Shin’en Interview: The Punchuin, 2D Wario, FAST RMX vs F-Zero and More!

By Sandy Kirchner-Wilson 28.02.2023

Shin'en Multimedia has shown how impressive a close-knit team can be on hardware that many others may underestimate, time and time again. From its stunning Iridion and Nanostray through to the FAST racing series, the German group has delivered hit after hit. Following its latest release, the highly charming The Punchuin, Cubed3 caught up with the big boss himself, Manfred Linzner, to discuss all things related to the 2D puzzle-platform release, as well as touching on other subjects that just have to be asked about…

Image for Shin’en Interview: The Punchuin, 2D Wario, FAST RMX vs F-Zero and More!

Cubed3: Hi Manfred - it's really great to speak with you again after many years! It always feels like reaching out to an old friend. How has everything been going at Shin'en - in terms of recent successes, team growth, etc?

Manfred Linzner, CEO of Shin'en Multimedia: Hi Adam, good to talk to you again! At Shin'en it still feels fresh and fun after all these years. We refine our tech and gameplay skills on a daily base. Also, we still have our minimal team size to keep us motivated by doing everything with our own hands. In terms of success, we are happy and even feel like our best games are yet to come!

Cubed3 Punchuin really caught us by surprise! You really do like to keep your fans guessing on what's next! What inspired you to create a puzzle platformer about a punching penguin, though, and does our new hero have a back-story?

Manfred: After doing THE TOURYST, we wanted to make a game with a cute animal character. We already had a gameplay idea and imagined what animal would be a good fit. When we brain-stormed, I had this fun pun with PENGUIN+PUNCHING = PUNCHUIN. We felt that would be a silly yet cool title, and so we stuck with it. The setting came naturally, especially when considering we were starting with game development in Winter / Early 2022.

Cubed3: What's your process of creating tough puzzles? Between the harder challenges in the latter stages of Art of Balance and now the tough extra puzzles faced in The Punchuin, you must have some seasoned taskmasters on the team!

Manfred: Martin (our gfx master) and me created the puzzles and then let them be played by everyone at Shin'en. It was super fun to watch how these puzzles got solved, sometimes with completely new strategies. Usually, the puzzles were too hard at the start and so we made them easier with each iteration. Doing stuff too hard is easy…

Cubed3: After doing lots of amazing, high-tech 3D games, was it refreshing to go back to a more 2D pixel art style? What made you go for the more retro feel this time?

Manfred: We didn't plan a 2D game - it came by accident. In 2021, me and my son created a few minigames in Pico8 (a 2D virtual console). He is quite good at doing pixel art. One of these games never got finished. It was about punching crates. After the 2021's winter holidays, I showed the prototype at work because I thought it was quite fun. We quickly got some nice ideas for a setting and a game-loop. We decided it would be the perfect fit for a 2D pixel art game. We haven't done 2D games for decades and so it was very interesting to get back into that technical and artistic domain.

Cubed3: The Punchuin is amazing and packed with quality content, but did you have to cut any ideas during development?

Manfred: There is always stuff we cut out to keep the quality high and the gameplay tight. In The Punchuin, for instance, we had a funny supporting character but it always felt too artificial in the game context and so it had to go. However, in comparison to THE TOURYST there were only a few bits that were scrapped in the end.

Cubed3: Is this the sort of game that will be supported with any post-launch content? New puzzles or modes added as DLC at a later date to extend its lifespan?

Manfred: We have not made any final decision for The Punchuin yet in this regard.

Cubed3: What drove the decision to make the game Switch exclusive? Can you see it getting ported to other platforms?

Manfred: We developed a lot of games for Nintendo platforms and feel like a big part of our target audience is there, as well. However, we are always open to ports if they make sense.

Cubed3: You've put some of your past eShop games out at retail via specific publishers, especially in a limited run format. Are there any of your past releases you'd also like to do that with, and will The Punchuin also get the same treatment in the long run?

Manfred: The release of FAST RMX and THE TOURYST by SUPER RARE GAMES was really nice. Perhaps we will do that again the future.

Image for Shin’en Interview: The Punchuin, 2D Wario, FAST RMX vs F-Zero and More!

Cubed3: Are you hoping to create another game in this style, or will you move onto the next surprising idea?

Manfred: We are currently working on two new games. Both are in 3D and very different from what we have done before. I think we need that constant push to try something new.

Cubed3: We know you get asked this all the time… but there's such a strong desire for you to work on a Nintendo property! Is it something you've ever discussed with Nintendo? Should your fans expect something to eventually happen?

Manfred: Last time I talked with Nintendo, we joked about that the gameplay loop of 'The Punchuin' would be a perfect fit for a 2D Wario game... but no, currently we have no talks in that regard. Although, Nintendo has already published one of our retail games (Fast Racing Neo), which was a nice experience… so anything is possible! Currently, we still feel that we need to create our own classics instead of standing on the shoulders of a game development giant like Nintendo.

Cubed3: What do you think about using your racing expertise for F-Zero, or your shooter experience for Star Fox? Or is there a different series you'd prefer to work on?

Manfred: We already made jokes in the company about a 'FAST RMX vs F-ZERO' game. 'Captain Falcon' racing against 'Mueller GmbH'! However, I'm sure if Nintendo has a great idea to progress one of these classics, it will go for it.

Cubed3: There's a recent game called JETT. When it was first announced, we were so excited… but then quickly realised that it wasn't related to Jett Rocket. Will we see your Jett make a comeback in the future?

Manfred: We think the Jett Rocket Wii game was quite nice, but currently we have no plans for new Jett adventures.

Cubed3: Were you able to get the rights back to Iridion? Also, will you ever return to the Nanostray format of shooters, or are the 3D Nano Assault style games your preference now for shooters?

Manfred: We never tried to get back the rights to Iridion. We only have the rights for the soundtrack. Also, as said before, we try not to repeat ourselves too much so we rather go for new ideas and genres.

Cubed3: As well as on the visual side, you've also got a strong track record for making games with amazing soundtracks and even worked on sound engines in the past. Have you ever considered releasing something for 'bedroom composers' to try out? Perhaps something like the KORG 'games' that came out on DS?

Manfred: Yeah, we talked about that topic several times at the company, but we feel there is so much audio stuff available nowadays that you really need a good idea to get people's attention.

Image for Shin’en Interview: The Punchuin, 2D Wario, FAST RMX vs F-Zero and More!

Cubed3: Do you think you've managed to get as much out of Switch as you can, or do you feel there are still some clever programming techniques you can use to make a future game that blows people away?

Manfred: After finishing FAST RMX, we already felt like having reached the technical peak. That was mainly driven by the fact that we never saw a Switch game before (FAST RMX was a launch title) and also because we got directly invited by Nintendo to develop the game for launch, so we were very motivated to deliver the best we could achieve on that hardware.

With THE TOURYST, we tried then to reach a new artistic level in terms of unseen visuals and also a unique experience in matters of gameplay. I think our next real technical breakthrough game will be on an upcoming console.

Cubed3: Thanks so much for answering all of these questions! In closing, are there any games you're really looking forward to in 2023?

Manfred: We will of course look very closely to everything that is created by Nintendo!

Box art for The Punchuin






C3 Score

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