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Paper Mario: Color Splash producer on working with Wii U, limited resources in battle, giving Toads personality, more

Posted on September 5, 2016 by (@NE_Brian) in News, Wii U

USGamer recently spoke with Risa Tabata, co-producer of Paper Mario: Color Splash. During the conversation, Tabata talked about topics such as working with Wii U and having more power, limited resources in battle in the form of cards, and giving Toads personality.

Continue on below for some notable excerpts from the interview. For the full talk, visit USgamer.

On having more powerful hardware to work with…

Tabata: Well, I think one factor here is the fact that now it’s on this Wii U hardware and we’re able to present it in HD. Obviously, it’s going to be visually richer. Since it’s “Paper” Mario, we thought, let’s make it really look like it’s made out of paper. We focused a lot on the quality of the paper, making the paper look real… but, obviously, because it’s a Mario game, we want to make it… not exactly fantasy, but to give it a kind of cuteness that’s appropriate for a Mario title. Having those real-word objects come in works like an accent, or punctuation. So, when you have this world that’s made entirely of paper, and you have these real objects, a completely different quality entering in, that jarring sensation has a lot of impact, and it’s also very interesting and funny.

Tabata: As you say, as the hardware’s gotten more powerful we have a lot less limitations. And so, we kind of look at it in new ways — now that we have this extra power, what are the extra things that we can do with it? And so, we’ve focused a lot on the environments, and terrain is very much made in 3D space. So, as you proceed deeper into the level, you’ll have the camera follow you around, and you’ll see how fully realized the environments are. I don’t know if that’s a good answer to your question….

Tabata: I mean, I think the main thing I want to focus on is, when we have new hardware, focus on what are the specific abilities that that new hardware has.

On taking advantage of Wii U…

Tabata: So, I think one thing is that the screen is quite a bit bigger, so you can have more objects there on the screen. It would be really hard to look at all those cards on the much smaller 3DS screen. And so, you have all these things that are right there in your hands, but we were able to make it look a lot more pleasant, be a lot more pleasant user experience.

Also, this isn’t necessarily a difference between the 3DS and the Wii U, but there are different ways that we’re using that technology as well, not just the cards. There’s actually this ability called Cut Out in the game. The concept is you have this 3D world on the screen that you collapse into 2D and bring it down to the gamepad screen. So, you can see a dotted line in the environment as you draw onto that screen. And if you trace along that screen, that line, that actual area of the environment will just peel up and pop out. And so, in that space that you cut out, you might put a card in there, or you might actually put Mario in there, and he’s able to run along and get somewhere he might not normally be able to.

And finally, this is the Wii, so you can play it on your TV, so you can play it on a large screen. You’re able to use the gamepad to get off TV, play as well, and get that kind of feel from right there in your hands.

On what differentiates Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi…

Tabata: So, as you know, the first Paper Mario was very much a role-playing game, and Mario and Luigi is of course also a role-playing game. Yeah… obviously, we have these two RPG series, but they both allow us to offer new and varied experiences to players.

The old Paper Mario games, they were obviously RPGs and had a lot of good elements, but they weren’t just about the RPG elements. They were full of solving puzzles, solving mysteries, the color factor, the visual style. For the Paper Mario series, we’re focusing more on those elements — the puzzle-solving.

On the other hand, the Mario & Luigi RPG series is created more in a 2D space. And obviously, because we have this fully realized 3D world in the Paper Mario games, we’re able to have much more dynamic events, like you saw in the trailer, with the game being rolled up and the camera panning around.

There’s a developer by the name of Taro Kudo who worked on the previous game as well, and he’s been basically the overall director for the story and the dialogue in this game. He’s very very good at coming up with gags and jokes, but he’s also very good at crafting a good story. And I think if you play the game to the end, you may actually cry at the end. We did some test plays and there really were people who cried at the end.

On whether they work closely with the localization teams…

Tabata: As you say, it’s very difficult to translate jokes, so rather than having the localization team just translate Japanese jokes, we worked very closely to make sure that the English writers actually came up with jokes that work in English, jokes that would be funny in this market. And I think the creativity of the localization team is on display. You were laughing [at the dialogue], so I think it worked out.

On limited resources in combat…

Tabata: So, as you kind of touched on, I think the main thing, the basis of what we want to do is provide a unique experience. So, I think when you have a limited number of cards, it kind of increases the depths and extent you have to think. Like, if I have a hammer card — should I use it now, or should I wait until later? But this game has a lot of different cards. If you wanted to look at them in one straight line, it would be giant. And I think, it’s also important that, because they’re cards, and they just have these simple images on them, you look at them once and know exactly what it is, and that’s very important, too.

On giving the Toad characters a personality…

Tabata: So, I wasn’t really involved with the previous title, so I’ll just talk about this one. But I think one thing is that because this is taking place within the greater Mario world, we wanted to focus as much as possible on the familiar Mario characters. All Toads, right? It’s just a bunch of Toads. So, we had to think, if it’s all Toads, how do we make them distinct and give them personality? So, one thing we thought, so, the basic Toad is red, and if they have something different about them, we’ll change the color. And of course, a lot of the personality comes out in text. And so, you can also use the fact that they all look alike as the basis for jokes. So, one thing we’re going to focus on, because we have all those limits, obviously, we’re using all these familiar characters, is: How do we create variety, and how do we create interest?

On what she wants to bring to Paper Mario as this is her first time working on the series…

Tabata: I think because I didn’t have experience in the previous titles, I was able to provide good insight on how to make Color Splash enjoyable for someone who would be new to the series. So, I’m always thinking about what’s new, what can be done that hasn’t been done before. I hope that maybe I’ve been able to come up with some gags or ideas that hadn’t been thought of before. Yeah, I think if you’re always doing the same thing, you don’t really get inspiration to do something new, so that’s what I hope with this.

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