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Developer Interview: Shin'en Multimedia Talks About Jett Rocket II, New Modes and Sticking with Nintendo

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

"We already talk about Jett Rocket 3"

When Jett Rocket was released on WiiWare it was impressive on a number of levels. Most importantly, it was fun, a 3D action platformer that was not only a new IP but also enjoyable to play, earning 8/10 in our review. On another level it was an accomplished technical effort, with attractive visuals impressively crammed into the Wii Shop's painfully restrictive file size limit. Yet fun and impressive, hardware pushing visuals are two of the qualities consistently demonstrated by Shin'en Multimedia, a company that's released games on the DS, Wii, 3DS and Wii U, showing off various genres and gradually establishing its own range of unique IPs.

It's taken a good while, considering it was actually teased at the end of the original, but Jett Rocket II: The Wrath of Taikai is getting closer to the release, due to arrive this year. We spoke to Shin'en Multimedia's Manfred Linzner about topics such as the origins of the WiiWare title, bringing the sequel to 3DS, new modes, and why the developer is still developing exclusive for Nintendo systems.


Nintendo Life: If we can start with Jett Rocket on WiiWare, what were the main sources of inspiration for the IP and gameplay?

Manfred Linzner: When we started with the original Wii game we knew we wanted to make a 3D platformer with lots of exploration. We loved games like Mario 64 and we had the idea of some kind of Shin'en mascot which eventually became Jett Rocket. The creation of a high quality third person jump'n'run is a tough task, especially when you only have a few people. In the end we were quite happy the game turned out.

NL: It was a title that earned some praise, but was it a commercial success on the Wii?

ML: The game was released at a very unlucky time, because it was rivaled by the masterpieces of Mario Galaxy and its successor. Fortunately many people liked the different approach of our game and its vibe and so it was finally also a financial success for us, like all of our 3DS and WiiWare games.

NL: The end of that game confirmed that a sequel was coming, so can you tell us whether it was originally planned sooner, perhaps as WiiWare?

ML: When closing the development of Jett Rocket on WiiWare it felt like having some unfinished business to do. It was strange to go to another project because we now had a much better understanding how such a game really works. We decided to come back for more but didn't think this would take such a long time. This was mainly because Nintendo developed a new handheld and so we were occupied with new tasks.

NL: When did development start on Jett Rocket II: The Wrath of Taikai on 3DS?

ML: About 1.5 years ago, though it had a different direction at this time.

NL: Can you explain what that "different direction" was, and what's changed since?

ML: At the start we planned a much smaller, more arcade-like title. After a short time we had a nice prototype but it felt somehow wrong. Jett Rocket really asks for a huge world, filled with secrets and exploration. So we decided to make a u-turn and go for a massive platforming game. After a short development time we knew that was the right decision.

NL: You've successfully moved through Nintendo's various systems, but can you explain the challenge of incorporating the engine for Jett Rocket onto 3DS, or was there a different starting point?

ML: Although the 3DS has a lots of benefits over the Wii it has a weaker CPU, and so we didn't have a chance to simply port anything existing while still achieving the same or even better quality. So we started first with some gameplay prototypes to see how far we can go.

NL: With the file size limit on WiiWare, how has the greater space flexibility on the 3DS eShop allowed you to stretch the system's capabilities?

ML: Even though you have much more space on 3DS you always pay a price when not keeping an eye on your assets size. If you waste space you get long loading times and worse general performance. Also we don't want to waste the free blocks on people's SD carts for developer's laziness.

In the end we put as much stuff as possible into the game without scarifying quality, while still having a small download.

It's simply great to make games for Nintendo because we played on Nintendo consoles when we were kids.

NL: Can you tell us about vehicles in this game, and whether motion or tilt controls will feature?

ML: We don't use motion controls in JR2 as the game needs very tight controls. We support digital and analogue controls, depending on the players preference. Like on the Wii Jett can ride his JETT BOARD and now even has a flying saucer. There is also a skydive sequence, a Shmup level and various gadgets he can use.

NL: Which features of the new title excite you the most, in terms of wanting players to experience them?

ML: We like a lot the many hidden secrets in the game. There is a lot of destructible stuff in the scenery which allows you to enter new passages. Also every level plays differently and we hope players will enjoy the many different styles we implemented.

And when you finish the game something special will happen to give you many more hours of fun with the game.

There is also a new Game Mode called "BONUS ATTACK" to unlock which features frenetic hi-score driven gameplay.

NL: You've stated that you've produced free-roaming 3D levels but are retaining 60 FPS (frames per second); why is 60 FPS so important to you, in terms of the gameplay experience?

ML: Its like night and day. Look at Mario 3D Land. It's a great game but compared with Mario Galaxy is feels very slow. We wanted a game that is really fast and with perfect controls. We feel 60 FPS is the only way to achieve this in such a game.

NL: How big a challenge has it been to achieve 60 FPS with autostereoscopic 3D turned on?

ML: It was immense. Its not like it was impossible but there were always a few percent too much on the GPU and CPU when stereo was enabled and the game was already very highly optimized. So we picked each critical asset and tried different techniques to make them draw and process faster. We also dig deep into engine code that was running fine since many years to see if there is still any chance to get some more beef out of it. So a lot of tiny changes finally gave us what we were looking for.

NL: How lengthy will this title be? Is it a similar length to the original?

ML: There are more levels and much more stuff to unlock in JR2. We did our best also to add enough of re-playability to the game even when you have seen the first ending.

NL: Do you have any update on whether this will appear on the Wii U in HD?

ML: If people like the game on 3DS we would be happy to do a Wii U port, but for now we concentrate on 3DS.

NL: Can you share whether Jett Rocket will remain as a regular franchise, whether it's dependent on certain sales figures and so on?

ML: We already talk about Jett Rocket 3 because we had such a great time doing the current game. Of course sales will finally decide everything, but we think JR2 is really special and hope people will feel the same.

NL: Do you have any indication on Jett Rocket 2 release dates in Europe and North America?

ML: The game should be released in late Q3 or early Q4 this year.

NL: We have to ask, can you tell us any more about your Wii U racing project?

ML: We work very had on our Wii U tech and two Wii U games currently. Our plan is to share first work this autumn. Compared with Nano Assault Neo we made big progress on any level.

NL: Can you tell us about any other 3DS or Wii U projects in the works?

ML: Our focus is currently on JR2 and our new Wii U projects. Beside that we will release more eShop games in Japan with our friends at Arc System Works.

NL: And finally, you've told us before how comfortable and happy you are working on Nintendo's systems. Do you intend to focus exclusively on Nintendo hardware for the foreseeable future, and what in particular drives that decision for the business?

ML: Working on other platforms too would probably mean more income, that's for sure. Of course we need to take care of our financial situation but we are doing games first for the sake of itself instead of following a business plan. Although this may seem naive we feel like this approach makes us happier, and this lets us create better games that don't feel like rushed money traps. People recognize the care we put into our games and this gave us a loyal fan base over the years. This way we also have motivation for new games instead of being burned out from our last project.

Finally it's simply great to make games for Nintendo because we played on Nintendo consoles when we were kids. There is a certain vibe you don't have on any other consoles. We don't plan much ahead but currently we are quite happy doing 3DS and Wii U games. People like our games, we can make a living from it and we can simply do what we like without much asking and approving first.


We'd like to thank Manfred Linzner for his time. Let us know what you think of his comments and whether you're looking forward to Jett Rocket 2, and if you want to know more about Shin'en Multimedia's perspective of working on Nintendo systems check out our previous interview.

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User Comments (62)

Einherjar

#1

Einherjar said:

The last answer gave me back hope...i salute you Manfred. Your opinion is the light at the end of the dark tunnes that the gaming industry has become.
And since i know that you guys are registred on here:
Vielen vielen Dank für all die harte Arbeit. Aber nicht nur Jett Rocket 2 ist besonders, ihr seit es definitiv auch ;) In einer Zeit, wo sich Entwickler links und rechts in den Rücken fallen ist es echt angenehm auch mal wieder ein Beispiel für Treue, Herz und Leidenschaft zu sehen.

Thats enough german on here for today i think :P

luminalace

#4

luminalace said:

You can't help but respect these guys. It's great to see non 1st party developers pushing Nintendo hardware. They are like the spiritual successors to Factor 5!

rjejr

#5

rjejr said:

"without scarifying quality." - Is that supposed to be sacrificing?

Big fan of the 1st game, will pick this up if the price is right and the review tells me it has an ending. The 1st game felt like it ended after the prologue.

dumedum

#6

dumedum said:

"so it was finally also a financial success for us, like all of our 3DS and WiiWare games." Here, here, to shut up those saying it's unprofitable on Nintendo consoles. What a great company.

ThomasBW84Admin

#10

ThomasBW84 said:

@rjejr - Scarifying is a process of removing unwanted stuff, or you "scarify" grass to remove moss, for example. I believe that's what Manfred was talking about, in terms of removing unwanted code or extras for the best performance.

the_beaver

#11

the_beaver said:

Cool, I like these guys. I don't have the 3DS, but I cannot wait to see what they are preparing for the WiiU. Two games, sounds great... But I wonder, if they feel so comfortable working with Nintendo, why don't they just join the team?? It could easily become a new Retro or Monolith with the support of Nintendo... And they are not planning to work in other consoles in a long-term, it seems.

Spoony_Tech

#12

Spoony_Tech said:

These guys deserve my money. The game sounds awesome already and I will buy it day one. I'm glad they put so much effort into making the game as good as it can be. More developers need to be like them! Can't wait to play this now.

@Thomas Did you think about asking him how much Jet Rocket 2 was going to cost. Sounds like it will be a 10$ or more game but worth it! Thanks for the interview!

ricklongo

#14

ricklongo said:

I wish Jett Rocket was coming to the Wii U, mainly because I have an external HD for that console, and as such it's more practical to download games there. Still, it can't hurt to upgrade my 3DS SD card for this beauty.

rjejr

#16

rjejr said:

@ThomasBW84 - Learn something new everyday.
It also means - 3. To distress deeply, as with severe criticism; lacerate. - so I should be very familiar with that part. Thanks for the education.

Spoony_Tech

#17

Spoony_Tech said:

@ricklongo If you read the interview he said they made the file size as small as they could to help with the dl for people. Of course we don't know how small it will be but I'm guessing under 1000 blocks!

Nintenjoe64

#18

Nintenjoe64 said:

I really hope they are making an F-Zero. I wasn't convinced when rumours went around but their racing game on Wiiware is almost a miracle considering the 40MB limit and Nano Assault is pretty good too (with equally miraculous disc space requirements). Not quite the new 'Rare' but I think Shin'en are a pretty good small acquisition for Nintendo.

DePapier

#19

DePapier said:

@the_beaver I think they want to make their own stuff, it's just that Nintendo hardware and culture are their preference. They want to do what pleases them most first, rather than having to be stressed by potential corporate deadlines and requirements and stuff. Not having to report to anyone is a freedom I would understand they don't want to trade.

Samurai_Goroh

#22

Samurai_Goroh said:

Shin'en are like videogame tech wizards. They always push the envelope with Nintendo consoles, FAST on Wiiware looks mightily impressive at the size of a regular N64 cart. Good to see they are happy working on Nintendo consoles.

And I loved this bit:
" Its like night and day. Look at Mario 3D Land. It's a great game but compared with Mario Galaxy is feels very slow. We wanted a game that is really fast and with perfect controls. We feel 60 FPS is the only way to achieve this in such a game."

Shin'en does what Nintendon't! Well, I still enjoyed 3D Land immensely even at 30 fps.

jayclayx

#23

jayclayx said:

this is how a company push a hardware to its limit? c'mon this games if Im not mistaken are indie so those graphics are far from the wii U limits, they talk about fps, hardware and so on but in my opinion they are far far away from companies like capcom, ubisoft, etc, companies with enough power force and budget to make real AAA games.

ricklongo

#24

ricklongo said:

@Spoony_Tech Problem is, my current SD card is already filled to the brim. And also, from the looks of it, I'd wager the game will still be quite chunky, thanks to the 60 FPS.

Kirk

#25

Kirk said:

I still think he needs his helmet.

If he doesn't get it back at some point in the game I'm going to be disappointed.

Christ, even if you just give gamers the option to have it on or not in an Options Menu or something.

You might think seeing his face makes him more appealing but who would you rather play as; Mega Man with his helmet off or Mega Man with his helmet on...Samus with her helmet off or Samus with her helmet on...Ryu Hayabusa with his face mask off or Ryu Hayabusa with his face mask on...Isaac Clark with his helmet off off Isaac Clark with his helmet on...Master Chief with his helmet off or Master Chief with his helmet on...

Don't make the Jett Rocket character actually now LESS iconic and appealing under the misguided notion that he will be more appealing to the casuals because they can see his face or something like that.

I'm looking forward to seeing if the final game delivers...

ricklongo

#27

ricklongo said:

@Kirk You may be right, but that seems off to me... more frames means more code, no?

Honest question, I have no idea how it really works.

Kirk

#28

Kirk said:

@ricklongo

Nope, the game just draws more frames to the screen per second but it still uses exactly the same art assets, sound assets and game code to actually run it.

It obviously takes more computational power to render the same game at 60fps verus 30fps because you're asking the game to render twice as many frames on your display in the same amount of time but that's just about being a good programmer and taking best advantage of the hardware technology available.

Nothing actually changes in the game itself other than how fast it's rendering things.

For example; the only difference changing framerate to 60fps would make to a game that already runs at a steady 30fps by default would be to make everything move at twice the speed, like playing a video in fast forward; exact same picture information and data etc but just speeding by at twice the rate.

Of course, if you create and run the game in 60fps in the first place it will just look normal speed, just as a 25fps video looks normal speed on your TV, so does a 30fps video, as does a 30fps game and also a 60fps game too...

The real genius at Shin'en is how they use a lot of cool code trickery to create much of the graphics and graphical effects you see on-screen rather than using actual art assets, like drawn texture maps, which take up a lot more memory.

Spoony_Tech

#29

Spoony_Tech said:

@ricklongo Did you clear out any unwanted demos or anything else taking space! A lot of times demos can take up about anywhere from 300 to 1500 blocks!

Samurai_Goroh

#30

Samurai_Goroh said:

@jayclayx You don't know what you're talking about. FAST: Racing League is easily one of the best looking games on Wii's library, and I mean retail games.
Shin'en with just 40 MB single-handedly humiliated the bucket load of lazy developed games on the Wii on discs up to 8,5 GB. Shin'en are wizards, I tell ya'.

dumedum

#31

dumedum said:

@Nintenjoe64 well, they have been making games exclusively for Nintendo consoles since inception, 2002, so that's pretty "first party" already :)

sinalefa

#32

sinalefa said:

This is what we need more of. Passionate developers who take the time to know hardware, thus being able to squeeze the most out of it, without incurring in obscene budgets that make games more expensive and puts the pressure on selling millions of copies just to break even.

Congratulations and keep up the great work! I will be sure to get Jett Rocket II, and I will check FAST in the meantime.

Nintenjoe64

#34

Nintenjoe64 said:

@dumedum wasn't sure how to describe them but they are a great asset. I just hope they make the step up to AAA content as well as they have with their smaller stuff. The difficult thing will be expanding their talented staff without watering down the quality because to make the best futuristic racing game on Wii on a 40MB download is pretty much witchcraft.

NImH

#35

NImH said:

Shin'en are the 3rd party masters of utilizing Nintendo hardware. I love their games... And, did he just say that their racing game improves upon Nano Assault in almost every way??? Holy crap.

ThomasBW84Admin

#36

ThomasBW84 said:

@yoshisaredragon It can be either, I think they mean that they talk about it with each other regularly. English is Manfred's second language, too, and I thought it'd be good to use that line to show that it's a franchise that could go on beyond the next one.

element187

#37

element187 said:

@jayclayx Indie or not, I have more confidence in them pushing the Wii U than Capcom or Ubisoft.

Most AAA games are sadly at 30fps, you can push a system to do 60fps, and this indie team does it often. I'll take the higher framerate over the increased visual fidelity anyday of the week. The gameplay is much improved as the performance goes up.

Their last interview said they didn't even push the Wii u very hard for their last Wii U game (Nano Neo Assualt) and the game looks gorgeous. They said they are currently trying to squeeze everything they can out of their two new games for the Wii U, and one of them will be using tesselation and the advanced HDR lighting system on the Wii U that the PS3/x360 can't do, so I'm super excited to see this, and to do it at 60fps is all the more impressive... It was rare to see a 60fps game on the HD twins, and when you did, most of the texture work was just janky as all get out.

Shambo

#38

Shambo said:

'...made big progress on any level.' So it will happen. My mind WILL explode again. Looking forward to it!

Zodiak13

#41

Zodiak13 said:

I think it's important that we respect any developer for doing what they love and not just for the $$. Even if said developer loves Sony or MS, but they enjoy making games just for those companies, then good for them. I'm glad they really enjoy working with Nintendo, don't get me wrong, but I'm just glad to hear that people are doing something more for the love than just the $$. Hopefully great financial rewards also follow, because few of us are able or capable of doing what we really love.

idork99

#42

idork99 said:

Cool read! I'll definitely be looking for this.

The Art of Balance Touch is an awesome game. I also have Nano Assault EX but have yet to play through the whole thing (don't have much patience for shmups as I used to I guess). The point is, these are the only two titles I own from them and you can tell the quality of their games in their visuals and sounds. I'm glad they make games for Nintendo hardware as otherwise I'd never known who they are.

Great job and looking forward to this game!!

Yasume

#44

Yasume said:

I'll take everything what Shin'en throws at me. Jett Rocket has got to be my favorite though and I'm glad that it starts to blossom in a well respected franchise.

AVahne

#45

AVahne said:

Since I LOVED F.A.S.T., I really can't wait to see their Wii U racing game. Augh the wait til Autumn is painful.

Rawk_Hawk

#47

Rawk_Hawk said:

I really appreciate the final question and response. These guys are true game developers. And I love the art of balance games

Tony_342

#48

Tony_342 said:

Shin'en is probably my favorite independent developer, and that's saying something. I can't wait to see their Wii U games. I'm betting (and hoping) the other one (besides FAST - Racing League 2) is a new Art of Balance game. That would work fantastically well with the option of using either the Wii remote or the GamePad's touchscreen.

skjia

#53

skjia said:

"If you waste space you get long loading times and worse general performance. Also we don't want to waste the free blocks on people's SD carts for developer's laziness."
Man that is nice to read. A lot of devs seem to not even think about how to make their games efficient and quick to load. The fact that they care about little details like that is why I think i enjoy their games so much.

Austroid

#55

Austroid said:

Its great to know there are still developers out there that put passion into the games they make.

I'm looking forward to JR II; and honestly he looks better without his helmet. He looked like an eco-friendly MegaMan with a scary face.

JimLad

#56

JimLad said:

On the one hand you want them to start making AAA games to compete with the big boys, but then they wouldn't be Shin'en.
They're definitely going about this the right way, building a reputation based on quality games made with care.

eviLaTtenDant

#58

eviLaTtenDant said:

I like what he's saying. Shin'en definitely deliver polished games.
Very likely to get Jett Rocket 2 if it's at least as good as the first one.

WiiLovePeace

#59

WiiLovePeace said:

Amazing interview! I've loved all Shin'en games I've played, they make games with both amazing graphics & fun. Plus them being Nintendo exclusive really makes me love them even more :D They truly do pump out the best of the consoles they touch, thank you Shin'en! :D

ForeverIgnited

#60

ForeverIgnited said:

I love Shin'en! They produce awesome beautiful games. Nano Assault EX is awesome. I hope Shin'en continues to do well.

Henmii

#61

Henmii said:

"Also we don't want to waste the free blocks on people's SD carts for developer's laziness"

That's great to hear! Since there will be more and more downloads, it's important that developers keep the file-sizes as small as possible!!

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