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Feature: A Year in Development - Shin'en Multimedia

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Life in the FAST lane

In our third Year in Development feature we have a guest article from Shin'en Multimedia's Manfred Linzner. The eShop developer has, over a number of years, forged a reputation for developing high-quality, polished games on Nintendo's download platforms. In this article Linzner summarises the studio's 2013, including surprise success in Japan and an explanation of the studio's continuing loyalty to Nintendo's platforms.


2013 was a busy year for Shin'en. We released three games on the 3DS eShop.

Namely Nano Assault EX, Art of Balance TOUCH (for Japan) and Jett Rocket 2 just a few weeks back. In the meantime we also worked hard on FAST Racing Neo for Wii U and on another so far unannounced Wii U title.

First of all we were quite happy that people liked Nano Assault EX because we were unsure if such a large game without a big brand name would do well on the eShop. Last week we also released a demo for it. It seems like people really love the demo because sales have had a nice boost since then.

Another surprise was the Art of Balance TOUCH launch in Japan. The game was quite successful in the EU and the US but the exceptional sales in Japan were unexpected. Kudos to Arc System Works, who published the game there!

On Wii U we invested this year quite a lot of time to make sure to get the best possible results for our upcoming games. We had a great start with Nano Assault Neo, but felt there is much more to achieve on Wii U. It was therefore quite interesting to see how the first games on PS4 and Xbox One looked and played in comparison to our current Wii U developments.

The last thing this year we worked on was a patch for Jett Rocket 2. We got a lot of positive feedback on the game but also some comments that the overall pace of the main character was a bit slow. We worked on that and improved a few other things; we hope people will like the update.

Working on Wii U and 3DS at the same time has had its own share of challenges. For more than 20 games we've used the same engine, and that for very different consoles and handhelds like the DS, the Wii or now the 3DS and Wii U. These platforms have not much in common, and we always look at how to maximize a platform's potential. Also our engine is not bound to a specific type of game. So we have to abstract our interfaces on a very high level, while still allowing to dig as deep as possible into the hardware for each game. I don't think there is any other company that supports radically different platforms in a highly optimized engine, and maybe it's a bit mad that we put such a lot of effort into it. However, we feel like many people appreciate that we go that extra mile for our games.

A common question from interviewers and fans is why we've worked for so long exclusively on Nintendo hardware. It simply came naturally because we got inspired by Nintendo's hardware over the years and we love the unrestricted concept of the eShop. However, we are always open to make our games approachable for more people if it makes sense for us. This means if we have freedom in development and a platform that inspires us to create something great.

Thats it from Shin'en for 2013. Thanks for all your loyal support over the year; we are really excited to show you guys our new Wii U games in 2014.


We'd like to thank Manfred Linzner for this article.

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User Comments (20)

Shiryu

#1

Shiryu said:

Really looking forward to " FAST Racing Neo". Keep up the awesome work!

rjejr

#2

rjejr said:

"Last week we also released a demo for it. It seems like people really love the demo because sales have had a nice boost since then."

To quote my 8 and 11 year old sons - "well duh".

The Wii U eShop has a pretty front end, but I can easily see a small indie game getting lost in there. Maybe SM3DW and WW HD don't need demos but eShop only games need the exposure a demo gives them.

I was surprised to read how different Wii U and 3DS game development is. I thought Unity was supposed to simplify the process of porting between the 2. Considering the similarity of 2 screen touchscreen gaming between the 2 systems maybe next gen they'll be similar OSs so more games can be easily ported.

Sjoerd

#3

Sjoerd said:

@rjejr I believe they're not using the Unity Engine but one of their own, as they stated in the article. Building and using an engine that supports so many platforms is quite the achievement. I really hope we'll get some more news on FAST soon!!

cyrus_zuo

#4

cyrus_zuo said:

I'm probably the only one hoping the new FAST is different than the last. It was pretty, but I found the mechanic unenjoyable. Nano Assault remains my favorite Shin'en game, and it's frankly not close.
If they ever have gameplay that matches the incredibly high quality of their visuals the result will be an absolutely killer game!

PinkSpider

#6

PinkSpider said:

Shin'en my body is ready, bring on 2014
Oh and can't wait for the Jett rocket update

aaronsullivan

#7

aaronsullivan said:

@Blaarg @Sjoerd @rjejr
I can confirm that Unity actually doesn't support 3DS. In fact, it's one of the few relevant platforms it doesn't currently support. The architecture is just too out there compared to the rest.

It will be nice once Nintendo begins to converge that platforms from a software and architecture perspective as seems to be the case for the next generation. BTW, I'm not talking about some console-handheld hybrid, but the implication from Nintendo that when it comes to developing games it will be a similar platform for the next Nintendo handheld and the next Nintendo console.

I can't help but think how much better this last launch could have gone, if the Wii U had easy ports of popular 3DS games to fall back on in those lulls. Luigi's mansion for Wii U. Kid Icarus Uprising for Wii U. Woulda, coulda, shoulda...

ACK

#8

ACK said:

Love it. Can't wait to see the Wii U projects. Particularly FAST. With a healthy game design overhaul it could be a great racing game. Track design will be of extreme importance, of course. I trust in Shin'en.

Happy to hear about the Art of Balance success in Japan. Congrats!

LeVideoGamer

#9

LeVideoGamer said:

@cyrus_zuo You're not. If anyone from Shin'en is reading this, please get rid of the orbs and the gravity switching/colour changing mechanic. Boost pads would be great.

DarkCoolEdge

#10

DarkCoolEdge said:

I bought Nano Assault EX and it disappointed me badly. The Star Fox-like levels are a pain, the controls aren't good and yes, I do play with the circle pad pro.

I didn't give Jett Rocket II a try because the first one was really boring, it only captured the worst aspects of games like Banjo Kazooie or DK64.

Art of Balance I did like although there are some nearly impossible challenges.

Shin'en makes good graphics but they need to polish more the gameplay of their games.

rjejr

#11

rjejr said:

@aaronsullivan - " Luigi's mansion for Wii U. Kid Icarus Uprising for Wii U. Woulda, coulda, shoulda..."

It's not too late, I'll buy them on Wii U if they get ported :-) Dream Team too.

PorllM

#12

PorllM said:

@rjejr What a response. Most demo releases have a barely recognizable result on sales and many have a negative one.

Also you're correct about Unity but that's completely irrelevant to games made specifically for Nintendo consoles such as these.
We're not doing the 'similar sounding word' thing here. Please stop — TBD

element187

#13

element187 said:

@PorllM introducing new IP should always come with a demo... There is lots of games on the eshop I'm interested in but don't want to take a risk on it.

The best method is to release your game and as the sales start to slow down, put out a demo to reel in others like me on the fence who want to try before I buy.

For retail I rent just about everything on gamefly, and if I like it I buy it... $60 is absurd to take a risk on with how many cash grabs are out there. Sonic Lost World for instance, I rented, played it for a few hours and sent it back. I would have been spitting mad if I bought this game blind with how it turned out (watch the nerd rage come at me for saying that)

ouroborous

#14

ouroborous said:

i like shin'en, would like to see more in the vein of nano assault (as in the 3DS version, the wii u version just didn't do it for me, though it looked pretty great).

NImH

#15

NImH said:

Shin'en is great. Not all their games are perfect, but they do put in that extra effort that some indie devs (looks at Wayforward) have lacked as of late. I love Nano Assault Neo and Art of Balance Touch. Nano Assault EX was good, but I loved Neo's multiplayer so much that it overshadowed EX.

Kolzig

#18

Kolzig said:

@PorllM If a demo has a negative affect on sales, that means the game itself is bad and isn't worthy of buying in the first place. It's a shame there are not more demos for 3DS and Wii U in the eShop. There should be a lot more.

Is Nano Assault cartridge game the same as Nano Assault Ex, but Ex just has more content?

Genesaur

#19

Genesaur said:

I was hoping for something a little more in-depth. The SteamWorld guy set something of a precedent for this mini-series of sorts with his tale of magic. This just read like, "We made this game, and this game, and this game, and we're working on other stuff, too. Nintendo's cool, yo."

It's not that I didn't love Nano Assault, or anything, but this bit feels rather lacking.

Expa0

#20

Expa0 said:

Nano Assault EX was disappointing, I enjoyed Nanostray 2 on the DS though.

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