C3 Exclusive Interview | Mitchell Corp on Magnetica, Nintendo Wii & the Future

By Adam Riley 12.05.2006 8

Mitchell Corporation President, Roy Ozaki
Interview Conducted by Adam Riley :: Contributor - Mike Mason :: Friday, 12th May, 2006


The Nintendo DS is a perfect platform for the puzzle genre thanks to its innovative two screens, one of which is completely touch-sensitive. This has led to veteran company Mitchell Corp bringing one of the best puzzlers out on the system so far in the form of Polarium and is now set to launch another, Magnetica in June. Cubed3 was lucky enough to catch up with the company's president, Roy Ozaki. Read on for more...

Cubed3: Please could you tell our readers a little about Mitchell's background and past achievements?

Roy Ozaki: Mitchell started as a distributor for coin-operated amusement games. Originally it was just Niida (vice president) and myself. This was around when Capcom's Street Fighter was selling like bananas. Eventually we put all our money into R&D and Pang sold like crazy. We've been making coin-op videos all these years. You will have to see our homepage to see all the games we did.


C3: How did Mitchell link up with Nintendo to bring the original Polarium to the DS?

RO: Apparently, one of the Nintendo producers was a fan of Puzz Loop and he was introduced to us through a CAPCOM employee who is my friend. When Nintendo people came to our office, they happened to see the test sample of Polarium. Nintendo people liked Polarium; we started talks from there. DS was still not announced then, and I was not sure why Nintendo liked it. Later, I found out that DS was using a touch screen and everything clicked. Polarium is perfect with stylus.


C3: Magnetica was originally an arcade title, Puzz Loop. What inspired you to recreate this on the DS?

RO: We always try out things before we give a final go on a project. Personally, I was always a great fan of Nintendo and of the DS. Since Polarium was a great success; I was telling my staff to come out with a project for DS. One of the our programmers tried various moves on the DS with Puzz Loop. We all tried it and the feel of control of the marbles when you shoot out was perfect with stylus. Magnetica was a go.


C3: Can you describe what Magnetica is all about? Will it prove to be as intuitive as the highly praised Polarium was? And how are the two different?

RO: Magnetica is what we call an action/puzzle game. It would be closer to calling it a shooting game - anyone can play and have fun. However, for high scores and high levels, you need to be a strategy player (that's where the puzzle element comes in). The main difference between Magnetica and Polarium would be that Magnetica is more action, Polarium more puzzle.

C3: Are there any opportunities available for multiplayer gaming and what has been put into the game to ensure gamers do not grow tired of the experience too soon?

RO: As I said earlier, we are basically coin-op. In order for a coin-op game to be successful, we need repeaters. We need players to keep inserting the next coin. I believe we have the experience to make the game addictive and to keep trying again. Magnetica has only the versus mode against an opponent. Multi-player will be for another version.


C3: Have you encountered any problems with the DS setup? And how does Magnetica differ from the original?

RO: Magnetica's game designer tells me that since DS screen is small, limitations on the marble display on screen caused lots of difficulty. Magnetica's stage modes are all new. Versus system is new. Items are all new. The difficulty range is wider. The main difference is in the feel of control. Stylus lets you have control. You screw it up, it's the player's fault not us.


C3: Is there any update on the legal situation regarding the Puzz Loop / Magnetica clone that is currently available on Microsoft's XBOX Live Arcade?

RO: I prefer not to comment now. It is moving. My lawyers advise me not to say anything now. Since the clone guys' lawyer say it has not violated any copyright, why don't players try the original and compare it with clones?


C3: Is there any possibility of seeing any classic Mitchell games appear on the Virtual Console of the Wii?

RO: [We are ] thinking [about it ].


C3: After having seen the Nintendo Wii and its unique control system, what are your thoughts on the system?

RO: Great.


C3: The idea of Polarium Wii, using the controller to point and flip tiles sounds like superb fun! Will we see either that or something new from Mitchell on the Wii in the future?

RO: Probably something new.


C3: Do you plan to work exclusively with Nintendo for the foreseeable future? And will you continue to support the GBA and / or Nintendo DS?

RO: We are doing projects for GBA and DS. We do not work exclusively for anyone. Just let me say this, Nintendo is very fair. They know about games and the game market. They have solid philosophy on games. My R&D people feel comfortable working with them. On the personal level, I watched Nintendo from their coin-op days. I am a great fan of Mr. Yamauchi (Nintendo chairman). Nintendo is a game company and they are great.

C3: With the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection joining gamers around the world online for titles such as Tetris DS and Animal Crossing, what are your thoughts on the network and are you interested in making use of it in the future?

RO: [ The ] R&D guys are doing something. They won't tell me yet.


C3: Nintendo's E3 conference caused quite a stir amongst the Industry as a whole. What is your impression of what the company had to say and the direction Nintendo is generally going in?

RO: I am in Tokyo and I do not know what Nintendo said to the media in US. Having watched Nintendo almost all of my adult life, Nintendo is usually right. They care about games and know games. Did you know that Nintendo's president personally checks all the games? Which other company does that? It shows they care.


C3: If you had the chance to work with any Nintendo character or property, which would you choose and why?

RO: We can use Nintendo characters; we prefer not to for the time being. I do not believe in using characters for the types of games we make.


C3: Are there any particular games you are playing at the moment?

RO: Yes, the prototype we are making for the next DS [ game ]. Addictive.


Many thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, Mr Ozaki. It really was much appreciated! The team at Cubed3 wishes you and the rest of the team at Mitchell lots of good luck for the future.

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Comments

That was a fantastic interview Raz, very informative. I like it when Developers, Chairmen or a company in general says that they like working with Nintendo. It usually means that they produce killer games for their consoles. So Iwata-san usually checks most of Ninty's games? Woah, that's a alot of work.

Great stuff, not too much revealed there but a nice interview nonetheless. The snippet about Iwata checking each game personally is very interesting to say the least!

Lots of things to extract from this:

- There will be another version of Magnetica in the future

- Zuma's creators, Zuma being the Puzz Loop/Magnetica clone, better watch their backs!

- Classic arcade Mitchell games could appear on the Virtual Console

- Mr Ozaki confirmed Wii support (in a roundabout way)

- Expect more GBA and DS projects to come!

- Wi-Fi Connection is set to be used in the future by Mitchell (online Polarium battles would be intense!)

- Mitchell has been given the chance to work with Nintendo characters, but for the moment refused, it would seem

- Its new DS project is VERY addictive.

Smilie Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

C3: After having seen the Nintendo Wii and its unique control system, what are your thoughts on the system?

RO: Great.

They're not one to elaborate are they Smilie

Off topic a little but this was from an interview with Kaplan. I was saying I can see the Wii launch first in Australia if not after New Zealand and here is a little info "sort of" confirming this.

"The possibility of demo-pods in retailers was talked about, though nothing is yet confirmed. A worldwide launch across the Americas, Europe, Japan and Asia and Australia is what Nintendo are aiming for."

Just actually watched the interview with Kaplan. It's going to be a worldwide launch for sure. Watch the interview on IGN.

( Edited on 12.05.2006 18:31 by Revolution )

BOWSER HAS RESET MY STARS TO ZERO FOR INSULTING TEH SYSTEM!

He did this interview bloody fast, much quicker than expected. It's like the opposite of the (brilliant) one with Brooke Burgess, who wrote an essay for basically each question! Smilie

I still think Polarium Wii would be cool, flipping the tiles with the Wii-mote and moving the cursor round just by tilting!

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

C3: The idea of Polarium Wii, using the controller to point and flip tiles sounds like superb fun! Will we see either that or something new from Mitchell on the Wii in the future?

RO: Probably something new.

So Mitchell is definitely going to develop on the Wii? That basically confirms it, right? Polarium would rule!

Mitchell is currently busy on the Nintendo DS, working on another secret project and considering the idea of Pang DS...But yes, it sounds like the Wii certainly factors into the company's future plans!

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

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