Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon; Iwata Asks Now Up!

As of earlier today, Nintendo have just uploaded the Iwata Asks interview for Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon, complete with commentary from the likes of Next Level Games and Shigeru Miyamoto!  Here’s the link to the article on the official site:

http://iwataasks.nintendo.com/interviews/#/3ds/luigis-mansion-dark-moon/0/0

And here’s my analysis of the article and some of the interesting points it raises:

First up, something I found a tad amusing.  Everyone from Next Level Games wore Luigi hats to the interview!

Next Level Games plus Luigi Hats

 

Above: That’s dedication right there that is!

Now, there’s a bit of talk about how much work they had to put in late last year because of the delayed release date and which staff were responsible for which elements of the game (Bryce Holliday, Chad York and Brian Davis are the ones interviewed and were partly responsible for the direction, audio and gameplay/boss programming respectively).  But I can’t really say much there other than that everyone did a fantastic job with the game.  So let’s skip ahead a bit…

Chad:

Everyone was incredibly excited. I had been involved with the audio for Mario Strikers4 and Punch-Out!!5, but Luigi’s Mansion isn’t a sports game like those, so I thought, “I can make all kinds of music!” I was so happy I was in seventh heaven!

 

The audio director seems pretty happy he got to work on a non sports game soundtrack.  Can’t blame him either, the music in Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon is absolutely superb with not a bad theme among it:

Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon seems to have a soundtrack at LEAST as good as the one in the first game, and most likely even much better.  It’s that good.  Moving on…

Brian

I’ve always been a big fan of Nintendo. Ikebata-san really knows that! (laughs)

You can definitely tell these guys are Nintendo fans.  Heck, you could tell that from Mario Strikers and Punch Out alone, but it’s even clearer in Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon.  The game is everything a great sequel to Luigi’s Mansion should be.

Ikebata

But he talked about how, within the structure of a drama, events unfold within the story arc of a single episode and how it was produced and filmed, so I realized that paying attention to such things while watching TV shows is important for game development. And Miyamoto-san was watching programs I had never seen, so the next week, I tried to watch them.

An interesting way to look at the similarities between games and TV, although I’m not sure it’s the best way.  After all, Paper Mario (including Super Paper Mario) all mimicked the style of a TV show (with the chapters being comparable to episodes and the main story as akin to a main story arc), but the problem with some of these is that they didn’t work that well in game form.

Chad

But Miyamoto-san would say, for example, “Is this really fun?” and “Is this how you want to make this?” Those are from the player’s perspective more than a game developer’s. It was incredibly informative to receive opinions from so many viewpoints.

This advice attributed to Miyamoto is good advice.  Way too many creators only look at things from their own viewpoint and fail to realise when it’s not fun or not in favour of the consumer.  It’s an especially big problem in software development and anything with ‘indie’ in the title.

Brian

And hearing rumors that Miyamoto-san was coming to Canada, people from other development companies were hanging around our company. They wanted to exchange data with Miyamoto-san via StreetPass8, so they held a Nintendo 3DS over their heads! (laughs)

Wow, people over in Canada really looked forward to Miyamoto’s visit!  To have people from other companies visit and hang around just to exchange data with Miyamoto via StreetPass is quite the level of dedication!

Brian

Okay. (laughs) At first, I was surprised at how humble he is. At the same time, his sharp observations when evaluating what we were developing were impressive. We had him look at the spider boss, and I was surprised at how he beat it right away, and, while playing, tossed out comments right and left.

It’s a shame they don’t go into more detail here, I’d love to know what suggestions Miyamoto made that changed how the boss played out, it’d be a fascinating bit of insight in game development history.  But from what I’ve heard, it seems like quite an interesting battle (what with you having to use multiple methods to hurt it and take away each of its hitpoints).

Miyamoto

So to talk about player controls in Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, we remade them more than ten times.

Wow, more than ten different control schemes were considered and scrapped/remade?  That’s certainly dedication to making the game control well!  I guess converting the format to a console with only one analogue stick was far more difficult than everyone thought…

Miyamoto

The game features a haunted mansion, so elements that were like a parody of haunted-mansion movies kept developing. But Luigi’s Mansion is its own unique world. So I told them they should develop more freely.

Nice to know.  It also explains much of the difference in tone between the first game and this one, the first was basically a parody of survival horror games like Resident Evil complete with all the stock haunted house tropes.   Either way, the level of originality shown in Dark Moon is amazing, so it was definitely a good thing that Miyamoto got Next Level Games to try more unique stuff and not just try and parody horror films.

Miyamoto

For example, on the stage “Haunted Towers,” which has two towers flanking a big tree, we were talking about what to do for the boss, and I said, “How about making the stairs the boss?” and we went back and forth for a while about how we could achieve that. We came up with ideas together then.

Classic Miyamoto here. The idea of a boss based on a staircase is something no one other than him and Nintendo would ever usually consider (especially in a game like this).

Bryce

At first, we were considering a plant boss.

Bryce

But Miyamoto-san said that was too ordinary.

I don’t blame him.  The idea of a man eating plant as a boss is way, way overdone now…

plant bosses

 

Above: And that’s just the Mario examples!

It’s nice to know they tried something new with the bosses in this game, especially in a day like today with so much ‘conservatism’ in game design.

Bryce

Then we made it so that climbing the stairs itself was the purpose of the gameplay. We lined up three really long staircases and  you had to go up, zigzagging from one to the next, but if you messed up, you’d fall.

Miyamoto

Yes. If you run fast, you’ll sort of see a hint, so if you try hard to race up, you can clear it. Then, just when you’re relieved to finally reach the top, a boss in the form of a short staircase comes out—da-da-doom!—but it’s mostly for show.

Bryce

After running up all those stairs, if a really strong boss appeared, it would be stressful, so we decided to treat facing that boss as a special bonus for successfully climbing up the stairs.

Now this is some good game design.  Trust me with this, once you’ve got a difficult ‘stage’ before a boss, you do not want your boss to be ridiculously difficult.  I did when making a fan game, and I really kind of regret it now.  Got to give the player a nice breather after an annoying or semi difficult bit of level design.

And the idea of stairs and climbing is definitely more interesting than just another Piranha Plant boss.

Bryce

For Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, we’d been told to always keep beginners in mind as we made it. In the end, I think it turned out so both skilled gamers—of course—and beginners can enjoy it.

Great advice here.  It’s why Nintendo’s games are so fun, they’re not aimed purely at the kind of people who spend hours a day playing video games and hence don’t alienate newer games.  We need more of that in this day and age.

Iwata

Ikebata-san, I bet Miyamoto-san was extremely demanding and strict in asking why you weren’t making use of the advantages of the Nintendo 3DS’s structure.

Good on Miyamoto.  It’s nice to see someone actually trying to get people to make use of the 3DS’s features, far too many designers just stick a map on the lower screen and say it’s done.  Or use the Game Pad for yet another lame ‘assist mode’ when making a Wii U game.  Now we need the third parties to follow suit.

Ikebata

Yes, there was. We decided to put in a multiplayer mode when we started the planning phase.

Hence why the multiplayer in Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon isn’t just another quickly thrown in extra like such modes often are in non Nintendo games.

It’s also nice to know someone at Nintendo sees the value in multiplayer.

Miyamoto

Actually, when making the game for the Nintendo GameCube, we had experimented with a multiplayer mode in which Luigi would encounter Luigi.

You mean like this?

Luigi meets Luigi

 

Practically speaking though, I don’t mind that it was scrapped from the first game.  Seems like it might have clashed a bit with the more ‘serious’ mood of the game to have two Luigis meeting.

Ikebata

Yeah. It’s fun just to watch four Luigis gripped with fear gathering and nervously exploring. And this time, cooperative play is central, so there isn’t much competition. So when Luigis encounter each other, I think it’s incredibly pleasing.

Expected in a game like this, as hilarious as a four Luigi battle royale in a haunted house might have been.

Ikebata

In “Luigi’s Ghost Mansion,” if Luigi passes out, friends can come help. But in the sequel that we were making to Luigi’s Mansion, once he passed out, he stayed that way. So we changed it so that you could help Luigi when he passes out in multiplayer mode for this one as well.

Miyamoto

However, you use the +Control Pad to request aid, so it’s a somewhat special control.

Good choice they made here.  How can you have a multiplayer game (a co-op game especially) when one player stays ‘dead’ after they run out of health?  Seems like it’d kill the mood and make it unfun.

Plus, if it works in Nazi Zombies, it’ll work in Dark Moon.  Actually, the Scarescraper kind of reminds me of that Call of Duty mode to be honest, especially the infinite floor option.

I also like the pressing a button to request aid thing.

The part I like most actually arose out of a problem. When we were thinking about what would serve as motivation in multiplayer mode for moving from one room to the next, we decided to make use of  Polterpup.

I have a feeling the Polterpup is going to be Nintendo’s main marketable character in this title bar Luigi, E Gadd and King Boo.  He’s certainly being treated like something that’ll become super popular.

Iwata

It’s a ghostly dog who isn’t clearly friend or foe.

Chad

Right. But it likes Luigi for some reason. It appears in story mode too,

Luigi in house

It becomes a friend eventually.  Not saying when though.

Chad

Another thing I like just as much as Polterpup is what I call Luigi-humming.

I love how this returned.  In the original game, Luigi actually hummed differently depending on the situation and his current health.  Not to mention his opera voice in this remix:

Above: They SO should have done something like this in Dark Moon.

Ikebata

 That’s when Luigi hums along with the background music. But I suppose that doesn’t have much to do with gameplay! (laughs)

I really like how he hums the mansion theme in this game though.

Brian

We made Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon so that people who haven’t played its predecessor can still have a completely new game experience. But we put a little idea in the latter half that will greatly please players of the first game, and that’s what I like most.

Ooh, I wonder what this idea is?  Is it the possible return of Boolossus in the museum?  I’ve heard rumours of that…

Or… someone… familiar… returning.  Not gonna say who.

Bryce

My favorite part is how, while this is a game about ghost-busting, it’s humorous and has dramatic developments. Also, even as someone who made the game, when I play the final version, I can enjoy Luigi’s reactions and play in trepidation of the various tricks— like how ghosts will appear. Early in development, we learned about a keyword in Japanese called “karakuri” (mechanism or trick) from Miyamoto-san, and that is at work throughout the whole game.

This is made even better by Luigi’s hilarious reactions.  Heck, the official art portrays this stuff fantastically:

 

official art 1

Luigi run

Luigi scared

Ikebata

Ichimodajin refers to sucking up a bunch of ghosts all at once. In this game, you can suck up anything with the Poltergust 5000. It’s fun to suck up just one ghost, but what feels even better is…

Oh this is going to be a pain to remember the spelling of.  And all the Luigi’s Mansion fans are going to love using this Japanese word everywhere…

But I guess it’s nice we’ve got an official term for this stuff.

Numerous ghosts show up around Luigi. The game gets difficult when you’re sucking up a ghost in front of him but one attacks from behind. In order to avoid attacks, two techniques are key to this as an action game: Sucking up ghosts in a group with ichimodajin and  using the B Button while sucking up some ghosts in order to evade an attacking ghost.

I love the way he leaps over the ghosts to dodge them.  It’s quite neat.

Could have been real useful in the original game…

kebata

That’s right. It’s made so that the more you suck up lots of ghosts all at once with ichimodajin, the more money you get, and the better your score is.

So the more ghosts you catch at once, the more money you make?  That’s a pretty great way of making the high score feature actually have  a use and to reward expert players.

Brian

As a fan of the previous game and a developer of Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, I’m very proud of this project accomplished in collaboration with Nintendo. To the fans who have waited patiently for so long, now it’s your turn to enjoy it. We’re looking forward to enjoying multiplayer mode together with people all over the world.

I’m sure everyone agrees with this.  Heck, I know I’m looking forward to getting the game in a few days time and playing multiplayer mode.

Chad

I would encourage people to enjoy playing with Luigi. Of course, I think a lot of people would say it’s fun to play as a hero like Mario, but Luigi is a character much closer to me.

This and Iwata’s next point are really, really interesting and explain why characters like Luigi seem to be real popular on the internet.

Iwata

That’s right. People are more like Luigi. (laughs)

Chad

That’s why I think he’s easier to identify with.

In a nut shell, why it seems like The Lancer/sixth ranger style characters like Luigi, Proto Man, etc are more popular online than the hero is.  Because it’s easier to identify with a somewhat shy coward than a brave and overly confident hero who gets everything right.

Bryce

The original concept was having the real world and an alternate world. In other words, it began with the idea of something like a spirit world existing in the same room. For example, there are common areas between the worlds of light and darkness in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

I have to say, I’m kind of glad we got the Dark Light in its current form rather than dimension switching and parallel worlds.  Why?  This sums it up:

However, that kind of system, with two different worlds, is nothing new any longer

And similarly, I’ve always found the concept of a two world system kind of annoying. It’s not bad, but you do have to admit this gimmicks tend to otherwise take over the whole game and make navigation annoying, so the current Dark Light system is more logical and conveniant and doesn’t turn this to ‘Luigi’s Mansion; Two Worlds Edition’.

Ikebata

Something else we haven’t discussed much so far is how you can  peek into all kinds of places. If you peek through a hole in the wall or through a window, you may receive hints for how to proceed through the game, or see ghosts playing, or learn something about the ghost world, so I hope people will peek into all kinds of places. We put a lot of effort into that.

It also makes the game far more interesting than most games, since it makes the world actually feel alive and like things are happening when Luigi isn’t in the room.

Iwata

That is represented on the  package design.

I never noticed this being referenced in the packaging until they mentioned it.  If you haven’t seen it, here’s a picture of the box:

luigis_mansion_dark_moon_box_art

 

Above: Luigi peeking into a new room on the box of Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon.

Miyamoto

The title this time in Japanese is Luigi’s Mansion 2, so it may look like your typical sequel, but even though we used assets from the previous game—such as a haunted mansion, the Poltergust and Professor E. Gadd—the game content has quite drastically…

Iwata

You changed it.

Yeah, it definitely looks like a great sequel.  And you have to admit, the changes seem like they’re for the best, I wouldn’t want just another mission pack sequel complete with the same feel of the original.  Dark Moon is everything a Luigi’s Mansion sequel should be.

There’s much more in terms of interesting things to see in the Iwata Asks interview, so you should definitely read it if you haven’t already.  And in case you want to see the footage included with the article, watch this video:

All in all, a great read for Luigi’s Mansion fans with tons of interesting information, so go and read the full interview now!

 

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