Kirby Development Team Interview Recap

A recap of the Kirby development team interview from Weekly Famitsu magazine including shelving three Kirby games before Kirby Wii, wanting the next Kirby game to surpass Kirby Star Allies, and wanting to do a non-action game spin-off. Also added is a Q&A with HAL software developers and with Kirby’s 25th anniversary orchestra concert staff.

Famitsu Interview summary with Kirby development team

-General Director Shinya Kumazaki
-Lead Action Programmer Katsuyoshi Sumitomo
-Design Director Riki Furman

-The team’s fixation when working on developing the long-running Kirby series is to only release games that have reached a quality level where they believe they have given their all.

-There was a period where – due to following the above principle – they weren’t able to release a mainline side-scrolling Kirby action game. They had three Kirby games in development that they had to shelf because they couldn’t consent to the quality or sales target.

-Kirby Wii was the fourth game in development after the previous three failed. The team would have been in real danger if it were to fail too, but somehow they had a confidence that this next game would work. They also made the workplace to feel like they’re not rehashing a game for the fourth time.

-The team would regularly publish in-development screenshots daily to let all members know how the development progressed. They would even sometimes publish screenshots that contained bugs, such as a funny image where King Dedede’s head became 10 times larger under a certain condition.

Sumitomo: “I don’t really want to show bugs, but I feel like making them laugh by publishing those is a good thing in our team.”
Kumazaki: I’m glad at everyone’s enthusiasm in continuing brush-ups and fixes, like saying “We can still do more!” But on the other side, we often get really close to deadlines, so as a director I had some mixed feelings (laughs).

-When asked about Kirby’s appeal point that makes him loved by game fans of all ages, Kumazaki thinks that while Kirby is basically a neutral being, he can sometimes change to be cuter or cooler. The former is when he wears cute accessories, and the latter is when equipping weapons like a sword. The very flexible design may have given him a mysteriously infinite characteristic.

Meanwhile, Furman feels the friendly approach from the world settings and the cute characters. The games can be enjoyed by anyone that even people who aren’t too good with action games will still want to play it to the end. Sumitomo added that while scenarios would vary from serious to lighthearted, Kirby always moves at his own pace.

-When asked about the series’ future prospects, Kumazaki noted how Kirby Star Allies is considered like a compilation where HAL Laboratory poured everything they had up to that point, so he and Sumitomo want their next Kirby game to surpass even Star Allies as their new challenge. Meanwhile, Furman wants to make a Kirby spin-off that is not an action game, because although Kirby has had a long history as a game character, he can also have more depth by doing other jobs.

Quick Q&A with HAL software developers

-The important thing when working is to develop games using software and tools that are easy to use by the staff. Their job is not to make something all-purpose but to develop tools & features that game developers want the most.

-When a framework done by the software developers can be used on not only a single game but also for various games within HAL Laboratory, thus contributing to [improve] quality of all games made by the company, that’s when they feel it’s really worth doing.

-Their future goal is to continue developing software and tools that match well with the game development team, as HAL Laboratory is expanding its software development field.

Quick Q&A with Kirby’s 25th anniversary orchestra concert staff

-The moment that left the deepest memory in the concert was when the real (?) Kirby showed up at the interlude and celebrated his own birthday with the audience. When the staff saw some people in the audience crying in joy at the surprise appearance, they actually felt how fans have very deep feelings.

-In the future, the staff want to dispatch the Kirby series’ appeal worldwide not just with games, by hastening initiatives that can only be done at HAL Laboratory, just like how the concert gave the spotlight to Kirby’s music.

Q: What kind of thing [do you think] is the appealing point of HAL Laboratory?
A: There is a lot of people, from young to veterans, who just like to make other people happy. We feel like the conscience [to do it] for the sake of someone around us – rather than satisfying ourselves – always dwells on the basis for creating things.

© Translated for Japanese Nintendo by BlackKite.