different this time around is that the development team has put a great deal of effort into creating a very strong single-player mode for all the sports. They do that, of course, through the additional precision controls. There are also a number of different modes in the game, more than what you see on the menu. There's an 11-point table tennis game that you can unlock, and there's close to two dozen different little Easter eggs.
NWR: Was there anything tricky about the localization in Wii Sports Resort?
BT: The localization team is always looking at things. In a game like this, a lot of the little things that come up are "are we going to do this mode in meters or feet or yards?" It's really all about measurements in something like a sports game. It's nothing that they're not unfamiliar with. They've been doing it for years.
NWR: Are you at all surprised about Wii MotionPlus' early success with the Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 bundle?
BT: Obviously the Tiger Woods game is phenomenal. I mean, we play it at the Treehouse, and people are really impressed with it. I think the development team did a great job on that. We're really happy to see that game doing as well as it is. It's obviously been a big pusher of Wii MotionPlus for us.
Of course the standalone [MotionPlus] unit has been selling some pretty strong numbers as well. We think that that is partly people who want an additional unit for Tiger Woods. We're also hearing from anecdotal evidence that people are trying to get them in advance so they're ready when Wii Sports Resort arrives.
NWR: Besides Ubisoft with Red Steel 2, and EA and Sega with their recent releases, are there any other companies that you know are working with MotionPlus?
BT: Development kits are around so I'm sure all the developers are looking to see what they can do with it. Whether or not they implement Wii MotionPlus is more of a decision on the creative side. The last thing that we want to do is try to push people to implement it into games where it's not appropriate. That being said, I'm sure that we're going to be seeing a number of additional third party titles. We have, of course, our own titles that we're working on. Typically we won't really talk about our own games until we're ready to show them because we really feel that playing is believing.
That being said, Mr. Miyamoto did mention at E3 2009 that the next Zelda game is going to be Wii MotionPlus-compatible.
NWR: I know Nintendo doesn't want to reveal anything about what they're working on with MotionPlus, but I take it there is a stable of games that is being worked on?
BT: Well, we always have a stable of games that are being worked on. There was another one that we showed off at E3 that was MotionPlus-compatible: Span Smasher. We haven't made any decisions on launch timing or anything for that game here in North America.
NWR: Is it coming to North America?
BT: Until we've announced anything, it's too hard to say. The fact that it was at E3 doesn't guarantee [it], but it's certainly not a bad sign.
NWR: Do you think Wii MotionPlus has the potential than the Balance Board?
BT: That's a very difficult question. We'll be watching very closely as Wii Sports Resort launches this week to see how it does, and of course we'll be watching the additional titles that launch later on.
NWR: Was it tough to come up with new kinds of games for Wii Sports Resort?
BT: No. The way our development teams work is that they start by focusing on the control experience. So once they got their Wii MotionPlus accessory and began to experiment with what it was capable of, it was a matter of figuring out if these are the types of movements it can do, what sports do those movements relate to?
I think it's pretty clear that they found a good collection of sports that translate very well to the Wii MotionPlus control and translate very well to an interactive experience.
NWR: What are your favorite sports in the game?
BT: I've got two personal favorites: Archery and Table Tennis. Table Tennis really more for the competition than anything else. [Editor's Note: The NOA Treehouse is fiercely competitive in this sport.] I feel like, being here [in New York City] this week, I'm missing out on some key opportunities to get better at the game.
As for Archery, I love the subtlety. A lot of motion controls up until now have been about big, fast motions, and I really like the idea of finding ways to take motion control and do these very subtle movements that require a good deal of precision.
Another one that's great is Frisbee Golf.
NWR: Is that similar to the Disc Golf mode in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10?
BT: It's quite a bit different. It essentially takes the mechanic from the Frisbee game in Wii Sports Resort and turns it into a full Frisbee Golf game. You can throw it whatever way you want to, and there are different-sized discs. It's a pretty good representation of a real-life Frisbee Golf game.
NWR: Why did you decide to bring back Golf and Bowling in Wii Sports Resort?
BT: I don't know if you read the recent Iwata Asks, but Miyamoto was in an interview at E3 last year and threw out Golf as an example of a game that would work very well with Wii MotionPlus compatibility. So when he went back to Japan, he said you guys have to make Golf now.
The fact of the matter is that both of those in particular are two sports that really can take advantage of MotionPlus. Golf because it obviously gives you the ability to do hooks and slices with your shots, and also the ability to put spin on the ball. So now on your approach shot you can put really nice bite on the ball and get it to land right and stop by the cup, or even roll it in, which you couldn't do before.
NWR: How does Wii Sports Resort's Golf differ from Tiger Woods?
BT: Wii Sports Resort is still much more of a social experience and it's not quite the sim that Tiger Woods is. Surprisingly, the two feel very similarly.
NWR: What inspired the tropical island theme for the game?
BT: I think that as they started working on the game, they found that the kind of sports that they had felt like more of a collection of fun, leisure sports that you would experience on a resort while you were on vacation, rather than the more competitive, team-based sports that you see in the original Wii Sports. So they decided to take that theme and bring life to it, and in the process brought a lot of life to the Wii Sports Resort island.
NWR: Air Sports seems to echo Pilotwings. Is that a wink to Pilotwings fans, or is there any possibility of a full Pilotwings game in the future?
BT: Actually, the Air Sports really is kind of the evolved version of the original Wii Remote demos at Tokyo Game Show 2005, when we first unveiled the Wii Remote. One of those demos was the airplane demo, and people really liked it, but it didn't fit in with the theme of the original Wii Sports. Mr. Miyamoto is the kind of guy who never lets anything go to waste. So when the opportunity came, I think he was probably a driving force in getting that into Wii Sports Resort. And it fits in really well with the island theme in terms of the skydiving and the flyover.
NWR: Do you think the Wii Sports series is going to continue past Resort?
BT: That's a good question. You never know.
NWR: Any word on anything for Mother 3 or Another Code coming to America?
BT: You know, when you hear about them, you'll hear about them. (laughs) Until then, there is nothing on those at this point and time.
Thanks to Bill Trinen, Denise Kaigler, and Nintendo for making these interviews possible! Discuss it in TalkBack!