Way back in November last year we interviewed Nicalis about Cave Story, a game which is being anticipated with as much excitement as 2D Boy’s World of Goo by indie fans. There is no question that Nicalis are set to impress with their overhaul of the classic freeware game by Daisuke Amaya. A refreshing amount of care and attention has been taken to ensure that the final product will be polished to perfection.
With this in mind we were intrigued to hear about Nicalis’ plans to bring a mysterious title simply called Night Game to WiiWare, which is an intriguing puzzler centred around the exploits of a lone ball. To find out more we caught up with Tyrone Rodriguez the head honcho over at Nicalis and his partner in crime Nicklas Nygren who is developing the bulk of the game. Let’s find out what they had to tell us in this exclusive interview...
Nintendo Life: How did Nicalis get started and what makes your studio unique?
Tyrone: We started with mobile development (and continue to). However, a big part of what we wanted to do was to give games that deserve more attention just that. Amaya-san and Nicklas are great designers, why shouldn't more people enjoy their games? Well, that's the thought and fans have been nothing but awesome about supporting the two designers.
Nlife: Before we get stuck into talking about Night Game, what’s the latest gossip on Cave Story?
Tyrone: A lot of testing. We've completed the official localization and now are going through everything that we need to finish to wrap the project up.
Nlife: Can you tell us a bit about how you came to team up with Nicklas on this project? Is it true he is really obsessed with balls?
Tyrone: We were introduced by a mutual friend who suggested we work together. We both think in very similar ways when it comes to games. Um, he may be obsessed with balls in games, but I do know he's currently obsessed with the DS-10 synth for DS right now; he and Chris were playing around with it recently.
Nlife: What is the concept of Night Game in a nutshell?
Nicklas: Basically, to roll around a ball or sphere in a landscape solving physical puzzles. It's heavily inspired by games like Marble Madness and Ballance, but I wanted to try it in a 2D universe. Although the idea is similar, it becomes very different when played in a 2D landscape
Nlife: Will the game support both motion sensing tilt controls and D-pad control methods?
Tyrone: We're working on integrating and testing motion sensing controls for the Wii Remote. If it feels good, we'll leave it in as it'll only add more to the game. Regardless if the game has motion controls or not, it'll have a good setup with the control-pad with two configurations.
Nlife: How does speed, friction and gravity come into play in the Night Game universe?
Nicklas: Well, you have two main powers. One that increases your speed but decreases your friction, and one that does the opposite. This means that you can alter really quickly between a fast moving hard-to-control ball and a slow very precise one (combined, those two gives a very skilled player fast placed and yet precise controls). Gravity behaves just like gravity in any platformer, but as there's no jump button, you have to use the topography of the levels to make jumps.
Nlife: How much did the graphical style of LocoRoco influence the visuals in Night Game?
Nicklas: I don't think that particular game influenced me. There's plenty of "Chinese Shadow" games out there, and NG's style is pretty much taken from those, but I don't think LocoRoco inspired me more than any other of those games. I'd probably instead say it's flash games I've found at jayisgames.com.
Nlife: Aside from the refined graphical style, is Night Game also a treat for audio fans?
Nicklas: If you like the atmosphere of my previous games like Knytt, you'll probably like the NG audio too. It's a lot about ambiance sounds and music that plays sometimes rather than all over the game. Chris Schlarb created an awesome soundtrack to the game too which does a whole lot to the game! It has more realistic sounds than my previous games, though, a lot of the sound effect recordings are made by myself, often stuff like me banging rocks or wood together to produce nice collision sounds.
Nlife: How many levels does Night Game have? Are there any difficulty options to increase the longevity of the game?
Nicklas: There are 10 levels--or worlds, each with about 13 areas--and two difficulty modes. Right now they're called Normal and Hard, but we have to rename the Hard one to encourage people to try it. Although it does make the game harder, it changes the topography of the levels a lot and completely changes many of the puzzles. It's more like playing a new set of levels than getting the normal ones in a harder format.
Tyrone: He makes a good point, I think Hard isn't your typical "hard' mode. Since there are no enemies it's more about how the levels are designed and how the individual puzzles are solved. Two totally different types of games, but the best example I can give is the first and second quest in The Legend of Zelda. The second quest wouldn't just be called hard mode.
Nlife: How difficult are the puzzles in Night Game? Can you give an example of some of the more ingenious barriers to progression?
Nicklas: The puzzles in the Normal mode are rather easy to work for every player. It's in the alternative mode when things get really interesting. However, I wouldn't want to spoil them!
Tyrone: Many of the puzzles are dexterity-based where you have to use quick fingers to do what you need to do, while others are more cerebral--then you have a combination of both, but I agree with Nicklas--you'll just have to try some to see.
Nlife: Other than all the clever obstacles are there any boss battles in the game?
Tyrone: No bosses and no enemies. It's you against the world, as a ball.
Nlife: When do you expect Night Game to go on sale in the Wii Shop?
Tyrone: The audio and most of the design is complete for the game. It should be a few months before we give an estimated date of completion.
Nlife: What’s next on the horizon for Nicalis? Will you be searching for more 2D indie talent across the globe?
Tyrone: Well, I'm sure you've heard about our agreement with Nigoro and working together to bring La Mulana to WiiWare. I hope people are excited about that. We're pretty happy to be involved with them. They're awesome developers and hilarious guys to share a beer with.
Nlife: Are you tempted to do a DSiWare or iPhone project anytime soon?
Nicklas: I'm open for anything!
Tyrone: I'd really like to try DSiWare, but iPhone doesn't excite me very much--not as a developer. As a consumer I like the iPhone, I guess--well, except for the fact that it's an Apple product. PSP Go! would be awesome, though. I just like the form factor on that device, but I wish it had some form of cellular network communication and not just Wi-Fi.
Nlife: As a small development studio, what benefits has the WiiWare service offered you? What have Nintendo been like to work with?
Tyrone: Thus far WiiWare has been great. Like you, we grew up playing NES so being able to work directly with Nintendo is a bit of a dream come true.
Nlife: Last chance to plug your game! Why should everyone go out and buy Night Game when it is released?
Nicklas: Get it for its beautiful atmosphere and music! Get it for its big variety of levels (I've tried to make every level different, to make each stand out from all the others). Also, get it for its smooth and nice controls!
Tyrone: Nicklas has done an excellent job of putting together solid design and we've done our best together to really refine the experience. It has a very linear progression and the challenges are very clever--I think anyone can pick up the game and understand what they need to do within a few seconds.
Nlife: Thanks to Tyrone and Nicklas for taking time out of their busy schedules to take part in this interview with us.