Itâ€™s been a long wait for the millions of fans of the fondly remembered Yoshiâ€™s Island on SNES, now that its sequel on Nintendo DS is out in the US and will be out in Europe on December first, Nintendo of Europe interviews producer Toyokazu Nonaka (Yoshiâ€™s Universal Gravitation, Mario Slam Basketball) to find out more about Yoshi’s big new handheld game…
Nintendo of Europe (NoE): Can you tell us something about the development process? Who created the game and who oversaw its production?
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Toyokazu Nonaka (TN): â€œThe game was developed by a company called Artoon. They are a second party developer that we have a lot of faith in at Nintendo. At Artoonâ€™s side, Mr. Naoto Ohshima was the producer, so he could really be seen as the creator of this game.
â€œNow, at Nintendo, Mr. Takashi Tezuka was the person supervising the project, and he would make sure that all the elements such as level design, graphics and sound were in line to create a true Yoshi game. Mr. Tezuka is the general manager of EAD Software Development Department and he has given me a lot of good advice and instructions, which was very helpful at times when I was feeling a little disoriented! So with him as the senior producer of this game, I would say that the title is really a collaboration of Mr. Ohshima and Mr. Tezuka.â€
NoE: Were some of the people involved in the original SNES game also involved in the DS version?
TN: â€œYes, they were. The members who supervised level design, graphics, and sound at Nintendoâ€™s side were people who were also involved in the original Yoshi game. And Mr. Tezuka was one of them.â€
NoE: The original game made a big impact due to its unique visual style, to which this DS sequel is very close. How would you compare the two in terms of graphics?
TN: â€œThe first game was outstanding on all levels, and the graphics were indeed of very high quality. I think we have taken over all the right visual cues from the original for this DS game. But actually, I would like players to judge for themselves â€“I would love to hear their opinions.â€
NoE: Yoshiâ€™s Island DS looks like a very accessible game. How did you ensure it would be challenging enough for fans of the original?
TN: â€œI think you will find out when you play that the early stages are really accessible, and it isnâ€™t very hard to reach the goals. But then when you progress further, youâ€™ll see the challenge increase a lot. But while it is challenging we didnâ€™t make it outrageously difficult.
Also, once youâ€™ve finished all the levels, you will discover an even more challenging feature, so that should be something to look forward to!â€
NoE: A big new addition to the gameplay is the use of abilities of the different babies. Would you say that youâ€™ve made a â€œstrategic platform gameâ€ by making this such an important gameplay element?
TN: â€œYes, you could say that. In this game, when you change baby characters, a strategic element kicks in, and more puzzle solving intellect will be required in many cases. But, here too, itâ€™s not outrageously difficult to play, so donâ€™t let it scare you off!â€
NoE: The dual screens of the Nintendo DS are being put to good use in terms of exploring every inch of the levels. How did thinking of levels in a bigger vertical space influence the game design?
TN: â€œBecause the DS has an expanded vertical visual range, we were able to do some really cool things with wind effects and bouncy mushrooms.
But also, because you have two screens at our disposal, even if one screen is in use for displaying the character you are using, we could use the other screen to tease the player with flowers and coins. This gives you a taste of things to come, and also makes you wonder â€˜how am I going to get there?â€™â€
NoE: We already know Baby Mario, Baby Peach, Baby DK and Baby Wario will be playable characters. Can we expect any other surprises?
TN: â€œApart from these characters, Baby Bowser will appear. But, I cannot tell you yet if he is a friend or enemy. You will have to see for yourselfâ€¦â€
NoE: The gameplay mechanic of sticking out Yoshiâ€™s tongue and shooting eggs at different areas of the screen is something that would really lend itself well to the Wii Remote. Are there any plans for Yoshiâ€™s Island Wii?
TN: â€œAny plans for Yoshiâ€™s Island on Wii? Well, I think I will keep that a secret for now!â€