Wario Land: Shake It! - Development Staff Interview

Etsunobu Ebisu
Etsunobu
Ebisu
Producer
Madoka Yamauchi
Madoka
Yamauchi
Director
Koichi Yagi
Koichi
Yagi
Program Director
Tadanori Tsukawaki
Tadanori
Tsukawaki
Design Director
Tomoya Tomita
Tomoya
Tomita
Music and Sound
Kentaro Sei
Kentaro
Sei
Planning
Takahiro Harada
Takahiro
Harada
Producer
Nobuo Matsumiya
Nobuo
Matsumiya
Assistant Director

Garlic IconThe Ultimate 2D Game

Nintendo
The way Wario moves is rather distinctive.
Ebisu
In addition to designing a platform game with simple operability, we thought about what direction to take regarding visual elements such as backgrounds. Harada-san and I exchanged ideas for a while, and eventually settled on the current style.
Harada
One of our goals this time was to create the ultimate 2D game.
Tsukawaki
When Yamauchi proposed using entirely hand-drawn animation for visuals, I was hesitant. With hand-drawn animation, making changes is hard.
Harada
With a 3D Wario made from polygons, it’s easy, for example, to change the shape of his beard a little. With traditional animation, there would be hundreds of frames showing Wario, and you’d have to change them all. For backgrounds, to change the position of an object even a little, you can’t just replace one part—you have to change the whole thing.
Tsukawaki
In the beginning, I was worried, but as we progressed, I thought, “This has impact!” First, the animators provided us with line drawings. We used those to run the game, and even with just the line drawings the movement looked good. It had a warmth you don’t always get with polygons.
Nintendo
How many frames did you use for the animation?
Tsukawaki
It depends on the particular movement, but for one action, about 30. For Wario alone, there were over 2,000. For the enemies, there were about 6,000, including the ones we eventually cut. We had to digitalize all of those to be plugged into the software. Yagi put a lot of effort into that.
Yagi
I’ve been a programmer for a long time, but it was my first time to make a game with so many patterns. Like Tsukawaki said, there were about 2,000 for Wario—about 200 separate actions. Those are stored in memory, so they can be displayed at any time. It took some clever programming to achieve that.
Tsukawaki
It was pretty crazy. (laughs)
Yagi
The backgrounds don’t repeat, so the volume for scenery was greater than I’ve ever seen. It was so big that the scenery alone would have filled up the Nintendo GameCube. It wasn’t easy to pack all that in.
Ebisu
Early on we considered making the game in 3D. Based on past experience making platform games, I knew the amount of work involved in hand-drawing everything from characters to scenery would be tremendous. Way back when, it was something you dreamt about, but never actually achieved. This time, however, we decided to give it a shot.
Nintendo
Production I.G and Kusanagi were involved in design, right?
Ebisu
That’s right. We thought we should request help from animation companies who would have more know-how. Production I.G helped with character animation and the opening and ending sequences, and Kusanagi helped with the backgrounds.
Tsukawaki
Developing a game is something you figure out as you go. The need for alterations is going to arise, but when the animation is already moving along, a conflict arises. All the backgrounds were hand-drawn, too, so even a small change meant everything had to be changed. Whenever Sei, who was in charge of stage construction, said, “Let’s put a secret passage here,” we knew we were in for some hard labor.
(everyone laughs)
We’d say, “What?! What’s the big idea?!” and he’d say, “It’ll be easier for the player if we do it this way, won’t it?” and then we’d say, “Okay, okay, if we do it that way, then...” In the end we always came around.
Sei
Yeah, we were at each other’s throats every day. (laughs)