Those waiting for La-Mulana's WiiWare release were left disappointed recently when publisher Nicalis cancelled the game's western launch. Nicalis cited problems with low sales of the WiiWare platform and a protracted development period, leaving no current route overseas for the 2D platformer and developer Nigoro. We spoke to La-Mulana's director Takumi Naramura to find out more about the cancellation, where La-Mulana goes from here and the possibility of new projects from Nigoro.
Nintendo Life: From Nigoro's perspective, what happened with La-Mulana and Nicalis?
Takumi Naramura: While the market of WiiWare has been shrinking, Nicalis seems to have had anxiety about La-Mulana not passing the lot check. In order to release La-Mulana in overseas, there was no way but to ask Nicalis. We have been believing we can work to release it with them... I am very sorry it resulted like this.
NL: When did you find out about the cancellation of La-Mulana's Western release?
TN: In the early morning Japan time, a staff member received an email from Nicalis that they cancelled La-Mulana, and at the same time, Nicalis announced the matter on Twitter, I hear. I myself heard the news on Twitter in the morning.
NL: How regularly were Nigoro and Nicalis in contact? Do you feel there was any miscommunication?
TN: Until March of this year, we had been meeting on Skype about once a week. In short, the informations — lot checks, approval process and so on — that we got was only conveyed at the meeting, so we were only believe in them.
NL: Before this, how well did you think La-Mulana's development was progressing?
TN: We removed DLC from La-Mulana for reasons of the game did not pass lot check and Nicalis' request, and we sent it to Nicalis in earlier this year. We've finished what we could.
NL: It was said that La-Mulana failed lot checks multiple times for US and EU release. What issues caused this?
TN: To put it simply, culture, custom, and rule vary from country to country. The same goes for ESRB. In Europe, the game need to be designed for PAL. We are not familiar overseas. Naturally, it is difficult that we, living in Japan, understand them.
NL: As far as you can tell, what differs between Nintendo of Japan and Nintendo of America's approval process?
TN: Since we have a NDA with Nintendo, we can not answer it. We can tell you a piece of information. We had direct contact with NCL, therefore, we were able to grasp a process of lot checks and cope with the problems quickly. It is a fact that lags occurred in the communication between NOE or NOA because Nicalis acted as intermediary.
NL: Did you ask Nintendo of Japan for overseas help before speaking to other publishers?
TN: We have not asked for help in particular. I think it is cool that Nintendo become our publisher.
NL: Can Nigoro attempt to release La-Mulana on WiiWare in the West with a different publisher?
TN: The game is completed, we welcome the offer from a publisher. Since there are people who have Wii for playing La-Mulana, I want to do something.
NL: What do you think about the WiiWare platform in general? What would you suggest to improve it?
TN: Because Nintendo did not prepare digital distribution for Wii at first, WiiWare was inferior to other [digital distribution platforms], I think. I gather from a low-resolution screen and jammed large buttons that developers took pains with it. It is said that Nintendo's digital distribution for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U will be improved. I wanted Nintendo to continue to improve WiiWare, too.
NL: If you had an offer from a publisher, would you consider bringing La-Mulana to the Nintendo 3DS eShop?
TN: As you know, Nigoro is just three people. We do not concentrate on only La-Mulana, we want to create a new game. I know that there are people who want to play La-Mulana on handheld game consoles such as Nintendo 3DS. It is difficult [for] we ourselves [to] port it. If there is a publisher want to take charge of porting, I'd really like [them] to contact us.
NL: Do you have any publishers in mind for the PC version?
TN: We have received an offer from several companies for a very long time. There are several companies gave me a contact immediately after the matter. If our game is played more widely, we will consider the various possibilities.
NL: How has the reception been to La-Mulana in Japan?
TN: It is not a game like that everyone prefer or a lot of people regard highly. But fans who have a mania for La-Mulana love it enough to surprise us. Our enthusiasm seems to travel through the game. I believe it travels regardless of race and country.
NL: Several months ago, Nigoro asked for input on the release of a La-Mulana soundtrack. Is this still planned?
TN: I have already finished the recording, and OST includes remade unused tunes from original PC version in answer requests on official website. I listen to the OST on my iPod every day. I was going to release the OST after La-Mulana has been distributed in the overseas... We should be able to announce information of OST when the information of PC version comes. I think to distribute it on bandcamp.
NL: If Nigoro could collaborate with another Japanese independent developer, who would it be?
TN: In all honesty, we can not afford to collaborate. In Japan, there are many indie games not known abroad. We want to help if their developers wish to work abroad.
NL: Do you feel ready to move onto a new project any time soon?
TN: We have not been successful in overseas yet. We can not afford to start a new project. But I continue to get some ideas down on paper so that we can start at any time. New project surely is important. But our first preference is that everyone enjoy playing La-Mulana overseas. We give priority to its work. For sending this promised game to you.
We'd like to thank Naramura-san for his time.