Geschrieben von Tim Czerwinski am 01.08.2017
At an Ubisoft-Event for Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle on July 26th. I had the chance to talk to Andrea Babich, Lead Narrative Designer at Ubisoft Milan. We would like to share this Interview with you, enjoy!
When did the development of Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle begin?
We started the development about more than three years ago, actually more than three and a half I guess.
Did you always intended to release this game on Nintendo Switch or have you thought of releasing it for Wii U as well?
When the development began we always had in mind to release the game on Nintendo Switch which was called NX back then. The more we got to know about the Nintendo Switch the more excited we got, because Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle and the turn based fighting system fit perfectly for this console. You can start the game for just a few minutes and stop after every turn, without having any disadvantages. For this game the Nintendo Switch is a blast.
Did you had problems with developing for the Nintendo Switch?
Actually we were really surprised about how easy the development for this system is. I don't want to sound like a Ubisoft or Nintendo fan, but when we got the Dev-Kit and put the Snowdrop-Engine onto the Switch, these two perfectly fit together. The Snowdrop-Engine, which is our engine for almost everything and which we used for the last South Park game is so versatile that we quickly lost our worries about the development.
Who came up with the idea of making a crossover between Mario and the Rabbids?
Over 3 years ago, our strong relationship with Nintendo gave us the opportunity to create a game featuring Mario, his friends and our irreverent Rabbids, with a shared vision to create a brand new experience.
Rabbids have their roots in video games. It is in their DNA to twist universes in playful, irreverent ways. So, what would be more surprising than having them partner with Mario and his friends?
For Davide Soliani, creative Director of Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, this project was an exciting challenge and a dream come true. With his team of creative people, he started working on a concept, mixing both franchises and his passion for tactical games and came up with Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle: a turn-based combat adventure that merges the world of Mario with the contagious insanity of the Rabbids.
When the concept was presented to Mr. Miyamoto, he was instantaneously excited by the passion and the result of merging these two contrasting universes. He knew it would lead to a surprising and unexpected experience for Mario fans. He validated the concept, lending his iconic characters to Ubisoft studios, and Ubisoft teams started to work on delivering an experience that both Mario and Rabbids fans would enjoy.
Is there another Franchise which you would like to see the Rabbids participating with?
Well the fact is, that the approach of the Rabbids allows them to be everywhere. I think you really need to find a franchise or intellectual property which isn't serious. I don't say that Nintendo-franchises aren't serious but they are more on the light side of the force. They're very heroic, they're goodhearted, positive and really clean. So you bring up the Rabbids which are like two year old kids, which are messing around and it's very easy to create comedy, if you got the good guy and the crazy guy. This slapstick humor is always working even in other cultures like the Japanese. I'm a huge Super Nintendo-Fan and I remember playing Donkey Kong on arcade as a child standing on a stool. So this is the peak of what I could imagine, making a Rabbid game with Mario in it.
Did Nintendo give any restrictions on what the characters may do or mustn't do?
First there weren't many restrictions. As I mentioned before I am a huge Nintendo fan so I knew how Nintendo games supposed to be. There were times when even Nintendo said “Hey this is your game, surprise us.” And we did with Rabbid Peach for example.
How did you come up with the idea of that „It-Girl“-character of Rabbid-Peach?
We had four Nintendo characters and we started thinking what would a Rabbid do to destroy one of these Nintendo characters to create a parody of it. Then we got princess peach and she's an elegant and goodhearted person and she is a paladin as well. So how could a Rabbid spoof this? We came up with the idea of this Instagram character, doing selfies, acting like a princess and almost reaching that point for five seconds but then she fails.
While developing the game, have you thought about any issues concerning the language or do you think both Mario and Rabbids understand each other without any words?
It's really interesting because both of them perfectly fit together in terms of physical humor. Usually Mario characters don't talk neither the Rabbids do, so very early in the development, we came up with the idea of Beep-O which is the voice of the characters and he helps with the communication. So we put the focus on the physical expression, which perfectly fits heroes and Rabbids.
So what do you think is running through Marios head when the Rabbids constantly saying "Bwaaah!"?
Mario is really surprised, not negative because he sees that especially the hero Rabbids like Rabbid Peach or Rabbid Luigi really try helping him. He's not against them. he is just perplex. So he understands that they are helping him, but he doesn't understand why, because they are just acting like they're having a lot of fun and there are other Rabbids fighting against him.
Is this something which is being told during story?
There is a reason why they are helping Mario which is shown during the introduction of the game. Mario isn't aware of it, but the Player is.
Speaking of story: How is the story be told?
As you might noticed while playing the game Beep-O is mostly communicating via incoming text messages. This is where most of the dialogues begin and where the story is taking place besides the cutscences. I don't know how much I'm suppose to say about it, but there is someone who tries to manipulate the situation.
How did you come up with the story?
So in the beginning we started with game design followed up with the game mechanics. This is how the development of most of the games begin. For example you come up with an idea of a puzzle and you're asking how you could implement this into the game. It's like you want to place a certain character at a certain point of the game, but for some game design reason it's better to put it on a later point of the game. This is how we came up with the story and it's also a point where Ubisoft and Nintendo were super agreeing: design is king.
How did you feel about working with Nintendo?
Working with Nintendo was always working well. Maybe it's because we're super fans of Nintendo? We expected that there may be difficulties in understanding or cultural differences because we expected some elements to not be understood of the Asian culture, but we were wrong. I'm not saying that there were no retakes or things to change, there were, but their focus was always on quality. They gave us feedback and we put that into the game. Because it's an Ubisoft game Nintendo never said “you can't do this.” , “You can't do that.” but they don't had to either because we were mostly agreeing. Even the models of the characters were made entirely by us. Of course we had references but the models were designed and made by Ubisoft.
There are some pre-order bundles which come with figurines of Rabbids. Have you ever thought of making amiibo for the game?
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle supports amiibo from the Mario series, at least those from characters implemented in the game. We wanted to support pre-orders with something special so we made these figurines. I would really love to see Rabbid amiibo at a retailer, but I don't know if there are plans about that.
You will find the German version of this Interview right here.