Nintendo Online Magazine: 1080 Avalanche (English Translation)

The following is a translated digital print of an interview conducted on Nintendo of Japan's official website under the Nintendo Online Magazine banner. This interview has been translated from its original Japanese language to English by Kyoto Report. We also include the original Japanese document alongside. This interview features Shigeki Yamashiro, Vivek Melvani, Jonathon Johnson, Trevor Johnson, Richard Vorodi, and Lawrence Schwedler of Nintendo Software Technology Corporation.

Q: Although the sequel to 1080* Snowboarding was a hit, what challenges were you faced with in developing this title?

Shigeki Yamashiro: Well since the original, the genre of "extreme sports" has become really popular in the United States. Examples like BMX, skateboarding, surfing, and other snowboarding games are sort of following the same generic formula in the market. Our challenge was to take the original formula which hasn't been duplicated in a sense, while adding certain ingredients that have become very popular for the market.

Q: Can you explain this concept?

Vivek Melwani: With the GameCube hardware, we thought we could really extend certain features as well as bring some new ideas to the table. Our first agenda, was to really create a natural world and the challenge of nature. Experiments were conducted, and there was a lot of trial and error regarding what worked and what didn't. The avalanche idea came out of these experiments. While the race was still exciting like the original, once that avalanche starts coming down, the player feels a new sense of rush.

Q: What parts of the game were upgraded and what parts were changed?

Vivek Melwani: Well we really wanted to still focus on the feeling of boarding down a mountain, so that much didn't change. Of course we will that it was recreated to a new extent. We also created some new characters.

Shigeki Yamashiro: We used motion capture of a real snowboarder in this one, the original did not use motion capture.

Trevor Johnson: All the scenery was made from polygons. We also really wanted to put animals to stengthen the nature of the environment. We were going to put time and weather options (like Wave Race: Blue Storm) but time deadlines and the fact that we didn't want it to be so similar to our previous title.

Jonathan Johnson: Since Wave Race: Blue Storm, this is technically our second full-fledged GameCube project (NSTC has been involved in assisting 3 NCL GameCube titles), we were not troubled technically. However, one new hurdle for us was implementing the LAN option.

Shigeki Yamashiro: It seems that the user here makes the software uniquely connected with the Internet, and network play was completed. It's a very exciting experience.

Q: Were the avalanches tough to create?

Vivek Melwani: Well in order to incorporate the avalanche, various elements such as art, music, program, and sound effects were combined.

Jonathan Johnson: In respect to the game program, troubles were suffered by how the avalanche were expressed. We wanted the avalanches to look realistic, the challenge was if the processing became too intense, it could not be used in the game. We even studied a video of science documentary on snowslides.

Scott Basset: In this game, to convey a satisfactory feeling of speed, we spent a lot of time with the program, snow textures and camera. We feel we succeeded with that greatly.

Q: Music and sound effects played a huge role in this game.

Lawrence Schwedler: We definitely knew we wanted to utilize Dolby Prologic II. Sounds can come from four speakers giving the player a surreal experience. A rabbit crossing from the left, a snowslide approaching from the rear, and even snow could be heard.

Shigeki Yamashiro: The music is a mix from in-house productions and some licensed tracks from popular artists. I think it was the perfect match for this game.

Richard Vorodi: We were unsure of what bands to approach. But we are very happy with the way it came together. Many of the artists weer fans of Nintendo, so they were very approachable.

Q: By the way how are your snowboarding skills?

Vivek Melwani: Most of the staff members were inexperience or very amateurish when it came to snowboarding. One weekend, Richard and Jonathan decided to go snowboarding for research of the game and of course a higher interest since development of the game commenced. Jonathan ended up getting hurt and found himself in the hospital. Not much snowboarding was done that weekend. (Laughter)

Jonathan Johnson: The injury healed up rather quickly, but using the keyboard which was required to develop this game, became a painful discomfort for a few weeks.

Q: What gameplay changes were made in regards to control and techniques?

Richard Vorodi: We added and refined several things. The tuck (squatting down), the easier landings but with the swirl recovery method, the tricks are more expansive and a bit easier to do but with the ability to chain and combo. We also added griding and more variety in the turning abilities. There are also new challenges like the coin challenge which everybody seems to really like. I actually came up with that one ! (smiles)

Shigeki Yamashiro: We also added a lot of gameplay changes with having the ability to change the race course of the player behind you. You can break things, clutter roads, and create avalanches that the other player will have to deal with.

Q: Any final words from the development staff?

Melwani: If you really want to experience the environment and the rush of a snowboarder, please experience 1080: Avalanche by all means.

Vorodi: There is no game similar to this on the market. It's perfect for any one who is a fan of snowboarding or a fan of Nintendo gameplay.

Schwedler: Since you can pick a song before each race, you will quickly find yourself having several favorites to assist in your adrenaline rush filled race.

Bassett: You have to definitely try the LAN multiplayer.

Jonathan: One of the better challenges is unlocking the numerous amounts of boards in the game. Riding and sliding on the rocket board (the ultimate unlockable snowboard) is an experience like no other.

Trevor: Make sure you dress warmly anytime you play the game.

Yamashiro: I think the game mechanics are as well done as something coming out of our Japanese offices because it has that Nintendo feeling. This is our goal at NST, as the American branch of Nintendo, it is our job to create software with the same feeling and quality. I think the game is a perfect mix of realism and fun gameplay.

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