Developer Interview: Neko Entertainment on Kung Fu Rabbit's Wii U Debut
Posted by Mike Mason
Last week we were able to exclusively reveal Neko Entertainment's second Wii U eShop title, 2D platformer Kung Fu Rabbit. It's a big-screen conversion of an iOS / Android game that was released in 2012, and features the martial arts-trained bunny battling against Universal Evil in an attempt to rescue his colony of kidnapped disciples.
We had a chat with Laurent Lichnewsky, Neko's managing director, and Sébastien Chipot, QA manager, about the game's origins, how it takes advantage of Wii U and if there are any plans to bring other mobile titles to the platform. We couldn't resist the chance to get a little update on the sales of its first Wii U eShop game, Puddle, either.
Nintendo Life: When and why did you decide to bring Kung Fu Rabbit to the Wii U eShop?
Laurent Lichnewsky: When we discovered the super funky version of Ctools and Cazap, edited by Bulkypix, we had a crush immediately and thought of a cool adaptation for a game console, with, for us, the controller [added]!
NL: What improvements have you made to the Wii U version?
Sébastien Chipot: The main change we made with the Wii U version of Kung Fu Rabbit is the way to control the Rabbit.
The virtual pad on the previous version, on iOS, was not satisfying enough. Now with the + control pad, it is easier and more intuitive. Of course you don’t hide any part of the screen, like you usually do on the touch screen of tablets, for example.
Small changes, but important ones, that change the pleasure you’ll get when playing the game!
NL: Please could you tell us about the development process and what work had to be done to bring this to Wii U?
SC: We did not want to keep the in-game item purchase. We wanted to let the player unlock the different items, not by buying them with money, but with the points the player will get from the game itself. By collecting carrots spread in every level, the player gets points, and with these points he will be able to “buy” different items. These items will increase the Rabbit’s skills and so the game will be easier – for those who find the game too hard! But it is still possible to complete the game without using any item!
NL: Can you tell us about some of those unlockable power-ups that Rabbit can obtain?
SC: These items are here to help the player complete the game: some are just for fun, like the costumes, some others are really helpful, like the Muzzle. Tired of having cads spit on you? Muzzle them to teach them manners!
NL: Rabbit can only take down enemies by sneaking up behind them. What other kung fu abilities does he have at his disposal?
SC: The Rabbit can kill its enemies only by attacking them [on] their weak points. Some are vulnerable on their back, some others on their head... It depends! Watch the video more carefully and you’ll see the blue part on their [bodies]: it represents their weak points!
NL: Is the GamePad's touch screen used at all?
SC: The Wii U GamePad’s touch is used on the map: the player can point / touch the different “worlds” he wants to play. He still can enter the Dojo, the in-game shop, choose any item he wants to buy and of course touch the icon on the upper left screen to use these items whenever he wants in-game.
NL: Will any other Wii U functions, such as off-TV play, be supported?
SC: Of course, you will be able to play the whole game on the Wii U GamePad while the TV is turned off!
NL: Neko has previously brought Puddle from XBLA / PSN to the Wii U eShop, and now you're bringing a game over from iOS and Android. How did the development of the two projects compare?
SC: Puddle was a hardcore game, and it was made by students. We had a lot of complaints about some small things, like the difficulty, and we had time to analyse lots of aspects of the game, thanks to the different versions we released – not only XBLA / PSN, but also PS Vita, Android...
Kung Fu Rabbit was made by a professional studio, and the game is already satisfying as it is: the only thing we wanted to change was the way to control the Rabbit. So, yes, we can say Kung Fu Rabbit was easier to release on Wii U than Puddle. And of course we have more experience of the Wii U console now, and it is a real advantage as well.
NL: Speaking about your previous title, are you pleased with how Puddle has performed on Wii U?
LL: Yep, taking into account that Europe and US Wii U market can only grow, we’re pretty satisfied. Puddle is well placed in eShop’s sales. And we’re delighted of our relationship with NoE and NoA teams. We also have strong hopes of releasing our title on NCL eShop with a Japanese partner.
NL: Are there plans for any further Wii U eShop games at this point?
LL: A bit soon to say… but beyond a new Cocoto title in [the] final phase of development for Europe retail, we have two other potential indie titles for eShop… To be continued! (winks)
NL: Do you have plans to work with any other mobile developers to bring their titles to Nintendo consoles?
LL: “Top secret!” (winks) Yes, we are studying the possibility of proposing really nice games that, in our opinion, make sense on consoles.
NL: Is there any interest in creating a unique title just for Wii U that takes advantage of all its abilities?
SC: I guess the Wii U can offer a unique and innovative way to play a game. The touch screen is not only a screen but a full controller. There are so many way to use it! So yes, I would say it can be interesting to create a game for the Wii U only. There are no other consoles at the moment that can offer a game experience so different from the others!
NL: Kung Fu Rabbit is in the final submissions process with Nintendo, with an expected launch date in mid-April. Is that date for both Europe and North America?
SC: No, it is sure the European version will be released sooner than the US version! Sorry for our little friends on the other side of the ocean, but they will have to wait a little bit to enjoy Kung Fu Rabbit!
Thanks to Sébastien and Laurent for taking the time to answer our questions!