Red Steel 2 is the next big 'core' Wii game to arrive in the shops. As a Wii MotionPlus exclusive, it's also one of the few third-party games taking advantage of the console's full motion capabilities. But will it succeed where so many other big-boy Wii titles have failed to make a dent?
We sat down with Ubisoft Paris's hugely enthusiastic - and foul-mouthed - Jason Vandenberghe, who spoke frankly about the Wii audience and his aspirations for the game...
Read why Vandenberghe believes there's 'no point' doing realistic Wii games over on the CVG Facebook Fan Page.
You're clearly very enthusiastic about Red Steel 2. Are you more enthusiastic about this than other games you've made?
If you look at my career, I've been doing this for 13 years now and it's 95% movie games; Bond franchises, Lord Of The Rings games, Godfather... My first game was the X Files game. This is the first time that I've made a game that's really dear to my heart. I'm a huge sword fighting geek, I love the anime style, the over the top hyper reality. Also, I think its fun and watching people play it reinforces that. It's a game that I would want to play.
Seeing as you didn't work on the first Red Steel game, it must have been easier for you to storm in and change everything?
That was actually the job. The team had been through a lot of struggles as they were learning what to do. This [visual] look was there before I showed up and they had a lot of knowledge of the controls. They were confident of the baseline stuff and they hired a creative director and that was me. My number one job was to keep Ubisoft off their back! The second was to help with the world and create the setting.
What did you think of the first game?
I was really excited about the first game. As a game developer it was hard to play, but I could see the team's experience. Even before I knew the team I was like 'Oh God... these guys just needed an extra three weeks.' They were right there. There were issues with the controls schemes and it just wasn't done. It wasn't really finished.
They didn't need much time but they had to do it for launch so the ship date was the most important thing. They did a great job getting it out there. It was popular and it set us up for this. It was a nice introduction to the Wii but it was a little disappointing on the sword fighting front.
When I showed up on the team they had already backed way out of the context of the first game. We just want a fun game - that's the most important thing. So we started there and when we created the core mechanic which was sword and gun at any time - that was a big change - then we set about creating a world that would make that possible. To do that, we needed a world where a guy carries guns and swords. That's not the real world so we could either go historical - nah! - or we could create our own world. It's samurais and cowboys.
Red Steel 2 is perhaps seen as the last big 'hardcore' Wii game on the horizon. After recent sales disappointments, do you feel any pressure to prove thata core game can be successful on the console?
It's exciting. Personally, I call this the great hardcore Wii Jihad! I don't really care about the religious war! Some developers who are making hardcore games for the Wii made a big deal about the separation of church and state, saying (puts on deep voice) "there's hardcore and there's family friendly." F*** those guys! I don't feel that way. I think there are gamers and there are gamers of different opinions and different tastes so the goal was to create games that gamers want and to see how many people like it. That's how operate. I don't think in terms of focus groups and target audiences. That's not how I design.