With Microsoft’s “Game Feast” in full swing, our very own Kieran Roycroft managed to sit down with Alex Jones, Designer at Twisted Pixel Games, and have a chat about their brand new game, and second instalment of the “Game Feast”, Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley (which is out NOW!).
So Alex, can you firstly tell our readers a little bit about the studio?
Twisted Pixel was founded in 2006 by Michael Wilford, Josh Bear and Frank Wilson. We moved to Austin a couple of years ago to work on Splosion Man after finishing our first game The Maw. Twisted Pixel has been slowly but steadily growing over the years, adding a handful of people between each project. Currently we have been hiring a second team and have a little over 20 full time employees.
You mentioned Splosion Man, which I think it’s safe to say was a HUGE success, and a game which, I personally am a massive fan of. What was it like following on from Splosion Man and working on future projects like Comic Jumper? Were there certain pressures? Certain challenges stemming from the success Splosion Man had?
Splosion Man was a big challenge because it was created in such a short time. We had more time to work on Comic Jumper but it was a big step up from Splosion Man. There was so much more art and content that had to be made because of the various comic styles as well as all of the new stuff like cut scenes, dialog and special comic effects that took a lot of time to get right. So even if we had more time, we were doing a lot more and trying many things for the first time.
Your new game Comic Jumper looks incredibly ambitious, far more so than previous projects, was that something that the studio was committed to? Did it feel time to perhaps, work on a game that was bigger than anything the studio has worked on before?
Like you said, we really wanted to make something ambitious with higher production values, better art and more content than our previous games. Splosion Man had very simple environments because we did not have the time or artists to make them as cool as we wanted. For Comic Jumper we hired more artists to help make this possible as well as contracting many others like professional writers and voice actors. Everyone was pushed to the limit to create something big and crazy and memorable.
Actually whilst on the topic of Comic Jumper, for those who haven’t heard about it, can you tell us a little bit about it?
In Comic Jumper you play a big stupid idiot named Captain Smiley. He has these big muscles and and walks around all the time thinking he is so cool, just like my boss Josh Bear. Captain Smiley’s comic is so unpopular he has to start making appearances in other comics to pay the bills. He jumps between these comics with his sidekick Star, platforming, gunning down minions and fighting bosses. Between issues he returns to his base to upgrade his abilities, talk to his fellow heroes and villains and go through all of the cool things he has collected.
Comic Jumper is the first time the studio has drafted in voice talent to provide the voices on one of it’s projects. Who voices the main protagonists and who actually wrote the dialogue? In my oppinion the interplay between Captain Smiley and his sidekick Star creates some hilarious, memorable moments.
Chris Sabat voices Star and Captain Smiley. Other characters are voiced by other voice actors that work with Chris’s studio, Okratron 5000. Matt Entin and Ed Kuehnel wrote the dialog.
Obviously the clues in the title, but the game is VERY comic book inspired. Were there any particular comic books (or series) or even other games that inspired the making of Comic Jumper? I mean straight off the bat, the game to me seems to have a big Comix Zone vibe to it.
A wide range of comics from all over inspired Comic Jumper so I wouldn’t say any particular series was dominant. Comix Zone was an awesome game but we went in quite a different direction with Jumper.
The game includes many different visual styles, how will these different graphical styles have an impact on the gameplay, if any?
The type of level layouts, hazards, enemies and bosses you encounter vary a great deal depending on the comic genre. Things start out innocent enough in the beginning but start to get increasingly bizarre and awesome as you travel to different comics. There are a few huge WTF moments spread throughout the game that I am really looking forward to peoples’ reactions on. You know that lolwut image with the pear that has the mouth? Weird crap like that.
Now I am a self confessed fan of Twisted Pixel, I LOVE the characters you guys create so the burning question I personally want to ask is, we saw The Maw make a cameo in Splosion Man, do The Maw and Splosion Man make any extra special appearances in Comic Jumper?
Keep your eyes open and you will see some strange things, some of which you may not be able to un-see. You’re welcome.
Comic Jumper follows in the footsteps of Splosion Man in that it’s a download only title and it is part of Microsoft’s Game Feast promotion, just has Splosion Man was part of Microsoft’s Summer of Arcade 2009. What is it like working with Microsoft? Especially as somewhat of an indie developer. I mean they gave Splosion Man and The Maw a lot of promotion, was that hugely beneficial?
Microsoft has been a huge supporter of Twisted Pixel, allowing us to make whatever crazy games we dream up, so we are thankful to them and love working with them.
Actually concerning the point about Comic Jumper continuing the studio’s tradition of downloadable games. Are there any potential plans to perhaps develop full retail games in the future?
It’s always a possibility.
On the topic of future plans too, Twisted Pixel for me is a developer that really cares for the people who play their games because you guys love to pack in extra features. The Maw had a whole host of DLC come out after release, and it’s been unveiled that Comic Jumper will come with new gamerpics, themes, avatar items and 2 brand new playable levels for Splosion Man, are there any plans for perhaps some extra post release content for Comic Jumper? After all as I stated previously, the game feels a much bigger project than previous games and the whole idea of different graphical styles for different parts of the story really lends itself well to the possibility of post launch content, or is that something which you cannot discuss?
The game definitely lends itself to the idea of DLC very well. You could easily do a whole new comic genre, perhaps even a crossover with a comic that people recognize. There’s a lot of potential to do something cool with it, and the game technically supports DLC in case that’s something we decide to do. But for now, we’ve been focused on making the biggest and best game we could, so we don’t have any DLC in the works today.
And finally, if you had to persuade me to buy Comic Jumper in a single sentence, how would you do so?
Buy Comic Jumper or your family will get a taste of what I like to call “Dr. Winklemeyer.”
Thanks for taking the time out to answer these questions Alex and I look forward to getting my hands on Comic Jumper when it comes out.
Comic Jumper is available NOW on the Xbox Live Arcade for 1200 MSP, Review here
However if you would also like to check out some of the studio’s earlier titles, Splosion Man is on the Xbox Live Arcade for 800 MSP (check out our review here) AND The Maw is also on the Xbox Live Arcade, ALSO priced at 800 MSP!
- Kieran Roycroft