It's already clear that, for devoted and keen Wii U owners, the eShop is a sanctuary of regular releases. Indie gaming is all the rage, and the eShop eco-system is already taking on a fairly unique identity with a mix of major download releases, occasional exclusives and — for better or worse, depending on the game — budget quick-fire projects. We've also seen some games previously developed for mobile make their way to Nintendo's system, and that isn't always a bad thing.
A game in that latter category is Paper Monsters Recut, which is coming to North America on 16th October and Europe later in the month. Originally a mobile game, it's been repurposed and brought to Wii U by Mobot Studios, a name that should be fairly familiar to those that follow eShop news closely. This is the first of three confirmed games, with a fourth yet to be announced, that Mobot Studios is committed to delivering.
We caught up with the studio's co-founders to discuss the first two of these games, the second being Gears, and to learn more about the studio's motivation to come to the Wii U's download store.
First of all, can you introduce yourselves and Mobot Studios to our readers?
Sure thing, hi my name is Jon Williams, co-founder of Mobot Studios. I focus on game production, design, testing, and I run most of the business side of Mobot. Also with me is James Fletcher, the other co-founder of Mobot, who is focused on our creative direction and game development, including all of the programming for titles like Paper Monsters Recut.
James and I have actually been friends since grade school, when we used to spend all our free time playing NES and SNES games. In fact, we were lucky enough to get an imported Super Famicom from Japan and we both played through the entirety of Super Mario World nearly a year before it was ever released the states. That experience, in addition to other classic games, really cemented our love of 1st party Nintendo titles, which still continues to this day!
Can you tell us a little about the company's history to date, such as when you were founded and some projects you've worked on so far?
James started out back in 2011, and experimented with a few mobile titles before releasing the original Paper Monsters on iOS in 2012. I came on board about 18 months ago, and have been working to broaden our support to include more platforms, with a big focus on Wii U. In terms of other projects, over the last year we’ve also spent a lot of time on another title for Wii U called Knight & The Ghostlights, which is still in development, we’ve already announced Gears coming to Wii U, and we’ve got another unannounced title that you may hear about very soon as well.
To focus on Paper Monsters, can you introduce this game for our readers?
Paper Monsters Recut is our take on a classic 2D platformer, with modern graphics, and a timeless sense of style. We’re really happy with the finished product, and we think it’s going to be a ton of fun to play. Players will get to experience and explore a variety of unique worlds, gameplay styles, bosses, and track a bunch of collectibles along the way… and most importantly they can now use the classic super speed button!
It was originally targeting the first quarter of the year, so is this getting really close to release in Europe, following the North America announcement?
As you say, 16th October is our release date for North America, with a European release on track for later this month. The game is also greenlit for Steam and will be releasing later this month, so if any of your readers want to play it on PC in addition to Wii U that will be an option too!
Your announcement outlined improvements for the Wii U such as a graphical overhaul and new content. Can you flesh out what this extra content will bring, and will that make this a fairly lengthy experience?
The development process took a bit longer than we originally expected, and ended up being much more than a graphical update. Rather than rush to release it, we opted to take our time and pretty much rebuilt the entire game from the ground up. Graphically the Wii U hardware is much more powerful than mobile devices, so we were able to add new real time lighting effects and shadows, higher resolution textures, new animations, better bump mapping, bloom lighting, etc.
Beyond the graphics, we’ve added a brand new playable overworld full of secrets to explore and help you get around between levels, we’ve also created a number of new levels (including space levels) with new characters, puzzles, and gameplay mechanics, we’ve completely changed the scoring and collections systems (which affects the way players unlock levels), and added several brand new mini-games for extra replay value.
Will the GamePad be utilised in any particular way?
We will give players the option to play on the GamePad by itself, or on a combination of GamePad and TV. When you’re playing on a TV the GamePad is used for displaying additional information in the brand new overworld, tracking items you’ve collected, levels you’ve unlocked, and warping between different parts of the overworld. It’s a pretty nice feature for the Wii U and we hope players will take advantage of the flexibility.
As this is a 2D platformer, are you particularly confident that a Nintendo audience will respond positively to this game?
As we mentioned before, we’ve been huge Nintendo fans for years, and we think the Paper Monsters is going to be a great fit for other Nintendo fans of any age. The game is very family friendly and the characters and environments are a lot of fun. We’ve also tried to tune the gameplay to raise the level of difficulty for more experienced players, while still keeping it relatively approachable for younger players.
You also announced Gears for Wii U a while ago. Can you outline that for readers that don't know about the game?
Gears is a classic ball rolling puzzle game with a very unique steampunk theme and design. If anyone has ever beat the original they’ll know that it’s pretty difficult, and a lot of fun!
Is this focused more on puzzles, action, a combination of both?
I would say it’s more action exploration and exploration than pure puzzle solving, but it does have elements of both.
What sort of control options will there be, and how is the GamePad used?
For Gears you’ll have two main control options. Using the accelerometer on the GamePad (similar to something like Super Monkey Ball) or using the joystick on the GamePad to control the action.
Is there a more specific release window for this as yet, and will it be a budget release or priced at a 'premium' level?
We don’t have a release date for Gears yet, or an official price, but we’ll keep it affordable (likely $5 USD or less).
This, like Paper Monsters, was originally developed by Crescent Moon Games, can you tell us about your relationship with them?
Josh from Crescent Moon Games has been great to work with, and he was a major part of the team on the original Paper Monsters. The first game was actually a direct collaboration with Crescent Moon focusing on the artistic direction while Mobot focused on the programming and game design.
With both Gears and Paper Monsters, was it a fairly detailed process to port to Wii U, or has it been relatively easy for you?
As I mentioned earlier, we expected both of these titles to be relatively easy to bring to Wii U, but in the end they will both take a ton of work. We don’t like the idea of simply “porting” a game, because we want to take advantage of all the hardware and features that any new system offers and make sure the game plays the way it should on that platform.
Are you confident that former smart device games such as these are a good fit for the Wii U?
From our perspective, Paper Monsters is a pure platformer and we believe that genre always plays best with a physical controller. We honestly had to make a lot of sacrifices the first time around for mobile devices, and we’re really excited about being able to play it on consoles and push lots of buttons at the same time the way we’ve always imagined it!
We'd like to thank Jon Williams and James Fletcher for their time.