Ronimo Games Interview: Swords and Soldiers

The recently announced Swords and Soldiers is shaping up to be one of the more interesting WiiWare titles we've seen.

An unusual mix of RTS and side-scrolling action, the gorgeous 2D visuals should ensure the game stands out from the rest of the WiiWare crowd. In order to learn a little more about the title itself, we got in touch with Fabian Akker of developer Ronimo Games.

Nintendo Life: Can you tell us a little about Ronimo Games? Where might our readers have experienced your work before?

Fabian Akker: Ronimo Games is a small studio in The Netherlands. We started the company last year and have been developing all kinds of games, but with a focus on the Nintendo Wii. Before we started the company the team worked as a group on the original pc version of de Blob.

Nlife: Could you explain the concept behind Swords and Soldiers to us and where the idea came from?

FA: Swords and Soldiers is a 2D side scrolling RTS in which each player has a base on the side of a level. The players build units and cast spells to destroy the opponents army and castle. The graphics for Swords and Soldiers are inspired by the end credits of the animation short 'Super Moine.' We thought it could be a cool game and would make a great combination with the RTS kind of gameplay that we had in mind.

Nlife: You’ve called the game a ‘side scrolling RTS’ – can you explain this concept to us?

FA: The basics of Swords and Soldiers are very simple. You need to gather resources, gold and mana, with which you can buy units and spells respectively. Once a unit is created, it starts out at your base and automatically walks towards the enemy. From simple melee to skeleton summoning necromancers, every unit is quite unique. Spells can be cast on units and allow the player to directly influence the battle, hitting enemies with lightning bolts, freezing them in snowstorms or making your troops go berserk are just some of the examples you can expect.

Deciding when to build what unit and when to use a specific spell is what the strategy of Swords and Soldiers is all about.

Nlife: Today’s gamers seem obsessed with 3D yet Swords and Soldiers is being made in glorious 2D. Why did you decide against taking the 3D route? Do you think creating a game in 2D more time-consuming, as other developers have hinted?

FA: Because the game is inspired on a 2D animation we never thought of going 3D, of course building a 2D engine is way easier than building a 3D one. But the main reason why we went this route is because our art team really fell in love with the 2D style and that shows in the screenshots.

Nlife: The game is controlled just using one Wii Remote. Did you intentionally make the interface as simplistic as possible? Were you ever tempted to make use of additional controllers, such as the Nunchuk or GameCube pad?

FA: Simplicity is absolutely important for us, as a designer I strive to make games that are easy to pick up and that are instantly fun. At the moment you can control the whole game with the pointer of the Wii Remote, but with some buttons to quickly move to specific places in the map. The Wii Remote is all you need.

Nlife: How is the game structured? What play modes will be available?

FA: The game has a set of singleplayer options and multiplayer options. There is a campaign for every faction in the game. A skirmish mode in which the players can set up battles against different kind of AI and multiplayer games.

Beside all this there is a special modes section in the game, with several fun modes which players can unlock during the game.

Nlife: Can you tell us a bit about the different races found in the game?

FA: The factions in the game are the mysterious Aztec with their powers linked to the underworld, the brutal Vikings with their unstoppable force and a third faction which we will reveal in a few weeks. The three factions have their own motivations to move to the homeland of the Aztec, but mostly to find this artefact which holds the powers of the gods. One of these superpowers is Thor's Hammer, which is a giant hammer that falls from the sky, knocking units everywhere and hitting them with deadly lighting bolts.

Nlife: Can you tell us a bit about how the multiplayer aspect of the game will function?

FA: The multiplayer option is definite the most fun feature of Swords and Soldiers. The multiplayer is part of the skirmish, in which two players can set up a battle and fight each other in a split-screen game. Each player has a side of the level, both trying to conquer the other side. It's all about using the right tactics and counters to get close to the opponents castle and destroy it.

Nlife: I know you’ve probably been asked this a million times already but why did you decide against including online multiplayer?

FA: The split-screen multiplayer is a lot of fun and basically totally awesome. As for online multiplayer, that is something we would like to add but don’t have the resources for building such a feature just yet. This is definitely something we would want in a possible sequel though!

Nlife: What made you decide to develop the game for WiiWare?

FA: We really enjoy the Wii platform with its unique controls. Also, there aren't many RTS games for the Wii yet: there is no WiiWare game available at the moment that is an competitive RTS, and we're filling that gap.

Nlife: What has Nintendo’s response been like towards the game?

FA: The guys at Nintendo are very helpful, they help developers where they can and because they see a lot of games coming through they can give good feedback on your designs.

Nlife: If the game is a success, do you have plans for a sequel? If so, are there any features you’d aim to include?

FA: A sequel is definitely a possibility, it all depends on the success. The first thing that we will include is an online multiplayer!

Nlife: When will S&S be released on WiiWare and how much will it cost?
FA: The game will be released somewhere around November / December this year. The price of the game has not been decided yet, but expect a price around 1000 Wii Points or less.