May 10, 2007 - Hardcore gamers jumped for joy when SEGA revealed that it was working on a Wii sequel to the NiGHTS franchise. Journey of Dreams is set for release later this year and we caught up with SEGA Studio producer Takashi Iizuka to learn more about the ambitious project. That interview below.
IGN: There's a rumor going around that the project began its life cycle for PS3/Xbox 360, but was later moved to Wii. Is this true and, if so, what prompted the decision?
Takashi: Ever since the disappearance of NiGHTS' over 11 years ago, this game has seemed to be shrouded in rumors and mystery. As a game studio, it is common for us to evaluate every platform before we start our development process for any game. Once we had collectively decided to create a NiGHTS sequel, our focus shifted to determining which system was be best suited for the game. Not only does the Wii offer an innovative new remote controller that challenges us to recreate the "fun" flight simulation of NiGHTS, but the platform's demographic appeal seemed a perfect fit for those who could appreciate the "heart-warming" story behind the game. Ultimately we want to create a sequel that our loyal fans will love as well as introduce a new generation of gamers to the world of NIGHTS.
IGN: How long has the title been in development and, specifically, which team is creating the game?
Takashi: Our initial creative process for NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams started back in late 2006. It is very typical for our team to start very early in flushing out new game concepts that we are interested in. SEGA Studio USA works collaboratively with all of its internal departments including programming and artists to decide what game we will eventually make. In this way, we can increase our creative efforts incorporating ideas from all sections of our team. We find that this is a very invaluable process that encourages participation amongst all our team members.
IGN: Give us some examples for how you'll use the Wii remote to control the NiGHTS in the game.
Producer Takashi Iizuka
Takashi: During development of the original NiGHTS, we worked very hard to utilize SEGA's innovative 3D controller to enhance the flight sensation of our game and with the Nintendo Wii controller, we are once again challenged to repeat the task. Our ultimate goal is to create an experience that blends the "fun" flying sensation of NiGHTS with the player's interactivity with the controller.
Initially, we envisioned using the Wii remote as sort of a "magic wand", where NiGHTS could be directed simply by movements of the controller. But with any new input device, we were finding some limitations using just the remote. That is why we are also designing the game to be played using the remote with the Nunchuk for a more "traditional" control configuration. Our goals are two-fold, one to create a brand-new gaming experience with the sequel as well giving the player a choice to play NiGHTS like before. Either way, we hope that they find the game as enjoyable as we do.
IGN: Will there be cooperative and online modes? Please explain how they work.
Takashi: Currently, we are investigating a number of features that will utilize the Wii network capability. But, at this time we have not decided on any specific functionality yet. Ultimately, we would like to have multiplayer functionality as well as a way to tap into the Nintendo network where players could share their game experience on a world-wide level.
IGN: What is the game doing from a technical standpoint (graphics) that you're most proud of?
Takashi: When we first began thinking about the sequel, one of our main technical challenges was how to harness the current technology which would allow us to create the most fantastical, vibrant and unusual dream worlds ever seen. We focused our developmental efforts on our new 3D rendering engine to graphically push the envelope of the Nintendo hardware as we are very excited about taking advantage of today's technology that allows developers to make realistic-looking environments and apply that to making the dream world of NiGHTS truly come alive.