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Dan Adelman

At gamescom last month, Nintendo of Europe conducted an interview with Dan Adelman, a former employee of Nintendo of America and currently the business partner of Thomas Happ, who created the Metroid-like game Axiom Verge, which is out now on Wii U. The full interview can be found here – below are a couple of interesting excerpts from the interview:

Nintendo of Europe: It sounds like Tom had a very strong vision of what he wanted the game to be from the start. For example, the heads-up display in the game is very minimalist in a similar way to Metroid and other retro games. Is that kind of aesthetic part of the design philosophy for this game?

Dan Adelman: Yeah, I think a lot of Tom’s philosophy in terms of game development is about not overloading the player with information. So, for example, when you start out in Axiom Verge, you start off in the middle of a room, and you can try to go either right or left, and this actually takes inspiration from Metroid. You try to go to the right, and you’re blocked, so you have no choice but to go to the left and then, instead of having a tutorial that says, “Go here. Press this button to jump,” you’re basically in a place where you need to jump and you try all the buttons and you figure it out.

I know he put a lot of effort into teaching the player how to play without making it a tutorial, or writing up a lot of text, and so there were only like one or two places where I remember he struggled. When we brought the game to PAX East, we observed people playing the game. There’s one button – the L Button – that you can hold down in order to lock your position and aim in any direction, and at different events there were a lot of people who just didn’t get it. They didn’t pick it up on their own, so that was one instance where Tom actually had to add in a line explaining how to do it.

NoE: Was it tricky to get the difficulty just right? Did you ever find people saying the game was too tough?

DA: Not too many. I think, at shows when people just pick the game up cold and they don’t know anything about it, they’ll fail a lot and give up too easily. I think when people play at home, and they sit down and try to digest it, they’ll learn pretty quickly.

NoE: It’s got a learning curve like all those classic games.

DA: Yeah, like anything else. One thing I actually really like about the game is that, if you take your time as you’re playing it, there’s usually a way to destroy the enemy in a way that means you’re still safe, or just avoid the enemy entirely.

So if you tried to run right through everything and just keep blasting like in Contra, you’ll probably get taken out pretty quickly, but if you think, “Alright, there’s an enemy up ahead. I’m going to climb up on this platform and shoot down on him. He can’t reach me up here!” If you notice those environmental cues, you can actually make things a bit easier on yourself. It’s only later in the game where you have to fight creatures at close-quarters.

NoE: Does Axiom Verge take advantage of Wii U’s unique hardware features in any way?

DA: Yeah, there are a couple of really important ways. My favourite is the fact that the map is on the Wii U GamePad touch screen at all times. I know that the first time I played Axiom Verge, I had to keep pausing the game to see where I needed to go next. A lot of modern games in this genre will just draw an arrow and say, “Go here next, and then go here next,” and it holds your hand. This game doesn’t do that. You figure out where you need to go next by looking at the map and saying, “Oh, where have I not explored yet? Let’s try to get there”. I was constantly going back and forth, and back and forth. Having the map always available makes it very user-friendly. The other feature, of course, is off-TV play, which is very convenient for people who have to share a TV – they’ll still be able to play!



Axiom Verge takes some inspiration from Nintendo’s classic franchise Metroid. The two are very different in the end, but they do have some similarities in the gameplay department.

Interestingly, a Samus costume was proposed for Axiom Verge that would have been included in the Wii U version. Dan Adelman, who is handling the business-side of things for creator Tom Happ, said in a Reddit AMA that Nintendo “ultimately had to decide not to give us permission to do that” following “a lot of internal discussion”.

Adelman’s full words:

“We would have loved to have a secret code to have Trace where a Samus costume. Some people inside Nintendo really liked the idea, but after a lot of internal discussion, they ultimately had to decide not to give us permission to do that. I think the idea that someone could play the entire game of Axiom Verge looking like Samus Aran was too big of a concern for them.

There is a similar kind of callback, though. If you type JUSTIN BAILEY into the passcode tool, it has Trace in a leotard, just like in Super Metroid.”

By the way, Happ commented on whether an Axiom Verge amiibo was ever considered. He noted that they didn’t pursue it “since it’s an out of pocket cost that probably wouldn’t cover itself.”


At E3, Axiom Verge creator Tom Happ said he was looking into a potential 3DS port. That’s something which still hasn’t been ruled out, but technical challenges could prevent it from happening.

Dan Adelman, who has worked with Happ, was asked by Nintendo World Report for another update on Axiom Verge possibly coming to 3DS at Gamescom last week. Here’s the latest on that front:

“We would love to, but we’re looking into the technical feasibility. Even though the graphics/artstyle is very retro-looking, there’s actually a lot that’s technically going on under the hood. It’s always funny when people look at it and say ‘Oh, you could run that on the NES’, and I laugh because there’s no way you could run that on a NES. It really pushes the Wii U hardware. We’re investigating what it would take to bring it to the 3DS. We probably wouldn’t be able to, if we were able to do it at all, there would have to be some compromises made. We don’t know what those compromises would be, and if it’s not going to be a great experience we don’t want to do it. We’re looking into it now, if I had a magic wand and could make it play perfectly on the 3DS, absolutely we’d love to do it.”

Axiom Verge is coming to Wii U on September 1. According to Happ, it’ll be the game’s best version.


Dan Adelman was formally Nintendo of America’s head of digital content and development. He left the company in 2014, and went on to work with Tom Happ on Axiom Verge.

While Adelman is still occupied with Axiom Verge, he’s also involved with two more projects: Chasm and Mages of Mystralia. Chasm seems like a lock for Nintendo platforms, with Adelman mentioning that the team would love to see a release there “as quickly as possible.” Mages of Mystralia’s platforms haven’t been determined, but Adelman said: “suffice it to say I keep my old friends at Nintendo up to speed on the game’s development progress.”

Here’s the full rundown on both games from Adelman:

I’m working on 3 games right now. First, of course, is Axiom Verge! The next game that will be coming out is Chasm. Like Axiom Verge, Chasm is a Metroidvania-style game, but the similarities end there. To the extent that Axiom Verge is more Metroid-like, Chasm is more akin to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, in that it has a bigger focus on melee combat, RPG-style character development, and gear that you can equip. But also, like Axiom Verge, comparisons to its inspiration can only go so far, because there are a lot of things that Chasm does that make it quite different from anything else out there. For example, the world map is procedurally generated, so the game will have nearly infinite replayability. Right now it’s targeted for a PC and PS4 launch for technical reasons, but we’d love to bring it to Nintendo platforms as quickly as possible.

The third game I’m working on is called Mages of Mystralia, which I think is most easily described as Harry Potter meets Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. In it, you play as a girl named Zia who discovers she has magic abilities. Magic has been outlawed, so she goes into exile to master the ways of magic and learn how to design her own spells. She crafts spells to fight enemies as well as solve environmental puzzles along the way. The story is being written by legendary fantasy author Ed Greenwood, so the gameplay and story should be equally compelling! We haven’t announced any platforms yet, but suffice it to say I keep my old friends at Nintendo up to speed on the game’s development progress.


Nintendo has expressed interest in having Axiom Verge on its platforms. That’s according to Dan Adelman, who is handling business and PR for the title.

When asked by Game Informer if Nintendo has reached out positively or negatively regarding Axiom Verge’s Metroid Influence, Adelman said:

They’ve been nothing but great. They’ve been congratulatory. I’m going to go out to lunch with a couple of my old coworkers sometime next week. They’d like to have it on a platform, so that’s something we want to work towards.

The Axiom Verge developer is definitely interested in making a Wii U version happen. Adelman said in March that they “would love to bring it to Nintendo platforms at some point and we’re looking at ways we might want to do that.” The main issue that needs to be overcome is Wii U’s incompatibility with the MonoGame development software, which is what Axiom Verge was created with. There are two options at the moment to make it happen: either Wii U needs MonoGame support, or the game will need to be redone in C++.

Axiom Verge would seem like the perfect fit on Wii U. The action-adventure game, which launches on PlayStation 4 later this month and other platforms down the line, is a true Metroidvania experience.

The team behind Axiom Verge does have interest in bringing Axiom Verge to Wii U. Dan Adelman, who is handling business and PR for the title, told NintendoWorldReport:

We obviously would love to bring it to Nintendo platforms at some point and we’re looking at ways we might want to do that. Because of some technical reasons and the way the game was designed, it will take a little bit of time to get it ported over, so we’re looking into what that will cost us and how long it will take but that’s something we definitely are considering.

The main issue surrounding a possible Axiom Verge Wii U port is the console’s incompatibility with MonoGame development software. We had heard towards the end of 2013 that the tool was coming to Wii U, but that actually hasn’t happened after all. In order to make a Wii U version of Axiom Verge possible, MonoGame needs to be supported on Wii U, or the title would need to be ported to C++.


Dromble published a fantastic interview with Dan Adelman today. Adelman worked at Nintendo of America for several years and ended up leading the company’s indie efforts, though he departed last year.

Dromble’s interview touches on several topics – third-parties, culture at Nintendo, demos, eShop quality control, and the Virtual Console. You can find excerpts below, and the full discussion here.

NintendOn has conducted a new interview with Dan Adelman, Nintendo of America’s former boss on all things indie. The discussion tackled topics such as how Nintendo’s Japanese division makes final decisions, suggestions for the company’s indie program going forward, and more.

Read on below for a few excerpts from the interview. You’ll find the full talk here.

Shortly after his departure from Nintendo, Dan Adelman took to Twitter to answer queries and concerns from fans. One of the interesting little tidbits to come out was that at the beginning of last generation, Adelman originally pushed for Grim Fandango HD to come to Nintendo hardware. Here’s the quote:

Which were some games that you work really hard to get them on Nintendo’s platforms, but for some reason at the end you couldn’t?
Grim Fandango. I mentioned the idea of an HD remake to Tim Schafer about 7-8 years ago. I was so jealous that PlayStation got that. Curse you, Adam Boyes!


Dan Adelman, Nintendo’s former head of digital content and development, has weighed in on the current status surrounding Wii U.

Responding to a fan on, Adelman noted that he believes the console deserves to sell better, in part due to the game’s available. However, the GamePad’s value has yet to be “justified”, and Adelman believes the Wii U name is “abysmal.”

Wii U is not selling as well as it deserves to. It has a lot to offer with great games you can’t get anywhere else. The value of the GamePad hasn’t been justified. But the name Wii U is abysmal. I think that cut sales in half right there.


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