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Interview | WayForward Talks A Boy and his Blob (Wii)

Following the critical success of its reboot of the Contra series with Contra 4 on the DS for Konami, all eyes have been focused firmly on what US developer WayForward was going to do next. When it was eventually announced that Majesco was set to publish a reworked version of A Boy and his Blob for Wii from WayForward, many an eyebrow was raised. The final result was a true labour of love, praised by all sectors (Cubed3 included - review here). Following its recent release in the US and Europe, Cubed3 caught up with the Director of the project, Sean Velasco, to find out more. Thanks go to Jon Merchant of Majesco Europe and Jordan Mayer of WayForward for arranging this interview.
Image for Interview | WayForward Talks A Boy and his Blob (Wii)

Cubed3's Adam Riley: What made you aspire to bring such a cult NES game back, and did your team have any say in what system it would be released on?

Sean Velasco, Director at WayForward: A Boy and His Blob for NES was a concept that we returned to due to a combination of gameplay ingenuity and this weird oddball factor. The bizarreness of the characters and the transforming puzzle gameplay was a great concept, but the game itself was not very fun to play. It was for these reasons that we wanted to revisit the idea and make a great game out of this great idea. Because Majesco's primary targets have been the Wii and DS, the Wii was deemed to be the ideal platform.

AR: Were there any problems involved in obtaining the license from defunct developer Imagineering and publisher Absolute Entertainment?

SV: Majesco already owned the licence, so it was simply a matter of going straight to them.

Image for Interview | WayForward Talks A Boy and his Blob (Wii)

AR: Are there any other Imagineering/Absolute properties you have been able to pick up, such as Battle Tank and Blob's sequel, The Rescue of Princess Blobette?

SV: Blobette is also the property of Majesco, so there is no reason she could not appear in a new game. Oh man, we have such awesome ideas for her! As for Battle Tank, I have no idea.

AR: Did you consult with David Crane, the original designer of A Boy and his Blob? If not, why?

SV: While we love his work, David Crane was not involved in the new blob game at all. It was not deemed altogether necessary to get him onboard since the team and I already had a very strong vision for the game. I dropped Skyworks a line to try to get in contact with him, but never got a response. I hope he isn't mad at us!

Image for Interview | WayForward Talks A Boy and his Blob (Wii)

AR: Clearly there have been a lot of extra elements introduced to refresh the game for the new generation. However, what do you feel is the most significant change and was there much that had to be left out due to time constraints, etc?

SV: The most significant change was made to the level and puzzle structure. Instead of open-world, we have levels. Instead of vague caverns, we have very specific and concentrated puzzles with a few solutions. On the surface, of course, the biggest change is the visual style. The only real thing I wish we had more time for is polish. We would have loved to revisit the controls, boss battles, and some level designs. Like they say, art is never completed, only abandoned...

Image for Interview | WayForward Talks A Boy and his Blob (Wii)

AR: Would you ever consider including a two-player element where the second player controls the Blob, so that parents and children can play together?

SV: Wouldn't that be awesome!? This was definitely considered late in development; a mode like Sonic and Tails, where a younger player could have limited control with the blob. We didn't implement it because the Blob's AI was already so complex, but I would love to do cooperative multiplayer!

AR: Choosing the place to throw beans seems like it would have been perfectly suited to the IR pointing of the Wii Remote, whilst actually throwing them could have been done using the motion control (same goes for using the parachute, which would have benefited from tilt controls). Why did you completely avoid utilising any of the Wii Remote's extra functions?

SV: From the beginning, we intended to keep menus, interface, motion controls, and IR out of the game. This helped us hone in on the gameplay that we knew was so central to making the game successful. However, IR control bean-throwing has certainly crossed our minds. If we were to do another blob game, I would expect we would expand the control options to use some of the Wii's more unique features.

AR: Did you decide to motion capture a young child to represent the Boy, rather than manually hand-drawing each frame?

SV: Those are fighting words! *laughs* We didn't motion capture a boy! I think you are referring to the reference video that is included in the game. In the video, you can see our lead animator's son acting out some of the motions that we used in the game. When an animator creates an animation, he usually uses some sort of reference or looks in the mirror to see what a motion is like. In the case of the boy, we looked at the movements of many children to capture a lifelike and adorable quality.

Image for Interview | WayForward Talks A Boy and his Blob (Wii)

AR: How do you think Blob compares to other 2D games on Wii, such as Wario Land and Muramasa: The Demon Blade? Do titles like these prove there is still life in 2D games?

SV: Wario Land showed everyone what a 2D game could look like with some more horsepower behind it. And Muramasa... honestly, when I saw it, I thought “Dammit! They've beat us!”. That game's painted art is so amazingly rendered and detailed; it's very beautiful. However, I think that the animation for a boy and his blob is the best 2D animation on the Wii. 2D gameplay is making a big comeback these days. It's great to have games like Wario and Muramasa to pit ourselves against!

AR: It has been hinted on the Nintendo Europe website that there are plans for A Boy and His Blob on a 'smaller portable'. Does this mean fans will be able to play a touch-screen Blob game in the future?

SV: I cannot say for certain, but the possibilities are all over the place right now. Go out and buy the game to make sure it happens! Let's see... there are 61 million people in the UK, right? So, if each buys 2 copies... that's 122 million sold!

Image for Interview | WayForward Talks A Boy and his Blob (Wii)

AR: Considering the positive reception for the game so far, has this given both Majesco and WayForward the incentive to work on other 2D revivals?

SV: Absolutely! Working with Majesco was a blast! At WayForward, we love breathing life into classic franchises. I would not be surprised at all to see more retro revivals from WayForward.

AR: WayForward has now successfully revived Contra and A Boy and his Blob. What next? Is it totally out of the question for the team to work with Nintendo on something like a 2D Metroid revival on DS?

SV: Ask Nintendo! Super Metroid is my favourite game of all time. I would stack and clamber up a giant pillar of competing developers' corpses for the opportunity!!

Image for Interview | WayForward Talks A Boy and his Blob (Wii)
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07.12.2009 19:57



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Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Article

Im glad that you asked about the IR controls. But am I missing out on something. Can someone who knows anything guesstimate how long it would take a team to do the following:
Sit at a round table and talk about IR controls.

Agree on an onscreen icon where when you scroll over it shows you the beans available to you, press button to select bean

Agree that pointing on the screen where you want him to throw the bean press a button then watch animation of boy throwing bean.

point at bean and press context related button to call blob.

Simple, intuitive. Now I dont know the following but would it cost a lot and take too much time to A: discuss B: implement.

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