Cubed3's Rudy Lavaux, Retro Editor: You seem to be concentrating your efforts exclusively to Nintendo's consoles. What is the reason behind this? Could it be that you are simply loyal fans of Nintendo yourselves?
Manfred Linzner: First Party Nintendo games were always something special to us and we love playing the adventures of Mario, Link and all the others. Nintendo's sense of perfection and polishing was always an inspiration to us. Nintendo also always amazes with new hardware that has something special to it.
Cubed3: How did the development of the original Nano Assault begin? Was that the first project you started working on as you were moving onto the Nintendo 3DS? Were a lot of people involved in the development of that game?
Manfred Linzner: Nano Assault Neo was the first game we did on Wii U. It was a perfect start because we knew very well what to do from what we learned with Nano Assault on 3DS. Some ideas were not possible to achieve on 3DS, like the two-player gameplay. We were pretty happy to make these ideas a reality on the Wii U. The game was done by four people, starting around March 2012 and continuing until September 2012.
Cubed3: Previous Shin'en shooting games used a more linear structure for their stages, with a field scrolling automatically, forcing the player forward. Nano Assault isn't like that at all. What made you shift your focus to that sort of gameplay and what are the advantages of that style in your opinion?
Manfred Linzner: When we saw the pretty nice online features of the Wii U we wanted to develop something that made use of it. We think the Arcade style gameplay and the emphasis on online scores is a big motivation for many players.
Cubed3: Nano Assault isn't an easy game by any means. In fact, most Shin'en shooting games, especially the "Nano" series, are really hard. Are you fans of challenging games yourselves? What would you say to players complaining about the level of difficulty?
Manfred Linzner: When you read a review for Nano Assault Neo then you will have a 50:50 chance of that the reviewer thinking it's easy or hard. That depends a lot on the background of the player. However, we made sure that everyone can really beat the game, even people that normally don't play shmups at all. When reading all those marvellous comments on Miiverse we think we found quite the right balance with Nano Assault Neo.
Cubed3: Were you inspired by any other game in creating Nano Assault and its variants (EX and Neo)? Either in terms of control setup, visuals or setting? Video-game or non-video game based?
Manfred Linzner: I think the visuals of Nano Assault Neo are totally unique. We don't know any game that looks similar. Our main inspiration came from real world scientific nanoscopic images. Gameplay-wise we have a heritage of 30 years of shmups and we tried a lot of things until we had a perfect formula for Nano Assault Neo.
Cubed3: Nano Assault for 3DS was first announced for a worldwide release, but eventually only made it to the Japanese and US markets. What prevented the planned release of the cartridge in Europe?
Manfred Linzner: That was beyond our control because we sold the retail publishing rights to another company. < NOTE: Since this interview took place, it has been confirmed that the original 3DS Nano Assault will finally receive a retail release on 13th March across Europe >
Cubed3: Why couldn't Nano Assault EX make it in cartridge format as well? Are you ever going to go back to retail packages?
Manfred Linzner: Creating carts is a very costly process and with the advent of the eShop we also have other possibilities.
Cubed3: Cubed3 obviously counts as a big fan of your games and is eagerly awaiting Nano Assault EX on the 3DS eShop! When can we expect it to be released? Can you also confirm if and how it is different from Nano Assault Neo on Wii U? Is it going to support the Circle Pad Pro, in order to offer a control setup similar to Neo, for those who own a CPP?
Manfred Linzner: Nano Assault EX is currently at Nintendo for final testing, so the game should be released in a few weeks hopefully. Nano Assault EX is an improved version of the original Nano Assault retail game, with new gameplay modes, Circle Pad Pro support, improved graphics and improved frame-rate.
Cubed3: Nano Assault Neo is a lot of fun to play in two-player mode. Seeing as you implemented a functionality that films the player's face through the camera of the Wii U GamePad, wouldn't that have been put to an even better use in a online co-operative mode? Did you ever consider implementing online co-op? What possibly prevented that from happening?
Manfred Linzner: From our view it's technically not possible to replicate the Nano Assault Neo experience online. The bandwidth and round-trip times are simply not there. Instead of creating an inferior online experience we made sure that local multiplayer worked perfectly. However, for future games we will consider offering online play when it is adding something great to the experience.
Cubed3: Are there any other things to had to be left out of Nano Assault Neo and EX for any reason?
Manfred Linzner: We were able to cram everything we planned into the titles. Nonetheless a few gameplay elements had to be dropped because they simply were not fun enough. For instance, in Nano Assault Neo we had a game mode where the player ships in the two-player mode were connected by some kind of rope. It sounded cool in design but was horrible to play.
Cubed3: Needless to say that Nano Assault Neo is an absolutely gorgeous game on Wii U. Nano Assault EX also looks like it makes some impressive use of the 3DS capabilities. How is it that Shin'en always manages to come out on top of even some of the biggest studios out there when it comes to graphics on Nintendo consoles?
Manfred Linzner: We just do the best we can. Probably it's about the focus. With a four man team you are very focused and you can design every aspect exactly how you imagined it. In a large team everything is filtered through many minds before it gets implemented - for the better and the worse. Probably that is what makes the difference.
Cubed3: Have you ever been approached by Nintendo for a collaboration on a project, or did they ever respond or comment on your impressive skills with graphics? Would it even be possible to see you helping them out more directly in developing visually impressive games for their current systems? Would you love to? What Nintendo licenses would you then love to work on?
Manfred Linzner: I guess the best recommendation as a small developer you can get from Nintendo is to be able to create a launch game for a new console. We had that opportunity for many consoles in the past, so we are quite happy about that. Regarding collaborations, I think everything is possible!
Cubed3: You are now a developer on both 3DS and Wii U. How would you say the development of games for those systems improved from what you could do on DS and WiiWare? You always seemed to manage to overcome file size constraints, perhaps even better than all those big studios out there. Are there any constraints left on those newer systems that might still be limiting what you can and can't do?
Manfred Linzner: Every system has limitations that bug you because you always want to go into untapped territory. For the Wii U we feel there is a lot of potential to be discovered. The Wii U development approach is very straightforward but you have to think differently to really get the best out of it. It's not the best way to adopt strategies from the other consoles 1:1 on the Wii U.
Cubed3: Nano Assault Neo is now available across the three big markets out there. How have you found the response from players so far? Are you satisfied with the current sales so far or does it still need some time on the market before you can be satisfied?
Manfred Linzner: We are very happy with the customer reactions and the sales are pretty nice, especially considering the game has only been available for roughly a month and a half.
Cubed3: Shin'en has made quite a few shooting games so far. Can we expect more from you in the future? Is that perhaps a genre that your team holds very dear?
Manfred Linzner: Such games were simply the best looking and the most enjoyable to play in our childhood. I think with every game in that genre we want to bring back those memories. However, our upcoming projects will be in different genres in order to give us a small break.
Cubed3: Can we perhaps expect to see some of your other big works make a comeback on Wii U or 3DS, such as FAST: Racing League and Jett Rocket? What happened to Jett Rocker Super Surf for 3DS by the way?
Manfred Linzner: You can bet there is more from us coming on Wii U and 3DS. Our 3DS Jett Rocket game is near completion and will be released in early 2013. There is now also a US demo for "Art of Balance" on 3DS available. Check it out!
Cubed3: I have to ask... how is it that you always makes such cool music for Shin'en games?? What sort of music genres or bands do you like to listen to?
Manfred Linzner: Our music since Wii times is done by Martin Schioeler. He is also an old school Amiga demo scener who never ceases to amaze us with his new tracks. I think our 'real world' music taste doesn't influence our game music that much. We simply try to find the perfect audio style for each game.
With the release of Nano Assault EX we also plan to release a massive soundtrack based on our games.
Cubed3: Can you share with us any news regarding any future projects coming to Nintendo consoles that we may not yet know about?
Manfred Linzner: Our next game for Wii U is in the racing genre. We already made very nice progress with it. We will talk more about it in 2013.
Cubed3: Finally, for those still unsure, can you confirm the resolution and frame-rate of Nano Assault Neo?
Manfred Linzner: Nano Assault Neo runs at 720p, 60fps.
Cubed3: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions. Any final word you would like to address to your fans on Cubed3?
Manfred Linzner: Thanks for all your support! See you in Miiverse!
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