PlatinumGames certainly hasn't been shy about the project's existence, but today it finally unveiled the Kickstarter campaign for The Wonderful 101 Remastered. Crowdfunding commences today and runs through until next month with the Nintendo Switch version due this April - if the campaign is successful - with stretch goals in place for PC and PS4 versions as well as additional content. Even better, if you pledge 11,000 JPY or more Hideki Kamiya will Tweet at you and then block you forever.
The Wonderful 101 Remastered is set to be PlatinumGames' first self-published project, and marks a return to a fan favourite that was first a Wii U exclusive published by Nintendo. "Nintendo's kindness has allowed us to expand to other platforms," an official statement from PlatinumGames said about the new project. Last year we took the chance to speak to Atsushi Inaba and Hideki Kamiya to talk about The Wonderful 101 Remastered, and what it means for PlatinumGames' future.
I guess the first question would be why is now, almost 13 years into PlatinumGames' existence, the time to start self-publishing?
Inaba: As a matter of fact, we've always wanted to self-publish. It's just simply that, as a developer, we didn't have the ability to do such a thing, so we continued making games. Thankfully those games have been quite well-received. With this particular opportunity, a lot of things came together so the timing made sense: the fact that we wanted to revisit The Wonderful 101, the fact that Nintendo gave us the okay to do this. So we're taking it upon ourselves to self-publish, and we figured crowdfunding would be the way to do this.
You've not been shy about wanting to return to The Wonderful 101 - I think it's been teased for well over a year, and it's good to see it finally happening. Was it an option to do this with Nintendo, or did you always want to self-publish?
Inaba: The Wonderful 101 wasn't quite the success that we wanted, or that got the success it deserved. It's a game we've really got confidence in, and it's always been something we wanted to revisit. We spoke to Nintendo and said it wasn't a success - and Nintendo said if you don't think it's a success, go ahead and we'll let you do what you want with it. So all the pieces came together and crowdfunding was the way to go - we couldn't do it ourselves and need support from the fans. The other aspect was we were very interested in putting it on other platforms, not just the Nintendo Switch - so there will be stretch goals to put it on other platforms. As those hopefully get attained, there will be other things involved including additional content.
I love The Wonderful 101, but it was very much coupled with the Wii U hardware and the GamePad. How are you going to go about decoupling that?
Kamiya: For the newer versions, in the case of the Switch it will retain a lot of the same features such as drawing the moves on the pad, so that's the same. On the original Wii U it was a dualscreen, and it'll obviously be one screen now. In the original game the subscreen was fixed in the lower right hand corner - I'd like to add a feature to move that around and change the size of it. There's a lot of detailed technical things I'd like to adjust too - I've got a list of the things I've always wanted to change that I wasn't quite satisfied with in the original. Being able to revisit the game has allowed us to make those fine-tuned adjustments. In the case of PlayStation 4 where you can't draw on the screen - you can do the moves on the stick like in the original, and I actually prefer the stick mode. In terms of the contents, it's one of our larger games, so we're happy with how it is. It's not the case that we want to add more content - we just want to make it more user-friendly.
Another thing is that The Wonderful 101 was Nintendo published and there were lots of subtle references to Nintendo IP throughout. Is that going to have to change now this is on non-Nintendo platforms?
Kamiya: [laughs] That's a very good question! You're very sharp. That's a very good point. Until the game is released you'll have to wait and find out.
That's fair enough! What's the timescale on this? A lot of the content is obviously there.
Inaba: The campaign will run for a month - if it's a success we'll go into making the game. We've already been working on the planning and that's finished. We don't have an exact date or timeline at this point, but as the core is already there we want people to know we don't expect it to take very long, and furthermore it'd be rude to the backers if it took too long.
In terms of how much you need to raise - is it on a smaller scale than if this was a completely new game?
Inaba: It's not a crowdfunding effort for a completely new project so it's not to that extreme. However I'm concerned that there's a lot of risk involved, as a company - even though it's not a new project, it's a new game we have to put our time and effort into, and we don't know if it will succeed or not. But we ourselves are interested in gauging the interest of the fans, which is why we want to do this project, so we can revisit the title and see exactly how much people like this game.
I think people like it a lot! Hopefully it'll be a success.
Kamiya: One of the things that we're looking forward to in this project is that through a crowdfunding effort we can interact with the fans and have everyone unite. Not only do we want to deliver the game to the fans, but as the campaign runs we'll be doing weekly shows and things like that and be in the spotlight a bit and interacting with fans. So we're looking forward to everyone coming together and helping make this a reality.
When it comes to self-publishing - it's something you've alluded to in the past, and it's good to see it finally happen. Where does it go from here with other PlatinumGames' titles in the future?
Inaba: That's an important question. The fact of the matter is we're going a different route with this effort than we normally do. At this point we don't know if it'll succeed or not - we hope it will! It'll all be dependent on the success of this project. We're confident we'll get the support of our fans, and if it is a success - initially we'll focus on this project, and then depending on the success we'll move forward and we'll look to continue self-publishing activity in the future.
I wanted to ask Kamiya-san - The Wonderful 101 was his last project as director. Has his role evolved within the company? I know he's taken on a tutor role to several younger directors.
Kamiya: It was the last game I directed - but my role is chief game designer, so I'm involved in all the PlatinumGames projects that have come out. One of my main roles is to look at the quality of the games in an advisory role. I understand that The Wonderful 101 was the last game I directed - but I want people to know that I haven't retired!
When you start talking to the fans, something I'm sure that will come up a lot is Scalebound as people do still talk about that. With PlatinumGames going the self-publishing route, is that something you've spoken to Microsoft about that could be picked up again?
Inaba: Again that's a good question! But that was 100 per cent a Microsoft-owned IP. Whatever happens with this project, we really can't do anything with it - unless Microsoft gives us the go-ahead. But it's a game that we're passionate about and do love - and if the opportunity does arise it's something we'd love to return to.
Are there any other games in your library you'd like to return to via self-publishing, or could it be an opportunity to build new IP?
Inaba: Moving forward we'd like to focus on newer games rather than older ones, so there's not really any we'd like to return to.
Is crowdfunding going to be something you'd like to return to after this?
Inaba: This is an original case - it's not so much the case that we're saying hey we need money. It's more saying hey everyone let's come together and make this project a reality. So moving forward there's no thought of needing to crowdfund and doing it again - this is just a particular case. But if in the future there's a similar case where crowdfunding makes sense, it's an option we'll consider.
Okay, as we're wrapping up this is a purely selfish question. If you do want to go via crowdfunding again in the future, could you have a word with Konami and speak to them about making a Gradius game? I know Kamiya-san's a big fan of the series and it's my dream to see him work on a Gradius 6 - if you make that happen I'll personally reach into my pockets. Hey, I'd sell my house. What can we do to make this happen?
Kamiya: I love Gradius! But for me that's the top of the top of the top - what can I do for that series? If I made it I wouldn't be satisfied to play it! There are games I'd like to work on and if I get the opportunity to work on those I'd take the chance to be involved.
I'm sure it'd be awesome - thank you so much for your time, and thank you for the games.