In the latest edition of Iwata Asks, in which Nintendo president Satoru Iwata gently grills game creators, the developers behind The Wonderful 101 discuss the origins of the "mass hero action game." According to The Wonderful 101 game director Hideki Kamiya, the title originally started as a game that would bring together famous Nintendo characters.
"It started out with an order from [Platinum Games CEO Tetsuya] Minami, saying 'Think up a plan to bring together world famous characters with Nintendo characters at its center, appearing all in one game,'" Kamiya said. He cited two 8-bit all-star games, Konami's Wai Wai World and Bandai's Famicom Jump, which brought together characters from numerous franchises, as two classic titles that he "really loved."
"There are a lot of all-star games featuring characters from various mediums, and I think it's really moving and inspiring to be able to transcend the original games by having those characters interact," Kamiya said.
When the project idea was presented to Nintendo, producer Hitoshi Yamagami declared the idea "impossible" and shelved the project. But the project was later revived, sans grand ideas to have Nintendo's stable of characters appearing onscreen all at once.
A new take on the game, starring characters that "were more like Viewtiful Joe, like the dark superheroes in US comic books," was presented to Nintendo. Those characters, deemed too dark, were later refined to make the game more appealing to a broader age range.
The group goes on to explain how later portions of The Wonderful 101's development went, including what sounds like a very late addition of an important game mechanic: the Multi Unite Morph. The ability to perform multiple, simultaneous Unite Morphs — in which the game's heroes transform into weapons like a gun, sword or whip — wasn't added until May, just a few months before the game was scheduled to ship. And it was added without the knowledge of Platinum Games producer Atsushi Inaba.
"Usually with a huge change like that, he would have come to show it to me first," Inaba recalled. "I found out about it through a different channel after the fact, so I flipped. I hadn't been angry like that in a while. I was like, 'How could you do that now!?'
More details, including information on a Wonderful 101 character based on Kamiya himself, are available in the full Iwata Asks.