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Iwata Asks Delves into The Wonderful 101, Reveals Hidden Characters

Posted by Andy Green

Kamiya unites with allies for part two of this wonderful interview

The Wonderful 101 is being released tomorrow in Europe (23rd August) and part two of Iwata Asks has now emerged. This time round the game’s director Hideki Kamiya has united with some familiar allies to assist him in his interview with Nintendo President Satoru Iwata: Atsushi Inaba, producer at PlatimumGames, and Shingo Matsushita and Hitoshi Yamagami from the Software Planning and Development department at Nintendo.

Whereas part one of the interview explored Kamiya's development process, part two focused on the game itself and there was plenty of interesting information on the origins of the game, including how it was originally set to be much darker than it turned out, which sounds odd considering how vibrant and colourful the final product ended up.

However, Yamagami was against this idea as he believed youngsters wouldn’t play it. Kamiya was not best pleased and did argue about it "like a child" but eventually accepted the decision and devised something else unique.

Described as the "realistic figure, realistic toys" concept, Kamiya made the visuals look both pop and realistic at the same time, with the unnecessary darkness removed.

But before any of this was even conjured up an idea for the game had to form in Kamiya’s mind and in the end they all came from his imagination and childhood memories:

I bought Famicom Jump for JoJo, but the main characters come and go, so you couldn't always play as your favourite character. So I wondered if there wasn't some way to please everyone by letting them play the whole game as their favourite character

In that way, Smash Bros. is very well done. You can play as your favourite character, and as it is, I think that's a completed form of that type of game. So when I wondered what I should do with this one, I decided "Why don't we just bring out all the characters at once?"

As a kid, the idea that small, separate things could join together and become strong was really exciting for me. I feel like that's where the core of this whole project came from.

It was certainly a challenge. Packing 101 characters into a game was not going to be easy. After all, you can only get 100 Pikmin out of an onion at once and that is hectic enough!

Yamagami revealed that he had his reservations about the idea as he’d learned from experience that attempting to squeeze so many characters into a game where they all practically change shape is impossible. However, he came around to the idea eventually and felt the development with the dark characters could go ahead:

When the project first started, the characters were more like Viewtiful Joe, like the dark superheroes in US comic books. I liked that art a lot, and I did think we could go with it.

Of course, the dark elements quickly diminished but the core game remained and the team set about building a gameplay system that would prove innovative and fun.

This proved to be more difficult that they envisioned and there was plenty of ideas that fell by the wayside along the way. Kamiya, Inaba and Iwata discussed the process, with Iwata revealing how Nintendo kept its distance to allow the creative juices to flow.

Kamiya: It is a game where you bring a large group of characters around with you, so we tried a lot of different things to see what the possibilities were. We would make the game and dismantle it again and again, to try and figure out what pieces to put together to get the right gameplay.

Inaba: It didn't feel very good; it was as if we were running wild. We knew we had the foundation of the game, but we couldn't use that to lead us to anything worthwhile.

Iwata: But as far as Nintendo was concerned, since it was our first time collaborating with PlatinumGames, I think there was a time where we must have thought "PlatinumGames has shown that they can get results themselves, so we should respect them and discover their value," and so we took a step back and watched over them in a way.

But naturally as time goes on, developers are bound to start feeling the pressure as the bosses look on from up high. Kamiya admitted he was anxious about Yamagami and Matsushita closing in and revealed how he expected them to be a little more corporate than they actually were.

Kamiya: Originally, I had somehow imagined that those requests would come in more systematically. I thought the requests that would come in would be very business-like. I thought you guys were going to reach out to me saying something like, "We did some user research and these are the results we got, so we want you to change it so it fits this."

Iwata: Like, "Marketing data proves you should go this way."

Kamiya: Right. So I was surprised. This should have been obvious, but I was a little surprised at how human you guys were.

However, this was a two way street as Nintendo were worried about meeting Kamiya, considering how he appeared upon their first meeting and his tweets, as Yamagami explained:

We had a preconceived notion that Kamiya-san was scary. We still had a strong impression of him from how miffed he seemed the first time we met him, and of how he was on Twitter. But the more we met him, and saw how Kamiya-san reacted like "Oh, that makes sense." to things that we said on the spot, we realised that we just needed to be honest with him. And so we started to get closer after that.

Kamiya is in fact more open to actually talking to people to more forwards and isn’t a fan of data:

If you have misgivings about something a person is telling you, you can just ask "Why is that?" then and there, and deepen your understanding. But you can't have a conversation with data.

Kamiya did have his moments though and the team revealed how he implemented multi-unite mode at a late stage in development that made a few people a little mad due to the secondary problems it could cause. He had to put in a lot of effort, but in the end he felt it was worth it.

I know it caused a lot of trouble for everyone, but I think it really paid off and it gave the game a lot more depth. With the addition, players are now better able to create their own play style, and we were able to build the gameplay to a point where the players can pursue the most technical, beautiful moves they can imagine, so in that sense I think it was worth the effort.

Kamiya claimed Nintendo was an influencer in him working so hard as the company "really looked after us, ever since the period when the game wasn't fun at all. So I wanted to do my best for them, even at the last minute".

But that’s not all you’ll find in The Wonderful 101, as the team revealed there is a character actually in the game that is based on Kamiya himself.

His name is Wonder-Director and upon sending the game for testing at Mario Club, PlatinumGames were highly amused when they came back saying "Wonder-Director's attack made it crash".

This was surely a deliberate act from the director himself and Matsushita revealed the character is hidden and will appear should you play it enough:

He can do something a bit unique, so he was something to watch out for during debug. Physically, he's very unique looking as well, and his collision detection seems a bit different than other characters.

Kamiya said the developer was planning on putting several hidden characters into the game and there was numerous candidates. Wonder-Director was a low priority but as the candidates were whittled down the team threw him in as they had already put in the effort to make him.

On top of this, Wonder-Director isn’t the only character you’ll be able to play as and there will be a someone in there who has not yet been revealed.

Matsushita said that just as with Wonder-Director, if you play enough the secret character will appear and he has been re-designed to match the world of The Wonderful 101.

Kamiya explained more about the newbie:

Just like the original, the character will fight with guns, and that other trademark item has been changed into a mask as well. The character will also have its own Unite Morph.

The specs are slightly different too, so it's a bit of a tricky character.

Interestingly, Yamagami revealed there is an ultra-hard mode known as "A challenge from Kamiya." That is so difficult not even Kamiya himself can beat it. This one is sure to be a challenge, then!

Kamiya finished off the interview by addressing those considering picking up The Wonderful 101:

Don't be scared. There really aren't any games like this out there, so I think it's hard to envision what the game will be like.

So I think that a lot of people may end up just saying "I don't get what kind of game it is," even if they had some interest in it. But if you think there might be something fun in it for you, I'd like you to trust your own curiosity, and just jump right into the game. It's a once in a lifetime game, I think. There are a lot of games that I'm glad I played, and I know that this game will be one of them for you.

As ever, we highly recommend reading the full Iwata Asks interview for yourself as it gives a lot of great insight into how it all began and how it evolved into the game we’re all familiar with now.

What are your thoughts on The Wonderful 101 and the development behind it? Let us know in the comment section below.


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User Comments (40)



MrGawain said:

I'm gonna be first to say: it's either Mario or Bayonetta, isn't it?

Or Reggie.



Emblem said:

Ultra hard mode eh? Challenge accepted .

One of my fondest video game memories/achievements is playing God Hand and finding it so difficult i barely made it to the next levels alive, eventually i reached a point where i could complete a whole playthrough without getting hit more than a couple times.

It made the game look so easy to my friends who were then stupefied when they tried it for the first time and got killed by the most basic enemies.

The secret character is likely Bayonetta since they made the guns comment, plus it makes sense to wet Bayonetta fans appetite and increase awareness from a marketing point of view.



swordx said:

"Unite Morph" perhaps it's Samus? Ya know, Morph Ball and all...

I wasn't hyped about this game, even after the demo, but this article sure changed tha! I may even pre-order it!



Marshi said:

Anyone else not getting the 30percent discount like they should?i got pikmin digitaly



swordx said:

Is anyone else hoping a Wonder hero is in SSB? After all, 101 DOES belong to Ninty.



K964 said:

@MrGawain I doubt it's Mario or Reggie, since neither of them use guns. Bayonetta I can imagine maybe with a hair mask or something.
@BlatantlyHeroic Yes this is Nintendo's IP, just like Fire Emblem and Xenoblade Chronicles. They're all just developed by other companies.



Marshi said:

Someone help,im not getting the 30% discount still shows full price for w101 and im eligable for the discount promotion



rjejr said:

Miyamoto in a Link suit would be a nice playable character, but the guns nixed that idea

The multi-morph is tricky and crazy - I could never get it my first play thru on the demo - but I could see how as people get used to the gameplay it can add that extra special element. Reading the review saying the game was 12 hours long - I was really expecting 3 or 4 for the main storyline - means there will be plenty of time to master the controls.

Thanks for posting so much of the interview, I'm usually to lazy to click on the link to the entire thing.



swordx said:


Although, to be fair, the companies that mak FE and Xenoblade are also owned by Nintendo.



Marshi said:

Is anyone from the uk and not getting the 30% discount like they should be???



Cevan said:

@swordx I'm really hoping Wonder Red is a playable character in SSB4. It'd also be nice if we got a Wonderful 101 stage as well.



Dvazquez5138 said:

@K964 Nintendo doesn't own the IP. Originally as Kamiya stated, it was supposed to include an All-Star Nintendo cast, which would've been Nintendo's IP's, but Kamiya was entrusted with taking creative control and making his own cast of characters, which are owned by Platinum. Exclusive to the Wii U only because it is Nintendo-published through a partnership. Though, Platinum could always pull a Capcom to circumvent that and release a Special Edition or something. I doubt that'll happen though.



faint said:

You folks coming here to complain about the discount should go to Nintendo customer service instead. Why you are asking for help with this on a blog is a complete mystery to me.



Gameday said:

Im excited the demo was done very well and im looking forward to all the secrets this game has having stumbled on to some in the demo , and seeing the many characters at play this game is going to rock enough say UNITE !



solcross said:

@swordx Unite Morph is what it's called when your team of Wonders joins together to create an object, so they weren't really hinting at anything. Samus would be pretty cool to see in this game, though.



-KwB- said:

Sweet ! I like the attention this game is getting from the Nintendo community !!



The-Chosen-one said:

Yeah i hope he will be in smashbros too, and maybe some others as an alternate costume. His smash attack would be awesome lol.



Freakazoid said:

Im gonna pick it up later since i still gota work but after im finished i will get to playin all night



element187 said:

I enjoyed this interview. I find it interesting the part about adding multi-unites how that came about at the last minute.

And I couldn't agree more with Kamiya that the multi-unites actually make the game what it is... playing the demo its very "meh" at first, until you figure out how to do these multi-unites, and then all these possibilities open up in your strategy on each every boss opens up wide..... If Kamiya didn't put in that extra touch the game would have been lucky to hit 7's on review sites.... I think metacritic has it at 8... I believe some of the lower review scores are from reviewers who haven't figured out how to do the multi-unite's yet. They played through parts of it once and just threw their hands up and said "f this crap"



element187 said:

@Dvazquez5138 Platinum Games pitched the idea to Nintendo and they greenlighted..

Nintendo is a publisher. Any publisher worth their salt would make a deal to own the IP... The ball is in Nintendo's court, and i cannot see any scenario where NIntendo decided to pass on ownership of the IP but yet still funding the game.... If this game is a runaway success, NIntendo would be in a world of hurt for future titles.... so I see no possibility that Nintendo didn't lock down the IP....

I don't think we will see either Wonderful 101 or Bayonetta 2 on any other platform other than Nintendo.... SEGA owns the Bayonetta IP, so they could release part 1 and part 3 on any system they want, but I believe Nintendo has the full rights to just part 2. I don't see Nintendo getting involved with any deals on this level (funding all of the development/publishing) unless they control it fully and exclusively..

NG3 and Rayman Legends are not the same type of partnership, so its not even comparable.

In the end I really really hope Platinum and Nintendo's venture is successful for both games, as I would love to see Kamiya try his hand at some of Nintendo's more dormant IP's like Starfox (Kamiya has mentioned interest in doing it, so I hope Iwata heard about that and is thinking it over)



Tony_342 said:

I love reading these Iwata Asks. It's endlessly fascinating to me to get these little bits of insight into the development process and the minds of the developers themselves. I wonder why we didn't get an Iwata Asks about Pikmin 3, though. I was really looking forward to reading that one.



ACK said:

@Tony_342 Probably because Nintendo's internal teams are under the crunch. I would assume the relevant staff has since been moved to other projects. Hopefully we'll see something down the road. I'm pretty sure many have been published well after the release.



JaxonH said:

Yeah it's actually Nintendo's IP. They just had Platinum design the game for them. It was originally going to have Nintendo characters.



JaxonH said:

Um, I hate to be that guy, but you're just building your hopes for nothing there. I can tell you right now it's not going to be Samus. Probably Bayonetta from the sound of it, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was Iwata, considering Kamiya is in the game. One thing we do know is it won't be some random Nintendo character. Well, I guess we don't KNOW, but I'd wager on it.



JaxonH said:

No, it really is Nintendo's IP. It has nothing to do with the characters in it. The franchise is fully owned by Nintendo. The fact the game was going to have Nintendo characters at first is because the game is owned by Nintendo, and that was their original idea. Yes, Platinum designed the game and yes, Kamiya pretty much formed the game from his own ideas, but it's still owned by Nintendo. Nintendo approached Platinum and asked to make them a game with a bunch of characters, that's it. Then the idea went to using Nintendo IPs, then it went to using brand new hero characters. But the game was made at Nintendo's request, and because of Nintendo's money. And Nintendo ownership is in the contract for this game. Which means we could see a sequel some day made in-house at Nintendo.

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