Nintendo knows that the choice to have the company's top-flight development studio in Texas make another Donkey Kong side-scroller was controversial — so controversial, in fact, that Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime actually addressed it in a video yesterday shortly before I asked him about it.
The video stands out as one of the few original videos Nintendo put on their E3 YouTube hub. Their channel is stuffed with trailers and insightful, pre-recorded developer interviews about the company's new line-up. That they made this video implies that Nintendo knew this was a topic that needed addressing. Here's that video:
If you're unaware of what's going on here, Retro is a pretty incredible studio that made the critically-acclaimed Metroid Prime first-person-shooter/exploration games for GameCube and Wii and then, a few years ago, the well-regarded side-scroller Donkey Kong Country Returns. Their next project was shrouded in mystery until it was revealed on Monday to be Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.
In his video, Fils-Aime mentions "all of the social media" asking about Retro making Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze, but he doesn't get that specific. That's where I come in. Fils-Aime and I sat down to talk about Retro and other things yesterday afternoon. This is the portion of our conversation about the Retro assignment.
You'll see that Fils-Aime is optimistic that fans will like the game and a wee bit damned-if-you-do/damned-if-you-don't about the reaction to Retro doing a Donkey Kong rather than anything else.
Kotaku: There was mixed reaction to what Retro would be working on. Some reaction was: I wish they were making another Metroid Prime.’ Some reaction was: ‘I wish Nintendo would just let them do something new.’ We all agree that they’re an extremely talented studio. To those who are disappointed to see them ‘simply’ making another Donkey Kong Country, you would say…
Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America: You know, what I’m eagerly looking forward to is reaction from the Best Buy demos that have been going on today. Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze is one of the games they’re getting to sample. My bet is that the fan who actually plays that game is super-excited, because, absolutely the team is excited. They’ve done a lot with Donkey Kong Country. All of the things they wished they had done in Donkey Kong Country Returns they put into Tropical Freeze. And so they make great games. I’m glad the fans recognise that. And it’s going to be up to the team to decide what they want their next project to do, obviously [while] working with [Nintendo producers] Mr. Tanabe and Mr. Takahashi in terms of getting directions.
You know, Nintendo’s blessed to have over 30 franchises. When you step back and think about it, and you look at all the games we’ve created, we’ve got over 30 franchises. Every time we launch a game there’s always that fan who says, I wish it was…
Kotaku: Metroid or Waverace or whatever…
Fils-Aime: Exactly! We love that and we love that passion and I’m sure there will be nice pleasant surprises, just like we surprised fans with Kid Icarus on the 3DS.
Kotaku: Were you saying, did Retro choose to make the Donkey Kong Country game? Was it their decision?
Fils-Aime: I wasn’t in the room when they talked to Mr. Tanabe and Mr. Takahashi, but I just spent some time with Michael Kelbaugh, the president of that studio, and he talked about how they were excited to go right from finishing up Donkey Kong Country Returns into this next project.
I'll have much more from my interview with Fils-Aime in the coming days.