Wooden Sen’SeY was originally announced for the Wii U during a European Nintendo Direct in August 2013, where Nintendo shed light on a huge variety of indie games coming to the eShop. Since then, Nintendo have been far from shy promoting the title at events and Nintendo Directs. With the release date fast approaching, we decided to talk with Upper Byte and Neko Entertainment (Puddle, Kung Fu Rabbit) to find out more about the game.
Who are Upper Byte and what consoles were you raised on?
We are Upper Byte, a 2 man team — Cédric, the creative force, and Camille, the insane coder. We were raised on Genesis and Super Nintendo games, and our goal is to take over the world! Ahem no, no, simply make good games for the players. Upper Byte was founded in 2011 — before that, we had spent some time in other video game studios, and for the most part, we were actually already working together.
The game is published by Neko Entertainment. How big are they and what is their mission?
Neko is a development studio since 1999; we’ve worked on every console since then. Today, we’re still a small dev team, but a part of us is dedicated to helping other studios get into the light or bringing their games on other platforms.
What is Wooden Sen’SeY, and what is up with the crazy name?
In the game, you follow Goro, a small wooden doll in quest for its stolen beverage – the SeY – he needs for him and his fellow mates to survive. The name is a play on words with sensei – as the character intentionally looks and sounds Japanese.
How long have you currently been developing the game and what kind of experiences should we expect?
We have been working roughly for two years on the project — but not in a row. We got some help here and there from other people and eventually partnered up with Neko to finish the production. Wooden Sen’SeY is meant to be an easy-to-love, hard-to-master gorgeous action platformer (pfewh, that’s a lot of words!). With axes, ground stomping, grappling hooks, shurikens, bombs and torpedoes. Yes, Goro is angry – for our greatest pleasure!
How many levels will feature in the game and what kind of game modes can we expect?
First, there is the story mode — with nine completely different worlds, stuff to collect, lots of enemies to defeat and the creator’s times to beat. Oh, and of course, we have an underwater level! Then there is the time attack mode — thirty fast-paced, scoring-dedicated levels where you can challenge the world with leader boards.
What we tried to recreate is a nice old-fashioned gameplay feeling, with a learning curve that lets us achieve insane tricks, mostly in the time attack mode, where you have to be really precise with jumping, stomping and grappling. And all of that with nice graphics, of course.
Have there been any considerations on how to best use the Wii U’s unique abilities?
The main use for the second screen is for Off-TV play. Wooden Sen’SeY is plain beautiful on the Wii U GamePad screen and players will be able to fully enjoy the game when the TV is used for something else. We also use the GamePad’s sensors to swing around and stomp the ground with the axes. Other than that, we use the GamePad to display sweet animations of Goro and some tutorials.
The game will support the Wii U Pro Controller, Wiimote, Wiimote+Nunchuck, and Classic controller. Play the game the way you want! Also, we support leader boards with the time attack mode!
How did you find the process of becoming an approved Nintendo developer and how have Nintendo supported you?
It went quite smooth. We first met Nintendo at IndieCade 2012 in Los Angeles. Since then, we have always felt welcome. It always takes more time than budgeted/hoped, but that is true with any project.
The press coverage has been outstanding. We’ve been shown in Nintendo Directs, press conferences, and lots of marketing materials — making us reach people and press we would have had a really hard time to get to. We feel Nintendo is genuinely invested in making the release the best it can be.
How has reception for the game been since the Nintendo Direct?
Lots of people seem to be waiting for the game to be released on the eShop. It is really encouraging to have nice feedback from the players — and also, puts a lot of pressure on us to make the highest quality game possible!
Once development is complete, what’s on the cards next for you any more games for the Wii U or even the 3DS?
Oh, yes, there is definitely yummy stuff cooking in our kitchen. We cannot tell you yet about it, but rest assured, we will do everything to bring it to Nintendo’s systems!