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How was the approach to the people responsible of the original game for developing this remake? Did you have a lot of supervision from them?
Omar: I was already in contact with Mr Nishizawa on the internet. We had mentioned the idea for this project before, but I don’t think he thought it was very serious. At the time I was employed in another company (Media Molecule) so it wasn’t realistic for me to claim making this. But then after I left my job, Ben Fiquet and I started prototyping this project and after a few months we showed it to Mr Nishizawa on the day of his 50th birthday. And he loved the art and the concept. So from that point we knew that this project would become a reality! He didn’t supervise us day to day, as the aim was to do a faithful remake the game is still “his” in the sense that he knew we’d preserve the core gameplay and he knew we had the technical ability to do that. And because he liked the art direction that Ben was going for he let us work on the game pretty freely. We sent him work updates and asked him for feedback, that sort of things.
As you were four people working in this title, how long did it take to develop it?
O: We first researched ideas on our spare time in 2014 and until half of 2015. At the time it was Ben Fiquet (art), Michael Geyre (music) and me. From late 2015 we went full-time and worked maybe 16 months full-time.
Why did you decide to include compatibility with the codes from the original Wonder Boy? Did you get the chance to try it with your save files from the old times?
O: Well, being password compatible was only the natural extension to the other retro features. We knew that many people were attached to their old passwords and had it noted somewhere along with their copy of the original game. In fact, Michael Geyre our musicien has been using his WB3 password as his home WiFi password for years now :)
Did you have to deeply study the roots of the franchise in order to offer such a polished graphical finish? How much is there from the first Wonder Boy in Dragon’s Trap?
Ben: Well the thing is, if you only consider the franchise , there’s nothing much to chew on. Due the technical limitations of the time, the art ingame is not very detailed and can feel a bit empty. I looked at different illustrations through the different manuals but they were pretty much all over the place and kind of outdated.
So I had to consider what was the mindset of the developers at the time. I’ve been raised in the 80’s with a lot of anime on TV. I guess the designs from this era were more round and chunky than designs from today. I went with my guts and tried to mix the influences of this time with my personal style. But in the same time, my main concern was mainly to try to respect the original as much as I could.
O: we’ve been huge fans of the franchise for a long time. We grew up with the Wonder Boy series, so “studying” the game was pretty natural. The game itself is pretty much following the original Dragon’s Trap – the main levels are the same, etc. He had to imagine what the location would be, because in the original 8-bit graphics many of the locations were very simple and empty.
Retro-style is very popular nowadays. As you were making a remake, why didn’t you make it with pixel-art style instead of traditional hand-drawing? (although we consider that traditional hand-drawing is a really good option).
O: The original game is already pixel-ey so it wouldn’t be of much use to redo that!
B: I come from a traditional animation and fine arts background. It was only natural for me to try to have what I like (and I’m used to draw) on screen instead of looking for something trendy. As much as I love pixel art, I think there’s much to do with traditional animation in video games and it was I think cool to offer that vision.
What’s coming after Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap? Would you like to adapt other classic game to the modern times? And, of course, will we see it in Nintendo Switch?
O: We don’t know what’s coming next yet! Doing other classic games would be nice, but it would depends if we can get a license to use them. For example I would love doing old Zelda but I don’t think Nintendo is ever going to let us touch that :P maybe other Sega properties, such as Kid Chameleon, Shinobi, or other Wonder Boy titles etc.. or maybe create a new game with the feel of an old game. It’s too early to say if a next game would be on the Switch, but we definitively really love this console.
B: Like he said. I think there’s a lot of games that could benefit from this kind of remake, we’ll see what the future might hold for us.