Interview | Mitchell Talks PANG! Magical Michael (Nintendo DS)

By Adam Riley 13.09.2010 6

PANG!, or Buster Bros. as the Capcom-published game is known in the US, is an arcade classic that has survived the test of time, yet has sadly been relegated to being re-released in low budget licensed formats or via ‘homebrew’ channels. Now, though, the original developer has stepped out of Capcom’s shadow to bring the world a pure revision of the much-loved title, complete with a newly styled main character and some never-before-seen extras to expand the experience considerably. Cubed3’s Adam Riley caught up with the co-CEO of Mitchell Corporation, Roy Ozaki, to talk about the game in more detail, discuss the potential for its future, and briefly touch upon the likelihood of a new Polarium.
Image for Interview | Mitchell Talks PANG! Magical Michael (Nintendo DS)

Cubed3’s Adam Riley, Senior Editor: You first asked the readers of Cubed3 for their thoughts back in 2006, but when did you actually first consider resurrecting the Pang series?

Roy Ozaki, Co-Founder of Mitchell Corporation: For a long time we wanted to remake PANG. We were not sure it would be accepted in the present market, though. We were not sure we could compete against games with 3D graphics with such an old game style. After Polarium and Magnetica, we became confident that PANG will be accepted in the world today. Thanks to Cubed3, we realised that there were people out there who still would enjoy PANG!

Adam Riley: There are numerous versions of Pang available either online or on mobile phones, but are any of these officially licensed from Mitchell?

Mr. Ozaki-san: Yes, there are lots of clones. Officially licensed ones have the Mitchell copyright mark on it, which means we checked the game and approved that the gameplay matches our quality.

Adam Riley: What made you choose the Nintendo DS for this game? Did you ever consider putting it on DSiWare or Wii?

Mr. Ozaki-san: We wanted to use the dual screen on DS, plus there are lots of DS consoles out there in the world. DSiWare has limitations and we would have had to delete a lot of the game. We thought about the control system on Wii, but agreed it would not have intricate enough control for the gameplay required in PANG.

Image for Interview | Mitchell Talks PANG! Magical Michael (Nintendo DS)Adam Riley: Fans of older PANG! versions and the Buster Bros. games may be shocked that this DS game has a different style. Why did you choose a magician as the main character this time?

Mr. Ozaki-san: Since it's been 20 years since the game was first released into the Coin-Op world, we thought it was time for complete renewal of the visual style. We thought a magician would expand the game further.

Adam Riley: How complicated do some of the later stages become?

Mr. Ozaki-san: The fifth and sixth areas of the Tour Mode are is extremely challenging and will definitely appeal to those hardcore gamers that loved the original versions’ challenge.

Adam Riley: Why did you name the main character Michael?

Mr. Ozaki-san: We wanted a name that was common and can be recognised everywhere, not something that was too outlandish.

Adam Riley: What sort of modes can gamers expect in this new PANG!? Are there any online options included?

Mr. Ozaki-san: There is the Tour, Arcade, Panic and Versus modes. There are no online modes.

Adam Riley: Can you briefly explain the challenge stages that are included, and how they differ from normal levels?

Mr. Ozaki-san: These particular stages will give Magical Michael the ability to use land mines, hydraulic pressure, shadow clones, jump and jump attack; in order to use these properly is challenging.

Adam Riley: Can you tell us more about the World Ranking feature?

Mr. Ozaki-san: People can see where they are ranked around the world through the Wi-Fi Connection. PANG! will be played by people all over the world, so we thought it would be fun to know how you are doing against other experts from around the world.

Adam Riley: How does the two-player mode work? Is there a co-operative mode included as well, like in previous versions of PANG! for other systems?

Mr. Ozaki-san: There are two different styles of Versus game, plus there is co-operative option for Panic Mode.

Adam Riley: Did you ever consider including a four-player competitive mode as well (2 vs. 2)?

Mr. Ozaki-san: We did not include Wi-Fi play, so we did not think about 2 vs. 2. Without Wi-Fi we did not think there would be much opportunity for players to be with four players at the same time.

Image for Interview | Mitchell Talks PANG! Magical Michael (Nintendo DS)

Adam Riley: What would you say to convince fans of the original Pang style that Magical Michael will definitely appeal to them?

Mr. Ozaki-san: Basically, the game is the same as the Coin-Op edition from years ago, but Magical Michael has lots of new features and the actual volume of content has been increased. We have made it much more satisfying to the players of retail-based games.

Adam Riley: Do you have any thoughts about making PANG! for Wii/WiiWare, using the Wii Remote motion controls?

Mr. Ozaki-san: As said before, we feel that we cannot do intricate character movements with the Nunchuk. If we were do it PANG! on Wii, we would have to restart the project with a whole new concept.

Adam Riley: Will PANG! Magical Michael be released in Japan? Which company would be best suited to releasing it in your home country, considering how difficult the market is now?

Mr. Ozaki-san: PANG! Magical Michael will be released in Japan after Europe and the USA. We are still thinking who would be best for selling it there, though.

Adam Riley: Do you have more ideas for a PANG! Magical Michael sequel?

Mr. Ozaki-san: The game designer has ideas he could not use in this version. We hope to make a sequel if this one is accepted by the fans.

Adam Riley: Magical Michael is someone who loves attention. So will he be used as the main character in more of your games?

Mr. Ozaki-san: Can't say for now. It all depends on the game(s) we work on next.

Adam Riley: The Japanese industry is currently in very poor condition with various videogame companies either closing or being forced to avoid taking any risks with new projects. How is the current economic climate affecting Mitchell?

Mr. Ozaki-san: If this continues, there will soon be no more Mitchell. We do have some on-going projects, however, that might help keep us afloat.

Adam Riley: Mitchell has always had a very close relationship with Capcom from the classic arcade days. Do you still have strong connections with the company?

Mr. Ozaki-san: Lots of people we knew at Capcom have now left, yet we still know the people in the upper echelons of the company. Capcom does not do Coin-Op work anymore, so we are not actually that close business-wise now.

Adam Riley: How come Mitchell has stopped working on new games for Capcom?

Mr. Ozaki-san: Mitchell is basically Coin-Op oriented. Since Capcom pulled out of Coin-Op we have been working on consumer games with Nintendo.

Adam Riley: You have previously told Cubed3 that your company was working on a Wii game. Are you still making this?

Mr. Ozaki-san: We are still working on a Wii game with Nintendo.

Adam Riley: The world has seen two versions of PuzzLoop, Sujin Taisen and Wakugumi in the past few years. What has happened to Polarium, though? Will there be a new version?

Mr. Ozaki-san: I can't go into details yet, but we are working on new Polarium, perhaps for next year.

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GhaleonQ (guest) 13.09.2010#1

I love Buster Brothers and Polarium and would hate to see Mitchell go out of business. Fantastic interview!

Magical Michael has NO FACE!!!

God help us all.

It's going to be shit and you jolly well know it.


Penny (guest) 13.09.2010#4

This looks so cool! Magical Michael is so much better than Buster Bros. Hopefully the character sprite will be developed more in the sequel, though. Looks a bit tiny at the moment.

Don't know why it would work on Wii...moving Michael withthe Nunchuk and flicking the Wii Remote to launch magic attacks would be brilliant!! Smilie

Ah, a new Polarium, excellent. Could it be 3DS...? I wouldn't think it would work so well without a touch screen...

In the know... (guest) 14.09.2010#6

A new Polarium...sounds like they'll be mixing the formula up a bit. 3DS would be ideal, but if this started earlier this year, chances are it's a DS game.

As for Pang: Magical Michael, the original game was class and I loved he SNES Super Buster Bros. Hopefully RSG will give this a good push in Europe so it gets a chance to shine in the US as well.

What's the plan with the launch event I've heard about?

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