With the upcoming release of their second DSiWare platformer featuring Oscar this coming Monday in North America, we thought now would be a good time to get in touch with the developers in order to find out a bit more information about the game.
Colin Courtney, Managing Director of Virtual Playground, was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to sit down with us for an interview. You can find out what he had to tell us in the exclusive Nintendo Life interview below. Enjoy!
Nintendo Life: To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about the background of your studio, Virtual Playground?
Colin Courtney: Our company was established in 1990 and is still run and managed by the founders. We are particularly proud of our reputation for producing fine games, on time and within budget, for publishers both large and small. Furthermore, we have always been committed to delivering excellent products which will be well received within the industry marketplace and sell in large volumes as a consequence.
The company’s PC studios are based in the North East of England and all of our staff work in house and are employed by the company. Our Programming and Artistic Directors have been in the industry for over 18 years each and they have been responsible for overseeing all of our developments.
NL: As a studio mostly known for developing PC simulation games, what attracted you to the DSiWare service?
CC: As the traditional markets started to change towards digital downloading of games we started to look for new games formats that were moving into these areas. The DS was always a market that appealed to us and we had just started developing Oscar in Toyland, as a cartridge product, when we heard of the arrival of DSiWare and decided that this was the perfect platform for this title.
NL: Can you explain a bit about the history of the Oscar / Trolls series from the Commodore Amiga?
CC: We developed Trolls when the Trolls dolls were all the rage. We had been looking for a new character for a platform game that we were working on and the Trolls were a perfect fit. The game became a significant hit on all the Amiga formats and also the PC. The sequel came about when Commodore asked us to produce a game for them that would be bundled with every Amiga 1200 and CD32 Worldwide. We decided to keep the same games mechanics as Trolls, as they had proved so popular, but to go for a character that would appeal to a slightly older gamer, hence Oscar was born.
NL: From Toyland to Movieland - aside from the obvious change of scenery what’s new in the latest instalment in the Oscar series?
CC: The movie theme enabled up to come up with some very different themed Worlds that are more interesting to explore. The additional of the parallax scenery in the background adds to the atmosphere of the game, as it created an added depth of field.
The game has been tweaked in all different areas to improve gameplay, in particular the AI (artificial intelligence) of the aliens and their attack waves.
I fully believe that anybody who bought Oscar in Toyland will love the sequel, its what games need to be fun and challenging.
NL: In our review of Toyland we had a few issues with the gameplay, audio and visuals. What improvements have been made in Movieland to address this?
CC: As mentioned earlier we have listened to reviewers comments and have hopefully addressed their points. The graphics are highly detailed, unlike most other DS games, showing just what can be done on this great machine. The graphics are less garish so are easier on the eye and should not distract the gamer whilst playing the game.
NL: Oscar in Toyland wasn’t released on DSiWare in Australia. Any particular reason?
CC: No, it was more to do with timing. Oscar 2 will go into Australia and we will follow it up with Oscar 1 in a few months.
NL: When is Movieland likely to be released on DSiWare in Europe/Australia?
CC: Towards the end of the month, we are just waiting for Nintendo approval for these territories.
NL: What plans do you have for DSiWare after Movieland? Can you give us any hints?
CC: We already have three DSiWare games in development, for releases in March, April and May with more to follow.
Sorry no hints as to what they are at the moment but watch this space for news. All I will say is that each one is very different from one another and they are not Platformers / jump & run games.
NL: Thank you very much for your time; it’s been a pleasure! Is there anything you'd like to say before we conclude?
CC: It was my pleasure, keep up the good work, you produce an excellent resource for all Nintendo gamers.