Mysterious Cities of Gold

About a month ago Neko Entertainment and Ynnis Interactive announced they will be bringing Mysterious Cities of Gold: Secret Paths to Wii U and 3DS this October.

It's based on the cult Japanese-French animated series of the same name, which aired in the early eighties and it has recently been given a new lease of life with new episodes on the way. Secret Paths is being developed to complement it and will have free downloadable content that will be unlocked as the show progresses.

However, as the core television audience is from France, the publisher decided to release the game in French, although it did say a Kickstarter campaign would be set up to try to obtain the funds necessary to release a localised version to cater for English speaking gamers.

That Kickstarter campaign is now up and running and Ynnis Interactive is aiming to bring in $30,000 to make the dream a reality. Should it hit that goal Mysterious Cities of Gold: Secret Paths will be fully localised in English, with voice-acting in the cinematic scenes and character dialogue. Spanish subtitles will also be integrated and there will even be a PC adaptation added to the confirmed platforms of Wii U, 3DS and iOS.

If you back the game with $15 or more you can grab yourself a copy on Wii U, 3DS or PC as a reward, while digital art books and posters are available for those who want to pledge more.

We spoke to the game’s executive producer Fleur Marty about what made Ynnis Interactive want to localise it, the features we can expect to see and what it’s been like to work with Nintendo.

Nintendo Life: Thanks for taking the time to chat to us. Mysterious Cities of Gold is obviously very popular in France and it appears the game was developed with that market in mind. What made you decide to localise it into English and other languages?

Fleur Marty: A few months back, before our first official announcement, news of the game being in development leaked in the French gaming press. That news got picked up by some international websites and we've been amazed to discover how positive the reaction from the English-speaking community was. We knew that the original series from the 1980s had been broadcast in foreign countries of course (and especially on BBC and Nickelodeon) but until that point we hadn't fully realized just how popular the show was outside of France. That truly got us thinking.

NL: What has it been like to work with Nintendo?

FM: I must say everyone at Nintendo has been amazingly supportive. Ynnis Interactive is a very young and small publisher and Secret Paths is going to be our first title on the Nintendo hardware. At first I really thought it'd prove to be hard to build a relationship with them but the Nintendo Europe team really welcomed us with open arms and they have done everything in their power to guide us through the publishing process.

Of course, it also really helped that, on the other hand, Neko Entertainment, the development studio, is very experienced on Nintendo platforms.

The Nintendo Europe team really welcomed us with open arms and they have done everything in their power to guide us through the publishing process.

NL: Will there be any differences between the Wii U version and the 3DS adaptation?

FM: Well, besides the graphics definition (which is hardware-bound), and some interface elements that will be laid out differently, we are trying to fit every feature of the Wii U version into the 3DS version. It's a bit of a challenge because the game will exclusively be distributed through the eShop, which implies limitations in file size on the 3DS.

At first we thought it wouldn't be possible to have the cinematic cut-scenes (which are numerous and really tell the story of the series) in the 3DS version and that we'd have to stick with still images and text. But we are working on making those fit into the game as we speak, because we want the 3DS experience to be as faithful to the series as it can be, and as close to the Wii U lead version as possible.

NL: The artwork is obviously very important in this one and it looks great in HD on Wii U. The 3DS naturally cannot offer HD, but has the 3D feature helped you bring the visuals to life in a way that's not possible on the other platforms?

FM: Unfortunately, we lacked both time and money to take advantage of the 3D features in a meaningful way.

We were on a very tight development schedule, because, as you can imagine, we are hard at work to match the game release with the French schedule of the TV episodes broadcast on TF1. Also, the size of the team is rather small, as we are about two dozen people working on this project. So we had to reduce the variations between the lead version (which is the Wii U) and the ports to 3DS and iOS.

Mysterious Cities of Gold 2

NL: Considering there are three characters who must work together to complete puzzles and progress, is there any scope for multiplayer?

FM: We'd love that, but for the moment, the game is only playable in solo mode. I like to call it "cooperative solo" because of how you get to play it together as a family, children and parents side-by-side. During our playtests, we realized the game was just perfect for that, the kid holding the GamePad or the 3DS and asking for guidance to daddy or mommy to solve the tricky puzzles.

But of course, if the game is a success, there is clearly room for some true multiplayer co-op mechanisms and the team would be really excited to work on this kind of feature.

NL: In terms of plot, will the game centre around the same story found in the upcoming show, or will it take its own path?

FM: The game is absolutely and definitely following the storyline of the new season. That's why the cinematic cut-scenes and the in-game dialogue bits are so important. It's the story of Esteban, Tao and Zia in their quest for the second city of gold! And that's sacred. But of course, the game fits its own narrative in the various ellipses of the show.

Don't get caught!

NL: One aspect we found interesting about the upcoming release is the inclusion of additional levels that will unlock as the TV show progresses. Can you give us a few more details on how that will work?

FM: Well, at first, that was more of a constraint imposed on us by the animated series producers to avoid any spoilers. But with time it has become a feature that I am particularly fond of. As the series unfolds on TV, so does the game! Technically, it's all very simple, updates will be released regularly through patches, to unlock the new levels for free.

NL: And finally, should the Kickstarter campaign be successful, will the localised versions be released at the same time as the French adaptation?

FM: We will do everything we can to make this happen. To be honest, the first days of the Kickstarter campaign will be very decisive for us, and if we feel that things are going well and that our funding goal will indeed be reached then we will start working on the localisation even before the end date of the campaign so that international fans can play the game at the same time French fans do.

We'd like to thank Fleur Marty for her time. Mysterious Cities of Gold: Secret Paths is still in development, but Ynnis Interactive has shown us some exclusive footage, which you can see below. Of course, it's not the finished version, but let us know what you think of it in the comment section, while you can check out the Kickstarter campaign if you feel so inclined.