Hollow Knight is a cute yet dark Metroidvania from the talented minds at Australian developer Team Cherry. After a hugely successful 2017, the insectoid platformer is preparing to embark on the greatest adventure of all as it makes its way to Nintendo Switch this year. To celebrate its impending arrival, Nintendo Life was lucky enough up to catch up with director Ari Gibson to discuss the game's reception, its passionate fan art community, the Nintendo franchises that inspired Team Cherry and much more...
Nintendo Life: Congratulations on the upcoming release of Hollow Knight on Nintendo Switch!
Ari Gibson: Thanks! We’re really excited for the release. There’s a whole new audience of Nintendo fans who’ll finally be able to play the game and we think it’s a great fit with the console.
How has the development of the game been going on the platform?
Development has been quite smooth and Nintendo have been fantastic to work with, helpful throughout. The testing process in particular has been a nice change, playing on a couch, rather than just glued to our PCs.
So when did development start for the Switch port?
Way back in 2016 we were developing a Wii U version of the game, alongside the PC version. Eventually we shifted that version to Switch as the players moved across to the new Nintendo system.
Indies in general have been much more prominent on Nintendo Switch compared to recent years. It must be exciting to work on such a popular platform so early in its life cycle?
With Hollow Knight on Switch we feel like we’re right in the middle of the activity and we couldn’t be more excited. Nintendo have been a huge supporter of indies with the Switch and it’s the perfect home for many of them with its handheld/home-console modularity and those cute little turn-them-on-their-side controllers. It’s got everything we’d want!
It's great to see Hollow Knight receiving so much praise on social media, but there's been a large influx of fan art, too. Considering the relative age of your company and the game, this must be very flattering.
It’s the craziest thing! We’d never of guessed there’d be such an interest in weird, slightly-spooky insects. The fan art is a huge inspiration and motivation even as we continue to create more Hollow Knight stories in our upcoming content packs.
Looking at the game itself, there's an interesting contrast between the cute characters and the atmospheric colour palette. How did the aesthetic of the game develop?
The Hollow Knight look is all about speed. Simple is fast. Monotone is fast. The whole thing started as part of a 72-hour Game Jam event, which William and I took part in. Obviously, our ambitions for the game grew beyond the scale (and time-frame) of the Jam, but the quick-to-produce aesthetic remained from it.
How did you go about balancing the atmosphere with the narrative and humor - was there a priority or did it evolve organically?
Everything evolved naturally, with William and I writing the narrative as we built the world. There are plenty of dark bits and plenty of dark-yet-slightly-humourous bits but we never consciously worried about the balance between the two.
You're a young team made up of a few people from South Australia. What was your exposure to video games growing up?
William and I both grew up on the NES, then SNES and we still have huge fondness for games of that era. With Hollow Knight we set out to make a game that evoked the feelings when playing Metroid, Faxanadu or Zelda II for the first time. Quite a bit of Mega Man X influence also crept in as we built the game.
Hollow Knight has been a very well supported game after it's release. Can Switch owners expect all of the content in one package and how much more DLC is there still to come?
Absolutely! Hollow Knight on Switch will launch bundled with the two previous free content packs, Hidden Dreams & The Grimm Troupe, and a bunch of smaller optimisations and improvements we’ve made along the way. We’ll be announcing details on the third content pack in the near future, which is looking likely to arrive shortly after the Switch launch. Beyond that pack, we have our second playable character, Hornet, in the works. She has her own story, abilities, bosses and more, which we’ll be talking about at a later date.
We would like to thank Ari for his time. Hollow Knight on Nintendo Switch is expected in Q1 2018.