Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat
This series of articles will take a look at the development of Nintendo-published software. These Q&A sessions conducted by Nintendo Online Magazine, and transcribed to English exclusively by N-Sider staff member Anthony JC, come directly from the developers so as to give you a first-hand look at the amount of sweat and blood that goes into Nintendo's most celebrated releases.
Nintendo Co., Ltd. Tokyo Production
Nintendo Co., Ltd. Tokyo Production
Q: How do you feel about the overall development process?
Yoshiaki Koizumi: It was a mix of anger, excitement, panic, happyness, etc.
Takao Shimizu: It was amazing to see the project completed.
Q: Was this game originally intended to be released by the end of the year?
Koizumi: Not at all. Our original schedule was the game was to be completed by the winter. The winter is very vague. I mean, it could have been March.
Shimizu: We were already in heavy production, and when we got the date to meet, we all went crazy. All I could was follow orders.
Q: When we played the game in June, it seemed considerably complete?
Shimizu: Well, the variation of the stages and play mechanics were increased, and there were still several tweaks and adjustments that had to be made. Technically, the basic system was very much complete.
Koizumi: It doesn't seem much different because the Konga is still the major premise. The reviews from E3 were considerably positive, which meant we didn't have to go back to the drawing board which we definitely thought might have been a possibility at some point.
Q: After completion, you can still play the game in various points?
Shimizu: This game can always be played by turning on the power, and just running through a stage. Each stage can be completed within five to ten minutes of play. Recently, several games need a lot of time to play and clearing, and it's easy for one to lose interest. There are also games where it takes you several minutes to even get to any gameplay. I think the form which we chose was a fast complex game.
Q: Much of the press is calling the game a masterpiece. It is great that you built the game so that even during busy times you can sneak in some play time.
Shimizu: Our staff also feels the same way. We are busy most of the time ourselves!
Koizumi: A lot of stress can be accumulated by slow saving and loading times, slow menus. Therefore, I think that this is a game suitable for a busy person's needs.
Shimizu: The play mechanics were made as simple as possible. Our manual writer had an easy job on this one. This game is simple, but it is deep. We wanted to reduce the volume of information, so that it would appeal as a simple game, for even those who are intimidated to play games today.
Q: Tell us about the characters.
Koizumi: All the characters outside of Donkey Kong and the banana are completely original. We don't really feel the past look of Donkey Kong was fresh enough for today. We really gave our new development team the chance to really create something unique and stylish.
Q: There isn't much of a story in this one.
Koizumi: We didn't need a superfluous story for this did we ? (smiles) The only thing Donkey Kong needs is to be the best, and become king of the jungle.
Shimizu: Also there are a lot of locations and scenarios, some really wild stuff in there. So it's better if the player uses his imagination to connect that all together.
Q: What's the first reaction players always give to this game?
Koizumi: Well informed gamers outside, the first impression is "Where is the controller?" Then, it's "Wow, this is fun!"
Q: Talent is still being recruited at the Tokyo Production unit?
Shimizu: Yes, we are looking for more creative people that can invent new characters for Nintendo. We really want to build a strong team here.
Koizumi: Surprise is the key word. Someone who can surprise us, is very good.
Q: How was the game development been up to now in the Tokyo Production Unit?
Shimizu: We all learned from Shigeru Miyamoto. Several of us come from his direct group at Nintendo. Now we have to put all his teachings to use, and do it in our own way. President Iwata always comes here; it always boosts employee moral.
Q: Any final words for the Nintendo fans out there?
Koizumi: Every now and then you have to try something new. This is really a new play experience starring an old friend.
Shimizu: The GameCube is still alive and well - only on this system is Donkey Kong making his triumphant comeback.