Interviews: NinjaBee's Brent Fox
Posted by James Newton
Co-owner talks Amazing Brain Train, WiiWare and more!
With The Amazing Brain Train now available across the US, we had a chat with Brent Fox, NinjaBee's Art Director and co-owner. What does he make of WiiWare, and what are NinjaBee's goals for 2010? Here come your answers!
Nintendo Life: Introduce us to the concept of The Amazing Brain Train. What are its key features and aims?
Brent Fox: As the title suggests, this game will require you to use make good use of your noggin.
Your mental skills will be required because the train is fuelled by the power of your brain. Quest mode presents you with a map of your potential travels and many animal friends will offer you challenges along the way.
The game is packed full of many different games that each require you to use your brain in a different way. You will find yourself going back again and again to improve your score on each individual game and also to gain points that will add to your overall score and aid in your progress.
While it’s the kind of game that parents will be happy to let their kids play it’s also the kind of game that kids will want to play. You may even catch the parents spending a lot of time on their own brain enlargement. It’s just a lot of fun and it’s priced in a way that makes it a “no brainer” to purchase.
The Amazing Brain Train is a conversion of a successful PC game. Are any new features included in the Wii version?
BF: We started with a really fun, award-winning game on the PC. However, there are some big differences between the PC and the Wii. For starters, the input is different and we have a lot fewer pixels to work with on the Wii. We evaluated every screen in the game and made sure the entire game played as smooth as if was made for the Wii. This resulted in a lot of re-design and changes to the game. Our goal was to match or exceed the experience of the PC game on the Wii and we are really happy with the final product. There isn’t a better bargain for such a high quality game.
How long did the conversion from PC to Wii take?
BF: It took way longer than we expected. We planned on spending a couple of months on this project. However, we ran into a lot of issues that we couldn’t ignore if we really wanted a high quality experience. We worked on the WiiWare version for over 7 months. Our team size varied a lot and the team was as small as just one guy for a while. This is a lot of effort for converting a game but we really felt strongly that we couldn’t do a sloppy job.
Did you aim this at a particular territory first? If so, why?
BF: We are releasing first in the US. We are starting there and we will see how well the game does. We believe we have a great game but the trick will be getting the word out.
How have you kept the concept of brain training new and exciting?
BF: To be honest, we feel like the original game, developed by Grubby Games, was just great and that it would be a perfect fit for the Wii. We thought it was so great that we arranged to do the work to bring it to a new audience on the Wii. We also aggressively priced the game at $6 to ensure that even more people would be able to play the game.
What's next for NinjaBee?
BF: 2010 is going to be a huge year for us. We were fairly quiet last year. We released a couple of iPhone games in the Kaloki series but a lot of our work has been building up to this year. We are starting the year off by releasing the Amazing Brain Train for WiiWare. We’ve also announced an upcoming Xbox Live Arcade game, Ancients of Ooga and we are in the middle of Beta testing for a PC version of A Kingdom for Keflings. If that wasn’t enough we will be announcing another Xbox Live Arcade game, that is currently in development, at the end of the month.
What was it like winning an award at PAX? Did it bring any new fans to your games afterwards?
BF: I can’t speak for Grubby Games but I can say that the award at PAX was pivotal in our involvement with The Amazing Brain Train. When we saw the game at PAX we were really impressed. When we talked with Ryan Clark we discovered that there wasn’t a current plan to bring the game to the Wii. With his great game and our WiiWare experience we found great partnership.
Thanks to NinjaBee and Brent Fox for their time and for answering our questions!