Nintendo’s hands-off approach to Strikers Charged

Next Level Games interviewThe Armchair Empire has a very interesting interview up today with Ken Yeeloy, producer, and Mike Inglehart, game designer, both from Next Level games.

If you’ll remember, Next Level Games is the developer behind Mario Strikers Charged, a game that I consider a major sleeper hit for the Wii.

Why is this particular interview so interesting? Because the two designers give some great insight into how much Nintendo’s behavior regarding 2nd and third party developers *might* be changing these days.

Those improvement that are made, what kind of approval process did the company go through? You’re making the game for Nintendo, it’s their property ”“ were the designs signed off by Nintendo?

MI: We do some of that but at the beginning of each project we have a big pow-wow between Nintendo Japan and ourselves ”“ either we go there or they come here. It’s our biggest major design meeting that will come at the beginning of the project. There are usually key features that they’re really interested in, in terms of where they’d like to see the game go. We’ll always send them what we’re going to be doing. As long as you’re providing good gameplay, it’s almost better if they don’t say anything because you know you’re in the right realm. Typically [if] they bring stuff up, there’s a glaring issue that needs to be fixed. But we make sure we’re aligned at the high level before we dig into the details at the very beginning.

Also of note is the fact that Nintendo does not actively encourage its developers to shoehorn Wii motion controls into their games (a la Sony and Lair). Instead, Nintendo specifically said “don’t try to cram everything in the motion controls. Use it when you need to and don’t overdo it ”“ they were actually very cautious with us,” Yeeloy said.

There’s more in the interview, so I encourage you to hit the link and check it out. It’s a brief but telling look into the development process, and is something we probably wouldn’t have had access to 10 years ago or so.