PAX Prime: “Inside the Wonderful 101 with Hideki Kamiya” Panel Overview

If you missed the panel at PAX Prime today about Nintendo’s upcoming game Wonderful 101, don’t worry! We were there to catch all the action, and to receive some fun Wonder Red masks! Everyone put on the masks partway through the panel so that Kamiya could take a photo and post it to Twitter.


Anyway, the panel itself really focused on game inspiration, followed by design history and then the final decisions on mechanics, characters, and so forth. We were assured that it’ll be a “100% action game”, despite being partially inspired (the Unite Morph feature, specifically) by a children’s book, “Swimmy”, that Kamiya read as a kid.

We learned that, interestingly enough, the original concept was to use existing Nintendo characters, as there are many of them, and putting them all together in a game that wasn’t Smash Bros. seemed like a great opportunity… but as we know, Nintendo has a firm hold on their main characters, and some of the concept art presented to Nintendo—namely, a sketch showing Peach, Yoshi, and Luigi forming a bridge that Mario walked over—was not received very well! Nintendo was quite firm in saying no, so it was back to the drawing board.

Kamiya also has an interesting design system, wherein he and the team put together something that’s fun right from the get-go, and then “crash and build” until they have perfection. Elements that aren’t fun are removed and something else is tried, over and over again, and with Wonderful 101, the early builds of the game were actually much darker and had a heavier, inkier art style. That’s strange to think of now, seeing the finished product!

The game also apparently went through 13 script revisions, as Kamiya wanted the protagonists of the game to have deeper stories—dealing with their own inner struggles as well as the external battles, which meant keeping track of everything was a bit of a challenge! They had a character board of finished designs so that the developers could keep track of everything without getting confused—and every character in the game has a different voice actor. They went with voices that worked, as opposed to just the “popular” people in the industry, which he believes makes the game really unique.

It was very clear that Kamiya and his team are passionate about Wonderful 101, and it was great to see hundreds of people show up for this panel. Nintendo has been counting on big titles like this to help pull them out of the slump, and if the attendance and enthusiasm of the audience is any indication… this is the kind of game Nintendo fans have been waiting for, too.


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Author: Micah View all posts by
Micah has been playing games since his first pong machine, and has been writing for as long as he could grip a pencil and not drool on the paper. So, for about a week.

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