How Grant Met Shigeru, a RARE story…
During an interview with GamesIndustry, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle Director Davide Soliani and composer Grant Kirkhope talked about their experience during the development cycle, their reactions to the leaks and initial backlash, and the inspirations for the music of the game.
Among the most interesting aspects of the conversation were the following:
On when Soliani first met Miyamoto:
I was super proud of it. I remember a review saying that [Jungle Book: Mowgli’s Wild Adventure] it seemed like a Nintendo game. So the first time I went to E3, I brought my Jungle Book game and I met Miyamoto. But I was so shy, like a little kid, that I just gave him the game and asked him to sign it, without even saying hello, presenting myself and explaining that this was my game. So, Miyamoto-san looked at the box like: ‘Hmmm, this isn’t my game.’ But he signed it anyway because he is such a gentle guy. When he game me the signed game, which of course I still have, I went out of E3 and cried like a baby.
On Miyamoto and Nintendo’s approval to develop Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle:
This was one of the first thing internally at Nintendo that they asked themselves about, but Miyamoto-san said that he was totally ok with it, so we can proceed. It was a huge moment for me because I was aware it could have been one of the show stoppers. But you can see that this game is very joyful, colourful and humorous.
On Kirkhope’s realization that this was not just a Rabbids game:
It took them a while to fly me out to Paris to meet with Davide. I remember they took me to the studio and into this backroom. It was all big security, no-one could get in, it had secret keys and all that. I thought it was a bit strange for a Rabbids game. I sat down, and Davide turned on the TV and Mario was there. I thought they’d just been playing a Mario game. And then he started to move Mario. And I was like, ‘What are you doing?’ And he said: ‘This is the game, it’s a Mario game’. That was the first I heard about it. It struck me…how on earth was I going to write music for Mario after Koji Kondo, who is the greatest games composer in the world? I thought this is impossible.
On Kirkhope’s first (and only) meeting with Miyamoto:
It was E3 had moved to Atlanta. Nintendo had a party in a museum, and we all got hideously drunk. I saw [Rare Founder] Tim Stamper talking to Miyamoto, and I introduced myself as the composer of Banjo-Kazooie, totally drunk. He just looked at me with the blankest expression, he couldn’t tell what I was saying. A while later, I was in the bathroom – and this is embarrassing – I was trying to pull down [Donkey Kong 64 designer] George Andreas’ trousers for a joke. I was on my knees and I looked up to see Miyamoto staring down at me. That was the last time I spoke to him.
On Soliani’s and the team’s initial reaction to the leaks:
When the game leaks, no one is happy. Also, let’s be honest, the reaction at the beginning was not ‘skeptical’ – it was a little bit worse than that. It was quite hard on the team morale to read some of those comments. I asked for Grant’s opinion, [since he] has way more experience than me. ‘Do you think they will love it? Do you think they will hate us? Do you think that we’ve done everything wrong?’ I was very, very worried. Because, you know, people on the internet can be very, very, very harsh.
Aside from the funny stories about how they met Miyamoto, this interview sheds like at the development cycle of games, and process to get approvals, and about the psyche of the developers themselves who pour their hearts into years of development for a single title, and how the backlash of many (or few) can impact them negatively.
Luckily for us (or at least to a few of us), Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle sounded like a win from the very beginning, and the official unveiling and reception at E3 appeased the masses. It is on many ‘must-watch’ lists as one of the most anticipated games coming out this year.