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Interviews: WayForward - Shantae: Risky's Revenge

Posted by Corbie Dillard

Matt Bozon talks about his long-awaited sequel

After an eight year absence, WayForward's half-genie has finally come out of the bottle for her brand new sequel just released on Nintendo's DSiWare service. Shantae: Risky's Revenge captures all of the unique gameplay of the original and expands upon it with all new magical powers and animal transformations.

With so much anticpation and excitement surrounding the recent release, we thought it would be a good time to get in touch with the folks at WayForward in order to find out a little more about the game, not to mention sneak a few classic Shantae questions in for good measure.

Matt Bozon, lead designer of the Shantae titles, was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer a few of our questions. You can find out what he had to say to Nintendo Life in the full interview below.

Nintendo Life: How did you come up with the idea for the original Shantae release in the first place?

Matt: Our circle of CalArts animator friends used to sit around the apartment designing characters for games, TV, or comic pitches. We loved doing it, and it was good practice for our future careers. My wife Erin designed the first version of Shantae – she had this idea for hair whipping, magical dancing, and animals…I kind of adopted it and continued developing it.

SNES was brand new during our college years, so when we weren’t animating our films we were playing Nintendo stuff. But we also enjoyed watching bad movies, going to conventions, having Star Trek TNG nights, X-Files marathons, etc, etc. Then the one day when Voldi Way started up WayForward, we knew that it was much more than a hunch that this group must somehow form a family. That’s the way we all became the “Shantae: Distributed by Capcom” Bunch.

NL: Does it surprise you that the game has remained such a cult favorite among fans over the years?

Matt: The really good games stick, even if they were somehow missed the first time around. I’ve heard that many people passed it by due to it having “kiddie graphics”. But for those who’d played a lot of Capcom games, they took a chance. Shantae looks like an Oreo…, but when you bite in… fire ants! Unexpected, daring, delicious! Hopefully without any strange side effects.

NL: Shantae for the Game Boy Color has become well known for featuring some of the best animation and visuals to appear on the system. How difficult was it to achieve this with the limited visual capabilities of the Game Boy Color system?

Matt: Phooo. Pretty tough. We set a high quality bar and just stuck to it. Back then we saw Neo Pocket Colour and figured we could top it. With that as our lofty goal, Jimmy Huey came up with a boatload of smoke and mirror programmer tricks. He just kept kicking the box until it all fit. But it was never simple or easy. If you dissect the game carefully, you’ll see that a Scarecrow’s head juts out 1 block, just enough to allow a smaller character to nestle beneath it, with a bat hovering just above… it’s all packed together to avoid overloading scanlines and blowing sprite limits.

We worked hard to make the harsh restrictions invisible to the player. As entertainers, that’s our job… we want the audience to take our hard work for granted. Jimmy says that all of this close-to-the-board machine code is what makes Shantae hard to emulate… probably why the resale value is so high for original copies.

NL: Why has it taken so long to do a sequel?

Matt: We tried many times to make a sequel, but for one reason or another, the window of opportunity always slammed shut on our fingers. But our president slash Tyrannical Overlord Voldi Way was always willing to support my attempts at another swing and a miss, and that’s why we eventually got the sequel done. Lots of swinging. Whoosh! Swoosh! Then one day – a homerun! I suppose there’s a fine line between the “homerun” analogy and the “moron touching the hot stove” analogy.

NL: Why the decision to go with a DSiWare release rather than retail?

Matt: DSiWare gave use the opportunity to finally publish the game, and that’s pretty much the reason. So, thank Nintendo for the shop, and Mighty Flip Champs buyers for the cash. I’ve heard that some people really want a box for this game and I can’t blame them… I keep all my boxes all the way back to Atari 2600. Something about a really cool box…

NL: It's been said that a sequel was originally crafted and nearly completed on the Game Boy Advance system. Why was this game never released and is Risky's Revenge based on this game in any way?

Matt: Shantae Advance was pretty far along, but the GBA market was seriously flooded and we had to quit development. Risky’s Revenge does share a few minor elements from Shantae Advance, but it’s an entirely different game. The DSi and GBA games both kick off with Shantae at home, training for her next adventure, followed by Risky Boots returning to wreak havoc. But from there the games split off in different directions.

NL: What can gamers expect as far as new game play mechanics in Risky's Revenge?

Matt: There’s a good mix of old and new. The magic from the original game is back, now powered by a magic meter rather than one time use, which I stole from Zelda without permission. We’ve got swimming, dashes, rope climbing… basically more movement options all around. And Shantae herself has variable speed hair whips, and much greater range than before. With less reaction time needed, we were able to speed up the entire experience. It’s a much more aggressive, fast action game. Less floaty, and more snappy than the original.

NL: Will there be any touch screen controls used in the game?

Matt: Yes, but just for functional stuff like inventory, accessing the map, and minor menu selections. It’s not much of a “touch” game.

NL: What does having two screens to work with bring to the table from a development standpoint?

Matt: Well sir it gives us more options. On Contra 4, we used it to open up the playfield and show impossibly tall enemies. On Duck Amuck, we used the touch screen to annoy Daffy. In Shantae its there as a convenience, not a main attraction. But it does help keep HUD elements off the playfield.

NL: The first game is famous for its high level of difficulty. Will Risky's Revenge feature this same level of difficulty?

Matt: It’s not Contra 4 hard, but you will get sweaty all over. We really want the player to improve as they go – not just bank hours – so there is a steady difficulty curve at work. Also this game promotes discovery through exploration. So if you’re one of today’s younger, gentler gamers, then please know where your mum’s pant leg is so you can cling to it as you cry sissy tears.

NL: Originally this was to be the first release in a three part episodic series. What’s up?

Matt: When we started out there were three episodes planned, like a three act story. But, but by the time we were shoulder deep in development, it became clear that this game was taking on a life of its own. So we had a roundtable and decided to pool all of our efforts into a single bona fide sequel, and drop the episodic approach. The resulting game is equal in length as our intended three episodes combined, though the content has radically changed for the better.

NL: Have you had a chance to see Nintendo's 3DS system in person and if so, what did you think of it and do you have any desire to develop for it?

Matt: We love the 3DS! And I’m happy to say that we’re working on multiple titles as we speak. I can’t describe how incredibly cool this system is. Unlike Virtual Boy (which I love by the way), the Nintendo 3DS displays the third dimension beautifully without compromising comfort, graphics, or portability.

In the Nintendogs and Cats demo, when the dog gets all licky on the glass you can actually stick your face into the dog’s face and go nuts. And that is every man’s dream. If they include a “Virtual Virtual Boy” so I can play VB Wario Land again, I’ll be super stoked!

NL: Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer some of our questions. We very much appreciate it.

Matt: Thank you! And on behalf of the Risky team and WayForward, thank you for giving our game so much love and attention. See you guys in Sequin Land!

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User Comments (33)

CanisWolfred

#2

CanisWolfred said:

Should've asked if he was related to the Bozon from IGN. I always wondered if that was true.:P

cheapogamer4life

#5

cheapogamer4life said:

Good interview! So all the hype around Shantae and they decided not to go with an episodic release?!
Good work you guys. :p

Fuzzy

#7

Fuzzy said:

"please know where your mum’s pant leg is so you can cling to it as you cry sissy tears."

Haha. classic!

KyubiStewie

#9

KyubiStewie said:

@Mickeymac He is related to Mark Bozon, since he's the older brother (hence the balding).While Mark is younger.
Btw, Mark left IGN to become editor for Electronic Gaming Monthly.

Stuffgamer1

#10

Stuffgamer1 said:

He overstated the difficulty of Risky's Revenge somewhat...either that, or I'm just better than I think I am. I just finished the game 100%, with a clear time of 6:22:22 (hours:minutes:seconds)...and the end picture is different from the one I got for 29/34 items with a shorter time. I wonder if it would change again if I got 100% faster?

Anyway, awesome game, vastly superior to the original, and highly recommended. Now I want a remake of the original to be more like this one, so I can properly enjoy and finish it!

SilverBaretta

#11

SilverBaretta said:

"So if you’re one of today’s younger, gentler gamers, then please know where your mum’s pant leg is so you can cling to it as you cry sissy tears."

Yes. Frickin' yes. Great interview, Corbie, I'm really looking forward to picking this up! :)

MasterGraveheart

#12

MasterGraveheart said:

Great interview, guys.

I just beat Risky's Revenge and it is a fine, fine game. Not too difficult, but it will kick your butt if you're unprepared and careless. One thing I do feel is that it seemed to just end abruptly. Won't go into spoilers here. I'll cover it in my new upcoming blog series that I'll post in the forums here and in my blog at ScrewAttack. This game is a definate 9/10.

ExploderReviews

#13

ExploderReviews said:

Wait, so this is all three episodes combined? Im definitely gonna get this then! As soon as i finish my essay thats due tomorrow... maybe.

Zach

#15

Zach said:

One of my favourite last names in video games on my favourite video game site talking about a video game that's making this $12 in my pocket seem more dispensible by the moment... what a dreamboat! Great interview, Corbie.

Kid_A

#16

Kid_A said:

Great interview. You need to use your smooth, Corbie charm to score some more of these for the sight, man!

WolfRamHeart

#17

WolfRamHeart said:

Excellent interview Corbie! I always love to see what those fine folks at WayForward are up to. I'm having an incredible time with Shantae right now. I still haven't beaten it yet but I think I'm close. I'm on my way to the Hypno Baron and collect the third Magic Seal. I am very pleased with how Shantae turned out. Definitely the best $12 I've spent this year. It is interesting to hear that WayForward is already working on some projects for the 3DS. I really hope that one of those will be a sequel to Sigma Star Saga.:)

CanisWolfred

#18

CanisWolfred said:

@WolfRamHeart

I hope they make a Sigma Star Saga Sequel, too. Though, this time I would prefer it if the random encounter rate wasn't so annoyingly high and that the shooter stages were actually fun more than 10% of the time.

Gavin_Rozee

#22

Gavin_Rozee said:

There are gamers in Europe too, Matt. No doubt we won't see the game until WayForward in the future, in which case I won't buy it :)

CanisWolfred

#23

CanisWolfred said:

Already set on the Top of my Wishlist. Definitely gonna be the first Ware game I buy when I get a 3DS. Great interview, guys.

sonic_brawler95

#25

sonic_brawler95 said:

Ever since Contra 4, I found out about WayFoward, and now I support them a lot! Shantae: RR is a wonderful game, and I'm glad WF put a lot of time into making it! :)

WaveyChristmas

#26

WaveyChristmas said:

"SNES was brand new during our college years, so when we weren’t animating our films we were playing Nintendo stuff"

Wha? Maybe I'm just reading this wrong. But Matt Bozon is 27, by the time he was in college he was probably playing the GameCube ;p Maybe that was his brother talking.

LuWiiGi

#29

LuWiiGi said:

What a nice guy, I can't wait to see what he has in store for 3DS. And his wife is a genius.

Only one thing in this interview disappointed me, which is that you didn't ask Matt about a European release date, cos I can't wait to DL this gold!

MeloMan

#31

MeloMan said:

I really hope that one of those will be a sequel to Sigma Star Saga.
^
This was my intro to WayForward, and though I didn't get to beat Contra 4, then did an excellent job w/ one of my all time favs. SSS was a good game... and the possibilities on the 3DS could bring it not just up to great game but glorious game. Time will tell...

PSICOffee

#32

PSICOffee said:

Man this guy is awesome, saying the same type of things I would say, especially about the sissy gamers of today and hoping for VB on the 3DS to play Wario Land. I can't wait to buy this game and the original. Its a shame we'll never hear more about the Advanced version though..

EdEN

#33

EdEN said:

Shantae is waiting for me to finish another 3 DSiware games so I can dive into it non-stop. Did buy MFC at launch so I'm looking forward to the extra content we'll get.

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