And here I thought I knew everything. My brother's name is Nathaniel - so I should be able to spell Nathaniels, right? Wrong! Vicarious Visions's David Nathanielsz has a freaking "z" on the end. And don't you forget it.
This was the most shocking thing I retained from my interview with David. The rest is to be expected - of course Vicarious is pleased to have climbed from Jet Set Radio on the GameBoy Advance to such lofty heights as developing Guitar Hero: World Tour for the Wii.
"We're excited to stay with Nintendo," said David. "And we like developing for the Wii."
David feels that people don't know just what the Wii can do. Multiplatform game development usually treats Nintendo's "next-gen" console like a retarded little brother that needs placating. But Vicarious was determined to bring all the passion that went into World Tour's development on 360 and PS3 to the Wii.
To that end, nothing has been skimped except a layer of polish on the graphics. What did you expect? The Wii does have limits. All the stuff that makes World Tour a solid party game is there - the Music Studio, Career mode... And to top it all off, is the Mii Freestyle mode.
Mii Freestyle allows gamers to strum and drum randomly while their Miis rock out onscreen. It's not like Music Studio in that you can't edit together for a track. But as far as freestyle goes, it doesn't get much better than this. There are even cue cards with suggested moves to get you going if you're not sure what sort of sounds you "should" be making. You can also set a repeating drum backbeat so you can play along with that and sound like you're actually making music instead of randomly strumming guitar.
David is especially passionate about the idea that everyone should be able to play this game. He told me a story about a fan who'd contacted him to thank him - this fan's son was crippled by a stroke and could barely use one side of his body. Playing drums on Rock Band or on the 360/PS3 Guitar Hero is totally out of the question for this kid. But on the Wii, with the nunchuck-remote combo option for drumming, he can play drums. And David is totally stoked that his game made that possible.
"[Playing as]a band is a social experience," David says. And so is his game.
In addition to that everyone-can-play attitude, the in-game music store features accessibility like nobody's business. Anything you buy from the store (or download from the Guitar Hero site's Music Studio section) can be put on an SD card, and carried anywhere and put in any set list on any system running the game.
I wrapped up with some key questions about what he liked to play on Guitar Hero. David likes drumming to the Foo Fighters (jeez, who doesn't?), playing guitar to Assassin by Muse, and singing Billy Idol's Rebel Yell. He also has ideas on what song he'd like to see in Guitar Hero. At first he told me The Sugarplastic's Sun Goes Cold - but later, he emailed me, saying he "couldn't live with himself" if he didn't change that to I Am the Resurrection by the Stone Roses.
"Considering the number of times I air-guitared to the song as a teenager, it is clearly at the top of my list," reads his email. "Hopefully at some point down the road I'll get my chance to play it in Guitar Hero, but for the near future I'll have to get by on playing The Stone Roses' 'Love Spreads' which is in World Tour."
In case you missed the question in my Neversoft interview with Brian Bright, I'll ask again - what song would you want to see in Guitar Hero or Rock Band?
Me? On Wii, I think it'd be cool if they did a Disney pack of all the songs from the movies we saw as kids. Under the Sea, Beauty and the Beast - shit like that, so we can relive our childhoods (or maybe share them with our own kids).