Once new WiiWare game Niki Rock 'n' Ball was revealed, we were immediately intrigued at the concept, and couldn't wait to give it a whirl. Eager to find out more, we got in touch with Bplus who told us a little more about the upcoming title, as well as their other WiiWare game PLÄTTCHEN twist 'n' paint.
Wiiloveit: Would you like to start by telling us a little bit about yourself?
Bplus: Hello, my name is Bernd Geiblinger, I am the Art Director of Bplus. Bplus essentially consists of three people. With me is Daniel Boesze, responsible for 3D modelling, and Oskar Salner, responsible for level design and testing. We are all huge Nintendo fans and we love to find out new ways to create things that are fun. For feedback and game testing there is the TestTeam of the Austrian Fan-Community GameClub.at who are of a great help.
Niki - Rock 'n' Ball looks like a pretty good game so far, and reminds me of some classic titles. What inspired you to make this game?
You are right, Billy. It was classics like Bubble Bobble, Snow Bros. and Mario Bros. that made us breath new live in that almost forgotten kind of platformers. All these games had one main aim, but they all had different game mechanics for the player to fulfil the mission. Destroying all enemies by freezing and pushing them, catching them with bubbles and popping them or simply turning them around and kicking them away was always the same thing to do but everytime addictive in a different way. With Niki – Rock 'n' Ball we tried to follow this tradition."Niki" is an unusual name for your game. Is there a meaning behind it?
Niki is the name of our main character, the hero of this game. He is a small ball-shaped lad who stands up to protect his village from evil monsters. You have to know that Niki has only been transformed to a ball but normally is an alien boy like you and me... ahm - okay - maybe not like me ;-)
Thanks. Do you wish to explain exactly how the game is played?
The most important thing to know is that you have to destroy a certain amount of monsters in every stage. You can roll around with Niki by simply tilting the Wii Remote left or right and make him jump by flicking it quickly upwards or pressing the A Button. As Niki behaves mostly like a real Ball, he bounces off the floor, ricochets from the walls and swims in water.
Weaker monsters can be beaten by simply bumping into them. Stronger enemies, though are a problem for Niki Ball. Luckily, Niki finds a mysterious ZeLeLi Amulet that gives him the ability to transform himself into a hard rock, by holding down the B Button, and conquer even the toughest monsters. As Niki Rock you are much heavier and slower, and that is not the best premise to jump from platform to platform.
In every stage there are 6 ZeLeLi Pearls you have to find and collect to open the portal to the next stage, after defeating all the enemies. There is also a special fire ball item which sets Niki on fire and makes him invincible and super fast for a short time.
To get the full retro feeling, we implemented a classic retro control style where you play the game like you would have done on NES. Sounds good! How is the co-op mode going to be implemented?
To play cooperatively with a friend, simply connect a second Wii Remote to your Wii and let him join directly on the fly. Both Nikis share their lives and fight together to destroy all enemies. Differently than in Bubble Bobble, the players can interact with each other, so for example you can help your friend to reach higher places by bouncing him up – and this is as fun as it sounds.
Your other WiiWare title, PLÄTTCHEN, was praised for the amount of things to do and the presentation. Are you planning on continuing this trend with Niki?
For PLÄTTCHEN – twist 'n' paint, we had over one and a half years to create one of the biggest WiiWare games yet. For Niki – Rock 'n' Ball, we had not as much time (as you know), but we did our best to reach the high level of quality in terms of presentation and variety we achieved with PLÄTTCHEN.
We have spotted a link between both of your WiiWare games: ZeLeLi. Would you like to introduce this element to our readers?
ZeLeLi is a new life form, born in our sun in the far future, which combines time, life and light in itself. It has the form of a gear wheel and there are many of them that travel through time and space.
The story about the ZeLeLi will be told with a number of different story lines, each one in another game of a completely different genre. PLÄTTCHEN – twist 'n' paint shows the birth of ZeLeLi and their first encounter with the evil black shadow Plattchen, while in Niki – Rock 'n' Ball you learn what happens to some of the shadow Plattchen that could eventually escape.
I understand that the game play involves worlds ten levels long. How long do you think the game will last overall?
That is right, you have to beat a whole world (10 stages without a break) to get access to the next one. After you have beaten a complete world, you can select each stage there seperately. When you beat a stage particularly quick, you earn a valuable medal. Collect them all to gain complete mastery over the game. While the beginning is quite easy, stages get bigger and harder to master as you progress in the game so it will keep you playing and coming back for quite a long time.
The co-op mode also is a fun reason to come back to Niki – Rock 'n' Ball again and again.
Is there any use of Nintendo Wi-fi Connection due to be implemented in this title?
Online is a thing we want to include in our games in the future, but right now we simply do not have the manpower to implement such a huge and time consuming element.
That's understandable. When do you think that you will finish development of this title, and how much are you hoping it will go on sale for?
Niki – Rock 'n' Ball is currently being tested by Nintendo and we hope that we can soon announce a release date and the amount of Wii Points Niki will go on sale for.
All in all, PLÄTTCHEN didn't go down excessively well with some gamers, although many of them also enjoyed it very much. Do you have any tips that the former may find useful?
PLÄTTCHEN – twist 'n' paint is a new experience and not just a small puzzle game like some of you may have thought. What we know now is that the order of the first levels was not chosen ideally because players are forced to learn many new things at once which can give them the impression of a very complicated game. The freedom of being able to colour any tile to start reactions and gain energy is as simple as it sounds, so we suggest just to relax and link Plattchen as you like.
At first, try the levels without any obstacles or start with level 2 or 5 to get into the gameplay mechanics. If you are unsure what to do, you can go through the video-like presentation in the tutorial. Some fans told us that it needs around half an hour to get familiar with everything. Please don't give up if you are a little frustrated at first but instead hang in there, and I am sure you will enjoy it.
If any of you needs help or assistance in any level, just visit our forums at: http://Forums.Bplus.at .PLÄTTCHEN - twist 'n' paint cost five hundred more points in Europe than North America. Do you have any plans on reducing the difference in future?
As you may know, Nintendo has the last word on pricing, so we are not in the position to change that.
Fair enough. We know that as a company, you spent a lot of time making PLÄTTCHEN, and this really showed. Are you planning on creating any further games based on similar ideas?
PLÄTTCHEN – twist 'n' paint is everything we wanted it to be. We have so many new ideas that it is unlikely that we will make a successor of it in the current generation. The puzzle market on WiiWare seems to be oversaturated right now so it is also highly unlikely that we are going to release another kind of puzzle game in the near future.
To give players what they want, we constantly listen to their wishes in our forums and this time they decided that it is time for a new platformer on WiiWare. We will continue to listen and invite all the players to tell us what they want to see from Bplus next. What is your opinion on how PLÄTTCHEN was recieved?
It is true that we are extremely sad and dissapointed that most professional reviewers did not take the time to dig deeper in the game and instead quickly dismissed it as overly complicated. On the other side, we also heared extremely enthusiastic comments from players, what mirrored exactly the reactions of our testers. What's probably PLATTCHEN's biggest problem is that it simply was overshadowed by the releases of the extremely anticipated Bomberman Blast and MegaMan 9. We would have loved if Nintendo had told us about our 'release day competitors' in advance.
What would you say to those unsure on whether or not to buy the game?