Published on October 1st, 2015 | by Tom May0
EGX 2015: Rising Star Games Interview
Rising Star Games had a lot to show off at EGX this year, with a selection of games that spanned both genres and platforms. We got try out a few ourselves, and were then lucky enough to catch up with Tyrone Walcott, PR Manager for Rising Star, to discuss just a few of the exciting games that they’ll soon be releasing.
Poncho tells the story of a robot who awakes to discover a post-apocalyptic world where humanity has totally disappeared. What happened within the ruins of the past is a mystery, although glimpses of the truth peek through the unchallenged growth of nature. It is up to players to help the poncho-wearing mechanical hero find his maker, work out what happened and ultimately try to restore humanity.
NTC: So Poncho is a 2D puzzle adventure. What do you think sets it apart from others of the same genre?
Tyrone Walcott: Poncho itself is, as you said, a 2D puzzle adventure, but I think what sets it apart from anything else is that it’s an open-world adventure. It was always designed in mind for you to feel freedom and never have to be performing to the standard rules of a normal 2D platformer. The developers Delve Interactive have come from a background of working in video games and said “we’re going to start making our own thing”. Their immediate first thought was, being so inspired by games like Fez and Mario, to make a platformer that married the two and brought that universe into one. And that’s where that parallax style came from where, instead of rotating the world, it’s about different layers.
NTC: One thing that stuck out to me about the game was the pickups. I didn’t quite get a sense of their value since it was a rather short and straightforward demo.
Tyrone Walcott: Yeah, they will have more value to them. There’s keys you have to buy that unlock levels. As I said, it’s open world, so yeah, you may be able to go where ever you want but there are stipulations saying how you can get to a specific level. So you can collect those orbs in the red little vines that you see around the area, and that’ll allow for you to buy a certain coloured key that will let you into another section of the game. But you can still go where ever you want, you might even find a way of going around one of those locked gates to the other side without actually needing a key. So it’s all kind of built around that aspect of collection. There’s no violence or anything, Poncho is about this peaceful harmony.
NTC: That’s very cool. One last thing about Poncho: I noticed that it has quite a wide release on a variety of platforms. Is this something that Delve wanted to do from the start or was this something that was encouraged by Rising Star as publishers?
Tyrone Walcott: To be honest we could never hold Danny Hayes back, that’s the developer himself. He’s the kind of guy that’d do it on everything if he could, and he’s trying to do that. There was a stage where we said that we have to stick to a plan, and the Vita and Wii U were the last things that he hadn’t announced. We would have loved to have done Xbox One at some stage but I think that right now where we are with development we’ve kind of reached a place where we’re comfortable. But yes, Danny did want to do Poncho for every platform that he could.
I Want To Be Human
It’s the age-old love story, right? Wrong. I Want To Be Human is a game that drives a stake through the heart of every vampire love story ever told, turning every stereotype of the usual supernatural romance genre on its head (and even managing to rub a garlic clove or two in there).
NTC: What was it that drew Rising Star to the game/the creator Sinclair Strange in particular?
Tyrone Walcott: Well, it’s… I’ll just start off with… it’s just crazy! I’ve seen three different versions of the game and when we originally got that concept it was a completely different style of game. The set up was still the same but the character models were different, things like that, and it’s kind of folded into what it is now. It’s these thought processes, the way his art style is, and how [Sinclair] is as a person… he just kind of oozes this “ooh, I want to know more about this”. And you realise that this guy just thinks a bit outside of the box and that’s what attracts us more than anything. There’s a lot of games that are very… they’ve been done already. I think this guy, yes, he’s got something a little different about him that stands out from the rest. You’ll see when you play the game for yourself!
NTC: The soundtrack was something that definitely stood out to me when playing. There was only one song in the demo, but presumably there’s going to be more. Is there anything you can tell me about it?
Tyrone Walcott: Yes, there is something I can tell you about the soundtrack! I would say we’re going to be making some announcements next week or so about who’ll be featuring on that. It’ll be a very popular artist, I don’t know if you recognise the voice of the artist?
NTC: I didn’t, no.
Tyrone Walcott: It’s not really that much of a big reveal, because some people do know about it, but: Jimmy Urine. Uh, yes, the name sounds as weird as he is.
Tyrone Walcott: But he’s got a massive following. The band he’s in, well actually it’s [Jimmy] himself. He’s actually stepping away from the band and doing something for the game itself. So it’s a great soundtrack from Jimmy Urine.
Offering over 50 unique tracks, multiple play modes and a completely new interface that makes use of the PS Vita’s touchscreen capabilities, SUPERBEAT: XONiC is a revolution in rhythm action gaming. High-speed intuitive gameplay mixes with a spectacular soundtrack featuring both popular songs from the BEATCRAFT series and all-new tunes, while local and worldwide leaderboards let you pit your talents against players around the globe.
NTC: I didn’t get to play Superbeat: Xonic yet but I do have a question about it and maybe I’ll play it in a bit. Games for the PS Vita are rare these days, because of it lacking in popularity. Do you think that there’s much potential left on the platform?
Tyrone Walcott: I think the Vita is a misunderstood console and I think there’s still time and there’s a lot more for it to give. I mean, even now people are just scratching the surface of it. Where we are with the Vita and Superbeat: Xonic, it’s just like the perfect time to marry music and video games. We’re getting a resurgence of Guitar Hero and Rock Band, and coincidentally we were lucky enough to have Superbeat.
These guys are no slouches when it comes to video games, they come from the Dance Dance Revolution kind of background. They know what’s going on. The guy himself Michael Yum – I don’t know if you’ve ever played any of the DJMax series? At the London Trocadero there was a DJMax game where you tapped the screen. It was the first time that he actually introduced touchscreen to video games. So he’s got a background that started from way, way, way back in the day. The Vita was actually perfect, since he can just put his tracks ready on to there! He’s making his own soundtracks, there’s no worry about copyright. The tracks that are on there… there’s some really, really nice music in Superbeat. We’ve actually got a great opportunity to be right in the middle of this resurgence, this kind of rebirth of the music/rhythm genre in video games.
NTC: Is it too early to ask if Superbeat: Xonic will be moving to any other platforms capable of supporting touchscreen?
Tyrone Walcott: (Short pause) … Yes.
NTC: (Laughs) Alright! Well, I tried.
Tyrone Walcott: Of course, I mean we’d love to.
NTC: Just one more question, a general one about Rising Star Games in particular. A lot of the games being shown at EGX today are already on Steam Greenlight. It’s pretty common with indies these days. How does this mesh with you as a publisher?
Tyrone Walcott: What game was that? Which ones are we talking about?
NTC: Many of the games. I think it’s I Want To Be Human, Poncho…
Tyrone Walcott: Oh, you’re talking about all of our games that are here now under our umbrella? I think Rising Star Games as a company is always out to make sure that we get games that people want to play. They might not be the biggest successes, they might not be those AAA games that you’re used to, but what we always try to do is get a game where if you sit down and play it, give it a bit of your time, you’ll find that it’s worth playing. These titles represent the core values of Rising Star games, we wouldn’t pick them just because they’re there. We pick them because they’re something different and it might not shine straight away but if you invest in it with your time, that’ll happen.
There’s something different in all of them, there’s something that keeps them from getting pigeon-holed. There’s always something unexpected about them. That’s our motto. We’re still here, and there’s companies that have come and gone that have done the same formula over and over again and it never works. I think it’s kind of a testament that we’re actually trying to cater to our fans and people who want to play good video games.
A big thank you to Tyrone and Rising Star Games for graciously giving us some time to ask our questions. And good luck to all their upcoming releases, they show a lot of promise!
If you’d like to check out our initial impressions of Poncho, Superbeat: Xonic, and a few of the other titles that Rising Star are publishing that we didn’t ask questions about, be sure to take a look at our Day One Report of EGX 2015!