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Switch News channel features a Nintendo interview with Jared Moldenhauer, the co-creator of Cuphead

A match made in heaven

You can bet Nintendo is super proud to have Cuphead on their platform. It's a title many thought would never come over, while still being a perfect game for the Switch. Showcasing the surprise of Cuphead on the latest Switch Nindies Showcase must have been so satisfying for all teams involved.

Nintendo was quick to follow up that reveal with a special interview shared on the Switch News channel. Nintendo sat down with Jared Moldenhauer, the co-creator of Cuphead, to talk about the game in detail. Check out the full interview below.

How would you describe Cuphead in your own words?

Cuphead is a homage back to the arcade era, fast-paced, twitch-gaming kind of experience. Obviously, it has lots of reference points to [games like] Contra and Gunstar Heroes. Then, visually, we wanted to capture the aesthetics of our favorite childhood cartoons. It’s a mix of old school gaming and classic 2D animation.

What was the inspiration behind making the game?

So we always wanted to make a game… but this wasn’t the first time we had tried. [Around the] early 2000s, we were working on a similar type of game, but we could never get traction. We had a skeleton of the game and knew where we wanted to go with it. Time passed and we reached a point where we were more established in life. We could sit down and put our best into it, which we weren’t able to do before. We were like, “Let’s give it one last shot.” It also stems from games being our primary source of entertainment.

What made you guys decide on the 1920s/30s animated art style?

That just happened to be our favorite art style. There used to be VHS bins at grocery stores, and I think [Silly Symphonies] was like 99 cents; our parents just happened to buy them. I don’t know why we gravitated to it, but for some reason they really spoke to us. We liked the silliness and vibrancy that was kind of further away from reality.

Did the gameplay evolve from the art, or did the art evolve based on the gameplay?

We started with the gameplay, and were pretty confident we could utilize any type of art style – we just had to get the gameplay right. When it came down to choosing the visuals, we knew we wanted to do some form of traditional art style, but not necessarily hand-drawn animation. There were a hundred different [art styles] that we’d tried at that time. Then, we started thinking what if it was exactly a cartoon? What would that look like?

At what point did you guys decide that you were going to do hand-drawn animations for the whole thing? Was there ever a point where you felt like maybe it was too risky?

I think it was basically the minute [co-founder, brother Chad] taught himself how to animate and we had a walk cycle done. When we saw it in motion, there was no turning back! As for fear, I think we were just too into it and too focused. We were like, “We will get this done. It’s probably way too much work… we know we’re a little bit silly.” It’s such a crazy thing for your first game. We figured, if we love the visuals, there’s got to be an audience for it. Make the best game that we can, because this could be the one and only game we ever make. SO, why not make it exactly what we want?

What advice would you give someone looking for a career in the video game industry?

Expect failure. That’s really the best advice I could give. A lot of the time people think that their first idea is going to be ‘the one’ that gets them through the door. You’re going to make mistakes and you’re going to be better at making the next game by learning from what you did during your first approach. Try to do smaller projects and see where it goes. Also, make something that you love; it’s a long process, so if you’re not truly into it, after a year, you’re going to be breaking down and thinking how do I finish a game that I never truly enjoyed?

GoldenEye dev remembers the apprehension about the game's release

Bonding time

Back when GoldenEye was released on the N64, the world was a very different place. You couldn't get immediate feedback on a game from the public at large. The internet wasn't really a widespread thing by any means. This meant that when devs released a game, they had to sit back and wait for magazine reviews, and word of mouth.

GoldenEye dev David Doak looks back on those days in a Nintendo Life interview, and recalls how apprehensive RARE was about GoldenEye being well-received, because they simply had very little idea what the public would think.

I don't have clear memories of the exact public retail release date. There was definitely a fair amount of apprehension because we really had no idea how well it would be received. By way of context, we knew that the game had been very popular in testing – particularly after feedback from NoA / Treehouse – and with the other teams at Rare (there was even an internal trade in illicit multiplayer ROMs), but the public showing at E3 1997 hadn't set the world on fire. The critical feedback was also not immediate – again, there was a lag, certainly for print reviews, and online was still relatively niche.

In 1997 at Rare, there was one machine with direct internet access (in a locked room!) and I would regularly check to see if reviews had come out, and I particularly remember reading IGN's very positive review by Doug Perry. Later, the UK print review in EDGE magazine was another big sigh of relief, and something that mattered a lot to us on the team because it was so respected.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney's play testers were completely baffled by the game, which nearly lead to its cancellation

Nearly disbarred from day one!

The Ace Attorney series is one that's quite popular around the world, and has spawned a number of sequels and spin-offs over the years. That's what makes it crazy to learn the original game almost never saw release.

In an interview with Famitsu, Ace Attorney creator Shu Takumi shares a story about the original prototype for the first Ace Attorney. Apparently the prototype was quite different from what the series ended up being. That initial design approach confused play testers so much that the game almost never saw completion.

The original play testers just didn’t know what to do from the outset, and they all ended up feeling lost until they got game over. Everything just felt kind of disjointed. At that point we just thought, ‘this is useless’, and at one time we were on the verge of having development suspended.

At the time I just couldn’t see us finishing the game. Then one day everyone was called into the meeting room and our boss of that time told us that they would suspend development.

Later on I heard that those words were just to make us realize the danger of our current situation. But at the time everyone was really depressed. There were even some people who cried, and I felt like my heart had been broken. But somehow we had to get back on our feet. So we went through the faults of the prototype, fixing them all one by one. We added a set interrogation time with a prompt so the user knew when it was time for their deductions and also restricted the evidence to five items. So it was clear when certain actions could be used, we had commands appear on screen. When we brought forward all of our proposed changes it was decided we would go ahead. But that was definitely a close call.

Square-Enix character designer reveals a cut Chocobo from Chocobo's Mystery Dungeon: Every Buddy!, and gives hope for new Chocobo's Mystery Dungeon and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles titles

FFCCII, please!

Square-Enix character designer Toshiyuki Itahana has worked on both Chocobo's Mystery Dungeon: Every Buddy! and Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles. In an interview with Twinfinite, we find out about the Chocobo design seen above, which didn't actually make the cut for the game.

I ended up designing a “summoner”, but the planner mentioned it would be difficult to incorporate into the system, so the design didn’t make it into the game. The design is pretty cute though, so I would love to see it make an appearance next time.

Following that, Itahana is asked about the potential for new entries in the Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles series. The response is at least somewhat encouraging.

In general, for both remakes, we want to ensure that the games are properly developed, recreating the fun of the original game, while adding new elements. After everyone gets a chance to hopefully reaffirm the fact that these are enjoyable titles, then we could consider future titles. As such, I would love to hear everyone’s feedback and impression upon playing the Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon and FFCC remakes as it’ll serve as an extremely good reference for whatever next title we may undertake.

Into the Breach's devs nearly gave up on the game, scrapped 60% of their plans

Into the garbage

Into the Breach has been a massive success for Subset Games. Following up FTL was no easy feat, but somehow the team managed to make another hugely addictive, extremely enjoyable experience. That's why it's such a surprise to hear that they almost scrapped the game entirely.

Matthew Davis and Justin Ma, two of the devs from Subset Games, explained the situation in an interview with Kotaku.

Justin : It was literally years of just banging our head against the wall, trying to get something to work and be fun. I hope our next project won’t be that, because it’s a little hard after maybe three or four times throwing out six months of work to still feel like, “There’s something good here.” I’m the more optimistic one of the pair of us, and—

Matthew: You nearly always think, “There’s something here.” And I’m like, “No, it’s terrible.” And we’re back to scratching it all out.

Justin: I think if we’d had to do that one more time, I would’ve been close to giving up.

Matthew: We were very close to giving up on the game.

Justin: If we’re hyper-simplifying, we figured out combat that seemed like there was something interesting. And then we spent forever trying to make a meta-game around that. Is it XCOM? Is it other types of tactic games?

...So maybe 60 percent of the game, we just dropped it all and say, “Okay, it’s just a bunch of missions in a row. Screw it.” We know that the actual combat, which is the entirety of the game as it has released, that was 30 percent of what we were hoping.

Studio MDHR talks about not making Cuphead easier on Switch, and how Microsoft/Nintendo teaming up is 'something beautiful'

A match made in digital heaven

Everywhere you look this week, people are talking about Cuphead coming to the Switch. Somewhere in the fan discussion was worry that the game would have its difficulty tweaked in order to better accommodate the potentially younger audience the game could be hitting. According to Cuphead co-director Jared Moldenhauer, that was never a consideration.

“Some people wondered if we were going to tweak the balance or really adjust things, and I don’t see that as being fair. We wanted to let the next wave of gamers experience it exactly how we intended to make it.”

Even though we've had a few days to let the news settle, most Nintendo and Microsoft fans are still shocked to see Cuphead come to Switch. The love affair between Microsoft and Nintendo has been growing stronger with each day, but this announcement takes things to the next level. Moldenhauer is feeling the same things all other fans are.

“There’s something beautiful happening on the scene, where you see more partnerships between the giants. When it came up that Microsoft wanted to get more viewership on indie games, and they wanted to have more gamers capable of playing these games, they said, would you like to jump on the opportunity of going on Switch?

I’d be a crazy person if I didn’t say yes. Any child who grew up in the era of the Sega-Nintendo wars, those two are the legendary gods of gaming. So since there’s only one left in the consoles, it’s like, how do we get on that? How do we validate our young selves? What would make little Jerry the most excited in the future?”

Indie devs discuss how Switch is becoming the best place for new games, and why they love being a part of the platform

So much love for Nintendo!

Nintendo is really killing it with the Switch, and in turn, that's making for a wonderful environment for developers. Moreso than ever before, Nintendo has found a way to really click with indie devs. In the IGN Video feature above, multiple indie developers discuss not only why the Switch is the right platform for them, but how they're proud to be a part of Nintendo's family.

StudioMDHR’s Jared Moldenhauer

“There’s only so much you can do with as many games are coming out now, but it’s nice to see how much effort [Nintendo] put into supporting [indies] as much as humanly possible. You need to have faith in a company that actually looks for and finds a way to get the most interesting games out there and get them in player’s hands. Nintendo is the type of company that believes in indie games.”

“Something like this is what you dream of. Everything as a kid, knowing the old video game gods of Sega and Nintendo, that you finally got to be on the one that’s still alive, there’s nothing quite like that experience.”

Timberline Studio's Lindsey Rostal

“They see the innovation in games and they just love the creation and the artistic process and want to show those. ...taking [indie devs] to interviews, helping to put us front and center is really important to know you have that support.

A lot of us grew up playing these games on Nintendo, and it’s always been a dream of us to be a part of that. ...there is that feeling like ‘I want to have my game there because my childhood was there and they’re continuing to build this for new childhoods.’”

David Pottinger, CEO of Stranger Things 3 developer BonusXP

“One of the ways Nintendo maintains quality when you look at the games they’re bringing to Switch and you look at the games they’re promoting is honest-to-goodness effort. It just takes effort. You can’t get good curation without that.”

Kirk Scott, Nintendo of America’s Manager of Publisher-Developer Relations

"(We will) actively seek out great content and great developers. (It's) a lot of hard work from our team.”

Oxenfree devs explain why fans should be excited for Afterparty, discuss how they make a visit to Hell fun

Having a Hell of a time

The next game from Oxenfree devs Night School Studios is Afterparty, which has quite a different tone and setting from the team's previous work. That said, there will still be a lot for Oxenfree fans to love, according to studio co-founder Adam Hines.

“In Oxenfree, I think it was fun for people to really dig deeper into the world that we had and the history. You could go pretty deep in terms of tuning into the tour guide stuff and being able to hear the history of the location and ghosts and things. With Afterparty, there’s a lot of references to how hell is run and if you want to you can really go pretty deep into the aspect of what the demons’ jobs are, their relationships with people, why people have died, who’s there, and why. Tthat aspect will be what carries over from Oxenfree.

The tone of Afterparty is very different in that it’s not meant to be a spooky, mysterious thing, it’s a madcap, crazy, raunchy comedy. But, there’s still just a lot of history and weight to all of the characters.”

As a developer, how do you go about making hell a fun place to be? The work starts very early on in Afterparty, as Night School Studios co-founder Sean Krankel explains.

“One of the things that happens right when the game begins is that you get assigned a personal demon…that is born from choices that you, as the player, make fairly early on in this hell processing moment. So this character, her name is Sister Mary Wormhorn, she is born of the two player characters’ answers and then that character is constantly coming back and taunting you and doing things based on the choices that you made to make you feel like ‘Did I do the right thing?'

Ultimately, I think that personal demon does, in a more comedic way, manifest a lot of that ‘the game is watching me’ feeling…Tonally very different, but I think it serves a similar function.”

AI: The Somnium Files director says the game is different from traditional visual novels, hopes to make a sequel

With your support, this series could have a future

If there's one thing AI: The Somnium Files has going for it right now, it's mystery. The whole game seems to be shrouded in mystery, with all sorts of confusing promo videos and teasers out there. Even basic gameplay details are being kept under tight wraps, but in an interview with Operation Bluebird, director Kotaro Uchikoshi let loose with some tiny details.

"It is different from usual Visual Novels, like, just straight text. There is going to be Targets, and Targets will have options. Then you'll pick those, and that will kinda forward you. ...You can check bodies and surroundings around you, but we lean more towards the conversations and people."

There's a lot more to learn about AI: The Somnium Files, but while we think about that, Uchikoshi is already thinking about what's next. While there's no concrete plans at the moment, Uchikoshi did say that if enough people grab AI: The Somnium Files, enjoy it, and demand a sequel, there could be a chance of one coming to fruition.

Thanks to Kolma for the heads up!

Mortal Kombat movie screenwriter Greg Russo discusses the tone in his script, and how it's similar to the Marvel Cinematic Universe

We hear Hawkeye gets his head ripped off by Scorpion

The Mortal Kombat movie franchise reboot gets closer and closer to becoming official with each passing day. Did you know that the screenwriter for the project is none other than Greg Russo, one of the two-man team that has helped create multiple films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Mr. Russo appears to be a big fan of Mortal Kombat as well, and in an interview with DiscussingFilm.net, he goes of the tone he used for his Mortal Kombat script.

“Is there really a super serious dark version of this? Yeah, I guess, but that’s not Mortal Kombat to me. Just look at Kano as an example, he’s a great character. He’s always cracking jokes. To me there needs to a certain levity and a fun tone. While there is violence and there is fighting and real stakes and emotional stakes for all the people involved at the end of the day it still should be fun and a sense of humor. As much as I hate to throw up the direct comparison to Marvel they’re still fun and always cracking jokes but obviously ours will be a bit more adult.”