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Developer Interview: WaterMelon On Kickstarter, Nintendo And Bringing Pier Solar To The Wii U

Posted by Damien McFerran

"Working with Nintendo is much easier than one would think"

We reported last year that WaterMelon's 16-bit RPG Pier Solar would be gracing the Wii U in the near future, having secured funding for a HD remake via Kickstarter.

The team is busy working on the HD version as we speak, so we thought it would be a good time to get in touch and talk about bringing this epic project to Nintendo's new home console. Speaking to us were Tulio Goncalves and Gwénaël "Fonzie" Godde.

Nintendo Life: Before we get onto recent events in the life of Pier Solar, can you give us a little background on the project? This has been a pretty lengthy labour of love, right?

Fonzie: It has started as a fan-made Sega CD/Mega CD game named Tavern RPG, around 2004. It was a homebrew game made by Sega fans. When the project start growing beyond the community we rewrote the plot, and switched to Genesis/Mega Drive cartridge for technical reasons. And that's how it became Pier Solar. Then years of hard work to complete the game happened and it finally got released in 2010 as the last and biggest 16-bit RPG!

NL: Pier Solar has been reprinted on the Mega Drive a few times, so what made you decide to bring it to other formats and not keep it on the original console?

Fonzie: We got many requests along the years to get Pier Solar ported to other system and it took a few events to decide we would do it. Then we needed a certain budget to make it right, especially considering the game size, that's how the Kickstarter campaign came in.

NL: Now the dust has settled on the Kickstarter, what are your thoughts on the response from the public for the Pier Solar HD project?

Fonzie: The response has been positive. There has been lots of feedback gathered to ensure the HD version of the game will really be as good as it can. We also want to interact more with Kickstarter backers to show progress and gather some more feedback, which should happen next month.

NL: Will the Wi U version be a retail release or a digital download on the Wii U eShop?

Fonzie: We can't disclose any specifics at the moment, but a digital release seems like a safe bet.

NL: What's it like developing for the Wii U?

Fonzie: Although the main game logic in modern platforms share the same code, some features are exclusive to each platforms. Wii U has many interesting features and we want to be able to make good use of them. Hopefully, it will be a great surprise.

NL: Do you plan to make use of the Wii U GamePad's unique functions?

Tulio: Yes of course. Wii U feels like a "TV version" of Nintendo DS, and as we've seen in the handheld, many possibilities can be explored. However, we've got to be careful when designing those functionalities. As everyone knows, one of the great features of Wii U is the ability to switch gameplay from the TV to the Wii U controller screen; in that case it has to behave just like as if you were playing with the regular controller, so those functions have to be non-vital functions to the game.

Fonzie: An interesting fact to note is that the Dreamcast version shares some of the Wii U gamepad features thanks to the VMU (Dreamcast's memory card, that has a small screen & plugs on Dreamcast's gamepad).

NL: Have you had any contact with Nintendo regarding the port as yet? If so, what has it been like working with the company?

Tulio: Working with Nintendo is much easier than one would think. But beyond that, at this time we can't disclose any more details, as you may imagine.

NL: Is there any chance of bringing the game to the 3DS, perhaps in its original standard definition format?

Tulio: The 3DS resolution doesn't favor the original resolution and aspect of the SD version of Pier Solar. If a port gets made it will be the HD version scaled to 3DS resolution.

Fonzie: Either way, having PS HD in 3DS would be great. However, first we must focus on all the platforms that we announced on Kickstarter. We have lots of motivation but we're still a small dev team!

NL: Pier Solar is arguably the game that WaterMelon is most famous for, but do you have any plans for any other games? Wii U or 3DS exclusives, perhaps?

Fonzie: We are working on a few other projects at the moment through the Magical Game Factory. We got one Mega Drive beat 'em up and RPG project and one Super Nintendo action-adventure project, as well as few surprises!

NL: What's happening with ProjectN at the moment?

Fonzie: It's under development, programming, character design, and pixel art too! It took a while to find - with the help of the Magical Game Factory fans - how we could do something that's not a Zelda clone. It's a new game so it's important that it feels new not just by release date, but also by concept. So yes, It's going to be a unique action and adventure game.

NL: Where do you see WaterMelon being in five years?

Fonzie: I'd like to say "on Mars" but I know we're still earthbound for quite a lot of generations to come...ha! Jokes aside, we've got plans, but our future and success always depends on the reception of our games and how we can make our team grow with talented people. For a simple and realistic answer, in 5 years, we want to see WaterMelon doing great games and the players around the world playing and enjoying our games.

Thanks to Tulio and Fonzie for speaking to us.

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User Comments (29)

Nareva

#2

Nareva said:

I will definitely be buying this. I've heard nothing but good things about it. The fact that it looks like Secret of Mana and Chrono Trigger certainly helps.

Kagamine

#6

Kagamine said:

I will hopefully be getting this. I really want the Dreamcast Version though.

SKTTR

#7

SKTTR said:

Pier Solar, Two Brothers, UnEpic, and more worthy RPGs (for a rather low price I assume). Wii U eShop has a bright future. Can't wait to get them all. This will be good times.

Scollurio

#8

Scollurio said:

Im applauding them for their effort, its little devs like this our society and industry needs the most! Thumbs up and good luck with all your ports and ambitions!

WiiLovePeace

#9

WiiLovePeace said:

I get excited at the smallest hint of an RPG for Wii U so this is very welcome news to me. Though it may take me a while to get used to the art style... 16-bit characters on HD backdrop. Also I would've liked any sign of a 3D RPG instead of a 2D one (other than the potentially awesome "X") but at the right price it'll be an insta-buy for sure :D

oOo-Sega-oOo

#10

oOo-Sega-oOo said:

Really looking forward to seeing this get released on the Wii-U in the near future. Been trying to get myself a copy for the Mega Drive for quite some time. Now i'll just wait for the e-shop version and at a fraction of the price the game goes for on auction sites like e-bay. ROLL ON RELEASE DAY!!

gsnap

#11

gsnap said:

So much good stuff coming to the eshop. Hopefully 'hat in time' gets on there as well. It's gonna be an indie buffet.

NImH

#12

NImH said:

This looks wonderful. I echo a few posts I just read: This game and dev team represent the lifeblood of the future of gaming... Not for some wild innovation, but for looking back, finding the bright and magical elements of gaming past, and attempting to deliver that timeless experience. I love it!

XCWarrior

#13

XCWarrior said:

Throw an RPG option on the eshop and I'll bite. Hope it doesn't take too long. The sooner they get that on there, the more sales they get I bet.

Takosuke

#17

Takosuke said:

Really don't like the visual style in this remake. The disparity between the blocky sprites and those painted backgrounds just looks awful. Whereas the original looks absolutely stunning even with the drawbacks of the Genesis's palettes, this decision just makes the affair look like a lazy "nostalgia" cash-in, like so many indie game devs decide to opt for. Until they redo the sprites I have absolutely zero interest in this remake. Though to be honest I don't think whatever they do will looks as great as the original running on a Megadrive with RGB output!

retro_player_22

#18

retro_player_22 said:

Whether digital or physical, I'm still putting my money on this game. Looks awesome and had that great retro RPG nostalgic feeling to it.

Squiggle55

#19

Squiggle55 said:

I will be torn on whether to get this for Wii U or PS3. I have a feeling this may be one of those times where if all else is equal, the presence of trophies would tip me towards PS3.

zipmonStaff

#20

zipmon said:

Excellent interview! I'm really looking forward to this game, so happy it's coming out on the Wii U!

Lopezdm

#22

Lopezdm said:

Who else is tired of these dev interviews? These interviews are BS, they sit there and say that the WiiU is a great system with cool new ideas. Two months later they cancel the game or they delay the poo out of it. Can we just get one developer that doesn't bull poo us and tell us whats going on with Nintendo and how they are doing business with 3rd party games? This could give us some insight on why the games we love are not coming to the system we stand behind.

brandonbwii

#25

brandonbwii said:

@nimH
IDK, I still like my original, at times, artsy stuff like Flower or Unfinished Swan.

Still I like the games that Wayforward, Shin'en, Renegade Kid, and now WaterMelon bring to the table. They're games aren't very original but they bring near-perfection to each genre.

The eshop may be what keeps Nintendo relevant this gen. Pier Solar HD=Insta-buy!

SEGAwd

#27

SEGAwd said:

@Takosuke There will be a way to switch the visual style from the HD back to the full 16-bit graphics at the beginning of the game. The developers said you can unlock it by locating a Sega Genesis/Megadrive system at the beginning of the game. So you can switch to whatever visuals you prefer.

JRPGer

#28

JRPGer said:

I've already pre-ordered a physical copy for the Dreamcast, but I will say this: if a physical copy is announced for the Wii U as well, then I'll be getting that one too. I'll support WM all the way. I hope to see more retro-style JRPGs in HD in the future. I am looking forward to Pier Solar HD more than any other game right now. Who knows, maybe this'll even open doors for more retro style RPGs in the future. :)

Kirk

#29

Kirk said:

Personally, I think the SD graphics looks more appealing than the HD version.

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