Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD devs talk new modes, making the game easier, glitches, and why the time is ripe for a remake
Posted on July 20, 2019 by Oni Dino(@Oni_Dino) in News, Switch
In addition to talking about remaking the Wii version for modern consoles, could you tell us what aspects of the game you’re focusing on?
Shirosaki: Players used the Wii Remote to control in the original version, but this upcoming release will use the respective console’s controller instead. And since the gameplay experience can be different even on the same course, we’ve made adjustments to optimize each console. Also, this game is more than 10 years old by now, so we consulted with our designers to rework the UI to mesh with modern visual aesthetics. We’re really developing this to be a full on remake.
Have there been any particularly difficult aspects during the remake process?
Shirosaki: Well, it seems like a casual game but designing the levels is actually very challenging. We have to make 100 levels of difficulty since there are 100 courses in the main game. So that means the difficulty needs to be integrated into the scale of game’s general world from the very beginning, which is really hard to do. It’s no fun if we make stages that are too easy; on the other end of the spectrum, we can’t create stages that only a select group of skilled players can clear, either. And it’s tough, too, because it’s not like enemies in an RPG where we can simply adjust the stats and numbers. No matter what, we have to balance the difficulty when designing the stages, and that takes a creative mindset and a real know-how for those kinds of things.
Nagoshi: Like Shirosaki said, it might look like a simple game at first glance, but once you consider the layout of the courses and the level design, that’s when you realize it’s a game that puts the creator’s abilities to the test.
Very interesting. Did you consider all of this when playing the original version, Mr. Shirosaki?
Shirosaki: I did. After playing the original, I could really empathize with the dev team on how they must’ve gone through so much trial and error. The stuff they pulled off in the latter half of the stages was outstanding – each stage had like 3 obstacles built in. Even if I was excited after clearing the first obstacle, I thought about how incredible my failures were, too. I was even impressed when I got caught in traps.
In addition to remaking Banana Blitz, you’ll also be adding new features like “Time Attack Mode” and leaderboards. Could you tell us how you came up with them?
Shirosaki: After development kicked off, I wondered how people had been playing the original version, so I decided to look into it. I found out that there were players who would beat stages with clear times and techniques that the developers didn’t expect. There were even people who explained how to do these “Time Attack” methods on video sharing websites. We mulled over what features to create that would quell passionate fans like these, and that’s how we came up with “Time Attack Mode”. And then the leaderboards were just an obvious inclusion that made sense when paired with “Time Attack Mode”. We were able to add these components relatively simply thanks to the added power of modern consoles, so it was a no-brainer.
What about glitches or unintended tricks that players have used strategically in the original game… Have you left them in?
Shirosaki: I think it’s more fun if the player can use different methods than the technically correct ones. So long as they’re not theoretically problematic, I think being able to clear stages in different ways like that adds an extra layer of depth to the game. It’s almost like a battle of wits between the player and developer – it’s cool, right? Setting aside whether I can do them or not, I think part of the charm of this game is kind of romantically intrinsic to characteristics like those.
So in Banana Blitz HD, while you’ll be adding in new features and leaving in ones that passionate fans enjoy, you’ll also be balancing the difficulty for those who are brand new to the game. Is that right?
Shirosaki: That’s correct. We’re making the beginning stages easy to beat, however the latter stages are giving our developers a real run for their money. When I finally cleared all the stages in the game, I shouted, “YES!” (embarrassed laughter) I didn’t even realize. I really think players are going to get a great sense of accomplishment when they try the game out.
Wow, we can’t wait! In addition to “Time Attack Mode”, you’ll also be adding a new “Decathlon Mode”, too. Could you tell us how this came about?
Shirosaki: We put together 10 different mini-games but we thought it was kind of a shame that they could only be played in multiplayer mode. So we tried to figure out a different style of play that used all the mini-games, and that’s how “Decathlon Mode” came to be. It’s a mode where the player challenges themselves to beat 10 mini-games in a row. We can’t share any further details just yet, but there are going to be a lot of hidden features in there, so please look forward to future announcements.
Nagoshi: I think fans will really “go bananas” for the gameplay and the price of ‘Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD. I’m very happy that this is a new opportunity for as many people as possible to play the game.
Translation provided by Oni Dino on behalf of Nintendo Everything.
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