The Wii U's position as a party console seems to be cementing itself lately. It's now well known that the Wii U version of Super Smash Bros. can support 8-player offline play, but Toronto-based indie studio 13AM has been working on Runbow, a game that can cram a full nine people around the TV (well, one can probably sit to the side with the GamePad).
Runbow initially came to existence as an 8-player title out of the Global Game Jam. It's a multiplayer runner game with a twist: the background colour is constantly shifting, and any platforms or walls that match it will disappear until the next colour switch.
According to an interview with the developers on Gamasutra, the goal was always to incorporate as many players as possible. When it was decided to pursue publishing the title 13AM co-founder Tom McCall said that goal remained in mind:
We looked at Xbox, PlayStation, PC, all those things, and we just kind of did a tally of how many controllers we could link up. And when we got to Wii, we found out ... that if you tether a Wii Remote to a Wii controller four times, and then add in the Wii U tablet controller on top of it, you can get up to nine players. We’d never seen anything like that before.
As may be expected, tuning a game for nine players can be a chaotic experience. Factors such as size and art style have been tweaked from the prototype to find the setup where players can best keep track of their characters. There's also the challenge of keeping the game fun for all and not having a few players always left in the dust. For that, McCall said they've turned to a style of power-ups that have drawn battle lines in other titles.
"It’s sort of like Mario Kart, but we’ve actually gone one step further. If you’re in first place, you don’t just get useless items, you can actually get a power-up that kind of screws you over.
The power-up referred to is Swap, which will randomly switch your character's position with another random character, regardless of your standing. For another cool but potentially infuriating perk, depending on your role, one mode will allow the GamePad player to control the level elements as the "ColourMaster."
Runbow is currently slated for a 2015 release. You can read the full interview with the ambitious folks at 13AM on Gamasutra.
What do you think of the prospect of room-filling party games such as Runbow and Smash Bros.? Let us know in the comments below.