Developer Interview: System 3 On Bringing Putty Squad To Wii U And 3DS

Veteran UK developer talks about Putty's return and future projects

Today saw the confirmation that System 3's Putty Squad is coming to the Wii U and 3DS. We got in touch with the UK-based studio to talk about the game, how it differs from the Amiga version and what the company's plans are for the future. We spoke to studio founder Mark Cale, who produced both the original edition of the game and this new update.

Nintendo Life: What made you decide to upgrade Putty Squad?

Mark Cale: Two reasons really. The first is that we have seen a huge movement towards retro games over the past year. Putty Squad was always a great character and something of a Retro Classic. It was finished on the Amiga and cover-mounted with press reviews from all in the '90s, for the most part. Gamers loved the front cover demo and were screaming out for the game. Sadly the market was in a transition period and most retailers were not wanting to stock Amiga games any more, preferring games on the better-performing Nintendo and Sega platforms. We have had a lot of fans requesting we release the game code on Amiga as an emulated game in later years but we felt this is just not right. It became a sort of Holy Grail of video game classics with many people claiming to have a copy of the game given to them from one journalist or another that had finished review code on disk.

So a few years ago with our 30th anniversary coming up we thought it was a a great idea to remake the game from the Amiga code on PS3 and relaunch it. We were disappointed; the graphics just did not stand up, but the gameplay did. We decide to re-image the game into HD and that led to new features being added, such as new levels and new ideas. It is also the 21st anniversary of Putty as a character — he first appeared in Silly Putty in 1992.

Secondly, the market has changed and is so diverse so the game is not only suited to retro fans but also the younger market. Our market focus group had this game rated very highly on the 8-12 year old boy and girl groups, as well as girls of all ages. It of course rated as a must-have with the retro focus group we set up. So from a market point of view, this is firmly positioned as a game that will appeal to Mario and Sonic fans as well as retro gamers; it's a big market and one that would allow us to put the game onto all formats.

NL: What enhancements have been made over the Amiga original?

MC: As mentioned above, we have re-imaged the game into HD and the result is stunning. We also added in a tutorial mode in keeping with what modern gamers expect, and additional challenge modes as well as the traditional play way. Every week we will be giving away a new level for free on DLC if you collect all the stickers in the sticker book mode that has been added in. This is done by completing set challenges to collect stickers. We now have online leaderboards and you can unlock trophies and avatars for extra free DLC. New "stretch" moves have been added to allow you to stretch up and down steps — you also can now stretch on to moving platforms, something that was not possible in the original. We have added in new levels and worlds and improved the game play. Also, new characters in later levels have been added.

NL: Why did you decide to go for a physical release on Wii U and 3DS?

MC: We are not only just doing a physical release but also a digital one on the Nintendo formats. Physical releases on Nintendo are still the preferred option as most Nintendo consoles are still not connected to internet connections. The results on the eShop have yet to be significant enough to reach the full potential of a digital game. We hope by offering free DLC and working closely with Nintendo on this the physical users will then discover the eShop — they cannot get any DLC unless they of course go online. If they don't know about online and buying games then of course they will not discover Putty Squad as a game which also support the physical position. We've also had some retro fans contact us convinced there will only be a digital version. Retro fans like collecting games and prefer a physical copy in most instances. Many fans have been relieved that both options are available.The market needs both. There is no argument to suggest one way or another is the best route.

NL: What kind of price point will Putty Squad retail for on the Wii U and 3DS?

MC: We are reviewing this at present. It will be in-line with other games of this type. A special pre-order campaign is also planned as well as a unique offering on the first month of release. More information will follow in a few weeks.

NL: Will you be looking to make use of the Wii U and 3DS' unique hardware? Such as touchscreen support?

MC: I can confirm that the game will absolutely make use of the touchscreen. The sticker book and map mode are used and accessed on the touch screen.

NL: Regarding the free downloadable levels, will they be made available on Wii U and 3DS, or are they exclusive to the Vita version?

MC: I can confirm that every game format will have downloadable free levels each week from release. They will be on both 3DS and Wii U. As mentioned before, we hope this a way that we can help support the community into educating the casual Nintendo user that Nintendo is engaging the digital online space.

NL: What about the location-based services in the Vita version — will they make the transition to the 3DS version, possibly in StreetPass form?

MC: Location-based services need the support of hardware manufactures. We have suspended that option at present. We are discussing with Nintendo how to make it work with StreetPass.

NL: Do you have any plans to update any of your other IP?

MC: Yes we do. We have a very big announcement to make just before E3. I will give a hint: do you like building simulators?

NL: Do you have plans for future support for the Wii U or 3DS?

MC: All of our games are planned to support 3DS and Wii U where possible.