Just because the Wii Remote lent itself perfectly to the gameplay style of the WarioWare games, it didn't mean that everything went smoothly from start to finish. In fact, I think you faced a fair amount of difficulty precisely because the player would be using the Remote.
It's true that the Wii Remote allows for any number of ways to play a game, and is especially well matched with the WarioWare series, but because of this players are faced with the new problem of not knowing exactly what they are expected to do. Conveying this information to them posed a problem for us. With WarioWare speed is everything, people have five seconds at most to grasp the way they have to play. How to best communicate this became the first problem we were confronted with.
With WarioWare games up to now, the players have played using a conventional controller, so indicating to them what to do with messages like "Press the A Button now!" used to be relatively simple. This time round though, as you couldn't be sure how players would be holding the Wii Remote, it meant you had to put more thought into how best to convey those instructions.
That's exactly right. We pondered the best way to explain to the players exactly what they're supposed to do and have them understand in a split-second. While we were racking our brains over this problem, the number of microgames we were making was piling up. Because the Wii Remote is a genuinely unique device, the number of good ideas for microgames just kept popping out. But the majority of these ideas appeared to be somewhat tame, and nothing really seemed to stand out.
You think they needed more wackiness or silliness?
Exactly! Our female staff are always full of energy and they were coming up with all sorts of really fun-sounding ideas, but a lot of them we felt we couldn't use. The reason for this was that we had no way of knowing how users would be holding the Wii Remote. We had a tendency to play it safe, selecting ideas where the player could hold the Remote normally and not be required to perform really tricky movements. Then it happened, a solution presented itself. I thought, why don't we tell the players to: "Hold it like this!" before each of the individual microgames starts. We implemented instructions saying: "Hold the Remote like this" and "Next, hold it like this." While we were adding these instructions to the game, someone made the observation that what we were doing felt like learning the forms of a traditional Japanese dance, which sounded a little funny.
I see, and that's where the dancing concept came from.
That's right. Well, that and the fact you did mention half-jokingly before that the next game in the series would have a dance-related title!
Well, yes! (laughs)
Once we'd hit upon the idea for a title involving dance-like moves, the game became officially known as WarioWare: Smooth Moves. Even though it's not really dancing in the true sense of the word! (laughs)
Well, maybe not, but it is close! (laughs)
And because we now had a clear idea about the core of the game, we knew it would become easier for the players to grasp the concept and our creative freedom increased a great deal. Plus, using the dancing theme as our basis, we began to let the silliness run wild! (laughs) It was hugely amusing to see the players doing things like squatting in front of the people supervising the product testing simply because they were following the game's instructions to the letter!
I remember when the first version was shown to me, I was there squatting in front of everyone! (laughs)
I remember! (laughs)
We were looking forward to seeing that so much! (laughs)
Yes, it seems you got me to go to that presentation just because you wanted to see me squatting! (laughs) All the staff seemed to really enjoy seeing that!
That was priceless! (laughs) You were really going for it! Nice to know we have a boss who's on our wavelength! (laughs)
But if you look at the way the game works, it really isn't actually all that necessary to hold the Remote above your head and squat! All you really need to do is hold the Remote horizontally and move it up and down, which registers in the game as the correct movement. I was worried that you'd choose that approach during the presentation instead.
Well, I knew what the game expected of me, but I was even more aware of what the production team expected of me! (laughs) I just held the Remote on top of my head and started squatting.
Seeing you doing that was a real morale boost for the team!
Well, that's the huge appeal of the games in the WarioWare series.
That's right. The fact that this game is designed to be played on a home console meant we were picturing the game being played with people watching a lot of the time. Obviously we aimed to make the game enjoyable for the player, but we also felt the need to make it fun for those watching. In the GameCube version too there were times when the on-screen prompts would suggest you say a certain thing while you play the game, and while there was no actual need to comply, you tended to do it anyway to give the viewers a good laugh too. I think it's really important to have lots of players doing all kinds of ridiculous things when playing together on the home console versions of WarioWare in order to get the most out of the experience.
With that in mind, hitting upon the concept of "traditional Japanese dance moves", or "forms" as you call them, must have been a pivotal point for the development of the game. Abe-san, how did you feel about them?
Yes, the inclusion of the various forms had a huge impact. Before we arrived at the idea, we had discussed the possibility of having users hold the Wii Remote in the same way throughout the entire stage, but felt it would significantly detract from the overall excitement of the game. And so, once we made the decision to go with these moves, the whole game took a new direction. Even the Wii Remote itself was given the name "Form Baton" during the game.
Ah yes, you even came to me to ask for my permission to call the Wii Remote the "Form Baton"!
To be honest, this caused a bit of a problem as the fact that the controller was going to be called the Wii Remote was not yet widely known. As a company, we were working hard so that this term would become recognised around the world. Then you came and said to me: "Please let us call it the Form Baton in this game!" (laughs)
You weren't joking either, you were deadly serious. But after being shown the game again, I realised that this name was fully justified, and I found myself saying: "Go on then!" (laughs)
Nice to know we have a boss who's on our wavelength! (laughs)
I'm really glad we were able to change it because even the WarioWare games contain a certain amount of plot! (laughs) In this one the story goes something like this: Wario stumbles across the Form Baton one day, and somehow manages to use it to make everyone happy in the town, where these dance forms become all the rage. So in this game, the forms are the key concept that has helped to bring this game together.
For want of a better word, the names of the forms in the game could be described as silly. Who came up with those names?
It was me.
(wry smile) So, how many forms are there in the game. Wasn’t it seventeen.
You'd like us to give you an idea of what we've included, wouldn't you?
Well, yes, I suppose so… If you'd like.
Of course we would!
Okay, well, here we have "The Remote Control"! (Picture 1)
And this one's called "The Sketch Artist"! (Picture 2)
Next we have "The Mohawk"! (Picture 3)
And the boxing one?
That's this one, "The Boxer"! (Picture 4)
Show us "The Waiter", come on!
Okay, here's "The Waiter"! (Picture 5)
Wasn't there one where you had to open bottles of champagne?
Ah, you mean "The Thumb Wrestler"! (Picture 6)
I think that microgame really got the better of me!
That's great news! We worked extremely hard to attain our goal of making you say something like: "This is ridiculous!" or "The game beat me!"
"This is ridiculous!" is the best possible compliment you could get! (laughs)
Well, yes. If you said it in a really serious way, we would have been in trouble though.
And finally we have Iwata-san's favourite, the squat! (Picture 7)
This really is ridiculous! (laughs)
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