A portion of an NWR interview with Ubisoft’s Davide Soliani…
NWR: Starting off, could you tell us how this collaboration came about?
Davide Soliani: Sure. It’s a pleasure. So everything started because of the strong relationship that exists between Ubisoft and Nintendo during the last 20 years. We’ve done many games on Nintendo consoles. We have been one of the first developers participating at the launch of new Nintendo consoles, with Just Dance, Zombi U, Red Steel, and one day they told me that I had a chance to work on a project with Nintendo that could feature both Rabbids and Mario. We immediately understood this was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
NWR: The gameplay is something that hasn’t been done with either Mario or Rabbids so how did that come about?
Davide Soliani: We decided since the beginning to break the rules. First of all with the Rabbids, but then we spent night and day brainstorming on how to find something unique, how to merge those two worlds that seem separate together, in order to find something to use for both Mario and the Rabbids. As we are tactical fans, we said why not try to bring something completely new in the world of turn based combat, but at the same time we wanted to stay true to the Mario universe with exploration, the adventure, being able to immerse yourself in a colorful world with puzzles, mysteries, and fun new characters who could help along the way. So at that point we said why not mix the combat phases with the exploration phases, and try to propose something completely new.
When we felt that we had a solid idea throughout Ubisoft, we organized a meeting with Nintendo. We were not ready to have this meeting only three and a half weeks later, and when I finally presented the idea I was the one in front of Mr. Miyamoto and since he’s the creator of my favorite game, and he’s the inspiration of my career as a game designer I felt like I was divided in two, the Nintendo player, and the Ubisoft creative director. The urgency to ask for an autograph because I really wanted an autograph and the responsibility to present the idea on behalf of the whole team. But it worked out because Mr. Miyamoto said he was impressed and he asked me, “how did you have Mario and Luigi in your prototypes, who gave you those characters?” And the truth is, we were so crazy and we wanted this game to happen so much that even if we only had 3 and a half weeks, we recreated from scratch, Mario and Luigi, the models, the animation, the rigging, in order to transport the essence in our prototype and I do think that was the moment when Nintendo was really able to see our passion and commitment.
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