The excellent team at gamesindustry.biz have just posted a very insightful interview with Davide Soliani, Ubisoft Milan’s Creative Director, and Grant Kirkhope, composer of games like Donkey Kong 64 and Banjo-Kazooie. Both have been instrumental in bringing Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle to life on the Nintendo Switch. It turns out the team at Ubisoft was worried that Nintendo would hate the idea of giving Mario and friends guns:
“This was one of the first things internally at Nintendo that they asked themselves about, but Miyamoto-san said that he was totally ok with it, so we can proceed,” Soliani explains. “It was a huge moment for me because I was aware it could have been one of the show stoppers. But you can see that this game is very joyful, colourful and humorous.”
Grant recalls how he got the job to create music for the game:
“I was scared. I got an email from Gian Marco, the producer in Milan in November 2014. He said that he had a game that I might like to do. So I got the NDA all signed up and it was called Rabbids Kingdom Battle. I thought it was a Rabbids game.
“It took them a while to fly me out to Paris to meet with Davide [Kirkhope is based in LA]. I remember they took me to the studio and into this backroom. It was all big security, no-one could get in, it had secret keys and all that. I thought it was a bit strange for a Rabbids game. I sat down, and Davide turned on the TV and Mario was there. I thought they’d just been playing a Mario game. And then he started to move Mario. And I was like, ‘What are you doing’? And he said: ‘This is the game, it’s a Mario game’. That was the first I heard about it. It struck me… how on earth was I going to write music for Mario after Koji Kondo, who is the greatest games composer in the world? I thought this is impossible. I can’t possibly write music for this game, I’m just not good enough. So I had this blank expression because the fear had gone from 0 to 60 in one second flat.”
When leaks began happening on the internet, morale on the team began to sink because the comments coming back were far less than positive. Of course, whenever a game gets leaked, many details are still unknown and the publisher hasn’t had the chance to present the game in the light they wanted to. Soliani recalls:
“When the game leaks, no one is happy,” Soliani says. “Also, let’s be honest, the reaction at the beginning was not ‘sceptical’ – it was a little bit worse than that. It was quite hard on the team morale to read some of those comments. I asked for Grant’s opinion, [since he] has way more experience than me. ‘Do you think they will love it? Do you think they will hate us? Do you think that we’ve done everything wrong?’ I was very, very worried. Because, you know, people on the internet can be very, very, very harsh.”
There’s much more ground covered in the full interview. Be sure to check it out! Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle will release on August 29, 2017 for the Nintendo Switch.