Super Monkey Ball is one of the few series out there that can simultaneously have you laughing out loud and questioning your own thin grasp on sanity. The game's combination of friendly controls, saccharine-sweet character and world design, and devilishly difficult puzzles has created a string of hits since the series' debut on the GameCube in 2001. Now the series looks to branch out onto the next Nintendo console iteration, the Wii. Recently, we had a chance to discuss the upcoming Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz with producer Toshihiro Nagoshi.
GameSpot: Can you walk us through the game's various modes?
Toshihiro Nagoshi: The two primary aspects of the title are the main game and party games (minigames), and we've taken the same direction as in the previous Monkey Ball series where the main game consists of puzzle levels, and we've created really fun party games to take advantage of the Wii Remote. We've created a variety of party games you can enjoy with friends through multiplayer.
GS: How will the bosses figure into the experience?
TN: The main game consists of several worlds, and each world features its boss character, which is a new feature for the series. It is certainly amusing to complete puzzle-based stages, but we decided to include boss battle levels as a feature that further boosts the player's motivation to play the game.
GS: What will the game's story be about?
TN: The story is like: One day, treasures are suddenly taken away from the village where AiAi and his friends are, and they go and retrieve them. On their quest to retrieve the treasure, they face many challenges in the form of different puzzle worlds like tropical islands, snowy tundras, Egyptian deserts, to even pirate ships.
GS: Are there any new characters (heroes or villains) in the game?
TN: As for villains, the boss characters are totally new to the series. They really serve to bring up the tension at the end of the worlds because you must defeat the boss in order to progress to the next world. There will also be two new friends of AiAi that will also be available!
GS: Has the jump mechanic required you to change the way the levels are designed?
TN: Yes, there have been many opportunities for us to design levels that have elevation changes to take advantage of the new jump ability. Since we had been designing the levels in the previous Super Monkey Ball series based on the assumption that the characters' only motion is rolling, and that they did not jump, we endeavored to design in-game levels that would allow the user to play more dynamically, for example, by introducing a stage with stairs.
GS: Has the control mechanic with the Wii controller changed any since we last saw it at E3?
TN: There have been some changes. In terms of details such as precision of sensors, speed of the characters, and how to jump, we made considerable adjustments. These advancements actually made it easier for the player to play the game more smoothly, so smoothly that players will take to the game very naturally.
GS: How did you feel about the game's reception at E3? Did any of the feedback affect development? For example, did you decide to add or change anything based on how you saw people playing?
TN: I was relieved to see people playing the game joyfully, but I felt that we needed to make the pick-up-and-playability even more simpler, anticipating that there would be a lot of users who had not been accustomed to the Wii Remote yet. However, we made additional balance adjustment to insure that both hard-core and new players enjoy the game, because this series is popular also among the former, and we would like to attract the latter as well.
GS: What aspects of the Wii controller will the game support?
TN: Since the concept of this title is a catalog of how to play a game on Wii that would use all the console's performances to the full, SMBBB basically utilizes all functions of the Wii Remote in some way or other.
GS: Will there be any online elements to the game?
TN: We are not currently thinking about the idea of including such an element.
GS: How long do you see the game being? In other words, how long will it take players to get through all the content in it?
TN: It may be different on an individual basis, but I believe all players will be able to complete the game, as SMBBB is not so difficult that it is impossible to complete. However, whereas the fun of the main game is to complete all the worlds, the fun of party games is that you can play the multitude of games with various competitors/partners. In this regard, I hope this will be an evergreen title.
GS: Will you still unlock the multiplayer games in the same way?
TN: This time around, all party games are unlocked. We had an idea that we would let the user unlock them, but we took this approach thinking that we would like you to fully enjoy the Wii Remote from the beginning.
GS: How many multiplayer games will there be to unlock?
TN: There are several aspects you must unlock in the main game, but we're keeping it secret for now. The party games, on the other hand, are all unlocked from the beginning, so you can enjoy the game more from the time you open the box.
GS: Thanks for your time.