Tuesday, April 23, 2013

SPC Interviews: Manfred Linzner (Shin'en Multimedia)

If you recall, it was July of last year where SuperPhillip Central had the chance to interview Mr. Manfred Linzner of Shin'en Multimedia, makers of such technological impressive games such as Iridion 3D (Game Boy Advance), Nanostray and its sequel Nanostray 2 (DS), FAST Racing League (WiiWare), and Nano Assault Neo (Wii U eShop), for starters.

The studio's next project is Jett Rocket II: The Wrath of Takai, a 3DS eShop sequel to the WiiWare original, Jett Rocket. I talk with Manfred about the developer's transition between SD to HD, future Wii U projects, working with Nintendo since 1999, and so much more.

Phil Stortzum (PS): First of all, thank you for this interview opportunity.

Shin’en is known for being technological geniuses when it comes to Nintendo hardware. Now that you have an HD platform to work on in the Wii U, what challenges have you faced moving onto development for HD games, if any?

Manfred Linzner (ML): Thanks for your kind word. We really try hard to create something remarkable with every game. Going from 3DS to Wii U was very easy. The Wii U has so much power to offer that you can simply do what you want without having to worry about performance. The only challenge left is how to create something truly unique with so much power. So I think Nano Assault Neo was a step in the right direction for us.

PS: How do you think the Wii U GamePad brings innovation and a more enjoyable experience to gaming?

ML: The GamePad is great, because it gives the user so much freedom how to play the games. Many games need hardware controls to be fun, some games also work great with touch input. We also think it's vital to let the user enjoy the game his way. No matter on TV or GamePad or even with a mixed setup. And i think the best uses of the GamePad are still ahead of us.

PS: Do you have any unique ideas to implement with the Wii U GamePad for future Shin’en Wii U projects?

ML: I don't think there will be the one novel idea for GamePad use. It's just another tool in your arsenal to deliver great gameplay in different ways. For all of our Wii U games we take a lot of time to determine the best possible usage of the GamePad.

PS: Speaking of future projects, Nano Assault Neo is a glorious looking game. Do you have any more Wii U projects already underway? 

ML: We are working on two new Wii U games currently. One of them is our first game with network play.

PS: Your next upcoming 3DS project is Jett Rocket II: The Wrath of Taikai. How are you making the game a different experience from the WiiWare original?

ML: There is so much diversion and fun packed into this title that it's hard to believe it's 'just' an eShop game. On Wii you had a 3rd person jump'n'run but on 3DS we give the player different game play styles for every level.

PS: What new features for Jett Rocket II can you confirm? How will the game be structured?

ML: We will reveal more information in the next months. 

PS: How close are we to the release of Jett Rocket II? Gamers can never have enough platformers, after all.

ML: The game is planned to be released in Q3/213.

PS: Shin’en seems to be coming into its own on yet another Nintendo platform with the 3DS. How has your mastery of the 3DS changed since your first titles on the system? Is your studio more comfortable with the 3DS? Is there more for you to learn on how to handle the power of the 3DS?

ML: We learned a lot since our first game "Nano Assault (Ex)*". While developing JR2 we also improved our engine a lot to make the game possible in 60fps.

*You can see SuperPhillip Central's review of Nano Assault EX here.

PS: How has the stereoscopic 3D of the system benefited your games, if at all?

ML: I think Nano Assault shows how much 3D can add to the visuals of a game. Also for JR2 the 3D adds a lot of immersion to the game. I think 3D is like HD. You don't want to go back to SD when you played a game in HD.

PS: How has working with Nintendo been? Since last generation they have been more relaxed on their policies. Have you noticed this, and how has it benefitted your studio?

ML: We are already a Nintendo developer since 1999. We never felt really restricted by their policies because they made always sense for their systems. I think the changes at Nintendo in the last years are most beneficial to new developers. In the past it was really very difficult to become a Nintendo developer. Today this is much easier.

PS: Shin’en has come a long way since the Iridion series on the Game Boy Advance. Are there any games in your studio’s past that you would have wanted to do differently? Would you have tackled the development in a different way?

ML: Of course. I think we would do every game a bit differently, well, maybe beside Art of Balance. This is a title where everything came together quite perfectly in our view.

PS: Do you have a personal favorite game that you enjoyed working on the most? Can you elaborate on why?

ML: Personally I had the most fun working on Jett Rocket for Wii. That was because I never made a 3rd person jump'n'run before and there were really tons of challenges to solve. I like challenges.

PS: Conversely, what game that Shin’en has developed gave your team the most headaches during its development? Can you explain why?

ML: I think "FAST - Racing League" was tough. We tested so many different ideas that didn't convince us. Then one day we tried the "Phase Switching" gameplay and all problems were gone. It was simply perfect. The game gave us also headaches allowing two players on splitscreen while still achieving 60 fps. To solve that problem we created a software occlusion culling module for our engine. I believe FAST is the only Wii game that uses such an approach. 

PS: What is in the future for Shin’en? Have you ever thought about developing for other platforms besides those of Nintendo’s?

ML: We are pretty happy with the performance of our titles on the eShop. We still feel that releasing our games on Nintendo consoles is something special. And most important is that Nintendo players do really care about gaming and honor what we do. What more can you ask for?

PS: Is there anything else you’d like to say to the readers of SuperPhillip Central?

ML: Thank you for your support!


I once again thank Manfred Linzner for his time with answering these questions for this interview. It was very much appreciated, and it answered a lot of questions I had with the studio. As stated, Shin'en's next game is Jett Rocket II: The Wrath of Takai, and as Manfred answered, the game is planned for a release in the third quarter of this year. No doubt we'll be seeing more of the game as its release date approaches. Stick with SuperPhillip Central for when the game comes out we'll have an in-depth review.

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