At this point, I’d like us to cast our minds back to the previous title for a moment. In terms of units sold, Wii Sports is now the number one software title in the world. As it’s sold bundled with the Wii console outside Japan, I'm not quite sure if calling it "World Number One" is exactly the right way to describe it, but in any case it’s surpassed the record set by Super Mario Bros., which was unbroken for over twenty years. Coming up with a sequel to a huge title like that must be much tougher than coming up with a completely new title from scratch. How did you approach this intimidating challenge, and what sort of issues did you have in mind?
The last game was just such a huge, massive, enormous…
…But you did make it, after all!
Yes, that’s true. (laughs)
Before Wii Sports was released, we had absolutely no idea how well it would sell, in part because it was coming out at the same time as the Wii console. I was confident that we had produced an enjoyable game that players would prove receptive to, at least to some extent. But as the reality turned out to go so far beyond anything we had predicted, when it came time to work on the follow-up, I was naturally nervous. What’s more, all of the major sports which were easy to reproduce...
You had already used them all! (laughs)
Right, we had used them all! (laughs) As we had used them all in the previous title, all of the staff thought: “This is going to be very tough!"
But even so, if you had gone out on a limb with just minor sports it would have felt somewhat too low-key.
Precisely. That was when we decided to structure the game around two distinct core concepts: "activities" and "sports".
“Activities” and "sports”?
“Activities” were the kind of leisure options that might be enjoyed on the island, while "sports" followed in the same line as the previous title, comprising regular sports - ball sports and the like. We decided that we would build the new title around these two concepts.
With just one main concept, it wouldn’t have been all that different from Wii Sports. I guess that's why you decided to introduce another one to structure the game around. Just out of interest, who came up with the idea of using "resort" in the game’s title?
I think I’m right in saying that was Miyamoto-san.
We were considering a lot of different proposals.
We considered ideas like “Wii Sports 2 – Resort”, but after discussions with NoA (Nintendo Of America), they suggested using the simpler name “Wii Sports Resort”.
So that got rid of the “2”.
Including the “2” just seemed to be too awkward.
But why didn’t you want to call it "Wii Sports 2"?
Wii Sports is such a huge title, so if we called the new one "Wii Sports 2", customers might just think it was more of the same. This time around, the most important feature is the fact that the new Wii MotionPlus device enables new types of game that weren’t previously possible. That’s why we didn’t just want to call it “Wii Sports 2”.
The style of gameplay on this title also differs greatly from the previous title.
The first logo that we considered had “Wii Sports” written in larger letters. “Resort” was just written beside it in much smaller letters. But then Miyamoto-san said: “Surely it should be the other way round!”
Meaning that “Resort” shouldn’t merely be a sub-title.
Right. But I had always thought of it as a sub-title. Then when we experimented with a new logo positioning "Resort" right in the centre, the way I conceived of the project really went through a huge shift. That wasn’t just the case for me, but for everyone.
We realised that we weren’t making Wii Sports 2…
We became aware that we were making a resort-themed game.
After that, everything went incredibly smoothly, whether it was the design side or coming up with the game’s features…
We would say things like: “This really has that ‘resort feel’!” (laughs)
We used that phrase all the time, didn’t we? We'd say things like: “It’s lacking that 'resort feel'!”
That phrase “resort feel” really reminds me of the way the team who developed Zelda referred to that “Iwata Asks - Wii” quality. (laughs)
We constantly used the phrase, always asking ourselves what we could do to bring out that “resort feel”.
Even though I’ve never been near a resort…
That’s why I’d suggest things like: ”Let's go to Lake Biwa (near Kyoto) and watch wakeboarders in action.”
As well as ideas like putting a few hibiscus flowers around the office.
"How about all wearing Hawaiian shirts?" or "What we need is a banana boat!”
And that’s what you need to achieve that "resort feel"?
We ended up having no choice but to ask those few people with experience of going to a resort to tell us all about it.
You mean people who’d been to tropical islands?
Right. We’d ask them: “What’s it like there?” and “Do they play table tennis outdoors?”
And they’d respond: “Yes, apparently they do.”
“I think I saw some people playing table tennis outside once."
If you go to an onsen (Japanese hot spring resort), you can play table tennis!
I’m not sure it’s such a good idea to confuse onsen and tropical resorts! (laughs)
In any case, we decided to make it so you play table tennis outdoors.
It’s by the poolside, so you really get that “resort feel”.
It was a little more challenging for the team working on the swordplay game. It seemed to be lacking that "resort feel”.
Well, no one goes to a resort for a sword fight, after all.
Which isn’t to say that you can just make the sword fights take place on top of a banana boat!
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