Nintendo dev says very few of the company's prototypes become commercial games

Kosuke Yabuki has worked on a number of high-profile titles at Nintendo, including games like ARMS and Mario Kart. In a panel at GDC, Yabuki touched on a number of details concerning Nintendo's approach to game design. One of the most interesting tidbits came from a matter-of-fact statement about Nintendo's releases.

“Very few of the prototypes that the R&D teams design at Nintendo blossom into commercial games.”

Yabuki says this happens because Nintendo focuses on releasing games that don't fit into existing game genres, as well as games that don't follow trends.


R.I.P. Project Hammer.

Thu Mar 22 18 12:26am
(Updated 1 time)

I can't say with certainty, but I heard part of the reason Project Hammer got shelved was because the developers went way over budget and yet it was still incomplete... rather than spend even more money to finish it and release it, they killed it...

It seems to be way more complicated then just going over budget. These two older videos by unscene64 are very informative about this very game and even the studio. Watch the videos and you'll see. Poor studio....
We'll never get a true confirmation from Nintendo, but this may be the closest we'll ever know about it.


Yeah, pretty sure this has been confirmed for a long time now... and it kinda sucks too... I mean, I understand their passion for being unique, but at the same time, I can't help but feel like they could do equally amazing things with existing genres and trends.

Shame. I could only imagine the crazy unique new IP's as well as genres we'll never see. Instead we get 30 more 2D platformers instead.

Even some of those 2D platformers could have been crazy unique new IPs... Kirby's Epic Yarn for instance. I do wish Nintendo would make more new IPs, instead of redesign existing IPs to fit the concept.

You say this as if Nintendo doesn't make new IP constantly

And even fewer again get shown to the public only to later be cancelled.

Sounds similar to Apple, who create products and service prototypes that never see the light of day. It’s interesting that companies can keep these secrets under wraps.

Thu Mar 22 18 12:56am
Rating: 1

All of the prototypes are retained, and for better or worse it seems like on a long enough timeline most of the concepts and ideas behind them ultimately wind up getting packaged into other products in some form or another -- e.g., Project Guard getting turned into a Star Fox mini-game add-on and Project Drunken Robot Sumo-Wrestling being recycled into a Labo game.

Imagine if instead of one Nintendoland we instead got a couple dozen or so $60 versions of those mini-games. That is the alternative timeline we are missing out on.

Imagine if instead of one Nintendoland we instead got a couple dozen or so $60 versions of those mini-games. That is the alternative timeline we are missing out on.

Implying those games could be expanded upon into full-fledged individual titles... I seem to recall a lot of them being fairly straight-forward and shallow...

Because, much like Wii Play and 1-2 Switch they were never intended as concepts for a proper game. All three tiles are just tech demo compilations meant to show the system's capabilities.

Thu Mar 22 18 04:28am
(Updated 1 time)

"Because, much like Wii Play and 1-2 Switch they were never intended as concepts for a proper game."

Robo and Guard were very much originally intended as concepts for proper standalone games. After being shown off to the press at E3 2014, they even received spots on Nintendo's official release calendar both via PR messages and in their internal financial reports.

At the time, they were at roughly the identical stage of development as a funny little concept about human-squid hybrids shooting ink at each other, whose showfloor demo was almost the entirety of the game at that point.

Sakaguchi: The game was only about 10% complete at E3... At E3, we only had one weapon. We only had one stage, and only a mock-up of the sequence. So when we returned from E3, our big issue was figuring out how to turn all that into a product.

Nogami: At E3, we already had the heart of the game, which was “it’s fun to shoot ink”, and “it would be fun to turn that into a turf claiming game,” and we also had the play cycle of strategizing. But it wasn’t something that would keep people playing yet.

All three of those stage demos could have been expanded into full games or all three could have had a course correction and wound up relegated to miniature side diversions in other games. Personally, I think Nintendo made the right call with which one to develop into a full product and which ones to shelve and then ultimately fold into other things.

My bad, I was referring to Nintendoland, although you already answered that on another comment.
Both Nintendoland and Wii Play were shown as tech demos at E3 with no actual desire to turn them into full games, and that's what I was trying to convey.

Splatoon and Giant Robot/Guard are another case entirely.

"I seem to recall a lot of them being fairly straight-forward and shallow"

Er, yes? That was kinda my whole point, lol.

A lot of (dumb) people think Nintendo is taking fully formed games that are like 95% completed and then just throwing them and all the work and money that went into them into the trash for... some reason?

Instead of the reality, which from what we know is that the mountain of stuff that Yabuki is talking about getting canned is half-baked conceptual crap that for the most part no one would want to play a full game of.

Oh... my bad. It sounded like you were criticizing Nintendo for mashing various ideas together to make games like Nintendoland instead of taking those mini-games and turning them into separate, full-fledged games...

This is both a benefit and a detriment to them. This means that when they do release a game it's gonna be unique, but when they can't find anything unique to add to a series, they'll leave it to gather dust on the shelf no matter how excellent and revered the games are i.e. Golden Sun, F-Zero and Baten Kaitos.

This reminded me of that Yoshi Story demo that leaked for the GBA. It actually played really well and showed off the power of the GBA. Wish they had released it.

Fri Mar 23 18 12:23am
Rating: 1

This is funny because it is half untrue.

Like, yes, they have on numerous occasions said LOL WE CAN'T DO THIS UNLESS WE DO SOMETHING UNIQUE, but they also tend to release a lot of the same stuff.

When they DO give in to current trends, they try to be cute and call it something else. "First Person Adventure" or "Open Air" for example.

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