Q&A: Elebits producer Shingo Mukaitouge

The man behind Konami's upcoming Wii title talks about working with the controller and how it served as inspiration for the game.

First impressions can be deceiving. In an ITmedia +D Games interview with Elebits producer Shingo Mukaitouge, the developer thought the technology would pigeonhole the types of games created for the system. "My first thought was that it was geared toward sports and sword-fighting games, using large controller movements. But the pointing device allows fine-grained control, too, making it a flexible, and above all, new controller--I really fell in love with it."

Mukaitouge said he was "stunned" by that first experience with the controller. So much so that it served as the inspiration for his game.

"We hammered out the game around the controller," Mukaitouge said. "With traditional controllers, there has never been the [ability] to twist or pull...As we discussed this, we developed the idea of freely touching or moving objects in a room, such as twisting faucets or doorknobs and pulling open drawers."

The idea of poking around rooms evidently led the team back to some childhood memories for the developers. "In discussing how we should build a game out of manipulating objects in rooms, we remembered hide-and-seek. This is, after all, a game where you actually move things around and investigate things." The resulting concept was a unique variant of hide-and-seek, where players track down little sprites, the Elebits, who are the source of power in the game world. Capturing enough Elebit power will let players perform incredible feats, such as lifting cars and houses. "Our goal is to allow the player to grab onto any object in the level."

Returning to the Wii, Mukaitouge had mixed remarks about its developer-friendliness. "Producing images didn't take much time," he said. "Nintendo's support is good, too." On the other hand, fine tuning the gameplay for the new controller posed new challenges. "Adjusting the motion for how much [an object] should move when a given amount of motion is applied is difficult. For instance, when turning a water faucet, everyone will twist the handle a different amount."

The specifics of the game, such as the number of stages it will contain and exactly how many types of Elebits there will be, are still under wraps. However, it doesn't seem like there was any dearth of ideas from the development team.

"We put 50 designers in competition with each other, and they came up with over 100 characters," Mukaitouge said. The resulting selections are being refined in-house by Konami, which wants the characters to have mass appeal. "We chose characters whose cuteness would appeal to young gamers, high school and college students, and female gamers, too. However, we didn't want them to be cute in an ordinary sense, so we made a point of choosing designs that were a bit twisted."

Mukaitouge did say that each type of Elebits has different personalities. "Blue Elebits are the standard type. The red ones are shy and very fast runners, so it's important to catch them quickly. The Elebits' artificial intelligence is elaborate, giving them many behaviors, such as quickly hiding or singing. If you leave them alone, they engage in activities unrelated to the game, such as communicating with other Elebits, crying, etc...They have feelings just like humans."

He stressed that Konami is taking pains to make the game accessible to a wide range of gamers, from beginners to experts. In gameplay terms, Mukaitouge wants to make beating the clock as much of a factor as possible. He indicated that there will also be some sort of collection element to appeal to hardcore gamers and probably some incentive to play the game even after it's beaten the first time.

Mukaitouge maintains that Konami will make efforts to assure the game is ready by or around the time of the Wii's launch. However, he stressed the game still has a ways to go: "Later, we can hopefully show off a more developed form of the game. What we've shown so far is only an implementation of the basic play mechanics." He also hinted at more playable demos in the future, saying, "We hope to create an opportunity for people to try out the game around autumn."

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53 comments
fire_proof
fire_proof

finnished reading the rest of the comments, and yes, it does look slightly like an overglorified tech demo, but, then again, if put in the right hands, it can be a very amusing game *remember, many games are over glorified tech demo's. just look at duck hunt, that game is so simple it's barely funny, but it's still very fun to play*

fire_proof
fire_proof

I actually rather like this game concept. As long as they keep the cuteness level of it down, and keep it at more of an odd type game *something like katamari* and it happens to be cheap *not so much because I'm unwilling to pay for it, as much as me being poor... I might get lucky and find a job, but I wouldn't count on it* also, you must remember that this is a rather new game as far as the development stages go, and they'll very assuredly be adding in anti-aliasting, as, in a game where things will be twisted and tilted, it's a must. 'specially on a system that can easily handle it while rendering simple, low pollygon models. otherwise it looks like it could top chibi robo as the most amusing game I own *only if they make the main game take longer though, I kinda get sidetracked after the main game, and only come back to it after a few months or so >.>*

GameQ22
GameQ22

This will be the new Katamari. Its cute, its simple, but very addictive. ~GameQ

Canon-D
Canon-D

sounds cool, I'll certainly give it a try, sounds worth it!!

0li
0li

When i see it in person i will decide whether or not to buy this on release. As for all the people downplaying the Wii for this game having bad graphics, all i have to say is one acronym: LoZ: Tp. I rest my case.

semdawg15
semdawg15

I don't think that the graphics for this game is that terrible. The graphics add to the feel of the game and give it the atmosphere the developers at Konami want the gamers to feel. It is supposed to be a friendly looking game that should appeal to all gamers, whether you are a kid or an adult. If they were to amp up the graphics to Resident Evil 4 level, would the game still have that friendly look and effect on all gamers? I don't know about the different effects it would have, but I feel that it looks great the way it is now.

coleorionjordan
coleorionjordan

Well, I'm going to get this game only if it's budget-priced. Like juanfraino said. It looks more like a tech demo than a full-fledged game. Even if it makes no difference as long as it is fun, tech demos don't last very long. If this game is varied and keeps bringing out new challenges, maybe I'll change my mind. But so far, I'm not impressed.

ax23000
ax23000

I don't really get all this "Adult" and "Kiddie" stuff. Do you people even really know what you're talking about? Seriously. What makes something adult? Blood? Violence? Death? Boobs? Sure that's all stuff that kids aren't supposed to deal with, but it's also not exactly what I'd call intelligent or mature. So why do we consider games with stuff blowing up "Adult"? Aren't they really just games for adults who never figured out HOW to grow up. Don't get me wrong--I enjoy games like Farcry, Doom, Fear, etc...but I don't delude myself by arguing that such games are adult games. What I wonder is why our society has this rule that when you "grow up" you're supposed to stop just having fun. You're supposed to stop being silly. What the hell is wrong with us? I don't know if this game will be great or just a glorified tech demo. I would like to point out that the potential is there for it to be more than just a glorified tech demo. I don't think the graphics will improve, but then I don't get why anyone cares. For bragging rights? For that first fifteen minutes when a new game is turned on and you're still thinking about the graphics? Why? And what difference does it make if you're having fun?

emocheese
emocheese

im so excited for the wii and this game

chutup
chutup

I wish you guys would stop bashing the graphics! Don't you know wii isn't about graphics, and elebits is about graphics least of all? I think the jaggies will be fixed but otherwise it has a really cool simple feel, like Katamari Damacy. This will probably be the first wii game I buy. In fact, I'm probably the #1 Elebits Fan!

ghostadv
ghostadv

Elebits is oneo f the games for Wii I'm not keeping an eye on, only because it seems like a glorified tech demo. The other Wii titles I'm looking forward to though :)

rynmls
rynmls

to see is to believe...

Payback7
Payback7

Dear Dark_Raven21 I was just wondering why a non-nintendo fan would even read a Nintedno story? Sounds like you might be just a little interested in the system? hehe, anyway each to their own and I respect that everyone has their own opinions. GO NINTENDO!!!!

mhder
mhder

HardCor1981: I would buy a Wii if they could get some third-party support. For now, all the games are Nintendo-made and designed for kids. So you make this comment on a story about a Wii game made by Konami, a 3rd party?

DiscGuru101
DiscGuru101

Sounds like a cool idea. Graphics look bad, but I like the idea of moving every object in a level. =D

Black_Sage89
Black_Sage89

I still like that whole "Wii Hide You Seek" thing better then this. That game wasn't even real and it is about ten thousand times cooler then this.

Brad2theBone237
Brad2theBone237

"I would buy a Wii if they could get some third-party support. For now, all the games are Nintendo-made and designed for kids." Yeah, a game where you take out Yakuza gang members in underground Japan with automatic weapons and swords can definitely be called "kiddy". And I believe UbiSoft is third-party...

troakun
troakun

Interesting, I didn't know the Elebits would have "emotions", I want to see where they are going with this. And as far as graphics go, forget that this game is still in dev., forget that graphics don't matter, but remember that this is ultimatly a Katamari clone. In katamari, everything was moveable and the game zoomed out from bite-size to moon-size. This game is going to be similar to that so what you should be paying attention to is that A) all objects can be interacted with and B) this game looks better than Katamari.

_sean_05
_sean_05

too bad Konami didn't make a more 'adult' title. Big N needs more grown-up material if they want to sell more units than GC and truly appeal to more people.

Dark_Raven21
Dark_Raven21

The only reason i would buy a Wii is for Red Steel all these other games dont look interesting at all. This game is really lacking in graphics. I mean all you people who are saying its not finished thats why it looks not so great well look at other games that are not finished and there graphics. But I dont care im not buying the Wii because I never have liked Nintendo. Please flame me Nintendo fan-boys and whatever in my emails thank you.

AdmiralPrice
AdmiralPrice

"HardCor1981 I would buy a Wii if they could get some third-party support. For now, all the games are Nintendo-made and designed for kids." Is Mario fun? Is Zelda fun? Is Donkey Kong fun? Is Metroid fun? Was Pikmin fun? Was SSBM fun? Was Wind Waker fun? Was Paper Mario Cube fun? What you're basically telling me is that fun is for kids.

rbarahona
rbarahona

I was really curious about the game when I first read about it. The game looks very promising, and it really shows some interesting things that developers will face when they make games for the Wii. I really can't wait to read more about the console, and most of all, to have the console!!!

HardCor1981
HardCor1981

I would buy a Wii if they could get some third-party support. For now, all the games are Nintendo-made and designed for kids.

DS_fan_atic
DS_fan_atic

This game might be the big surprise hit for the Wii

yeyahbenji
yeyahbenji

To people who keep talking about graphics: Browse gamespot. Note some games that look great. Notice some of those gameplay scores. See how the graphics score seems to rise and fall with the rest of the quality of the game? Proves that how a game plays is much better than how it looks.

mr_squibble
mr_squibble

It will be interesting to see how this and other Wii games shape up as the system launch draws near.

rokkuman09
rokkuman09

Schmidede? Are you a fanboy or somthing Half Life2 had the most innovative physice ever used in a video game!

schmiede
schmiede

The game is months and months away from being released. I'm quite confident the graphics will be considerably better by then. You may now go back to your incredibly creative and innovative Halos and Half Life 2s.

rokkuman09
rokkuman09

"HAve you seen the graphics for it I almost cried after looking at the screens it looks like a game from the first batch of Dreamcast games" The game is far from complete and even graphics improve only incrementally it still doesn't matter. Since a game like this is about fun accesible and enjoyable gameplay its not about hyper realistic hardcore viseral graphic gameplay. Still wait until its nearly done before casting final judgement. As for me this game does sound interesting and I will keep eye on it and yes it does also remind me a bit like Pikmin. Iya i see what you are saying and I agree but it just dissapoints me that it doesnt even look like they are trying to make the graphics even look decent

Warfust
Warfust

I know that this will be one of the games I'll get for the Wii. I just hope they make it available at launch.

SolidTy
SolidTy

Konami Plus Wiii = Gold! Konami is such an awesome company...to bad certain gamers never got to play many of their games...

japanesegoth
japanesegoth

if it is fun, i don't really mind current gen graphics. but i doubt i'll rent this, and i don't know anyone that would get it, so i'll probably miss out on this game.

frankeyser
frankeyser

thisgame just seems neat to me. it is one of the two main games i am buying the wii for. this and dragon quest.

juanfraino
juanfraino

its looks more like a tech demo than a game, but if its anything like a pikmin style of game, its worth at least to check it out once.

homegirl2180
homegirl2180

Rokkuman, it's obvious that graphics were not a high priority when making this game. The game, as a whole, looks like it could be very good IMO. I'm just worried that it'll be short.

_sean_05
_sean_05

mmmmm....gimmicky. Elebits:gotta catch 'em all! N must be REALLY downplaying graphics. This almost looks like 64 or like rockman said, an early dreamcast title.

blackIceJoe
blackIceJoe

Elebits looks to be a neat game like Pikmin

komdosina
komdosina

"HAve you seen the graphics for it I almost cried after looking at the screens it looks like a game from the first batch of Dreamcast games" The game is far from complete and even graphics improve only incrementally it still doesn't matter. Since a game like this is about fun accesible and enjoyable gameplay its not about hyper realistic hardcore viseral graphic gameplay. Still wait until its nearly done before casting final judgement. As for me this game does sound interesting and I will keep eye on it and yes it does also remind me a bit like Pikmin.

LordAbyssion
LordAbyssion

this game seems a little odd... but hey, so did Ocarina of Time too

Dasilva90
Dasilva90

Looks very cool and unique. :)

rokkuman09
rokkuman09

Have you seen the graphics for it? I almost cried after looking at the screens it looks like a game from the first batch of Dreamcast games!