Has-Been Heroes Interview: Switch Development “a lot smoother” than Wii U

We had the opportunity to interview Kai over at Frozenbyte about their upcoming release, Has-Been Heroes. In this interview, Kai was able to share their experiences developing for the Switch, what kind of game Has-Been Heroes is, some tips about the game, if the Trine characters would appear, and much more.

Marcello: First off, thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about Has-Been Heroes! Let’s begin with the game’s origins. How did you guys first think of the idea for this game?

Kai: We went with a team-based approach for this, so we initially had a small group that we put together who just wanted to make something totally different from our other games. They had a challenging game in mind, and the roguelike elements started fitting into place very early on. At one point after a few prototypes we really had something click and the gameplay started feeling really addictive.

The story and characters were pretty similar throughout the development, but naturally evolved a bit to the current humoristic setting as we refined the concept. So now we have the old, retired Has-Been Heroes that are sent to take the king’s daughters to school!

Marcello: How long has the game been in development for?

Kai: We started development around 2.5 years ago.

Marcello: Now this game is releasing on multiple platforms, but clearly the Switch version is the one most are intrigued about seeing since it’s in the console’s launch window. What has it been like developing for the Nintendo Switch? Any comparisons to the Wii U when you guys brought Trine to that platform?

Kai: Switch has been a real pleasure to work with, no complaints at all. Nintendo has really learned a lot from the Wii U times and developing for the Switch has been a lot smoother. They’ve changed around a lot of things, and really thought of the whole process from a developer standpoint. Our programmers have loved it.

Marcello: Does this game have any form of co-op multiplayer? It seems like it can get really intense!

Kai: No multiplayer, Has-Been Heroes is single-player only. But with a game like this where every move and decision with items/spells matters, there’s a lot of room for people to shout instructions from the back 🙂

Marcello: The game’s art-style is certainly a departure from that of the Trine series, but it certainly has a clean, smooth art-style nonetheless. How did you guys decide on the game’s art direction?

Kai: The drawn 2D style was something we had in mind from the beginning for Has-Been Heroes. It’s there to give you some comical relief to soften the blow from dying a lot in the game 😉

Marcello: Does the game run at 60 frames-per-second?

Kai: Yep!

Marcello: Can you use the Switch’s touch-screen for any gameplay when playing off-the-dock?

Kai: No, just for the menus.

Marcello: Will the Trine characters make a surprise cameo appearance in the game? Maybe we’ll be able to play as that team in-game?

Kai: No, they are busy fighting evil in another dimension!

Marcello: The Trine games had a very serine soundtrack from composer Ari Pulkkinen. Did he return to compose the soundtrack to Has-Been Heroes?

Kai: Ari will make some tracks for our other game Nine Parchments (which is set in the Trine universe by the way!), but the soundtrack for Has-Been Heroes was composed by our in-house audio team consisting of Sauli Lehtinen and Jori Kemppi.

Marcello: Any tips players should be aware of when starting this game?

Kai: You can pause the game (and you should) at any time with the left bumper on your controller. Use it to your advantage to plan your moves and cast spells when they’re off cooldown. Also try to match your heroes’ melee attacks with enemy stamina counts in order to stun them.

Marcello: Anything you would like to add to the readers of this interview?

Kai: We’re just a couple of weeks away from the launch of Has-Been Heroes, so if you’re into roguelikes and enjoy a challenge, look out for it!  It’s a rare game for Frozenbyte since it becomes so challenging that only a handful of people here have actually beaten the game, but that’s really what makes it so addictive and fresh for a long time 🙂

Marcello: Thank you so much again for your time! We’re excited to get our hands on Has-Been Heroes!

Kai: Thanks!

Has-Been Heroes releases on Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and Steam on March 28th for $19.99. It will release both physically and digitally, with the physical copy being available exclusively at Gamestop for $19.99.

Are you looking forward to this title? Sound off in the comments below!

Interview with Yacht Club Games – Shovel Knight’s Origins, Nintendo Switch Release, and Much More


Yesterday, we had the pleasure of interviewing Ian Flood, one of the founders and gameplay programmers from Yacht Club Games. In this hour long interview, we were able to touch base on insightful background in regards to how the idea of Shovel Knight was conceived, why he has a Shovel for a weapon, previous projects the team worked on that helped with their work on Shovel Knight, their experience with Nintendo Switch, the new Specter of Torment campaign, and so much more! Sit back, grab a cup of coffee, maybe your lunch, and give a listen to this insightful, fun interview.

Nintendo Switch is Releasing with Something for Everyone

The Nintendo Switch is exactly one week from launch, and initially, many were complaining of the lack of day one release titles. Naturally as we narrow down the time until launch, more titles have been revealed to be releasing alongside the console. Here is the full list of games releasing day one for the Nintendo Switch, both retail and digitally (as well as their price):

Retail and Digital:

  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild ($59.99)
  • 1-2 Switch ($49.99)
  • Super Bomberman R ($49.99)
  • Skylanders Imaginators ($59.99)
  • Just Dance 2017 ($59.99)

eShop Exclusives:

  • FAST RMX ($19.99)
  • Shovel Knight Treasure Trove ($24.99)
  • Snipperclips – Cut it out, together! ($19.99)
  • I Am Setsuna ($39.99)

Now nine titles may still seem like a small amount for day one releases, but think of this from a different perspective: Nintendo is launching the system with a variety of game types. Those looking for a massive open-world adventure experience have The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Those looking for a game that not only captures the casual crowd, but also takes advantage of the tech the Joy-cons contain have 1-2 Switch. Then you have Super Bomberman R, a classic revisited series for solo and multiplayer. Activision’s Skylanders Imaginators is coming to provide family-friendly, co-op action, which while the least sold installment, is still a big franchise for the publisher. And if you’re looking for a game to get you active and burn a sweat, there’s Just Dance 2017. These alone are the retail available games with each offering a different game genre.

Now from the eShop perspective, there’s Fast RMX, an insanely fast-paced racing experience and visual showcase. Old-school platforming fans have the awesomeness of Shovel Knight to enjoy. Looking to test that noggin’ of yours? Then Snipperclips will test you and your partner’s thinking skills (and also provides for communication skills). Lastly, JRPG fans have I Am Setsuna, a spiritual successor to Crono Trigger (which many considered to be one of the best RPGs of all-time). Thinking of it now, the main three genres missing are sports, fighters, and shooters for day one…but that’s about it.

The main thing to consider is that there is something available for virtually anyone getting a Switch day one. If sports, fighters and shooters are your thing…well, those games are coming to fill in the gap. FIFA 18 and NBA 2K18 are releasing later this year (September/October), Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers will be “shor-yu-ken” play that this Spring (that was an absolutely terrible pun…), and Splatoon 2 will fill the shooter void (and will be a flagship online title for the console).

There’s no question that there’s virtually something for everyone here investing in a Switch on launch day. If we look back at the Nintendo 64, that console released with a mere two games launch day: Super Mario 64 and Pilotwings 64. Granted, Super Mario 64 reimagined 3D gaming as we know it, but Zelda BotW is shaping up to provide launch day buyers with the most refreshing direction the series has seen since Ocarina of Time.

That being said, what are your most anticipated games for the Switch’s launch window? Sound off in the comments below!

FAST RMX and Shovel Knight Join the Switch Launch Day

Yesterday, more information was confirmed by two indie developers, Yacht Club Games and Shin’en. Yacht Club Game had confirmed that Shovel Knight Specter of Torment, as well as Shovel Knight Treasure Trove, will be available on March 3rd, 2017. Shovel Knight Treasure Trove will cost $24.99 and include the Shovel of Hope (original campaign), Plague of Shadows, and Specter of Torment campaigns. Shovel Knight has been released on virtually every platform this generation and for good reason. This game is a sublime 2D platforming experience that nails the feels of 8-bit games like Ninja Gaiden, Mega Man 2, and Ducktales. If for some reason you’ve still missed this game, the Switch sounds like another great way to experience it.

Shin’en has also been able to grace their upcoming title, FAST RMX, to the Nintendo Switch for March 3rd, 2017 as well. While the price is still unknown, their previous version released on the Wii U was $14.99. However, FAST RMX has almost double the tracks, more vehicles and visual upgrades, it’s not too hard to guess that this may go for about $19.99 possibly. That being said, this writer here absolutely loved FAST Racing Neo for the Wii U and with enhancements and additions coming to FAST RMX, this is no doubt one launch title everyone needs to give a look. Nintendo still hasn’t put out a new F-Zero game since F-Zero GX (which was the best installment in the series), so this game will certainly fill that insane speed racing void. Maybe Shin’en will be approached by Nintendo to handle a new F-Zero seeing the talent this studio has…

 

Snipperclips Releasing Day 1 with Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch hype is real, and with only 7 days to go until launch, information is finally set and stone with more game launches. Nintendo’s co-op eShop title called “Snipperclips – Cut it out, together!” has been confirmed to launch on March 3rd, 2017 for $19.99. This title has players working together to solve puzzles by clipping each other into specific shapes and objects. While the game is being touted as a co-op game, you will be able to play the game solo as well.

There are three game modes in the full version: World mode, Party mode, and Blitz mode. World mode will be the core campaign mode for the game, that’s for both single and co-op play. Party mode and Blitz mode are for two to four players, with Party mode being more the puzzle-solving focus, and Blitz mode being a more frenetic approach.

On release day, there will also be a demo available to download from the Nintendo eShop. This exclusive Switch title certainly looks creative and we certainly can’t wait to get our hands on it. Check out the video from the Nintendo Treehouse NYC event last month below to see this creative game in action.

[Source – Nintendo Press Release]

Aqua Moto Racing Utopia Review (PS4/PC) – “Refreshing Ride”

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Extreme sports racing games are a dime a dozen nowadays, but there are some developers trying to rekindle relatable experiences, while also aiming for a new market. Swedish developer Zordix has been establishing themselves with a series that started on the iOS/Android called Aqua Moto Racing. In years to come, they brought their series to the 3DS, and now, they’re bringing the series to home consoles for the first time ever. Aqua Moto Racing Utopia is the latest installment in the series, available on Steam and PS4 (with a Wii U release in the near future). Is this worth braving the waves of the ocean, or is it stuck in open-waters?

Aqua Moto Racing Utopia is essentially a racing game that most closely resembles Nintendo’s “Wave Race” series. You will race through a series of championship events, each with different CC engine speeds, as well as jet-ski types (sit-down and stand-up models). The sit-down jet-skis are much more speed-focused, whereas the stand-up ones excel in stunt flexibility. Before hitting the waters though, you will start off by creating your own character. This is a nice way to kick things off by giving the player a bit of customization. There are a decent amount of options to tinker with to ensure not everyone looks similar out on the waters.

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Races rely on racing alongside the buoys in place on each track. You’ll be bobbing-and-weaving your way on the water to ensure you’re on the right side of the buoy you need to pass. If you miss three of these in a race, you’re disqualified. As you progress, you will earn cash based on your placement (as well as some to earn out on the track). This can be used to purchase newer and better jet-skis, with multiple attributes that are affected. Each jet-ski can be customized with a variety of colors, whether it’s the body or decals.

Each environment has a distinct feel, with multiple variation tracks to tackle throughout the game’s championship mode. Whether it’s the lush jungles, a water filled town in China, the open-ocean around tanker ships and oil rigs, or tropical paradises (to name a few), all of these locales are as fun to ride as they are unique. Another cool aspect is the option to race in first-person mode. The way the camera handles in this really adds to the immersion, whether you’re whipping around turns or doing flips in the air.

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Any game revolving around water is reliant on its physics, and honestly, the physics in place are quite good. The jet-skis handle more or less like they should on both calm and intense waves, with an arcade-style feel to it. It may be a little less interactive than Wave Race’s water physics, but what’s in place here works great. When going off of jumps and high waves, you’ll be able to pull off tricks as well. Doing so will allow you to gain boost. You can also pull off specific tricks while on water. The tricks are fairly simple to pull off, with some more advanced ones that take some time to master. There were some instances though (more evident during trick events) when the trick inputs didn’t respond, or the trick name was displayed but the animation kicked in after releasing the buttons. It worked well enough for the most part, but this particular instance is something that could be patched.

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There are plenty of modes to explore as well. Aside from the game’s core championship mode, there are time trial and free roam modes. Time trial is standard fare, except you’re provided times to beat to go for a gold medal in each track (aside from beating your own times). Free roam has you go around any of the game’s environments, but with a twist. There are “Z Balls” to collect in each environment, as well as a hidden collectible to find. Also, there are interactive events that can be triggered in each area, which is a great little feature to incorporate here. Then there’s the multiplayer modes. The game supports both local and online multiplayer. Local multiplayer has 4-player split-screen action, whether you’re racing against each other or tackling the party games together. The party games are a blast, whether it be Aqua Moto Hockey, King of the Hill, Capture the Flag, or our personal favorite here, Duckling Mama (think Super Rub-a-Dub from the PS3 launch days…if you ever played that). The online multiplayer strangely only consists of racing against others, with no party games to be found. While the party games are tailored more for the couch multiplayer, it would be nice to get friends together online to do this as well. That being said though, we were able to test out the online amongst staff members here and can say it ran quite smooth. Oh, and there’s a fairly attainable Platinum trophy to be found in this game as well.

I think we're going to need a bigger jet-ski...

I think we’re going to need a bigger jet-ski…

Visually, Aqua Moto Racing Utopia is an incredibly clean and vibrant looking game. Environments look great, with some nice texture work and immensely inviting water. The objects and jet-skis are also well-detailed and appropriately scaled. Characters on the other hand are a bit lacking detail-wise, and have some stilted animations. There’s one odd animation too when landing from a trick. If you’re not fully complete with the trick, the animation doesn’t finish and goes right to the rider and his jet-ski being perfectly leveled with the water. Is it immersion-breaking? Not entirely, but it’s noticeable. On the flip-side, the game runs at a smooth 60 frames-per-second, which is a huge feat. The audio in AMRU is also right-on. Each environment has music that matches the locale very well, and the audio effects do a good job capturing the arcade-style feel to the game. The announcer on the other hand sounds mundane and unnecessary. Honestly, just going to the options and shutting him off makes it better.

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All-in-all, Aqua Moto Racing Utopia is a great game that can easily be recommended to fans of arcade-style racers, and more so, fans of Nintendo’s Wave Race series (since Nintendo still has yet to return to the series within the past 15 years). Zordix has really evolved this series since its conception on iOS, and continues to get better each time. While the $30 price tag may be a bit steep for those on the fence, it’s certainly a worthy game to add to your collection. Between its vibrant visuals, addictive gameplay, and strong local party games, Aqua Moto Racing Utopia is one wave you’ll want to ride.

Overall Score: 8.0 out of 10

A special thank you to the publisher for providing us a review copy for Aqua Moto Racing Utopia! Copy reviewed on PS4.

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Interview with Zordix’s Matti Larsson: Aqua Moto Racing Utopia, Nintendo Switch, Exclusive New Game Announcement


We just had the pleasure of interviewing Matti Larsson of Zordix about their team’s latest release, Aqua Moto Racing Utopia. In it, we discuss some details about their new game, their thoughts on the Nintendo Switch, and what new games they are working on.

Marcello: First off, thank you for taking the time to answer some questions on your studio’s latest game, Aqua Moto Racing Utopia. Why don’t you start by talking a bit about the game itself?

Matti: Hi Marcello, nice to meet up with you. Aqua Moto Racing Utopia is a really challenging and modern looking water jet ski racing game for TV consoles. It combines extreme speed, stunts and state-of-the art water simulation into fun gameplay.

Marcello: Now this is a series that started on the mobile platforms (iOS, Android), then jumped forward to the 3DS and now onto the PS4, Wii U and Steam. How does it feel seeing this series evolve over the years?

Matti: It is extremely satisfying that we’re finally up in size and quality for all the major TV consoles. Featuring three main single player Championship campaigns, 4-player Multiplayer, 8-player Online, and lots of additional game modes. Utopia provides the biggest high-quality aquatic racing experience of its kind in our time!

Marcello: Roughly how long did it take to develop AMR Utopia?

Matti: I would say between two to three years, with a long polish phase.

Marcello: In the past, tricks were pulled off using touch-screens, but this installment was designed with consoles specifically in mind. How did you guys come up with implementing a trick system in AMR Utopia?

Matti: We wanted to make a game where you really use the controls of the modern consoles. Extreme equilibristic use of controls has to pay off. Even if a game like this should be easy to get into, there is nothing like being rewarded for your skill.

Marcello: So there is local and online multiplayer for the game. For local, we noticed there is a mode called Party Games that is absent from online multiplayer. Any chance that will be available in the near future? I mean, who doesn’t want to head online doing some Duckling Mama matches?!

Matti: Yes, indeed, I would love online Duckling Mama matches. The Party games can actually be developed further as we will add more online features to the game. It depends a lot on the community around the game what will be most wanted.

Marcello: How did you guys come up with the Party Games idea?

Matti: I like the playfulness of Party game modes and think it is important for the evolution of new fun gameplay. Aqua Moto Hockey comes as a natural idea for Hockey fanatic Swedes. But for Duckling Mama, there was this guy in our test lab that showed his all time favorite game with ducklings in a bath tub and we just snapped at the idea of doing something similar. We tried a lot of different ideas, and the party game modes still in the game were the most fun.

Marcello: Visually, the game is incredibly vibrant and inviting. More importantly, you guys were able to hit 60 frames-per-second on the PS4. Was that a difficult task at all? Were any sacrifices made from initial development to get a smooth framerate in place?

Matti: It was really hard, since we got great artists that want everything to look its best. We had to chose the right level of graphical detail and look into everything that may affect performance.

Marcello: Now the PS4 and Steam versions are currently available, with the Wii U version still in progress. Any time frame for that version’s release? Also, will there be any Wii U-specific functionality?

Matti: We started off the project working on a Wii U version only. Then it became apparent that we needed more funding and also that PS4 was the best seller. It will be hard to do Wii U specific features like 5 local players and keep the same look. We’ll try to give the Wii U version a special feeling, since we can do some more tuning of the game and tweek things in the gameplay even further.

Marcello: Now I have to ask, with the Nintendo Switch releasing in a few months, what are your thoughts on the console? Are you guys going to be (or are currently) developing for it?

Matti: Now we’re aiming to combine our back-to-the Wii U work with preparations for a Switch version. We’re always trying to target new consoles like Switch with interesting games, a bit like a mini Ubisoft.

Marcello: Any chance we will be seeing AMR Utopia releasing on the Nintendo Switch? This way we could be riding the waves anywhere at any time.

Matti: I’m inviting investors and/or publishing partners to come along for that. There are so many things we’d like to do and it would make sense to get what we feel is a great game out to an audience that is so good for it. It has been a tradition for us from the start to support the Nintendo platforms.

Marcello: AMR Utopia has an Easter Egg in Sunshine City’s “Leisure” mode that I won’t ruin for those who care to explore (that of which I found by joking around). Are there Easter Eggs in every level or only that particular one?

Matti: Yes, in every venue there is at least one red Z ball you can jump and grab that will trigger a unique experience. Sometimes things to play around with are dropped from the sky, sometimes a fun joke is made in an interactive scene. Playfulness is again something I think is important; even if this game is serious fun racing to begin with it opens up for a free exploration water world experience.

Marcello: Are there any new projects in the pipeline for you guys at the moment?

Matti: We got a very exciting new game in the pipeline. Snow Moto Racing FREEDOM. A unique snowmobile game where you can race in large open snowy landscapes choosing your own path, of course filled with breath taking stunts, Snow Cross arena competition and lots more. Snowmobiles are huge here in Sweden, and in the north of the U.S. and Canada, and there hasn’t been a snowmobile TV console game for ages.

Marcello: Is there anything you’d like to add as to why all the readers should give Aqua Moto Racing Utopia a look?

Matti: It’s well-tuned with increasing difficulty, and if you like racing games and/or stunting skill games this is certainly a good pick. A lot of content and game modes makes it perfect for parties, and both hardcore and casual players alike.

It’s really easy to pick up and play – and have fun with – and a lifetime to master for the experts!

Marcello: Lastly, is there any exclusive info you can share with us and the readers here on Gamers Xtreme?

Matti: Yes, we’re working on a new online space action in VR game idea that will appear on Kickstarter. I hope enough people will like it, in that case that will be a lot of fun too. 😉

Marcello: Thank you so much again for your time, Matti! We look forward to seeing more from the team at Zordix.

Matti: Thank you so much. Always a pleasure.

Stay tuned for our review for Aqua Moto Racing Utopia in the very near future.

Duke Nukem 3D 20th Anniversary World Tour – Over 1 Hour of Co-Op Footage


Duke Nukem has been around for over two decades. Recently, Gearbox released a 20th Anniversary celebratory edition of Duke Nukem 3D. We just received our review copy and have captured over 1 hour of Duke co-op goodness. Check out  footage of Anthony and myself kicking ass and taking names…with our full commentary and first thoughts with it.

Devil’s Third to Restock in North America?

  
Take this info with a grain of salt, however upon stumbling on Gamefly’s “Coming Soon” releases, Wii U exclusive Devil’s Third will be available on February 9th, 2016. 

  
Now for those not aware, Devil’s Third released in North America the beginning of December 2015 and rumor had it that only 400+ copies were released to Gamestops nationwide. There’s an unknown number as to how many were shipped to other stores, however, the fact of the matter is the game was rare from day one. Scalpers ran to their local stores to grab any copy available to turn around and sell for double its value. 

Devil’s Third was panned by numerous critics as a poor game. This particular writer (who got extremely lucky to find a physical copy day one) found quite some enjoyment in the game’s campaign and found the multiplayer to be the real hook. For those who were wanting the physical copy of the game, there may actually be a chance, so stay tuned.

[Source – Gamefly]

Super Star Wars PS4 – First 20+ Minutes of Gameplay

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While many are diving into the much anticipated Star Wars Battlefront, the PS4 and Vita also received the re-release of Super Star Wars from the SNES. Check out our first 20+ minutes of gameplay to see how the remaster handles!