Every week we shine the spotlight on an exceptional XBLIG, and the developers behind them, in what we like to call the XBLIG Spotlight. This week, we take a look at Rainbow Runner; a classically simple arcade style points fest. Check out the trailer below, our conversation with the developer behind the game, Tristan Nishimoto, and as always, my perspective. As usual on CBR, reading has rewards as you may even get a chance to win a copy of the game. Add Rainbow Runner to your download queue! First, the trailer:
First, tell the readers a bit about yourself, who you are and how/why you decided to start getting involved in making games?
My name’s Tristan Nishimoto and I develop games under the name Progpixel Games.
The first game I ever played was Mega Man X on the SNES and I’ve loved games ever since. When I was in my early teens I received a book about game creation as a gift. I’ll always be grateful for that gift, because until then game development seemed an impossible dream.
Tell us about your history as a game developer, previous efforts, etc.
The book mentioned above, although simple, introduced me to a program called Game Maker. It doesn’t require any programming, so it was perfect for me at the time. The games I made initially were pretty terrible, but I eventually learned my way around the program and, more importantly, learned some aspects of game design along the way. The first game I released online was called Zomgman Battle Arena and about a year later I released Zomgman 2.
I decided to pursue game development full time right after high school, and Rainbow Runner is my first release since then.
If you had to pick one specific game to describe as your inspiration (for this game or in general), what would it be?
Rainbow Runner was originally meant to be a pretty casual game, so it was initially inspired by casual app-styled games, but after watching a video of the final boss of a game called Mushihime-sama Futari, I decided to introduce some bullet-hell shoot-em-up aspects. Needless to say, the game became decidedly more difficult.
Have you in the past, or do you currently have plans to work in any other platform? What made you decide to develop for XBLIG?
I currently have plans to develop for PC and possibly some mobile platforms. I decided to develop for XBLIG as it’s a relatively easy and very cheap platform to get onto.
How long did you spend on development? Can you explain, roughly, how the development process worked for you? What tools and programs did you work with?
The game took about three months to create and was mainly made to augment my portfolio and to take a break from developing my larger projects. Since I work alone my days are usually split between programming, animating, and music composition. It’s great to be able to switch between them and avoid the boredom of repetition.
I used some pretty basic programs for this game along with, of course, XNA. The images and sprites were made using Photoshop, and the music was made in FL Studio.
A game’s soundtrack can make or break a game, tell us how you selected yours. Did you produce in house, team up with a music producer or simply purchase royalty free music?
I produced the soundtrack myself. I find music composition to be a relatively relaxing process and it can be a nice change of pace from programming or animating.
If you had to pick one thing that you would improve or simply do differently in regards the game’s development what would it be?
As with every game there’s always more that you want to do, but can’t due to time constraints. There are certainly some design aspects I would tweak and some features I’d like to add, but overall I’m happy with how the game turned out.
How much do reviews, ratings and other feedback of your games affect the development process for future releases?
I always try to pay attention to the aspects that garner complaints or compliments and apply those lessons when appropriate. It’s important to be open to criticism, as long as it’s reasonable, and to learn from your mistakes.
How did you go about deciding on the name for your game and why did you end up with the title you have? Were there any rejected titles that didn’t make the cut?
It’s a relatively simple game with a simple concept, so I thought the name should fit that. I find title brainstorming to be pretty hit and miss, so when a good title comes along it’s usually pretty easy to just stick with it.
I designed the box art. I wanted to create something that would “pop” in the marketplace, hence the large negative space. I think the rainbow colouring speaks for itself.
Many gamers dream of making their own games, what advice would you give someone hoping to make the jump from gamer to developer?
It’s not a far jump. If you want to make a game, make a game. Start off small and work from there. There are dozens of half-developed or unreleased games on my old hard drive and each one was a stepping stone to where I am now.
Don’t be discouraged if you can’t make what you want to right away. With experience comes skills and knowledge. Eventually you’ll be able to just focus on the creative aspects of your game, and that’s where the fun is.
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?
I can certainly understand the desire to segregate the XBLIG from the standard XBLA games, but for many consumers it, along with the forcibly low pricing structure, creates the mindset that they’re inferior products. This is of course true in some cases, but there are many standout indie titles that deserve more attention than they are given. If the XBLIG market is ever going to be a real contender, it has to shed that image.
What can fans of your game(s) expect in the not too distant future?
I’ve got couple of games in development right now, but I can’t put a time frame on when they’ll release quite yet.
Anything else you would like to say?
Thanks to everyone who’s bought or tried Rainbow Runner! Check out Progpixel.com or my Twitter or Facebook page in the future if you’re interested in my next games. If you have any feedback or questions, please feel free to email me.
Rainbow Runner is going to be a difficult game to write about. Not because it isn’t interesting or entertaining, but rather that it really is a pretty simple and straightforward game; there isn’t a whole lot to say. Fortunately what is there is enjoyable arcade experience that is solidly put together.
The premise behind Rainbow Runner is, in its’ simplest terms, about running on a rainbow. Obsticles arise, such as various colored “walls” (brightly colored characters carrying very tall walls). To get pass the wall enemies you must change your color to match theirs (X for blue, B for red, Y for yellow and A for green). Once you are the same color you can smash through them but you have proceed with caution as the wall immediately after may be a different color requiring rapid change. There are also flying enemies and bosses that you take care of by using a multi-colored projectile you fire using the right stick. The rest of the game is spent moving left or right along the rainbow and occasionally jumping to avoid an attack.
The walls are the most likely to give you trouble as it can become discombobulating very quickly. Often I found myself pressing the wrong color and then frantically trying to press the right one before the wall trapped me against the edge of the screen. Dieing causes you to lose your score multiplier, which as we all know in an arcade game is a big deal. A game mode comprised entirely of just wall characters is also available for an extra challenge, only in that mode it is all or nothing; death is permanent.
All told there are four game modes: Arcade, Endless, Boss Rush and Wall Hero. Arcade is the main game mode, there is a beginning and an end, and enemies are varied which occasion bosses. Endless is… well… Boss Rush is obviously all about the bosses with vary greatly in difficulty, and I’ve already described Wall Hero. Difficulty settings range from the fairly laid back but you will still die a fair amount your first time, “Beginner” level to the I lasted less than two minutes “Masochistic” difficulty.
In terms of presentation the game is again simple but effective. You play as a rainbow man running on a rainbow while a very dark cityscape passes by you in the background. As you run through the skyscrapers of this dark city various brightly colored enemies rush towards you. Both your character and the enemies have a blocky, almost pixilated look to them with very simple animations that just plain work. There isn’t much to how the game looks but it all works so well that it is very enjoyable. The game also boasts a fairly impressive soundtrack of electronic tracks that manage to sound epic while being both modern and classic game tracks at the same time. It compliments the game perfectly and if by chance you’re not digging a particular tune you can always pause the game and change it (a very nice touch).
Really there were only one or two complaints I could muster about Rainbow Runner. One, and this is something many XBLIG’s deal with, is the simple fact that unless a lot of people play on your Xbox or you are very competitive with yourself the local-only leader board fails to do what leader boards are supposed to do. Online leader boards for XBLIG’s are prone to all sorts of issues (worst of all often being the lack of posted scores) but it would still be nice to have it here. Arcade mode on an easier level is a bit short, but this complaint feels like splitting hairs since there is always the “Endless” mode or a higher difficulty if you are feeling unchallenged. The only other “complaint” I could think to lodge, and it really isn’t one (hence the quotation marks) is that the game is very simple and very straightforward: there isn’t really any depth but there isn’t meant to be.
Rainbow Runner is a solidly made XBLIG with no real technical flaws that I experienced or at the very least noticed. It has a unique visual presentation that not only compliments the gameplay perfectly but is also quite enjoyable; with a solid soundtrack to boot. The game itself is fun and can be either laid back or insanely challenging depending on the difficulty you choose. Four different game modes extend its life and the leader board, even if only local, does encourage multiple play throughs. Overall you won’t be disappointed with your dollar spent.
Final Rating: 8.5/10
CBR Break Down:
Console Played On: Xbox 360 – XBLIG
Approximate Time to Completion: N/A
Gamer Score Earned: N/A
Price Bought at: N/A – Review copy furnished by Progpixel Games.
Current Price: 80 Microsoft Points ($1)
Recommend Purchase Price: Literally doesn’t get cheaper (well, expect if you keep reading below!)
Add Rainbow Runner to your download queue!
Do I even need to explain these anymore? Progpixel Games has been kind enough to give us some extra download tokens (codes) so that we can give four of you your very own rainbow to run on! You can gain up to three entries, please read the details on how to enter below:
First entry: Tell us what your favorite arcade game is, you know what I mean, classic gameplay that is really about the points. Tell us that in the comments below you will have your first entry!
Second entry: Follow us on twitter and send the following tweet:
@ClearanceBinRev is giving away @ProgpixelGames’ #XBLIG Rainbow Runner! #Xbox, Find out how you could win by going to: http://bit.ly/p9tjG2
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 wall for this article. Simple as that. (Keep in mind the article may be lower on the Facebook page towards the end of the contest and it may take a minute or two to post on FB)
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. We do not announce the names of contest winners, but do encourage them to post about their win.