American publisher Nicalis has been around for longer than you might think, and has recently gained recognition for its efforts to publish physical versions of Switch games with extra treats for fans. Such goodies often include delightful trinkets such as soundtrack CDs or retro inspired instruction manuals; Nicalis is collaborating with developers both young and old to keep physical games sought after, and that's something worth celebrating.
Another thing that's worth celebrating is the fact that Nicalis has published the legendary Ikaruga on Switch recently. Treasure's seminal shooter originally launched on the Sega Dreamcast before being ported to the GameCube, and is considered to be one of the best examples of the genre thanks to its tight gameplay, unique colour-based mechanics and dark, brooding visuals.
We were lucky enough to have a quick chat with Nicalis founder and president, Tyrone Rodriguez recently, and probed him on a wide range of topics - including the prospect of more Treasure titles on Switch. Enjoy.
Nintendo Life: When and how did Nicalis start?
Tyrone Rodriguez: Nicalis officially began in 2007 and unofficially began in 2006 with consulting work in console and mobile game development. Over the last 10 or so years, we’ve gradually increased the size of our game projects and have developed or published games on every Nintendo console since the Wii, with games like Cave Story+, 1001 Spikes and The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+.
You've gained a solid reputation when it comes to releasing physical games on Switch. How have these been received?
We've been incredibly happy with the reception from our fans and players with our physical Switch releases. The entire purpose of existence for our retail line and games was to bring back that feeling of being a kid, of opening up a game for the first time and getting that magical feeling when you find whatever pack-ins were included - particularly in the 16-bit era. That experience has been missing for a very long time and it seemed like the perfect time to try to rekindle that spirit. The response from fans has really motivated us to do the best job we possibly can on these.
Outside of your boxed games, the welcome release of Ikaruga has put Nicalis in the headlines. How did the collaboration with Treasure come about?
Collectively, there are a lot of fans of [Treasure founder and CEO] Mr Maegawa and Treasure's work at the office, including myself. Ikaruga stands as one of my personal top games of all time. It's timeless and it seemed like the appropriate time to bring the game back to a Nintendo console. We contacted Mr Maegawa about teaming up and he was very receptive and positive about working with fans of his work.
How do these collaborations happen generally?
Most of our collaborations have been with developers we know or have worked with previously, or just met through introductions. Occasionally, we'll contact a developer or publisher we really respect and want to work with and, through our collaboration, we determine if there is a match and if the timing is right for both sides.
Are there any more classic collaborations in the works or any favourites you'd like to bring back? Radiant Silvergun on Switch would be amazing...
Within our team, there are probably hundreds of classic and timeless games we'd like to collaborate on, but we're always listening to fan requests, too. I’m sure everyone reading this can recall one of their favourite games and how excited they would be if they could play it on their current platform of choice.
When you say Ikaruga, it's natural to also think of Radiant Silvergun. Have you discussed bringing that title to Switch with Treasure?
I love all Treasure games and Radiant Silvergun is among them. The conversation with Treasure about it has come up in passing, but they said they’d prefer to see how Ikaruga sells before making any decisions.
Do you think you'll work with Treasure on other titles, and what are the chances of them coming to Switch?
It'd be a huge honor to work with Treasure again, but whether or not we do, I'd be happy just seeing more new and old games from Treasure again. As far as the chances, it depends on each game because a lot of their previous games are owned by the publishers who funded those projects.
What's your take on the rise in digital media in the face of the seemingly timeless demand for physical releases?
Our office is full of people who make games for a living, but they also live and breathe games. We are the same group of players that we read about and interact with online. Like us, many players prefer to buy games as something tangible that they can touch and feel and have forever, well beyond the lifespan of their current favourite game console. It's that paradigm shift into digital that is also keeping physical releases alive and well, even if it’s in a different way.
What's the selection process regarding your boxed titles and extra materials you choose to include?
We look at a variety of factors before determining if a specific game makes sense for us and for the developer. First off, so far, our games have been priced at $40 or less, so that’s a consideration, especially when at retail. We also look at packaging options and if there is something unique we can do for a physical version or if it will be a digital-only offering. And lastly, it has to be something we’d personally want to play. As mentioned previously, we have a lot of fans in the office and a lot of fans online that we interact with. If something strikes the right chord internally and we hear about similar excitement online, there’s a good chance that it will with others, too.
What's in the pipeline for Nicalis?
We’re always looking for great new games to bring to our fans, and we’re constantly developing our own original game prototypes internally. That said, there isn’t anything new to announce right now, even if I really want to! Just wait though - maybe one of your old (or new) favourite games is coming up next.
We would like to thank Tyrone for his time.
Well, if they're taking fan requests... I'll take ports of Bangai-O and Guardian Heroes. Thanks!
If they’re always listening to fan requests, well, i have one. Some info on 90’s Arcade Racer. Please.
Listening to fans? Then work something out to release your games outside of the states. My one biggest problem with them (aside the premium pricing).
You guys should of spoke to them about that.
Been one of those publishers, like Team17, who have really shown the switch a lot of support and should be commended for that. The quality of the games have also been generally excellent.
@Gen0neD Same I want to know more about stop hiding it Nicalis.
In the spirit of Treasure releases, how bout Sin and Punishment 2? Toss in Ikaruga as a physical release and do it as a Treasure line of retail releases.
@BraveLilac Agreed and we can always vote for fair price with our wallets - Cave Story is ridiculously overpriced imo. They will definitely get my money when I see it for around the £14 - £17 mark. If that doesn't happen - I won't have Cave Story on my Switch. Simple as that. I feel the same about some other games. For me DK TF for instance should be £35 same as Treasure Tracker. The are both re-release Wii U Ports so why the huge difference. DK TF will be mine - in about a year when a sales makes it the price I think it should be now. It's just an opinion - but thats how it works. Nicalis needs to have a damn good look at there pricing.
@JaxonH afaik, even though Treasure worked on the series Nintendo owns the rights to Sin and Punishment, so I don't think that would be able to happen (at least if Nicalis were to publish it)
They need to fix the pricing on eShop. But Sin and Punishment would be great.
Ikaruga had a good price and will keep match with the Sony PSN store price moving forward.
Honestly these guys are the best at releasing physical versions, they put the big companies to shame. These guys get it (at least for me) I want a color manual with my physical game. What ever company started the trend of no manuals in the case needs to be beaten.
Pssst! Hey Tyrone here’s a request: 90’s Arcade GP!!!!! Where the heck is it?? Thanks
I could never understand the fan praise behind Treasure shoot-em-ups to be honest. They look nice and are well made and all but they can be some of the more overly difficult examples of the genre. I guess it has that Dark Souls kinda allure for hardcore gamers, but I always preferred other games from the genre.
Sin & Punishment as an IP is owned by Nintendo. It's not just a title developed by Treasure, Nintendo had a lot of impact on the game's development. Nintendo aren't likely to let Nicalis handle it. Besides it's not like Sin & Punishment had not been re-released twice already, both on Wii and Wii U. Other Treasure titles wouldmake much better choices and Radiant Silvergun being so pricey as a Saturn release and having never appeared on a Nintendo system before makes the perfect candidate IMHO.
I would love to see those Xbox 360 remakes they released around 2011, like Radiant Silvergun, Bangai-O and Guardian Heroes.
@Yorumi Sounds like most well made examples of the genre, but Treasure games are still a lot more difficult to play. I guess it's just one of those things that attracts a really hardcore fanbase.
Radiant Silvergun and/or a Sin & Punishment collection would be simply amazing. Nicalis has been a strong supporter of the Switch thus far. Easily one of my favorite publishers, along with NIS America, THQ Nordic, and Square Enix. I look forward to several years worth of Switch physical releases from Nicalis.
Tyrone Rodriguez also made an appearance on IGN's podcast, NVC, a week ago. The last third of the podcast covered the upcoming game Crystal Crisis.
Could they convince/work with BitFinity Games to put Tadpole Treble on Switch? Witha physical copy too? I'd kill for that.
@Yorumi They just seem like another From Software IMO, a developer that has fans of their particular take on hardcore gaming, but you sort of need to be the kind of hardcore gamer they aim their games at to enjoy them.
Let us stop messing about here. Nicalis, work with Treasure and deliver The Complete Treasure Collection (minus the licensed game because I am a practical guy) everyone deserves.
@RudyC3 Totally agree with you people need to read your comment and ask for Radiant Silvergun not Sin and punishment that would be Nintendo job
Radiant Silver Gun and Bangai-o please Nicalis. Be attitude for gains.
A physical release of Ikaruga and a Switch version of Radiant Silvergun would be nice. I'd also like a Bangai-O Trilogy Collection.
The Bangai-O game on 360 (HD Missle Fury) was a new game, not a remaster of the N64/Dreamcast game.
My life would be complete if i could get my hands on Mischief Makers. One of a handful of N64 games I never got to play. Please Nicalis...
Any insight on RedOUt?!? It is a huge stain on its rep IMHO . . . .
Bangaio collection please.
But seriously, bring all their games to the Switch if at all possible.
Really hope they deliver on this. Treasure has such an amazing catalog: Guardian Heroes, Radiant Silvergun, Mischief Makers, Sin and Punishment — I want to see all these make the Switch!
I would love a Sin and Punishment HD Collection re-release that includes both the original and Star Successor for Switch. A Gunstar Heroes HD collection (that include the Genesis, Game Gear and GBA games) would be nice too.
Hoping for more Treasure on Switch.
As far as I remember digital and physical copys do have to be priced the same (Nintendo's Idea) making it so some games to have to be more expensive or they will have to take more of a loss with each physical copy sold, unless something has changed with how Nintendo is doing things with the Switch which I didn't hear about.
I totally get it, but with online shopping and the Switch being region free, I also totally get why a publisher wouldn't lower the digital price until physcal reprints are no longer viable.
@Shiryu Do you know the list of titles in Treasure’s control?
That list would be VERY short, basically just Ikaruga, Radiant Silvergun, the Bangai-O series and poblably Silhouette Mirage.
I'm not sure about Mischief Makers and Rakugaki Showtime, but think they are owned by Square Enix.
@JayJ You can set the difficulty in Ikaruga. Not counting the Easy/Normal/Difficult setting you choose when starting a new game, you can also go to Options to make more choices. The standard setting is three lives, no continues, but you can change the number of lives and continues. You can even set the game to Free to play, meaning you have unlimited continues and always start directly where you died last time, practically making you invinsible. If you go with the unlimited setting, you'll sooner or later want to try other settings as it becomes too easy.
But I agree. It's a hard as hell game.
And I love Nicalis btw!
@NinChocolate Not all of them at the top of my head this late on a Friday night, but everythign that isnt lincsed or co-developed with other companies would be fair game. Their original IPs (Gunstars, Guardian, Sin & Punishment, etc, etc)
@JaxonH Sin and Punishment is Nintendo’s IP so it’s not likely that they’d have Nicalis publish it.
@Tedikuma guardian heroes Would likely be day one for me if the price was right. Gunstar heroes too.
Sell me Radiant Silvergun. Had the opportunity to buy on 360 but this would be a lot better on switch.
@Gen0neD my thoughts exactly. I wrote them emails on that game, never heard anything back.
@JayJ I've been playing Ikaruga nearly every day since it came out trying to set a high score for our weekly challenge thing. I owned the game when it originally came out but never really played it,couldn't get my head around it so never really gave it a chance. I'm as averaged skilled a gamer as average skills go yet playing it now,I feel like I'm playing one of the best games I've ever played. Once you get past the initial challenge and get your head around how the combo system works you start to realise just how expertly it's all been out together. Every run you feel yourself getting better and more confident to take it it on. Very satisfying to play.
It's leaderboard system is great too ,by far the best on Switch. It has individual leaderboards for each difficulty as well as single stages. So just playing to set a high score over the first 2 stages is a lot of fun. That's what I'm doing now. It lets you download and view replays of other players runs , including friends,which helps massively for taking the game on.
I flip my TV on its side for the extra large TATE mode and it's making an incredible game even better.
I really want Radiant Silvergun, I have it for the Saturn - I picked it up in Japan when it came out - but my Saturn is round my Mum's house and I'd love to have it on the Switch. Along with that HD remake of Guardian Heroes that came out on the Xbox, another game I poured hours into on the Japanese version. Two absolute classics. Or treasures even.
@Quarth Oh wow they finally gave you the ability to have free-play in Ikaruga? That's a first, I have the Gamecube version and the game is tough as nails on that.
I've said this many times, but Bangai-O Spirits for the DS is my favorite game of all time. I adore Treasure. Absolutely anything we can get, I will pay whatever it costs.
Sin and Punishment 3? Mischief Makers 2? It's my wish for every E3.
@JayJ I've only played the Switch port and it has it from the get-go! But did a little research and it seems the GC version has Free to play, but you need to unlock it.
@Quarth I seem to remember freeplay on the GC version only working up until you got to later stages, then you had limited continues. I just remember never being able to beat that game because it always eventually kicked my ass as I got deep in it.
@JayJ That might be correct!
But I think one will get the hang of the game eventually. It's a lot about memorisation and rhythm I guess.
@Pablo17 Totally agree. Nicalis are my favourite publisher. I wabt a 1001 spikes physical.
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