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Developer Interview: Shin'en Multimedia on Nintendo, eShop Development, 3DS and Wii U

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Blasting onto eShop

With the 3DS eShop continuing to grow, and the Wii U equivalent already shaping up with an increasingly encouraging range of confirmed titles, there’s plenty of positivity around Nintendo’s download offerings. Like any platform it still has its detractors and issues, such as the occasional broken mess on the release schedule and a never-ending debate about pricing, but the 3DS and Wii U era looks to be a significant and much needed improvement over the DSi and Wii services.

One developer with plenty of experience of Nintendo’s various download platforms is Shin’en Multimedia, a development studio based in Germany. The current generation of Nintendo gamers may be familiar with downloadable titles such as Art of Balance, Jett Rocket and FAST – Racing League on WiiWare, as well as 3DS eShop versions Art of Balance TOUCH! and Fun! Fun! Minigolf TOUCH!, and more. A common theme with titles such as these is that they’re all of a solid quality, with some notable examples that have earned particularly strong recommendations from us here at Nintendo Life. Its next download games will be Nano Assault EX on 3DS eShop and Nano Assault Neo on the Wii U store; if they match the standard of the original 3DS retail release Nano Assault, then these will be downloads to watch.

We caught up with Shin’en Multimedia's Manfred Linzner to talk about these projects and his view on developing for Nintendo consoles, particularly 3DS and Wii U. It’s a company with extensive experience of the big N's systems, particularly handhelds, going back to the Game Boy Color. “Previously we did games and demos on Amiga computers, so going to the GameBoy Color was a huge change,” Linzner explained. “We came from 512kb ram to 8kb ram, from 16bit to 8bit and from 8Mhz to 2Mhz. However, it was a pretty nice system at that time and we enjoyed developing for it.”

As the list of games earlier shows, Shin’en has shown diversity in its offerings, but it’s also shown a tendency to move back towards action shooters, perhaps due to the ‘Nano’ series representing the studio’s first venture into 3D game engines.

The Nano series was our first entry into creating a 3D game. Nanostray, the first title in the series, was developed on the Nintendo DS. On GBA we had the Iridion series and originally wanted to make a sequel, but we wanted to go much further with the new game and so we decided for a new brand.

The latest entries represent how far the developer has come, with help from the tools available on increasingly modern gaming systems. Nano Assault, which our review described as a “gorgeous trip through the beautifully-rendered worlds of the human bloodstream”, made significant use of the handheld’s capabilities. Linzner told us that the stereoscopic screen “can change the feel of a game”, while the graphics engine pushed effects that simply weren’t on the table with DS. “We tried to create something that would be a perfect fit; from the gorgeous 3D graphics to the glossy and bumpy cell surfaces. I think we never would have made this game without the special 3DS hardware.”

The move of the franchise to the digital platforms on Wii U and 3DS is a reflection of Shin’en’s experiences and focus on the potential of the download market. The original Nano Assault, despite its critical praise on a number of outlets, was only published in North America. With the eShop releases reaching more regions, there are undeniable benefits and easier access to consumers, without concerns over stock making it to major retailers.

Of course, the platforms matter, and Linzner spoke positively about the strength of the 3DS-exclusive library on the eShop, sharing his belief that it’s full of “great games” while not being crowded by shovelware. Releasing titles on both the 3DS and Wii U platforms reflects the studio’s optimism for the future of download gaming with Nintendo. “The 3DS eShop was already a big step forward and we’re trying, with Nano Assault Neo, to bring a real must-have title to the Wii U eShop on day one. We think the best is yet to come on digital.”

In terms of what each title will offer, Nano Assault EX on the eShop is essentially an expanded re-release of the retail original, with new modes, Circle Pad Pro support, as well as gameplay and graphical improvements; it’s described as “Nano Assault 1.5”. The decision to develop Nano Assault Neo, however, came back in 2011 when the original 3DS title was released. Linzner told us that the studio’s access and approval to work on Wii U came early.

We felt very privileged to be one of the first indie developers that were allowed to work on the Wii U. From day one we knew this console was something special and it felt like it would have endless possibilities for new games from our side.

There’s plenty of positivity about the potential of Wii U within Shin’en: while the team knows “pretty well” what 3DS is capable of, with Wii U it sees “a lot of possibilities, and we know there is a lot of untapped power to discover”. Linzner emphasized the challenge of understanding the various abilities for players to interact with the system, while the GamePad is what excites the studio the most; “it changes everything”, is how Shin’en’s man put it.

With such optimism and enthusiasm for 3DS and Wii U, we quizzed Linzner about Nintendo in more general terms. Although unwilling to go into great detail about the Wii U eShop, which is only just coming to light, we were told that Nintendo has continued to improve in recent years with the 3DS service, and that we should expect the upward trajectory to continue. When asked about a possible file size limit on the Wii U service, Linzner replied, “I don't know about such a limit”, but emphasized that his company’s policy is to minimise download sizes for the gamer’s convenience.

We also raised the often touchy subject of Nintendo’s level of support for developers, and asked about the perception of an over-stringent approval process on WiiWare.

Nintendo developer support is excellent. We never felt left alone and even years after a platform has been launched Nintendo still updates best practices for developers to get the most out of it.

The process is easy. You get a set of guidelines. If you follow them then your game gets approved. If you don't care about those guidelines then you have a serious problem. The process for eShop is pretty much the same as for WiiWare, only the guidelines changed.

The enthusiasm of Manfred Linzner — and by extension Shin’en Multimedia — for Nintendo systems is undeniable, with the studio dedicating itself to the Japanese company’s hardware for over a decade. Like many gamers, Linzner’s response when asked about his hopes for the Wii U eShop was to fantasize about GameCube titles on the Virtual Console, barely hiding his excitement at the prospect of re-visiting Super Mario Sunshine on the GamePad. We feel that it was his closing statement to us, however, that truly emphasized why this studio’s titles often show such a commitment to quality and high-standards, a focus that's sometimes lacking in its contemporaries.

We've worked with Nintendo for almost 14 years, and identify very much how they think about games and game development. There are a lot of different markets today for your games, but we feel that doing games for a Nintendo console is still something special.

We’d like to thank Manfred Linzner for his time. You can watch the trailer for Nano Assault Neo on Wii U below, and if you want to know more then check out our first impressions here.

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User Comments (27)

rayword45

#1

rayword45 said:

I adore Shin'en and almost all their games. Good to see some developers satisfied with the Nintendo approval process, although I do still believe Ninty's guidelines are too strict at times.

3dbrains

#2

3dbrains said:

Getting an 8 gig Wii U in January with no games. :) Buying all of mine digital, got me a 1TB HDD to fill and this will be game number two for me. looks great fun.

game number one will be wonderfull 101 if I can download it. if not, Trine 2.

TheDreamingHawk

#4

TheDreamingHawk said:

I hope they fix the stupid date glitch in the NA version of AOB touch and not put it in NAEX. (Sick of the stupid calendar thinking it's october 11th today.)

XCWarrior

#5

XCWarrior said:

Love the original Nano Assault on 3DS. Good to see they are making all of these sequels for both systems. Will almost definitely get NA Neo for Wii U when it comes out.

ShadowSniper7

#6

ShadowSniper7 said:

@3dbrains: You know, if you get the deluxe bundle you will get a small return on all your digital purchases. If you plan on downloading a lot of games, I'm sure the extra 50 bucks will pay for itself pretty quick.

Sjoerd

#7

Sjoerd said:

PSYCHED!! no. 1 download for me, allong with almost every other downloadabe.

@3sbrains the online discount would be agreat fit for you, 10% of every download(sort of)!!

renaryuugufan92

#8

renaryuugufan92 said:

@3dbrains you should really go with the 32gb model, the deluxe digital promotion a copy of Nintendo Land, all in all its a much better deal then the basic 8gb set~

sinalefa

#9

sinalefa said:

@rayword45

Those guidelines are either not that strict or not that effective, if shovelware still manages to show through.

@Thomas

Very good interview. I really like this approach instead of the usual:

Q: What do you think of Wii U?

A: I struggle to see anything amazing coming out of Nintendo. Some people tell me I need glasses, while some others are rude and say I am a mediocre developer with a gigantic ego. To each their own.

From Shin'en I have only played Jett Rocket and Art of Balance, and I do appreciate the hard work they seem to put into their releases. Glad to see them aboard and talking beauties of Nintendo.

rayword45

#10

rayword45 said:

@TheDreamingHawk That's not a damn glitch. Many places read calendars DD/MM/YYYY.

@sinalefa The guidelines are too strict in terms of what you can do, actually allowing for more shovelware. (example being Super Meat Boy too large)

TheRealThanos

#12

TheRealThanos said:

@sinalefa
I can only say that if you liked those games, then you will probably like the other Shin'en games as well.
They seem to have a strange knack (or it might be the 14 years of experience mentioned in the article) to make all of their games enjoyable, no matter what kind of game it is. And I personally think that they are a prime example for other studios in showing what can be pulled off with the 40Mb limit on Wiiware, because their games rival many a commercial release on Wii dvd.

If you still have the time and the money, I can definitely recommend completing your list of Shin'en games and adding both FAST! Racing League and Fun! Fun! Minigolf to your downloads, with the added comment that the minigolf game is more fun in multiplayer (obviously) so if you don't have people around to play that with it will be a very short experience in single player.

And just in case if you haven't seen anything of these two games:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWlFi3zbOz0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aT1SyIhyNvk

WiiLovePeace

#13

WiiLovePeace said:

Oh man I love Shin'en games, they're just too amazing with both graphics & fun :D Especially the graphics & what they pulled out of the bag with WiiWare, my lord! Can't wait to play Nano Assault EX, definitely a day 1 purchase :D I also hope they make a sequel to the FAST! Racing League game too, or an upgraded (with more tracks, traps & music) release of the same game on 3DS eShop.

OH! & don't let me forget! Where is my Jett Rocket sequel?! You know, "Jett Rocket: Super Surf"? Heck I loved the surfing part of that game so more of the same would be awesome :D NL! Why didn't you ask them about that?! :'( haha

Haxonberik

#14

Haxonberik said:

I an definitely getting the 3ds remake, and depending on my experience with it Ill grab or skip the Wii U one.

sinalefa

#15

sinalefa said:

@TheRealThanos

Thanks again for the heads up, I do agree that they made wonders with that size limit. The trailers looked interesting, so I will do my best to get them.

Mollutje

#18

Mollutje said:

Nano Assault really looks amazing! Shin'en seems to be rather dedicated to making quality games, unlike UFO Interactive for instance, so I applaud Shin'en for that and I'm greatly looking forward to the release of Nano Assault on 3ds and Wii U.

NiBar

#19

NiBar said:

Shin'en please make Fast - Racing League 2 on WiiU . Fast - Racing League was for me the best game on Wiiware and actually way better than Nintendo's own F-Zero.

EdEN

#20

EdEN said:

@3dbrains If you're really going all digital, you should definitely buy a Deluxe. Remember, it includes a 2 year "subscription" that entitles you to 10% back in points for all your digital purchases. Basically, for every $50 in purchases you can ask for a code to redeem in the eshop for $5 in credit. With all your digital purchases, you would be getting a LOT back with the $50 extra for the Deluxe AND you'd have Nintendoland for free!

Retro_on_theGo

#21

Retro_on_theGo said:

Process basically the same as WiiWare, just some different guidelines?
I don't like the sound of that,

rayword45

#22

rayword45 said:

@Retro_on_theGo At the very least, the guidelines are less strict about file size limit, and the whole 6000 sales bullcrap was cut out for DSiWare and presumably 3DSWare as well.

TheRealThanos

#23

TheRealThanos said:

@sinalefa
You're welcome.
@Radixxs
You use the ' to separate the words, so you pronounce it like there's a space in between: Shin en, not Shine+N like Zach777 said, which was probably meant as a funny comment, not an actual answer to your question.

Urbanhispanic

#24

Urbanhispanic said:

I never played any of their GBA or DS games so maybe I'll start with downloading Nano Assault EX for the 3DS.

kurtasbestos

#26

kurtasbestos said:

I was already a fan of Shin'en, but reading their comments makes them even more awesome in my eyes. There's something to be said for developers who take the time to really get to know the hardware they're working with and the people they're creating the games for, rather than just throwing their product onto as many platforms as possible in order to make as much money as possible because they see consumers as walking dollar signs.

LeasTwanteD

#27

LeasTwanteD said:

Love you, Shin'en. Can't wait for EX and i'm pretty sure i'll download Neo the day i get a Wii U.

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