News Article

Interview: Nigoro on La-Mulana's Cancellation

Posted by Mike Mason

What happened?

Those waiting for La-Mulana's WiiWare release were left disappointed recently when publisher Nicalis cancelled the game's western launch. Nicalis cited problems with low sales of the WiiWare platform and a protracted development period, leaving no current route overseas for the 2D platformer and developer Nigoro. We spoke to La-Mulana's director Takumi Naramura to find out more about the cancellation, where La-Mulana goes from here and the possibility of new projects from Nigoro.

Nintendo Life: From Nigoro's perspective, what happened with La-Mulana and Nicalis?

Takumi Naramura: While the market of WiiWare has been shrinking, Nicalis seems to have had anxiety about La-Mulana not passing the lot check. In order to release La-Mulana in overseas, there was no way but to ask Nicalis. We have been believing we can work to release it with them... I am very sorry it resulted like this.

NL: When did you find out about the cancellation of La-Mulana's Western release?

TN: In the early morning Japan time, a staff member received an email from Nicalis that they cancelled La-Mulana, and at the same time, Nicalis announced the matter on Twitter, I hear. I myself heard the news on Twitter in the morning.

NL: How regularly were Nigoro and Nicalis in contact? Do you feel there was any miscommunication?

TN: Until March of this year, we had been meeting on Skype about once a week. In short, the informations — lot checks, approval process and so on — that we got was only conveyed at the meeting, so we were only believe in them.

NL: Before this, how well did you think La-Mulana's development was progressing?

TN: We removed DLC from La-Mulana for reasons of the game did not pass lot check and Nicalis' request, and we sent it to Nicalis in earlier this year. We've finished what we could.

NL: It was said that La-Mulana failed lot checks multiple times for US and EU release. What issues caused this?

TN: To put it simply, culture, custom, and rule vary from country to country. The same goes for ESRB. In Europe, the game need to be designed for PAL. We are not familiar overseas. Naturally, it is difficult that we, living in Japan, understand them.

NL: As far as you can tell, what differs between Nintendo of Japan and Nintendo of America's approval process?

TN: Since we have a NDA with Nintendo, we can not answer it. We can tell you a piece of information. We had direct contact with NCL, therefore, we were able to grasp a process of lot checks and cope with the problems quickly. It is a fact that lags occurred in the communication between NOE or NOA because Nicalis acted as intermediary.

NL: Did you ask Nintendo of Japan for overseas help before speaking to other publishers?

TN: We have not asked for help in particular. I think it is cool that Nintendo become our publisher.

NL: Can Nigoro attempt to release La-Mulana on WiiWare in the West with a different publisher?

TN: The game is completed, we welcome the offer from a publisher. Since there are people who have Wii for playing La-Mulana, I want to do something.

NL: What do you think about the WiiWare platform in general? What would you suggest to improve it?

TN: Because Nintendo did not prepare digital distribution for Wii at first, WiiWare was inferior to other [digital distribution platforms], I think. I gather from a low-resolution screen and jammed large buttons that developers took pains with it. It is said that Nintendo's digital distribution for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U will be improved. I wanted Nintendo to continue to improve WiiWare, too.

NL: If you had an offer from a publisher, would you consider bringing La-Mulana to the Nintendo 3DS eShop?

TN: As you know, Nigoro is just three people. We do not concentrate on only La-Mulana, we want to create a new game. I know that there are people who want to play La-Mulana on handheld game consoles such as Nintendo 3DS. It is difficult [for] we ourselves [to] port it. If there is a publisher want to take charge of porting, I'd really like [them] to contact us.

NL: Do you have any publishers in mind for the PC version?

TN: We have received an offer from several companies for a very long time. There are several companies gave me a contact immediately after the matter. If our game is played more widely, we will consider the various possibilities.

NL: How has the reception been to La-Mulana in Japan?

TN: It is not a game like that everyone prefer or a lot of people regard highly. But fans who have a mania for La-Mulana love it enough to surprise us. Our enthusiasm seems to travel through the game. I believe it travels regardless of race and country.

NL: Several months ago, Nigoro asked for input on the release of a La-Mulana soundtrack. Is this still planned?

TN: I have already finished the recording, and OST includes remade unused tunes from original PC version in answer requests on official website. I listen to the OST on my iPod every day. I was going to release the OST after La-Mulana has been distributed in the overseas... We should be able to announce information of OST when the information of PC version comes. I think to distribute it on bandcamp.

NL: If Nigoro could collaborate with another Japanese independent developer, who would it be?

TN: In all honesty, we can not afford to collaborate. In Japan, there are many indie games not known abroad. We want to help if their developers wish to work abroad.

NL: Do you feel ready to move onto a new project any time soon?

TN: We have not been successful in overseas yet. We can not afford to start a new project. But I continue to get some ideas down on paper so that we can start at any time. New project surely is important. But our first preference is that everyone enjoy playing La-Mulana overseas. We give priority to its work. For sending this promised game to you.

We'd like to thank Naramura-san for his time.

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User Comments (47)



BulbasaurusRex said:

In the first half of the interview, I couldn't understand much of his babbling Engrish. If you don't know the language well enough to reasonably get your meaning across, get a translator.



odd69 said:

I hope they can find a publisher, I know if it came here I would buy this day one.



ejamer said:

I understand why Nicalis did not want to publish on WiiWare - at this time, it is very hard to make profit with WiiWare games. But I'm sad that La-Mulana is not coming out in North America.

The game looks fun, and is something that I would like to try playing eventually! Maybe a PC release will be available here instead? Best of luck to Nigoro with all of their projects.



Uncle_Optimus said:

@BulbasaurusRex Wow, not cool. I imagine other Nintendo Life readers such as myself are very interested to learn more about the process behind international publisher collaborations and specifically why La Mulana was ultimately cancelled.
Given Nigoro is a 3-man indie operation that is very low on funds and Nintendo Life is essentially a fan-run endeavour, I would like to thank both parties for the time and effort to deliver this interesting and unique content for free. The English was fine, the developer's meaning was received clearly.
About La Mulana, I am very curious what are the costs to publish the game here...fees must surely be exchanged with NOA and the ESRB (an anachronism, IMO) and then there are internal localization and marketing costs. It sounds like the localization was long complete...assuming every resubmit costs Nicalis a fee, the cost risks to resubmit again and then market must have outweighed the sunk cost.
I really hope the PC effort proves rewarding and the game can live again on NA consoles...perhaps Wii U?



Uncle_Optimus said:

Oh crap, I am still talking.
I really have to reiterate Mr Naramura's hope that Nintendo greatly improves their future eShop iterations. Not just in user interface and software selection, but for the Love of Bowser, developer policies.
Take down the barriers of entry for developers with proven work, Cave after all can self-publish on iTunes with no problem, heck even a niche team like Kairosoft has multiple popular releases in NA. I bet they sure wouldn't mind putting out their very portable-friendly games on 3DS for example, if the publishing policies were more equitable (fair).
@odd69 Given that a ton of core gamers (and La Mulana targets a niche of this segment) have Wiis but have no idea what to play on it (mostly because there is...almost nothing new for them to play on it) I feel like a market for La Mulana definitely exists. But the effort it would take to get the word out would be significant. Then, lots of people would literally need to dust off their systems and perhaps purchase some Wii points (wheeeee)...and realistically, with the game likely available soon enough on a superior platform like Steam, they may very well prefer the PC version. I sure would. IMO, Nicalis made the harsh but correct call.



DarkEdi said:

Excellent interview. I hope they find a publisher for wiiware because it is a game that can be better enjoyed in a big tv. Please Nigoro, listen our prays 1000 wiipoints could be perfect to waste.



pixelman said:

Stay classy, @BulbasaurusRex.

The more I saw of this game the more I lost interest, but it always sucks seeing an indie dev having a hard time. Sounds like getting it localized was a nightmare for everyone involved.



DarkCoolEdge said:

It would be great to get La Mulana for the 3DS.
If I had the money, I'd publish it myself. Too bad i don't have that dough.



MakeMyBiscuit said:


Not cool. I understood and I appreciate the interview.

I too hope someone picks this game up. I wanted to buy it. I did not know Nintendo was not approached. Nintendo should pick it up. They have the money and this could also be a kind of talent search for them to give Nigoro a shot. It is sad to see little companies like Nigoro have such a hard time trying to get their games out there. Wasn't the the point of WiiWare to help make it easier for indie companies like Nigoro get their games out there?

I guess they can also try Xbox Live. It looks like Xbox Live is more supportive of indie developers. I know I would it pick it up on Xbox Live as well.



k8sMum said:

i had no trouble understanding what he was saying. perhaps your reading comprehension is more at fault than naramura's english skills.



StarBoy91 said:

@BulbasaurusRex - Really? That was not cool, man! I understood his English just fine
The interview was good, imo; sad to hear the game won't make it overseas



rayword45 said:

"We do not concentrate only on La-Mulana. We want to create other games too."

And that's why they failed with Nicalis.

Anyways, I'd love to see this picked up by EnjoyUp.



defrb said:

If the love factor is high enough, there will be another release. Wiiware is the past allready. But maybe on the wiiu?

Nice interview thanks.



Drake said:

I believe Mr. Naramura insists on answering interviews in English (Unless it's a Japanese interview to begin with), it's obviously not perfect, but it's completely understandable and he's clearly trying to improve it.



thiagoauler said:

Nintendo should definitely publish this great game!
The same way Nintendo published Fluidity...



Radixxs said:

It's a shame it was cancelled, but it would have underachieved at this point in he Wii's lifetime. It's also a shame the interview reads like it was written by Google Translate, but that's not really their fault.



sinalefa said:

I guess Bulbasaurus Rex does not know the difficulties of learning a language that is not his native one.

Anyway, I have been hearing about this one for ages and now we are not able to play it, even if the game is complete? That really sucks. It feels like all of their work on the Wiiware version was wasted. Smells like fan petition in the near future.



SandMan said:

Hmm... If they removed DLC in the last version they sent to Nicalis (apparently because Nicalis had asked them to and because there were lot-check issues related to the DLC), would their new publisher for WiiWare (assuming they find one) be receiving/allowing the "full" version to be submitted?



Kafei2006 said:

Was the last Wiiware game I was truly looking forward to :/. With this cancellation, Wiiware just died in my eyes.



RR529 said:

It's sad to see, but maybe someone will take them up on that offer to port it to 3DS.



GeminiSaint said:

I hope this situation gets resolved somehow and the game sees release on this side of the world.



WiiLovePeace said:

I've been waiting in eager anticipation of this game since it was announced for WiiWare 3 years ago or so. I really want them to release this on WiiWare, I really hope some company can find a means to publish it for them.

& I guess if Nicalis really cancelled publishing of La-Mulana for fear of no return (why'd they take so long to cancel? :S) then we won't be getting NightSky on WiiWare either



Nintenbro said:

@BulbasaurusRex is really paying for it now.

Anyways, I really hope Nigoro finds a developer soon. Otherwise I don't see this happening with a desired outcome. I think Nigoro should program the possibility for DLC back into the game. After waiting this long, I believe followers deserve as much playtime as they can receive. Plus, Nigoro will most likely increase profits by doing so. These guys deserve as much for their endeavor as any other developers on the WiiWare service. You can tell they're very humble easterners, and they care about us gamers more than potential profits. Nowadays, people like that are few and far inbetween. I wish Nigoro the best of luck in any and all of their future projects.



SKTTR said:

I contacted NIGORO and EnjoyUp Games, and apparently Julio of EnjoyUp and James of NintendoLife are working on a solution!

Go! Go!! EnjoyUp Games! I supported you with buying Penguis & Friends - Hey! That's My Fish! today - the day of removal. (Now I have all your WiiWare games!)

PS. Great job, James!



theblackdragon said:

@BulbasaurusRex: You should play some mid-90's games that were brought over from Japan... Konami's translation work was especially atrocious back then. With some of those under your belt, understanding the interview will be much easier for you, I'm sure :3

That said, that's great news, SKTTR! I do hope a solution can be found



BulbasaurusRex said:

3rd Question What does "believing" in the lot-checks, etc. have to do with anything, and why weren't the weekly meetings working?
5th Question Reading it through a 2nd time, I finally got that he was saying that he's not familiar with the overseas rules and that it's difficult for the Japanese to become familiar with them. That was stated horribly and very difficult to pick up.
10th Question If it weren't for the extra words that were edited in, that answer would've also been very hard to understand.



bro2dragons said:

@BulbasaurusRex: He was saying that because Nicalis acted as a middleman, the only information Nigoro was getting was through those Skype meetings. They had to "believe" (put their trust in) in Nicalis alone to take care of things instead of being able to be on top of the requirements themselves. That seems to be why the cancellation came so late and as a surprise even to Nigoro.

Not that difficult to get. The sentence structure and the separation of clauses through the use of em dashes made it pretty clear he was referring to believing in Nicalis, not believing in lot-checks. Watch thine own understanding of the language before thou criticizeth another's.



MakeMyBiscuit said:

Way to go SKTTR!

Hopefully EnjoyUp Games brings this out. I know I will actually buy it and not just talk about it.

Keep us posted!



TTGlider said:

Great interview, thank you. I hope something works out with Nigoro such that I can play this game on my Wii someday.



Knux said:

@BulbasaurusRex: You need to realize that Naramura is speaking better ''Engrish'' than some native English speakers I know who act like they barely know their own grammar. He is avoiding a translator because he wants to tell his overseas fans with his own mouth on why La-Mulana was cancelled. Why do you feel the need to be so rude?

Anyway, great interview. Kudos to Nigoro for not giving up! Now I know I can put all of the blame on Nicalis. They really got some nerve blaming Nigoro for the cancellation when it's their own d*mn fault!



Sean_Aaron said:

This feels like a game that I would potentially be playing in an impaired fashion if I got it for my Japanese Wii, so I would like to see a Western release.

If not on WiiWare, why not Wii-U?

Will Nintendo be doing the region-code thing with Wii-U as well? I wouldn't mind being able to play my Japanese games on the same system as my UK ones...



Kirk said:

This kind of stuff doesn't bode well for Nintendo.

It seems like a few developers, probably a lot more than have come forward, are having problems with Nintendo's processes and red tape as well as low sales etc.



Token_Girl said:

It sounds like Nicalis is a waste-of-space publisher when it comes to getting games through Nintendo's lot-check. I remember how many delays Cave Story had - I'm guessing that game had the same story as La-Mulena. Instead of supporting the developer with QA help, it looks like Nicalis just uses Ninty's lot-check as QA - which seems to be a process designed by Nintendo as a final step - not as a full fledged debugging process. Announcing a game cancellation on Twitter before/at the same time as notifying the dev personally is pretty unprofessional as well.

Stories like this actually make me kind of feel for Nintendo in their not-so-good agreements for WiiWare. It sounds like a lot of their time and manpower IS necessary to get games onto their shops, especially games from little devs without QA teams. Hopefully, they'll find a better publisher who can help them through the process more efficiently - though it's a shame it's gotten delayed so long. Probably the few people who were interested in WiiWare in the first place have moved on to other things by now...

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