Let’s Interview WarioWare Gold Reanimated Organiser Behon!

WarioWare Gold Reanimated Collab

In recent years, Reanimated projects have become all the rage on YouTube. Designed to let whole groups of artists put their skills to use by recreating TV episodes and video game cutscenes, they’ve been made for a huge range of projects ranging from the cartoon episodes like Mama Luigi and the Kirby Cartoon Buffoon episode, to the Super Mario RPG animation Rawest Forest.

They’re an amazing bunch, and they’re always a joy to watch.

With one of our favourites being the one for WarioWare Gold. Aptly named WarioWare Gold Reanimated, the project redoes all of the game’s cutscenes in a huge mixture of styles thanks to the work of hundreds of incredibly talented artists. It’s an amazing project, and one we’d definitely recommend to anyone interested in the game or series as a whole:

So because of that, we thought it’d interesting to speak to its creator (an artist known as Behon/Behonkiss online), and see both what it’s like to run such a project, as well to be an artist in the days of the internet.

You ready? Let’s do this!

Starting with a bit of personal background.So who are you? Who is Behon?

Behon
Behon’s avatar, used on most sites and services

A geek! That’s the easiest way to sum me up. A big ol’ nerd who loves games, cartoons, storytelling, imagination, and the like.

Where did you get your username from anyway? Both Behon and Behonkiss seem like they have quite the story behind them…

They do, though less of a complex story and more just a really silly one. When I was a kid in the 90s, my family reached a point with our internet where each of us started using individual email accounts, so it came time for me to think up my first username. My little brother’s friend was throwing around the word bohunkus, which is a rarely-used slang term for butt/ass/etc. and since this was my preteen days, I naturally thought the funniest thing I could do was make it my username. But since I didn’t know how to spell it and search engines weren’t as effective back then, I winged it and ended up with the name Behonkiss until recently, as I shortened it to Behon, as part of a move to represent a personal shift in focus and to not potentially scare people off who made the connection to that original term. Although now that name seems to get confused for Beyonce and Adobe Behance, so give and take, I guess.

How about your interest in gaming? What was your first game?

I started very young, and you can thank an older cousin of mine for that. When I was three, I visited him and saw that he had an NES with the Mario 1/Duck Hunt combo cartridge, so I basically count both of those as my first game. Being so young, I doubt I was any good at them, but from that point onwards, any time I visited a friend or relative who had a Nintendo or Sega console, I was always obsessed with getting a chance to play whatever they had if I was allowed. My parents noticed, and a year and a half later, my big gift for Christmas 1991 was the new Super NES bundled with Mario World. Things spiraled from there.

What about your first Wario game?

Does Mario Land 2 count since he was the villain? If we’re talking actual Wario-centric games, I believe either me or my brother got Wario Land 2 the Christmas it came out, and since we shared a Game Boy, I got a lot of playtime in with that. That game still impresses me structurally as an adult – the branching path idea it has is really clever and I’m surprised more platformers haven’t embraced something like that. I played 1 a few years later, played 4 and Shake It when they came out, and actually still have yet to properly play 3 and the one on Virtual Boy.

Super Mario Land 2
Super Mario Land 2 was the first game Behon played with Wario in it (and Wario’s first appearance ever in a video game too)

Wario Land 2 cover

As for the actual WarioWare, I remember seeing an article announcing it (Almost 20 years ago, wow) on a Nintendo fansite, and being very confused. It included a video of the intro cutscene in Japanese, and I remember just looking at that quick barrage of characters he’s calling and just being like “What even is this? This is so far removed from Mario,” rather than immediately on board like one might assume. But once I got a better idea of just what they were going for gameplay-wise, I ended up buying the game at launch and was immediately both blown away and hooked. I both hadn’t seen this kind of experimentation and craziness in a Nintendo game and I also loved how they took the time to come up with an exceptionally creative and varied supporting cast and wrap their silly little stories around the microgames. To this day I still describe them to people like “There’s a disco dancer with a blue afro wig, a 2-foot-tall alien with shades and a cape, ninja kindergarteners, and a kid who plays Nintendo games despite being in a Nintendo game himself!” It really sparked my creativity at that time.

What games are you playing now?

At the time of this interview I’m on a rhythm game kick – I’ve been splitting time between Fuser (Harmonix’s new DJ game) and the new Kingdom Hearts music spinoff. Also just rented a copy of Immortals Fenyx Rising and my early impressions of that are positive so far. I also have games like Smash Ultimate that I keep coming back to for online play and character DLC, and I’m meaning to pick the 3DS and Switch Fire Emblem & Pokemon games back up soon since I haven’t gotten to the very end for any of them and have barely touched Three Houses and Sword/Shield.

Sephiroth Reveal
Presumably Sephiroth’s release will bring Behon back to Smash Ultimate again

Let’s talk animation now. How did you get started as an animator?

I grew up like most people loving all sorts of cartoons – as a 90s kid, stuff like Animaniacs and the Disney renaissance stick out as personal favorites, and even as I got into my teenage years in the 2000s stuff like the anime boom and the ability to find indie shorts on stuff like Newgrounds kept my interest going. But the thing that really opened my eyes and took me from just being a fan to wanting to learn and make that kind of stuff was The Iron Giant, which is still my favorite movie – it’s still so beautiful, smart, funny, moving, and such a genuine labor of love that anyone of any age can enjoy. I just remember seeing it by myself at 12 and walking out awestruck, being like “I didn’t know you could DO this”. After that, I started sketching a ton, reading books about the process, and spending more time learning graphic software like Photoshop and eventually Flash.

And what made you decide to create WarioWare Tooned?

WarioWare Tooned Title

A couple of things just synced up at that point in time to make it happen. In the mid-2000s, I was in my later high school years and starting to take some side media classes where I started learning how to animate in Flash for the first time, how to scan and edit drawings in Photoshop, and the like, and happening at the same time was something of a golden Age for WarioWare. I was still replaying the original GBA and Gamecube games, Twisted and Touched came out close to each other, and Smooth Moves was following soon after. I was addicted to replaying the handheld entries and going for high scores in each level, and like I said, I was also still finding myself fascinated with the character roster, but realizing that despite this also being an era where Nintendo was still willing to experiment with series in other media (Besides Pokemon, this was the age of those Kirby and F-Zero anime series), they really weren’t doing anything of note with Wario outside of the actual games. Since there was also plenty of art and character tidbits to work with as reference, it felt both like good practice for my first animation, and both the reception and personal interest were positive enough to make some followups before taking a hiatus from it for college and other projects around 2007.

How did you decide on the final format of the show anyhow?

WarioWare Tooned Scene 1
A scene with Dribble and Spitz from WarioWare Tooned

It’s funny – if you look at each episode, the structure took a while to solidify, and even then I started shaking it up again with the latest stuff. The first episode was just an ensemble piece where everybody was getting screwed over by Satoru Iwata (Who I never would have poked fun at if I knew he was going to die so young, that was tragic) so I could practice drawing and writing for all of them a bit, then again with the second where it’s the old Rashomon template of everyone narrating their own take on some previous offscreen event. From the third onward, I was like, “Have a main plot focusing on one character like Orbulon or a duo like Kat and Ana, and then a subplot/running joke with others like Dribble and Spitz”. And even in later episodes like Mona’s or the unfinished Crygor one I streamlined it further to just have one plot. The latest episode, which ends up being a sort of origin story retelling the day Wario first came to Diamond City and met most of the crew, was kind of thematically tied to it being the first one I’d done in a while, noting a kind of fresh start. And the one I’m working on now (The script is halfway done and characters are all getting redesigned rigs in Toon Boom Harmony rather than Flash) is going to be something completely different as well, and I have ideas for a more ambitious finale whenever I finally decide to put a bow on the series. So long story short, I went with no format in mind to a set format in mind to nowadays thinking ahead of time what type of format suits each individual story idea best.

What was involved in finding voice actors for the series? Because they all do a really good job, and sound extremely close to the ones Nintendo used to use for the same characters…

When I first started the original 2 or 3 episodes, I knew nothing about scouting for voices, so everyone was originally voiced by myself and various friends and family – my brother was the original 9-Volt and Red voice, for example, which felt natural to me as he was still fairly young at the time but had already developed a love for theater acting and loved the WarioWare series as well. Though you bring up them sounding close to the original game voices, and I think something that helped was that replaying the games so much and hearing the individual voice clips when you win or lose microgames helped give me an overall idea of what to aim for with each character’s voice.

As things progressed, by the third episode I ended up redesigning & recasting a lot of characters, both due to those friends and family wanting to move on as well as me having a better idea of the direction to go with their voices. I got more familiar with voice acting sites and forums where I could scout for talent and found some great people willing to work on the project – Kat, Ana & Ashley in particular were played by Kira Buckland from Episode 3 onwards, who did a ton of classic Newgrounds-era voice work and is now professionally voicing characters like 2B in Nier and a ton of other games and anime. I was also really blown away by Joe Gaskill, who played Wario in Episode 7, but he chose to shift focus to stage work after recording it, so fair warning to brace for more recasting in the future.

WarioWare Tooned Ashley Scene
Kira Buckland voices Ashley in later episodes of WarioWare Tooned

The series has also done rather well for itself online too. Did you expect it to become this popular?

It’s very humbling, especially given that, as is often the case with artists and animators (Especially 15 years removed from the first few episodes), I look at all of the finished shorts with a way more critical eye than most – even aside from the cruder visuals, there is so much I would do differently with the scripts and timing and voice direction if I made them today with what I’ve learned since. But the most recent one has also had people enjoying it on YouTube, and I even by chance ran into someone at a convention last year who was playing the Gamecube one, Mega Party Games, and when I mentioned my love of the series and making the shorts, he genuinely geeked out because he grew up on them – it was legitimately moving to see someone getting so much enjoyment from my work.

I’d never thought it could still have that kind of impact, and it’s good motivation for me when I’m working on newer stuff, especially since I mostly took a break from animating in the 2010s for a stint as a game and movie reviewer up till 2017, and too often nowadays I feel pressured, like I need to make up for lost time, but I’m practicing just learning to enjoy the animation and creative processes again rather than worry about that. So yeah, I’m grateful that people who were there for the original have fond memories and that newcomers are enjoying the most recent one as well.

Why do you think Nintendo hasn’t just commissioned a WarioWare TV show already?

My guess is the same reason you don’t really see characters and elements appear alongside Wario in stuff like the Mario sports games – Nintendo might just consider the property niche, even though it’s linked to their most iconic series. Or maybe they think it’s too out there for some international markets? But hey, stuff like Mario and Pokemon are strange series conceptually when you step back and take a look at them, too, and a lot of modern cartoons like Spongebob and Teen Titans Go thrive on bizarre and nonsensical humor. I say they should give it a shot.

Mario Odyssey New Donk City Promo Shot
Mario and Pokemon aren’t really any less random/wacky, and those are getting adaptations

Do you think there’s a good chance we might see one in future, given their increased willingness to license out their characters again?

Anything is possible! One of the reasons I love this series and the characters so much is that they’re just such a genuinely creative and endearing bunch of designs and concepts with so much variety by any standards that you could do so many crazy gags and stories with. Japan has a great history with comedic anime that throw rules and logic to the wayside and really go for being so bizarre and frenetic that you can’t help but laugh – I love early 2000s shows like Cromartie High School and Bobobo, and I also look at newer stuff in that vein like Saiki K. and Pop Team Epic, and I’m like, “The world of WarioWare would be PERFECT for the vibe they’re going for with these”. I truly do hope Nintendo tries something in some form – it feels like they’re sitting on a lot of potential.

Either way, onto WarioWare Gold Reanimated. Why did you decide to start this project?

There were several big reasons that made it feel like a natural thing to pursue. First, the concept of Reanimated collabs had really started taking off around this time – I remember the Mama Luigi one had just come out and the Kirby one was gaining major traction. The actual game WarioWare Gold also launched around this time and helped reignite my inner fandom for the series, so besides motivating me to finally hunker down and finish the latest Tooned short, I also looked at its cutscenes, which though funny and fully voiced for the first time, had much more limited animation than previous games. Combine that with the often surreal nature of these collabs switching art styles every few seconds, and that felt like it fit the concept of WarioWare like a glove considering how those games work.

What are your general thoughts on the whole ‘reanimated’ trend anyway? It seems to have become quite a big thing recently, with projects out there to reanimate anything and everything…

It’s gotta be one of my favorite online animation trends. They often work great as tributes to whatever property they’re using the audio from, which means you’ll often see easter eggs involving characters or plot points from stuff like Sonic, Kirby and the like that weren’t originally there. But it’s also great exposure and practice for animators of all skill levels. I contributed shots to the Rayman Origins and Sonic X collabs and both of those were good learning experiences for me as an animator.

Why did you decide to reanimate WarioWare Gold’s cutscenes in particular, rather than those from any other Wario game?

There were three main reasons. First, it was the most recent game in the series after a bit of a hiatus, so it’s the most prominent one unless another one releases for the Switch or something. Second, the issue of the limited visuals that I mentioned earlier left it screaming for a more stylized alternative take. Finally, It’s the only one to have full voice acting, which I feel suits the Reanimate template more than the subtitled pantomime stuff from previous entries.

Previous games didn’t have much voice acting, which made it harder to fit the reanimated template

And how did you choose which scenes to reanimate, given that each of the videos has different ones included…

Trying to include every character’s scenes in one collab would be a crazy task that would take a very long time to finish – there’s over 35 minutes of cutscenes total in the original game, and even the longest reanimated collabs rarely go past a TV episode-length 22 minutes. I basically decided to narrow it down to about half of the total cast, and prioritized scenes that had a larger variety of shots, ie less of the same static shot of 2 characters talking over and over, so that we’d get more dynamic angles and variety in the reanimated shots. The exception to this is Ashley’s scene, but she’s far and away the most popular character, so it felt wrong to leave her out when at the time I wasn’t planning a follow-up.

Ashley Scene
Ashley’s scene was chosen because she’s one of the most popular WarioWare characters

How did you get artists to participate in the project? Was it difficult to find contributors here?

There was actually a decent amount of interest within the first couple of weeks, which was helpful in making progress and eventually gaining more word of mouth as people started sharing their progress on Twitter and YouTube. There were also several animators whose work I saw on social media and in other collabs that just had me feeling like they had styles and approaches that felt like great fits for WarioWare, so I just straight up emailed them and asked if they were interested, and thankfully several of them were.

Once they did get involved, how did you divvy up the shots? Was it just first come first served?

For the sake of being fair, my setup for the original collab was that they could request something featuring a specific character or from a specific scene, and then I’d use a random number generator to pick a shot that met the criteria. With the second collab, because I’m being stricter on the animation quality criteria (Many of the artists with simpler art styles in the first collab neglected to make their shots in proper HD resolution), I’m allowing people to pick specific shots, though one rule across both projects is that someone can only do 1 shot of a specific character. So if someone gets assigned a Wario shot and wants to do another, it has to feature a different character.

Were you surprised how good the artists participating were here? Cause damn, the WarioWare fanbase seems to have tons of really talented artists based on this production!

That’s part of the fun of participating in and watching these collabs. You get to see such a huge variety of talent, whether it’s someone having their own distinct style to another pulling off really gorgeous and fluid animation to another incorporating great visual gags. And yeah, one of the things I’ve been doing with the collab’s Twitter account besides posting updates and retweeting shots is following and sharing stuff from artists who do great Mario and Wario-related fanart. I feel like it helps keep the account active during times where there are lulls in new shots being shared.

Which scenes from the first video do you like the most and why?

I’d rather not play favorite shots when there were so many people who put hard work into their contributions, but I can definitely say that one shot early in the video that’s struck a chord with many YouTube commenters was Mr. Bornn’s Dribble & Spitz shot, which is a big Danganronpa tribute from the character designs to recreating HUD elements. That’s another series I’m fond of, and it was just hilarious to see how many people were both caught off guard but also delighted by it and how dead-on it was visually.

Dribble & Spitz Scene
Mr Bornn’s Dribble & Spitz scene did well with YouTube commenters and fans

Any favourite art styles/artists here? They’re all amazing, but you can still have preferences.

One animator who I reached out to get to participate, Henri Loitiere, has both done several Mario fan animations and has a great art style influenced by 80s/90s-era anime, and it was a lot of fun to see them reinterpret the WarioWare characters and environments in it. Sailor Bomber, who was among the artists I reached out to after seeing a shot in the Kirby collab and thinking their style would fit great, did a really adorable and expressive shot of Penny too – that was definitely a case of a style and character just naturally meshing.

WarioWare Gold Reanimated Kat & Ana Scene
Henri Loitiere animated this scene from WarioWare Gold Reanimated
Penny Club Sugar Scene
Sailor Bomber animated this scene in WarioWare Gold Reanimated

Were there any situations where people couldn’t finish their scenes on time? What did you do in those situations?

Not too much when it came to actual deadlines; I don’t actually think we had anyone who struggled to meet the final due date. There were numerous people who dropped out at various points in the production, though, but that’s to be expected when you have to choose between a non-profit, for fun thing and real life obligations.

Regardless, the first collab video was a huge success, raking in over 255,000 views on YouTube. Did you expect it to be this popular?

WarioWare Gold Reanimated Stats
Behon didn’t expect the collab to be viewed more than 250,000 times on YouTube

I genuinely didn’t see it reaching a quarter million views. Other collabs like the Hotel Mario Reanimate have passed the million mark, but I’d thought that I picked too niche a game and property to reach anything in the hundreds of thousands. Consider me happily surprised there.

What did you think about all the news coverage the project received? We remember GoNintendo ran on a story on this at one point, as did a few other media outlets…

Confession time – I sent the link to GoNintendo. I’ve loved that site for years and they often showcase great fan work, so I thought it was worth sending the collab their way. But I saw it brought up on other gaming sites and communities, and that was very heartwarming.

Do you think WarioWare Gold Reanimated may have brought in many new Wario fans?

It would be amazing if it did! The series has had few new entries in the past decade, and as fun a game as Gold was, I and many others lamented that it was a 3DS exclusive over a year after the Switch had launched and become Nintendo’s dominant console. I still think they missed a money maker by not doing a remaster or some sort of companion game for that system. So if this collab was a way for some to discover these crazy characters and fast-paced microgame structure, that’s awesome.

Wario Ware Gold Artwork
WarioWare Gold being a 3DS game may not have been a great decision by Nintendo

Still, let’s start wrapping things up now. First of all, what are you planning to work on once Warioware Gold Reanimated is finished? Anything exciting?

I’ve actually been working on some things alongside the collab since its inception, some of which I’m hoping to release next year. Like I said, a new WarioWare fan short is in the early stages, and it’s going to be a unique episode with a shift in structure, mainly due to it actually being a sort of tribute to some other series that I want to be faithful to while remaining strange and funny. The characters are all being redesigned with elements from Gold’s style and it’s the first script for the series I’ve written in years because of how long 7 took me to complete – it will be exciting and interesting to see what the series is like in this new form.

Beyond that, I’m already hard at work on a fully original animated series for YouTube and Newgrounds called Spacious. People who have followed me for a while may remember one test short for it way back around 2008 and another with revamped designs and voices around 2017, so to say it’s been a long time coming is an understatement. It’s an original creation and a real passion project, and I hope people find enjoyment in each episode.

Finally, I’ve been podcasting since late 2016 with a show called Sketch Watch Play, where me and various guest hosts discuss, critique, and joke about all sorts of pop culture in movies, TV, cartoons and games. This can be anywhere from revisiting every Ninja Turtles series to unpacking time travel paradoxes in Back to the Future. I recently resumed the show after a yearlong hiatus, so definitely look it up if you like jokey discussions on those sorts of things.

What about future ambitions as an artist as a whole? Are you interested in working in TV, film, game development…

Working in some creative form on games would also be amazing, but trying to tackle that on top of everything else would be spreading myself thin by this point. I’m studying and practicing various parts of the animation process, like character design, cutout and hand-drawn animation in Toon Boom, writing and boarding for TV & film, and will just have to see what happens over time with that. I’ve also started practicing indie voice acting and that’s been a fun experience so far, though working in cartoons still remains my #1 goal.

Finally, what advice would you give someone wanting to get started as an animator, or who wants to run a project like this?

For those who want to animate or make art, start by studying and practicing anatomy and figure drawing. There are a lot of great resources online to find references for those as well as physical books. Second, identify artists and media that are your biggest inspirations, and try analyzing those to get a sense of their design and motion philosophies. Third, while it’s always fun to try and draw your take on existing characters, don’t be afraid to come up with your own as well. It’s good for practice as well as developing your own personal touch.

For running a Reanimate collab or something similarly structured, the biggest things I can recommend is to be both polite with those who apply and/or participate and to have patience with the process of getting everything finished and stitched together. WarioWare Gold Reanimated took nearly two years to put together, and the second collab we’ve started for the remaining cutscenes will likely take longer given the greater amount of shots to cover. Try and schedule regular progress checks well ahead of time and keep participants posted on them, and create something like a Twitter or Discord dedicated to the collab both to build interest and keep people updated.

Thanks for the art tips there Behon! Yeah, knowing figure drawing and anatomy are certainly important things for an artist, as are learning from other creators whose works you enjoy.

And yeah, patience is certainly a virtue where creative works are concerned. As the old saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and expecting it to be is just setting yourself up for disappointment further down the line. So take it slowly, structure the project well, and remember that almost all your contributors have actual jobs and lives to focus on too and cannot devote their entire existence to your collab or game.

Either way, thanks for agreeing to be interviewed, and congrats on the amazing job you’ve done with both WarioWare Tooned and WarioWare Gold Reanimated. They’re fantastic projects, and we’re happy to see they’ve done so well online because of that. Here’s hoping your future endeavours work out as well as these two have!

Still, what do you think of WarioWare Tooned or WarioWare Gold Reanimated? Are you a longtime fan of Behon’s work who learnt a few more interesting details about the man and his efforts here? What other games do you hope are going to get ‘reanimated’ in future?

Tell us your thoughts on the matter in the comments below, on the Gaming Latest forums, or on our Discord server today!

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