Blizzard Q&A

We speak to Bill Roper about Blizzard's recent GBA game announcements.

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Last week, Blizzard 2885360announced that it would rerelease three of its early console games--Lost Vikings, Blackthorne, and Rock N' Roll Racing--on the GBA through a new publishing label, Blizzard Classic Arcade. We recently caught up with Bill Roper, vice president of Blizzard North, to get more details on the GBA games and how the new projects mesh with Blizzard's other plans.

GameSpot: Why did Blizzard decide to bring back The Lost Vikings?

Bill Roper: Although there have been some great new titles produced for the Game Boy Advance, this platform seemed like a natural place for a game like The Lost Vikings. After pulling out the original SNES code and evaluating what would be required to port it to the GBA, we started to get really excited about just being able to play it again. The Lost Vikings was our first choice because it incorporates many of the design and humorous aspects people associate with Blizzard games. Also, we've always felt that the style of gameplay in The Lost Vikings has not been done very often, and its compelling and challenging mix of puzzles and arcade action is something that never goes out of style.

GS: Do you expect the game will play any differently on the GBA? Are there specific changes or enhancements planned?

BR: While we may need to make some minor modifications, we are very focused on translating our Classic Arcade games as faithfully as possible. Filled with intense arcade action and traditionally compelling gameplay, these titles bring big fun to the small screen just as they are. In a sense, we want to help preserve the history of our company and our industry by making games like The Lost Vikings available as they were originally intended to be played.

GS: Many of the games were originally published by Interplay. Did Vivendi Universal's current publishing deal with Interplay help make the return of The Lost Vikings possible?

BR: We have had a long-standing relationship with Interplay, and certainly our continued association through Vivendi Universal Games helped with bringing this license back to Blizzard. We were excited to create the game for Interplay back in 1993, and are even more excited to be rereleasing this critically acclaimed classic in 2002.

GS: Are there any plans to create new games for the label?

BR: We have just announced our plans to also publish Rock N' Roll Racing and Blackthorne under the Blizzard Classic Arcade label. We wanted to use this new label to bring our best-loved games created for the SNES system to the Game Boy Advance and a new generation of players.

GS: With the announcement of Starcraft: Ghost for consoles and now The Lost Vikings for the GBA, Blizzard seems to be returning to its video game roots. Does Blizzard have long-term plans to produce games for all platforms?

BR: We have always wanted to have the "bandwidth" to simultaneously make games for both PC and console systems, and with strong development partners, we have occasionally been able to do so. By working with Mass Media on our GBA titles and Nihilistic on Starcraft: Ghost, we are able to have very focused input from our people while not impacting the development of our PC games like World of Warcraft. We certainly hope to continue to find ways to make as many games as we can without sacrificing our quality-driven development practices.

GS: Is Blizzard expanding for these new projects, or are they being worked on by the people who produced Blizzard's PC games?

BR: We have not needed to expand within Blizzard to accommodate our new console developments. We instead have a team that is set up specifically to work on our console titles and whose members share time with various other projects. Also, everyone in the company plays builds to provide the same level of feedback and attention to detail that we have traditionally given to our PC games.

GS: Thanks for your time, Bill.

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