PlatinumGames is a pretty beloved developer for us here at Nintendo Enthusiast. Titles like Bayonetta 2 and Astral Chain are high-quality titles that have that wonderful Platinum action fans adore. Naturally, both Arthur Damian and I jumped at the chance to interview two of the stellar talents at the studio: Game Director Hideki Kamiya and Head Producer Atsushi Inaba. Check out the transcript of our meeting below, which deals with such topics as The Wonderful 101: Remastered, Project G.G., PlatinumGames’ collaboration with Mega64, and even a desire to create a Viewtiful Joe 3.
Kamiya and Inaba on the wonderful side of The Wonderful 101: Remastered
Nintendo Enthusiast: So have you guys had any surprising reactions to The Wonderful 101: Remastered so far?
Inaba: I’m very happy that the large amount of support and reaction has been positive. We were kind of worried that there might be some negativity involved, but simply put, we’re very happy with all the positive support.
Kamiya: Yeah, I’m also very pleased with the reaction. You know, it’s a game that was made seven years ago, (so I’m) happy that people still care about it.
NE: What were some of the struggles you faced retooling The Wonderful 101 to work on consoles like the PS4 and Switch that lack the same tablet-style controller the Wii U had?
Kamiya: Yeah, so with The Wonderful 101, there are two main interesting points about it. One being the fact that the original had that touch screen, you know, so the big question was how to transfer that to the other platforms, but as a matter of fact, the original design of the game had the right stick. So it’s actually kind of a return to how it was originally supposed to be.
The other big difference was the fact that the Wii U had two screens, so implementing that into the new hardware was a little bit challenging. But (with picture-in-picture) we’ve given the user the ability to change the location of the screen, make it larger, smaller, turn it on and off. So, rather than thinking of it as a challenge to keep up the original game, I see it as the best version of The Wonderful 101 that we can deliver to the fans.
There’s another thing I’m really happy about with the remastered version. The game itself is already very, very large, so I didn’t feel that it was necessary to add any new content to the game wasn’t already there, but there were a lot of aspects about the playability of the game that I kind of regretted or wanted to go back to. We actually made a list of things that we wished we could change, so with this opportunity I’ve gotten that list out and implemented a lot of those changes. A lot of them involved directing the player, like “go this way” or “do that.” Another part of it was the Easy mode. Evidently, the Easy mode was not easy at all, so I’m making a proper Easy mode for players who desire to play such things. So rather than it being a cosmetic remaster, it’s more about the user friendliness.
NE: The Kickstarter for The Wonderful 101: Remastered has been an overwhelming success so far and it’s a great way to interact with the fan community. Would you be open to using it again in the future, or is PlatinumGames going to pivot to being strictly self-sufficient from now on?
Inaba: I’m very happy with the success it has received, but it’s not such the fact that we want to gather the fans again and do another Kickstarter. Right now I’m not thinking about that, but in the future, if an interesting opportunity arises where it was feasible and appropriate, then perhaps. But currently, there are no plans to move forward and continue with Kickstarter.
NE: Usually, Kickstarter campaigns take a few years to deliver on what they’re funding, but Platinum is launching The Wonderful 101: Remastered on multiple platforms in just a few months. How was the team able to put this together in such a short time from the start of the Kickstarter campaign?
Inaba: It was a game that we’ve always wanted to revisit at some point in time, but it’s not something that you can just do. Lots of preparation, time, and effort are required. So, in doing so, a lot of these things came together that made it possible.
NE: This remaster has been heavily requested by fans. What do you think the fans are most attracted to with The Wonderful 101 that makes it such a beloved game?
Kamiya: Did they really request it?
Inaba: Well, it was a game that we felt didn’t quite reach the audience that it deserves. So one of the big reasons for the Kickstarter was to gauge the interest and ask, “Do people really care about this game?”
Kamiya: What is so interesting about this game, though?
Inaba: Well, now that (the remaster) is here, we’ve been very happy that the reaction has been so positive.
Kamiya: Hmm… well, I was a little unsure about how popular this game was back in the day because it was on the Wii U and we felt that it wasn’t received as well as it could have been. It’s a game we really like, so I’m happy that people still remember it. Through this Kickstarter, I’ve realized that people actually do care about the game even seven years after (it came out).
Kamiya: Also, PlatinumGames is predominantly known for character action games like Bayonetta and things like that. What really makes this game different from the others is that it’s a “unite” action game. It’s quite different than our other games, and it has superhero characters and a colorful pop style. It’s a game that I myself have always had a lot of confidence in, so I’m really looking forward to having players experience this other side of PlatinumGames, for those who haven’t been able to play it.
Mysteries surrounding Platinum 4 and Project G.G. revealed
NE: So, we know that The Wonderful 101: Remastered is part of the Platinum 4, the mysterious series of projects you’re talking about alongside Project G.G. and the PlatinumGames Tokyo offices. What kind of shared message or goal do these projects have that make them this joint 4?
Inaba: I really feel that, from the viewpoint of the players, they’re always kind of wondering, “What is PlatinumGames doing next, what are they doing next, what are they doing next?” so the goal in making this was to (get fans to say,) “Oh, they did that! What’s the next one gonna be? Oh, it’s that! What’s the next one gonna be?” and I really feel that, with the fourth project, I hope to just blow people away and have them be like “What?! You guys did that?!” so that’s the message that we’re sending out.
NE: Talking a bit more about Project G.G. specifically, in the reveal trailer it was mentioned that this game is set to be the climactic end of the “Kamiya Hero Trilogy.” Can we assume that the other two parts of that trilogy are The Wonderful 101 and Viewtiful Joe?
Kamiya: (Nods, laughs)
NE: So, what do you feel connects these three series together? Besides the shiny red spandex, what makes them part of this trilogy of yours?
Kamiya: (Laughs.) In terms of a connection, I wouldn’t say that the worlds are connected or the controls are connected or anything like that. I feel that each game has its own presence and existence in itself. So, with Project G.G., I do have my own plans, its own structure, and I hope that people are looking forward to what this will be. In Japan, there’s mainly three types of hero, or hero themes. The transformation hero, the sentai hero, and then the giant hero. So with Project G.G., I would like to kind of challenge that and try making a game that involves the giant hero.
NE: The giant hero genre isn’t super popular in America right now. Do you hope that Project G.G. will make more fans of series like Ultraman in America?
Kamiya: You raised a very interesting point. I had actually kind of researched that a little bit myself to see how popular it is in America and realized that it’s much more popular in Japan. So, yes, I hope that in creating this game, it does increase popularity. There’s been some other things I’ve noticed, such as the movie Pacific Rim and the love for large robot characters and things like that, so I’m confident that it will catch on. I’m very much looking forward to making this game.
NE: And then to touch on the other part of the Platinum 4, the PlatinumGames Tokyo office, how do you feel that this new office might change or challenge your role as a producer at PlatinumGames, Inaba-san?
Inaba: Yeah, as a matter of fact there’s a lot of things that I want to do. PlatinumGames has a lot of things we want to do, but we have limited capacity and people, things like that. So, in opening up the Tokyo office we just hope that it’ll allow us to do more of these things that we want to do.
Kamiya: He’ll have to go back and forth between offices a lot; that’ll change. (laughs)
Hamming it up with the guys from Mega64
NE: I know that a lot of what PlatinumGames is showing off and talking about right now are projects that kind of express how much Platinum wants to be independent and want to make their own things, but I want to ask a bit about a recent collaboration that Platinum did. Specifically, Kamiya-san working with Mega64.
(Kamiya and Inaba both laugh.)
What was it like to work with them and film that video?
Kamiya: I happen to be a big fan of Mega64 myself, so when the opportunity arose for me to join it, I was really emphatic. I was just, like, “Oh, this is amazing.” So when it came time to do the filming, I trusted them. I was like, “I trust your guys’ direction,” even though at first I was like, “Eh, I don’t know,’ I trusted them.
NE: What was the reaction like in the offices at PlatinumGames when the video came out?
Inaba: (Laughs) We were having a lot of fun. We burst into the office like “Whoa!” while everyone was sitting at their desks, trying to work. It was quite the scene.
NE: It’s interesting that you said you were already a fan of Mega64. Do you remember what introduced you to them or what made you a fan of them?
Kamiya: Hmm, what was it? Probably the video with Miyamoto-san, where Link was holding the Master Sword, if my memory serves me right. I also saw the one with Kojima-san. I thought, “Wow, there’s a lot of big creators in these!” (laughs) A small part of me thinks that now that I’ve been on it, my dream has come true in a way. I was very, very excited to be a part of it.
NE: Do you have any fellow game developers in Japan whom you would like to see collaborate with Mega 64 in the future?
Kamiya: Takumi Shu, the creator of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. I think it’d be really funny if he was in one.
Inaba: I would like to see the director of Astral Chain, Takahisa Taura, in one. Like, what would that be like? He’s a really cool guy, so I’d be interested in seeing how that interaction would be.
A look to the future with Kamiya and Inaba and the possibility of Viewtiful Joe 3
NE: Viewing it as a hero trilogy, with Project G.G., The Wonderful 101, and Viewtiful Joe, how feasible do you think it is to have all three of those games housed under one roof like the Nintendo Switch? Is there feasibility that Viewtiful Joe might come to the Nintendo Switch?
Kamiya: I have no control over that! (laughs) That’s Capcom’s choice! However, we’ve seen some PlatinumGames games come out on the Nintendo Switch, like Okami and Bayonetta and Devil May Cry. There are a few things that have not actually come to the Switch, though, like Resident Evil 2 and Viewtiful Joe. Personally, I really hope that it comes back. I don’t want it to be lost in the sands of time, so to speak. I’m requesting it! I would love it if that would happen.
Also, there’s been a Viewtiful Joe 1 and 2, but there has been no 3. So, for me personally, I would also love to finish that trilogy with a Viewtiful Joe 3.
NE: I would love that too.
(Kamiya and Inaba both laugh.)
So, for each of you, where do you see PlatinumGames being 10 years from now?
Inaba: For me, when talking about the future I like to think of it like five years from now, not ten years. Especially with the game industry, 10 years from now, who knows where the technology is going to be, where the market is going to be, things like that. So I feel like I can’t even imagine 10 years from now. I actually prefer it that way, because if we all knew what was going to be happening 10 years from now, it wouldn’t be very interesting or cool. I like the dynamic, the speed of the game industry and how things are always evolving and changing with technology. So I like to keep it at five years, but in five years we will still be around. (laughs) And we will be making games in 10 years.
Kamiya: It’s because he can look so far ahead that he’s the head of the studio. I just make the games in front of me and just move forward (laughs), leave the future to him.
NE: Do each of you have any final words or message that you want to relay to the fans?
Kamiya: Like I said earlier, The Wonderful 101 is a very unique game amongst the Platinum lineup, so I’m hoping and asking that people please try this game out. You will see a different side of PlatinumGames. So my message is, “Thank you, and please play The Wonderful 101.”
Inaba: Plainly put, if you don’t play this game, you’re missing out. This is a game we really want people to try, we’re very grateful for all the support and hope that everyone gets a chance to try it out.
Thus concludes our interview with PlatinumGames! It was wonderful to get to chat with both Inaba and Kamiya about Platinum’s past, present, and future. Be sure to check out their official website for all upcoming game announcements. Also, remember to give The Wonderful 101: Remastered a look when it launches on Nintendo Switch on May 19, 2020, in North America.
This interview has been edited for clarity.