So as you might imagine the news that Shin'en are to produce titles for Nintendo's WiiWare service understandably got us very excited indeed, and we therefore contacted Manfred Linzner - CEO of Shin'en - for this exclusive interview about their upcoming title Fun! Fun! Minogolf.
WiiWare World: Shin’en is most known for GBA and DS games, was it a big change to begin developing for WiiWare?
Manfred Linzner: No, not really. It would be a big change from GBA to Wii but from DS to Wii wasn't for us a big deal. The base concepts of 3D games are the same on any console. On Wii you just have much more power to do more complex things.
WW: Fun! Fun! Minigolf looks amazing for a WiiWare game, was it hard to fit within the 40MB download limit?
ML: Our goal was to make the game to look better than most Wii titles. We knew from the DS that experienced people are more important than lots of resources. We just had to plan carefully. So before starting with any content we sat down and calculated precisely how much space each part of the game would need. We broke it down into audio, graphics and code. As we knew very good how much resources we need to make something look and sound good this wasn't too hard in the end.
WW: There are already several other novelty golf games on the Wii (disc based retail), was that a concern when developing Fun Fun?
ML: No, not really. Although Minigolf has a lot in common with golf, it’s a very different experience. We also think the top-notch quality of our game, combined with the very low price tag of WiiWare games, will make the game attractive to really everyone who likes Wii Sports Golf for instance.
WW: Wii Sports golf is great fun, but soft strokes can be a bit tricky to pull off, does Fun Fun improve on this?
ML: This was exactly the first thing we looked into when developing the controls for the game. We always felt that putting was the weak spot of Wii Sports Golf. It's a technical problem. It was not easy to master this problem but we are very happy that we were able to handle it very nicely. Our controls allow very soft and quite hard shots without losing control.
WW: What type of courses and number of holes does Fun Fun have?
ML: The courses are spread across Europe, Asia and America. We picked up the most beautiful locations in each area. For instance in Europe you play near a Bavarian cottage in the Alps.
There are 27 holes to play. You can play alone and earn different medals or play with up to four people. Multiplayer is really endless fun. Sometimes it’s really close in the end when you play against your friends and the last hole makes or breaks.
Our engine also allows full control of daytime. So you will play the courses in the morning, noon, afternoon or night. This adds a lot of realism and allows different graphical effects for different daytimes. Our game testers we really stunned when they first played the game. I know, this sounds like marketing, but people said the game is the most beautiful they ever saw on the Wii.
WW: What sort of crazy obstacles can we expect to see?
ML: We experimented with all kind of obstacles. In the end those obstacles you know from the real world were simply the best to play. If the obstacles are too complex they may look fun but in the end you feel like just making a lucky shot. Each of our obstacles needs a different approach. In general each hole can be played in one stroke. However, doing this does really mean to master the game.
WW: What characters can be played in Fun Fun?
ML: First we thought about using Miis, but then we felt that currently many many games are using Miis. We think it’s a bit boring to have nearly every WiiWare game with Miis. Using Miis means also to adopt your style to fit with those simple characters. In the end we decided against and we are very happy with it. We feature two male and two female characters and they blend perfectly into the game. The give this extra style and mood we were looking for.
WW: Are seasonal effects such as rain and wind represented in Fun Fun?
ML: We thought about adding rain and snow, but in the end it was just too unrealistic to play Minigolf in such locations. So we decided to make all courses with nice weather. Like your favourite holiday
WW: Are there any other interesting facts you might want to mention about Fun! Fun! Minigolf?
ML: We are very proud about the audio part of the game. The songs and FX are really great. We also hired a male and a female professional voice actor for commenting the game. We feel that current games often have too boring and casual audio. We wanted to have music you will remember. Of course if you don't like to have music while playing the game you can turn it off any time in the pause menu.
We also worked a lot to have a perfect camera. So your strokes and ball movements will always be in perfect scope.
WW: Can you tell us more about the graphical specs for this game in detail?
ML: Shin'en is well known to deliver games that are on the edge of technical possibility of each machine. We followed that trend on the Wii. We use all of the graphical power the Wii has to give. And that’s a lot. Blooming, Normal mapping, Image Based HDR lightning and many more things are used in the game. Our goal was just to make the finest looking Wii game possible and that mission is achieved.
WW: When is this likely to be available in Europe and USA? Roughly how much will it retail for?
ML: We think it will be soon this autumn / fall. The game is finished and just needs to go through Nintendo’s Lot Check. The price tag should be below 1000 Wii points.
WW: You have stated that you have another WiiWare game in development. Can you tell us a little about this?
ML: Our next game is mostly a single player experience. It’s all about exploration and action. I think it’s something that people really will be looking forward.
WW: How likely is it that you will do a WiiWare version of Nanostray eventually?
ML: We know many people would like to see that on WiiWare. We think about it. Nanostray 2 is soon released in Europe. Sales for this release will have great influence on a potential WiiWare game.