The Nintendo president discusses the challenges developing the latest game in the Wii series.
In the latest edition of "Iwata Asks", Nintendo President Satoru Iwata talked to the development team of Wii Party, the latest game in Nintendo's Wii series. The team is composed of Hiroshi Satou and Miyuki Hirose, both part of the Development Planning Division, Shuuichirou Nishitani, Nd Cube Engineering Development Division Manager, and Jun Ikeda, CEO of Nd Cube.
Nd Cube, a former subsidiary of Nintendo, has been completely absorbed by Nintendo and is now being considered a research and development department. The company was founded in March of 2000 as a GameCube and Game Boy Advance developer with 78% of the company owned by Nintendo and the remaining by Dentsu, an advertising firm. After several key employees left, Nintendo purchased the remaining shares and is now the sole owner, expanding the studio by opening new offices in Sapporo and Tokyo near Nintendo's branch offices.
It was also revealed that several key staff members from the Mario Party development team have left Hudson to join NdCube. Mario Party was originally a joint venture between Nintendo and Hudson called Monegi, but with Wii Party having strong sales in Japan and the loss of the Hudson developers, it is likely that Wii Party will replace Mario Party in that game space.
Iwata asks what it's like working on a franchise that comes out almost yearly, noting that he's only worked on franchises that don't have as many installments such as Kirby and Smash Bros. The production team replied that they had so many ideas for mini-games that they took stock of them to use "next time". Another reason they were able to keep up the pace is that they assembled new people into their team for each title, leading to more ideas.
The team revealed that the reason behind the development of Wii Party was the desire to create a party title with Miis. Miis became an integral part of the game, as they wanted to create interesting activities featuring the characters. One challenge the team faced with the game is that they had to be careful with how they presented the Miis. One member wanted to change the look of the Miis in to make the game more entertaining, and found out there were rules to using the Miis within the company. The rules exist because "Mii's are made based on the people that created them, and you have to be careful not to make those people feel bad with how you're handling them". The team contrasted Wii Party to Mario Party, a game series in which they implemented fantastical elements such as volcanoes that shoot magma in both land and space.
Development of the title took longer than expected. Being part of the Wii brand, Wii Party had to introduce never-before-seen challenges while remaining accessible to all players regardless of age or skill. The team thought that if they couldn't come up with something new, they might call the game "Mii Party" instead.
Another aspect that slightly delayed its development was that the team worked to define what "Party" was, and how to implement it in the gameplay. In 2009, during what should have been the wrap up phase of development, they realized that they had only been focusing on the board game aspect of the title (Mario Party was developed under the working title "Mario Board"). They thought of it not as the party that was going on behind the screen of the television, but rather the party players would be having with the Wii Remotes on "this" side of the TV.
Since Wii Party is part of the Wii series, the developers had to consult the teams behind titles such as Wii Fit and Wii Sports Resort for their input. They confessed that some of the comments were strong, with comments on pacing and difficulty being important in shaping the title. Entire minigames deemed "low in quality" were removed altogether.
Wii Party was designed from the beginning to appeal to a larger audience than that of Mario Party. However, the segment concludes with Iwata stating that rather than creating a game series out of Wii Party, he wanted to create a game that is a strong seller like the titles before it.
Wii Party is scheduled to be released in North America on October 3, 2010.