News Article

Team Kakumei Joins The Wii U Developer Family

Posted by Mark Green

They came in like a Wrecking Ball

For fresh, straight-out-of-college game devs, catching a break can be tough. It’s no different from any other job; employers want their new recruits to have experience in the field they’re applying for, so getting the job you want straight out of school can be hard. This was no different for Team Kakumei – a group of 18 year old freshmen who only ever had experience with Flash MX, Unity and Android development before now – and it seemed as though, like everyone else, they would have to work their way up the ladder the old fashioned way. However as luck would have it, despite their arguably low experience, they are now officially developing for the Wii U.

This would be a big moment for any up-and-coming developer, and Team Kakumei is wasting no time, as plans to bring its OUYA game Wrecking Balls Arena to the Nintendo system under the name Wrecking Balls Arena DX are already underway. Wrecking Balls Arena DX is no mere port however, it is a sequel/expansion to the original and will feature new stages, items and gameplay elements, whilst still retaining its previous hand-drawn style and charm. The game will be coming to the OUYA as well as the Wii U, possibly sometime in 2014, but the team is toying around with the Wii U’s unique capabilities in order to get the most out of the GamePad.

Such an opportunity rarely comes along, and the guys over at Team Kakumei got in touch to emphasize how please they are; more specifically, the team seems grateful that they have been given such a chance. Team Kakumei member, Jonathon Bont, pointed us to a Reddit thread where he said the following:

Nintendo just let an 18-year-old college freshman like me join their Developer Program (plus the other 2 members of Team Kakumei), and all I personally had was a few years of game making experience including some Flash MX, Unity, and Android (OUYA) development as well as being the main developer of the original Wrecking Balls Arena on OUYA. We didn't have to have an office, any previous experience working at a "real" game company, etc. Say what you will about Nintendo's "outdated/ignorant" practices and policies in some areas right now, but if what I just said isn't an indication of just how open they're becoming towards indie/garage developers, then I don't know what is.

It looks as though Nintendo isn't afraid of bringing some fresh blood into its developer family, and it’s good to see that some companies are willing to look past the lack of experience to see potential talent. Wrecking Balls Arena DX is pencilled to arrive sometime in 2014, but nothing is set in stone just yet.


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User Comments (16)



Falchion said:

Hey, I am 18 and mess around with unity. Still waiting for my big break though...



Gioku said:

...I've made games that look better than that (never done 3D before, though), and I'm entirely self-taught and still in high-school... >.>



WiiLovePeace said:

Wow! I remember once Reggie said that Nintendo wouldn't go near "garage" developers but look at them now! I don't know about this game, but I think Nintendo opening their arms to a whole stream of varying developers is awesome. This is a great time to be a gamer



Yorumi said:

Just a note on the graphics, they may be intentionally stylized. Who know, we'll see what they produce. Today's indie is tomorrow's AAA dev.



Dave24 said:

Wow. They will make their money.

I don't know why, but this screenshot reminds me of Sonic Shuffle and that crab beach minigame



ACK said:

Great too see. Just not that screenshot. I'd un-see that.



Gioku said:

@ACK hahaha, yes... these guys are doing what I plan on doing when I'm out of school... but I'd like to see a bit more effort being put in... o.o



Animan13 said:

Jonathon Bont from Team Kakumei here! Long-time NL reader, but just now created an account here to say hi and thanks for the publicity!

Oh, and a minor correction: i'm the only 18-year-old college freshman of the group; the other two guys are in their 20's (one of them is also in college), although I was the one who initiated contact with Nintendo and was initially entered into the developer program by myself, adding the other members later on (we as a team met online, and thus we're spread out a bit).



JustinH said:

@Animan13 Hello! Two questions:

1) I took a quick look at the game online and I love that sort of pencil crayon esthetic you've got going. Will the port stay true to that? I've never seen a game that looks like that.

2) Not 100% on the gameplay — could you share your standard elevator pitch with NintendoLife? Just a few words to get us frothing for the game.



Animan13 said:

1. Thanks! Most people seem to like the art (I've gotten some comments that it reminded them of the drawings they used to do as a kid), although I'll admit it looks much better in motion than in still images. And yes, we'll be maintaining the same art style for DX, although we might touch up a few rough spots and maybe redraw a few things if we feel it's needed. The new stages/items/features will stay consistent with this art style; I've also been experimenting with some cool effects recently like inverted colors, rolling the hand-drawings (yes, they were all drawn on real paper with real markers!) around a can and scanning that in to create a faded effect on the sides, and a few more.

2. Arcade-Style RTS for 1-4 Players; Take command of a team of 4 "Wrecking Balls" as they fight other teams in a battle to the death! You don't control them directly, but rather you select one at a time and give them commands like "Attack", "Block", "Item", etc.

(We're hoping to refine the controls/gameplay just a little bit to make DX somewhat more accessible to newcomers; the learning curve involved with the unusual control scheme was a problem with the original game imo.)



Razzle said:

Good luck Jonathan to you and your team, sounds like a great start to your careers. I hope you are successful!



ACK said:

@Gioku Well... Yeah... Hard to know what to say... I mean, sure, I have game design ambitions. And while I can draw a thing or two, without any relevant, worthwhile education, I don't know how I'd manage to produce something this off-putting. I certainly feel that design and function rules all, but there are plenty of neat ideas and concepts and the like, so what can be properly accomplished with such rudimentary artwork? Such haphazard form?

Not to discount the entire volume of effort, and who am I to judge if the market is more receptive... It's ultimately about the underlying expression and visuals are just one tool, or vehicle, for those messages. Still, appeal matters, similar to a meal, I suppose... Many can cook a mean dish, and plenty of others can prepare an appetizing plate, but a careful interplay is required to achieve a course which is worthy of mobilizing mouths and wallets both at a significant rate.



MadAdam81 said:

For many people this style looks better than pixel art. What interests me more is how fun the gameplay is.

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