Iwata discusses the upcoming 3DS title with Masahiro Sakurai.
Nintendo President Satoru Iwata sat down with Masahiro Sakurai, CEO and Director of Software Development at Sora Ltd., to discuss the development of the upcoming Kid Icarus: Uprising in a recent edition of Iwata Asks..
Iwata started the interview by comparing the battle mode of Uprising to what he imagines the Super Smash Bros. games would look like in a fully 3D space, and noted the similar fast pace of both games. He continued by pointing out that when the Nintendo-themed fighting game first arrived on Nintendo 64, many players did not fully grasp its concept. Sakurai agreed, and expressed his worry that people will also misunderstand battles in Kid Icarus: Uprising which, he noted, melds the rules of a first-person shooter with a simpler control scheme. He expressed hope that the controls will make sense to players once they have a chance to become acquainted with them.
Iwata likened this quandary to the difficulties Nintendo had with distinguishing Smash Bros. from fighting games preceding it. Sakurai noted that the introduction and broadening of a game and its concept is an intrinsic part of the style of games he makes, including Smash Bros., Kirby Air Ride, and Meteos. That is, the comprehension curve may be a bit steeper than other games, but persistence on the part of the player is rewarded. Sakurai continued by comparing his process to "disassembly and reassembly." He explained that each genre has its own "fun core," and that he tries to remove the unnecessary parts surrounding that core and rebuild around it somewhere new.
To illustrate this design theory, he noted how Super Smash Bros. was originally created to be "an antithesis to 2D fighting games" (a conversation documented in a previous Iwata Asks). He noted that while he enjoyed the more organic aspects that occur in fighting games (the "fun core" of the genre), he was less fond of having to pull off complex combos to achieve victory. In the place of combos, he wanted something that could work off the changing situations within each fight, an idea that became the basis for the cumulative damage mechanic in Smash Bros. He also noted similar decisions in Kirby Air Ride, where they focused mainly on the drifting mechanic instead of implementing a traditional brake/acceleration system, and Meteos, in which they reinterpreted the traditional risk/reward dynamic of a puzzle game into a system of resisting and pushing the blocks back.
Continuing on the concept of risk and reward, Iwata brought up an anecdote in which Sakurai had broken down the risk/reward dynamic in Space Invaders (i.e., having to shoot from directly underneath the invaders to hit them, and chancing getting hit by their fire at the same time). Sakurai noted that while he knows there are other pieces that make a game fun, he often connects gameplay with risk and return.
Iwata steered the conversation in the direction of influences from the original Kid Icarus. Sakurai mentioned that while they gave careful treatment to the story of the new game, they were careful not to make it too serious, and instead shot for a "boisterous feeling like in Super Smash Bros." He remarked that Iwata's requests of him post-Super Smash Bros. Brawl were to make an original game, and to make something for the 3DS that "the in-house Nintendo development team wouldn't." He also said that his first idea given those guidelines was to create "a shooting game with air battles and land battles," while also having the idea to "revive a stalled series from the Nintendo lineup."
The conversation returned to risk and reward, with Iwata bringing up the Fiend's Cauldron from Uprising, a challenge system that allows players to bet hearts and test themselves to earn rewards. Sakurai explained that this mechanic allows players to determine the amount of risk and reward for themselves and their level of skill. He noted that he wants players to be able to have some agency in how they experience the game, whether that comes in simply flying through a level and enjoying the aesthetic or challenging themselves with a higher difficulty.
The second part of the interview will be posted after Kid Icarus: Uprising is released.