It's been awhile since we've seen this limbless character in a proper game of his own. Sure, he's made a few appearances alongside the crazy rabbids, but it's about time that Ubisoft's mascot took center stage again. We talked to creative director, Michael Ancel, about the development and features of the game. So read on, check out the trailer, and share your thoughts in the comments section below.
GameSpot: How has development been going?
Michel Ancel: This is the first development done with the UbiArt Engine. This tool was made to create a good creative process between ideas and results, and we now know that it works! In fact, we can't wait to make another game with this tool. GS: Has anything been changed in the game based on feedback since its debut?
MA: The difficulty curve has been tweaked in order to avoid frustrations from gamers of all types--beginners and hardcore. So we added more optional challenges rewarded with hardcore unlockable levels. The big design challenge came from the multiplayer. If you look at it quickly you could think that it looks like other multiplayer platformer, but there are a lot of details that make the experience totally different. That's one of the things we are the most proud of. GS: What inspired this kind of game with this kind of story?
MA: When you start playing this game, we recommend you to leave the intellectual part of your brain outside and just play with the crazy side. Crazy characters, crazy story, and crazy gameplay situations. This comes from the best memories of gameplay from Bomberman or the old four-player tennis games… Chaotic and funny! At the same time there are things that can reveal a deeper story, but honestly, that aspect is for people who pay attention to all the tiny details.
GS: How close is the game now to what you originally envisioned?
MA: To make your own idea you can compare the very first trailer shown in 2010 to the one shown in 2011. The main vision is still there with more players and more content. GS: Do you find it easier or harder to develop 2D games? Which do you prefer?
MA: In 2D, it's easier to create content, characters, and levels but also harder because you can't hide poor game design behind Hollywood-style sequences. 2D shows every collision mistake and control error. It is this required precision game that forces us to manage a lot of details.
GS: The demos we've seen so far offer slices of gameplay from various levels. Can you let us know how they all fit together? Is it a linear structure? Is there a hub? Are there hidden levels or sublevels to discover?
MA: Yep, there is a hub, a home, a world map, and level maps with all the details of what you have completed. It's fast and easy to move from a world to another. The game starts a bit linearly, but after a while, like in any adventure game, things open up completely, and you can decide where you want to go first and what kind of boss you want to defeat first. I really like this kind of surprising macro game structure. GS: In terms of gameplay, we've seen a mix of platforming and side-scrolling shooting. Can you give us an idea of how much variety we're going to see in the gameplay?
MA: You can also play underwater with a totally new control or fly with your "hairlicopter" in a more antigravity type of platforming. I really enjoy this kind of mix of controls, especially when you jump from one to another in a seamless way.
GS: Are there going to be unique features for the different console versions?
MA: The 360 and PS3 are full HD. The Wii is pushing that console to its graphical limits with a good 480p 60fps mode fully antialiased. The handheld versions are pretty much the same game, same levels, but are adapted a bit for each console by using some of the specific features they offer. GS: How are you handling the Vita version? Is it a straight port or will it have unique content?
MA: We have the same approach with all of the games. We're really trying to offer a great 2D platforming experience on all consoles. We love the Vita because we can keep the HD graphics, and it is looking really impressive. We are also taking advantage of the multi-touch feature so players can zoom in on the graphics and backgrounds. We also have a cool ghost mode where you can race against your and your friends' best times to complete a level.
GS: Once this game is done, have you given any thought to what you might be working on next? Might it have the words beyond, good, evil, and possibly a two in the title? Is there anything you can tell people eagerly anticipating the game?
MA: Right now we're thinking about some vacation and rest. We'd love to make a sequel to that evil good beyond two kind of game you're talking about, but that's another story!
GS: Thank you for your time!