Welcome to this weeks edition of the XBLIG Spotlight, a re-occurring segment on Clearance Bin Review where we put the focus on Xbox Live Indie Games and the developer’s that make them. This week I talk to Media Tonic’s Paul Croft about their game Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess, a fast paced arcade style platformer where you beat up some monsters may, or may not, have kidnapped your princess while you were napping; you’ll even get a chance to win something for your time. Check out the trailer below, a short Q&A with Paul and my take on the game. Add Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess to your download queue!
Tell us about Mediatonic, your history as a game developer, previous efforts, etc.
Mediatonic is an independent game developer based in London. We’ve been going for five years and work across a range of platforms including XBLIG, PSP, PS3, iPhone and the web. We make a wide of range for our awesome clients and also design and publish our own titles.
With our own content we focus on creating high quality games focused around a really tight mechanic. Story and narrative are hugely important to us, we weave this into everything we do.
In your own words, describe Monster’s (Probably) Stole My Princess.
I can’t sum up the game better than it’s writer and producer Jim Griffiths – so I’ll steal his words for this:
Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess is about powerful (and slightly unhinged) aristocratic demon known as ‘The Duke’ who wakes up to discover his Princess is missing. Without a single clue to go on, he can only assume that monsters were (probably) responsible, and sets out to track her down by beating up monsters largely at random in the hope that it will (somehow) reunite him with his beloved.
If you had to pick one specific game (or series) to describe as your inspiration for M(P)SMP, what would it be?
If I had to pick one for the game mechanic itself I would say Sonic Jump on mobile phones, though it’s a mixture of a few different genres.
How long did you spend developing M(P)SMP? Can you explain, roughly, how the development process worked for you? What tools and programs did you work with?
We spent 5 months on the game, with a total team of 6 people. The art assets for the game were created in Illustrator and Flash with the XBLIG version being coded in XNA.
Many gamers dream of starting to make their own games, and it is obviously easier than ever for them to do so. What advice would you give someone hoping to make the jump from gamer to designer?
A game designer is one of the hardest roles to break into, it’s very difficult. One thing I would recommend if you’re attempting to break in is to try something like the DP Challenge – it’s a big test but very valuable: The DP Challenge
Designing and building games on platforms like XBLIG is also a fantastic thing to do, practical experience is the best thing you can demonstrate.
Since Mediatonic has published on other platforms, how would you compare them to the XBLIG process?
Each platform has its own unique challenges, with XBLIG process one thing that we found time consuming was the community based submission process. Given you have to wait 1 week between resubmissions and it can be a little unpredictable in terms of when you get approved and go into the store it made it difficult to plan for the launch of the game.
XBLIG have had a mixed result so far, what is one aspect/idea/change you think would better solidify the platform as a contender in the gaming industry? What one thing do you think would improve the service as a whole, from designer to consumer?
That’s a difficult question to answer as designers and consumers tend to want different things from a store. Highlighting content and more promotion for the games on the dashboard would be nice :)
What is in the cards next for Mediatonic? Are you planning a sequel? If so, what aspects would you most likely improve, add or maybe even remove altogether
At the moment we’ve no plans for a sequel to Monsters – though we will be bringing it to more platforms over the course of this year. We’re currently working on a brand new game which we’ll be revealing soon – watch this space!
Thank you Paul!
This edition of the XBLIG Spotlight features MediaTonic’s fast paced arcade platformer Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess. Does this intense little package of a game, an XBLIG port of the original Playstation Mini, hold its own on the indie game service, or will Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess have you (probably) wishing you hadn’t bought it? Read on to see my take on why you (probably) should.
Monsters, I’ll be calling the game that from this point forward to save time, puts you in the shoes of The Duke, a sort of vampire alien guy who in a way reminds me of “The Todd” from Scrubs; only a lot more acrobatic. The consist of jumping upwards on platforms, hitting a unique one every time to build up a higher combo, in order to catch up to and subsequently kick a monster (who probably stole your princess) in the face. The premise basically takes Mario and turns it around, where rather than the monsters actually being evil, you’re kind of the evil jerk. And so, as The Duke, you awake to find that your princess is missing and with only one mildly irrational possibility you set about beating up everything in your path, evidence be damned!
The game is fairly simple in its’ design, each level is a vertical ascent to catch up with a fleeing monster. You jump, and of course double jump, your way up a series of platforms, all the while building your combo with each successful jump to a platform that you have not touched yet (indicated in the game by being highlighted). The race to the top is quick, with you landing a kick (by double jumping) to the said monster whenever you are in range. You must move very fast, otherwise the monster will escape and The Duke will be left without a monster to kick in the face, oh and the princess will probably still be missing or something. Each monster takes three “kicks” to defeat and maintaining a high combo can actually be quite tricky, especially in regards to sticking a landing after kicking a monster. Overall the game play is simple, and everything is basically done using a single analog stick and the A button, but in no way shape or form does this make the game any less fun.
Artistically the game is solid, with bright colorful environments and characters. The animations are quality and overall there is just nothing bad to say about the look of Monsters. Everything is very cleanly drawn and distinguishable with a notable degree of charm to the design. The game’s audio is a bit less well rounded, with some descent renditions of some classic “monster themes” providing the game’s musical score; all though I learned the hard way the surround sound turned up to high that said songs are oddly bass heavy. Outside of that all you really hear is the Duke’s laughter and sounds of his jumping. The audio aesthetics are by no means damaging to the game, but they do feel lacking compared to the visual representation that feels so refined; a simple case of excelling in one area highlights the averageness of another area. Long story short? Might be worthwhile to play your own soundtrack for the game.
The only other point to really make about Monsters is its’ length. As I noted earlier, the game was originally a Playstation Mini, and Mini really is the key word. There are only a handful of quick levels in the “story mode” of the game, and again as I have noted before, they go very quickly. A score attack mode adds a lot more replay value into the game, as does medals for every level and unlockables that add to the story and are quite humorous (such as a newspaper clipping describing the origin of The Duke’s princess). The game was obviously designed to be a fun, arcade style time waster. To play a few levels, or try to top your high score, here and there. It really isn’t a sit down and play for hours kind of game or experience, but what is there is incredibly solid. In fact, its’ shortness is largely a fault because you want to play more, and you simply can not bash a game that is enjoyable enough that you want more of it.
To sum everything up: Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess will (probably) steal a couple hours of your time. The game is fun to play with a certain charm about it that makes playing it all the more enjoyable. It is a game that takes us back to the days where getting the high score was the ultimate goal and does so in a way that you will find yourself making 2nd, 3rd and sometimes 10th attempts at a gold medal. Visually superb and entertaining in its’ premise, the game’s main fault is that it will leave you wanting more. So should you give Monsters a go? Probably.
Final Rating: 8/10
CBR Break Down:
Console Played On: Xbox 360 – XBLIG
Approximate Time to Completion: ~2 Hours
Gamer Score Earned: N/A
Price Bought at: N/A – Review copy furnished by MediaTonic
Current Price: 80 Microsoft Points ($1)
Recommend Purchase Price: Literally doesn’t get cheaper.
Add Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess to your download queue!
We know how this works by now, yep, I lied, again. It does get cheaper. MediaTonic has been kind enough to give us a download token for Monsters so that we could give it to you. We watched a lot of Sesame Street as a kid and know how to share. This week’s contest will repeat last week’s set-up, including a third way to enter! (We really are too nice to you people)
First entry: Post on this XBLIG Spotlight and tell us your favorite game where you have to rescue a princess. But here’s the catch, we want games other than Mario! There’s still plenty to choose from, we just already known how awesome Mario is.
Second entry: Follow us on twitter and send the following tweet:
@ClearanceBinRev is giving away the #XBLIG Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princes! Details:http://bit.ly/hgirFn
Remember that you have to follow us; any winner we attempt to DM via Twitter who isn’t automatically forfeits their win.
If you enter via Twitter include your twitter name in your post below, winners who have their twitter listed will receive their codes immediately after winning.
Third Entry: Like our Facebook page and then simply like the post on our page’s wall for this article (Should be live within a couple minutes of posting on the site). Simple as that. (Keep in mind the article may be lower on the Facebook page towards the end of the contest)
Contest will go until Wednesday at 8pm CST. A pool of all eligible entries will then be randomly selected from and the winners will be notified. CBR reserves the right to disqualify any entry we feel either violated the rules or spirit of the contest, including attempts at duplicate entries. Winner selected with no twitter name provided will be notified by email and have 24 hours to respond.