Interviews: Driift Mania - Konami

Konami's European studio spill the beans about their upcoming WiiWare racer!

With the upcoming July 31st European release of Konami's WiiWare top-down racing game Driift Mania approaching fast, we thought that now might be a good time to get in touch with the developers behind it in order to find out a bit more about the game.

Axel de Rougé, the Lead Producer for Driift Mania at Konami, was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer some of our questions. You can find out what he had to say to Nintendo Life in the exclusive interview that follows.

Nintendo Life: Driift Mania would seem to take some inspiration from aging classics such as Super Off Road. What gave you the idea to bring back the good old top-down racing genre?

Axel de Rougé: Driift Mania inspires from some old-school games and brings new things in. We particularly liked the top down view adapted to a multiplayer oriented game, with a spectacular gameplay everyone can enjoy at the same time. The idea that you can see the whole track and all of your challengers in real time brings a new kind of gameplay in: it’s all about piloting, anticipating, but also interacting with others, on screen and in life.

Nlife: Driift Mania has a very unique visual style. What made you decide to go with the cel-shaded look?

Axel: We felt Driift Mania was more about fun than simulation of racing. Gameplay is very arcade, all about drifting and taking the best possible trajectory. We felt the look and feel had to be shiny, fresh, and with cel-shaded effects on cars and environments, and colorful tracks. This way, not only can you feel the fun, you can also see it!

Nlife: We've seen that individual cars have various strengths and weaknesses depending of the type of track they're used on. Can you go into a bit more detail about this aspect of the game?

Axel: We have 32 vehicles in the game, dispatched in 4 weight categories (Small, Medium, Heavy and Special). Basically you can distinguish 4 general characteristics for each category: Acceleration, Max. speed, Handle and Weight.

Each weight category will have general tendencies, for instance medium cars will have better speed than small cars, small cars will have a better handling. This adds a tactical element to Driift Mania and part of its depth. If you play on ice, maybe going for heavy is strategic, while it wouldn’t be in the mud of course! Everything stands and falls with the selected game mode as well. Car selection depends on your mission and your goals, depends on the team you’re in, the way you drive, and more...

Nlife: We understand that Driift Mania will offer local 8 player competitive play. What made you decide against implementing Wi-Fi support for multiplayer?

Axel: Driift Mania is a game you play with your opponents next to you in real life, just as they are in the game. This is one of our basic principles, we believe this makes the game experience way richer, and the teasing between users way more accurate! Local multiplayer was our priority, as we believe the game reaches its peak in terms of fun and excitement when played all in the same room.

Nlife: What control options are available in Driift Mania? Can cars be operated with motion sensing as well as traditionally with the D-pad?

Axel: This was once an option, but it revealed not very user friendly when we implemented it, as tracks are sufficiently challenging to manage with “regular” controls. We wanted to have controls made as simple as possible, and user rather familiarize with the drifting gameplay, the driving and the cars, rather than trying to orientate with sometimes frustrating motion sensing controls. We therefore left those out and concentrated on making the driving sensation optimal with regular controls.

Nlife: Can you tell us a bit more about the additional game modes, such as ‘Contamination’?

Axel: The additional game modes are in fact main game modes. Everything is done to provide a unique multiplayer experience, and several modes were designed in that way. In addition of the very classic “Championship”, we wanted add a whole range of crazy multiplayer game modes. The game has 6 especially multiplayer oriented game modes (Custom Championship, Team Race, Meteorite, Contamination, Cold potato and V.I.P.). In Contamination mode, a first lap will determinate who is the contaminated car, starting from this moment the other players will have to survive and avoid to be touched and contaminated also.

In another game mode, Meteorite, players will have to complete tracks under a hail of meteorites.

All multiplayer game modes have been designed to bring the maximum of fun between friends when playing together (little bit like those old good 8 or 16 bits games did).

Nlife: Konami’s European studio is known for making mobile phone games. Was it a big change to develop a game for WiiWare?

Axel: Definitely, but we have a very talented team out here, that were not all java specialists. Nintendo tools were helpful, and the good work of our lead developers and lead artists allowed some good expertise early in the process. We’ve made our best and feel we can be proud of what was achieved, as we focused on one and only thing: providing fun. We know what we can do and how far we could push things, our best efforts are in this game.

With this new experience, we feel stronger and ready to go for the next step.

Nlife: What price point are you aiming to release Driift Mania at? When do you expect the European launch to be?

Axel: Launch date will be on July 31st for 800 Wii Points. From our point of view it delivers an outstanding value for money.

Nlife: With your mobile phone expertise, DSiWare seems like the next logical step for Konami’s European studio. Might you have some announcements soon?

Axel: We are always looking at opportunities to expand our expertise and platform reach but we are not able to comment specifically on any platform at this moment

Nlife: Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview with us.

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