[Developer Musings] What’s your favorite Nintendo game? Three independent game creators chime in
Posted on July 27, 2014 by Brian(@NE_Brian) in Developer Musings, Features, General Nintendo
I don’t think many people could pick a single “favorite” Nintendo game; most of us end up picking a top three or top five in a desperate attempt to include every game we’ve ever found truly special.
Here at Nintendo Everything, though, our interview subjects get no such privilege. We asked three developers– Black Forest Games, The Game Bakers, and Adam Rippon from Muteki Corporation and Choice Provisions– to provide for us two games: first, their favorite Nintendo-published game of all time. A tough task, no doubt, but on top of that? A second question! We also asked for their favorite non-Nintendo game on a Nintendo platform.
Could you pick just two? Check out the answers we got in below for inspiration– you might be surprised at some of the answers.
(Unsure as to what Developer Musings is about? Check out our first entry here for an explanation.)
Stefan Schmitz – Black Forest Games
Previous Works: Black Forest Games is a fairly new studio, so the developer hasn’t put out too many titles thus far. Nintendo fans should recognize Black Forest for its Wii U eShop title Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams.
Upcoming Games: Black Forest just released DieselStormers this month. The studio now hopes to bring the game to additional platforms, which should hopefully include Wii U.
Favorite Nintendo Game: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Why? First of all because it was daring at the time. Nintendo kept most of what makes a Zelda Game a Zelda Game, but instead of keeping strictly to the formula of A Link to the Past or Ocarina of Time they tried a lot of very creative things to evolve the IP. Wind Waker had a unique and gorgeous art style that worked in perfect harmony with the spirit of the game. The story was brilliant, easy enough to digest by most audiences, and still deep enough to keep the player engaged until the very end. I especially loved that the princess for the first time in a Zelda game was a real fully fleshed out character. While in the previous games Zelda always is a mysterious damsel in distress, in Wind Waker she was a daring pirate. She was sassy, she was impulsive, she was proud, beneath the surface one could see her kindness, her loyalty toward people she held dear and so much more. Sadly that ends when she is put into the dress and turned into the classical a damsel in distress plot device, but yeah – that character rocked! Also the combat and the interaction with the gadgets found throughout the game are worth a special mention in this game. The camera handling– the controls and the execution in general– were a testament to the great craftsmanship and big efforts Nintendo put into this vital parts of the game making it a floating, challenging and overall fun experience. All that makes the Wind Waker to a Zelda that outshines many other titles among the series due to its wonderful, harmonious composition of all important aspects from sound and music, over the graphics and game systems to the story – everything fits together perfectly. This makes The Wind Waker my Number one favorite Nintendo Game of all times.
Favorite Non-Nintendo Game on a Nintendo Platform: Mega Man X (Rockman X)
Why? The way the character is introduced into the game mechanics and core gameplay feature within the opening stage is a milestone of tutorial design. The balance between everything the player control from jumping over dashing to using weapons is extremely well balanced, making it a masterpiece among the action platformer games out there. For its time the presentation of the narrative was engaging and well presented. Finally the idea how the players actions would affect the world added an additional twist and layer to the way how the player was progressing through the game. (If the player, for example, kills Storm Eagle at the airport stage, the boss’s aircraft crashes into the power plant level. By crashing there, makes vital changes to the power level design change: The harmful sparks were removed, the mid-level mini boss was nerved and some passages got more difficult due to black outs.) It is basically THE one game that sparked my wish to join the industry and develop games myself.
Emeric Thoa – The Game Bakers
Previous Works: The Game Bakers has released Squids Wild West, Squids, Combo Crew, and Squids Odyssey. The latter title is available now on the Wii U and 3DS eShops!
Upcoming Games: We’ll let you know as soon as we find out!
Favorite Nintendo Game: Super Punch Out!!
There are games that you inevitably come back to every year or so. Either you dig out your old Super NES from the attic, or you download the ROM on some emulator, but there’s an empty afternoon every year where you just have to play this game, once more. Super Punch Out!! is one of those games for me. It’s a niche game from Nintendo that is brilliantly executed. I admire this game both as a gamer and as a designer.
The game perfectly captures the epic-ness of a manga-style boxing adventure. You’re Little Mac, a young challenger competing for a boxing world title, and you’ll face archetypes of boxers amazingly portrayed. The pixel art is gorgeous, the animation hilarious, and the button mashing for getting up after a KO totally gets the challenge of lifting yourself up after a knockdown.
Game design-wise, it’s super smart. It turns a sport simulation into an arcade series of boss fights. Each “boss” has his own learning curve, for which you’ll need to learn the timing of all the anticipation and recover animations. As usual with Nintendo, the controls are super simple and easy to learn, but the game’s deeper than it looks if you start caring about the score. Each new game will give you a new opportunity to KO the opponent within 30 seconds, which seems impossible in the first run. Finally, it’s admirable that there is almost no AI in this game. The bosses’ predictability is part of the design and that’s what makes it fun, a bit like in an old-school shoot’em up. The game’s not about simulating boxing, it’s about learning a partition and replaying it perfectly. If you’re more into Guitar Hero than FIFA, Super Punch Out!! is made for you.
Favorite Non-Nintendo Game on a Nintendo Platform: Resident Evil 4
Oh, man, I wish Capcom would sign another deal like the famous “Capcom Five” they did with Nintendo at the beginning of the GameCube era. It’s the deal that gave birth to P.N.03, Killer7, Viewtiful Joe and Resident Evil 4. The fifth one was killed because of the poor performance of the GameCube, but the other four were all super edgy games with great production values. Games that I wish Capcom would make again today. As a developer, I can assure you, there is a strong relation between an exclusivity deal and the quality of the game. Aiming for a cross platform release is HARD, and it’ll require you to make compromises that will hurt the game’s quality.
Resident Evil 4 is not a game where the developers made compromises. They didn’t try to please everyone, and that’s what makes it the best action-adventure game of all time, in my opinion. It has a stupid story, laughable characters, questionable puzzles, bad tutorials, and controls that people either love or hate. But every feature, every effort from the team, was made with one objective: to create stressful, action-survival gameplay. The game offers a huge variety of environments and enemies, all more stressful than the last (although, let’s give the crown to the chainsaw guy). Once you’ve finished the game, you’ll unlock the Pro mode that’s the *real* game. Now zombies don’t stop 3 meters away from you to let you shoot them, they’ll run until they get you. This change of pace makes it a whole new game. And once you’re done with that, the Mercenary mode is the perfect arcade game mode. Where have bonus modes gone in the last generation of games? Who even does that anymore? Resident Evil 4 is one of the last AAA games of its kind—one with all the strengths and weaknesses of an old arcade game, but with modern production values and learning curve.
(Yep, you could say I’m a bit excited by The Evil Within, Shinji Mikami’s upcoming survival horror!)
Adam Rippon – Muteki/Choice Provisions
Previous Works: With Muteki, Adam has worked on Dragon Fantasy I and II. Both are planned for the 3DS eShop.
Upcoming Games: Adam is currently working with Choice Provisions on Woah Dave!, which you’ll be seeing on the 3DS eShop in the near future.
Favorite Nintendo Game: For the Frog the Bell Tolls (Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru)
My favorite Nintendo game is a seriously tough question! I think I’ll have to say my absolute favorite Nintendo game is Mother 3. That game made my cold, black heart me feel ways about things that I didn’t know I could feel. It is a work of art, and I love it dearly. That said, it’s pretty well-covered territory! Everyone knows about Mother 3, and if they don’t, starmen.net has said everything I could say about it, and they’ve said it better. So, I’m gonna focus instead on my favorite obscure Nintendo game, which is For the Frog the Bell Tolls, or Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru as it is known in Japan.
For the Frog was made in 1992, the year before The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. It’s pretty obvious by looking at the game that it was made by many members of the same team. However, the game plays very differently from Link’s Awakening. For the Frog is much more of a strategic puzzle game, with fully-automatic battles that you generally can only win if you have found the correct set of equipment. So, rather than defeating a boss based on your physical skill, the challenge is in solving the puzzles necessary to get the equipment to defeat said boss. Regular enemies abound too, of course, and the challenge is generally to pick and choose your battles wisely.
I spent a few weeks playing it from start to finish on my GBA SP (the fancy backlit one) last month, and I absolutely adored it. The game is fun, the story is cute, and the humor is extremely weird and japanese – just like I like ’em! Unfortunately, my GBA met its demise shortly after I finished the game when it fell off my wife’s bass amp and the body shattered. I’m rebuilding it, of course, but to have the last game played in my GBA be For the Frog was pretty alright with me! Getting to play a semi-secret piece of Nintendo history is a treat!
Favorite Non-Nintendo Game on a Nintendo Platform: Soul Blazer
As for my favorite non-Nintendo game on a Nintendo platform, I’m in a similar boat as I was with Mother 3. I’m obsessed with the Super Nintendo to this day, and I ought to say Chrono Trigger is my favorite. Chrono Trigger is an amazingly well-constructed game even to this day, but it’s been discussed to death. Aside from boring technical details about how the game works, there’s not much I can add to that conversation. Heck, everything on the SNES is pretty well covered by now… but I want to talk about Soul Blazer anyway!
Sweet Master, I love Soul Blazer. It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend it. Take equal parts Gauntlet, Zelda, and The Sims, and you’ve got Soul Blazer. It’s the kind of game that probably shouldn’t exist, but thankfully the good people at Quintet were feeling highly experimental in the 90’s. Somehow they managed to pull off an RPG with an arcade soul. The action is fast, the magic is simple, and you basically have no choice but to hunt down and kill every single monster in the game. And when you do, they’re *dead*, and that’s pretty much that! It gives you a huge sense of accomplishment, unlike every single other RPG I can think of where the enemies just keep coming no matter what. In fact, I like that feeling so much that I’m gonna write down a quick note to do that in the future!
Soul Blazer kicked off a semi-unofficial trilogy of games including Illusion of Gaia and Terranigma, but I’ve always had the most fun with Soul Blazer. Quintet’s unusual design philosophy also gave us Actraiser and Robotrek, and their influence can be seen in games like the Dark Cloud series on PS2, but the company itself mostly disappeared by the early 2000s. I have no idea what happened to the company or the people who worked there, although I suppose it’s possible they all sold their souls to Deathtoll in order to have such an amazing run of games in such a short period of time!
Nintendo Everything would like to thank Stefan Schmitz, Emeric Thoa, and Adam Rippon for their valuable insight and for taking the time to contribute to our feature.
Check out more entries in the Developer Musings series here!
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