Mutant Mudds developer Atooi will be bringing its pixel art Metroidvania-style platformer Xeodrifter to Nintendo Switch next week, so we thought it was high time spoke to Jools Watsham, developer, artist and founder the Austin-based indie studio. We talk developing for Nintendo hardware throughout the years, fan reactions to the upcoming port and what's next...
Nintendo Life: Could you introduce yourself?
Jools Watsham: Hello, my name is Jools Watsham. I am the designer, artist, and founder at Atooi. I originally started developing games professionally in 1992 in London, at The Sales Curve/ STORM on NES and SNES games. Prior to starting Atooi in 2015, I co-founded Renegade Kid in 2007.
What has the journey been like from starting on DS with Renegade kid to Atooi, and now seeing your games on Switch?
Our first game at Renegade Kid was Dementium: The Ward for Nintendo DS, which was a very special time for me. It was a great way to kick things off with our first company. We evolved from a developer who was dependent on publishers to develop and publish games into a fully autonomous developer who was capable of developing and publishing their own games digitally.
Transitioning from Renegade Kid to Atooi was not an easy thing to do. Ending Renegade Kid was a difficult decision. Starting from scratch with Atooi was also very challenging. We're slowly establishing ourselves with our releases on Switch.
You started on the DS with Dementium, but the shift in tone and style since then has been dramatic to say the least! Was that a conscious decision?
Yes. I have always liked to play different genres of games, so why not develop them, too? As a designer and artist, I like to explore different ideas and challenge myself by embarking on things that I haven't done before. So far we have bounced from first-person shooters to racing to 2D platfomers to strange 3D action RPG to puzzle game to arcade game to level maker to soccer game. Who knows what the future may hold!?
How has the development process for Mudds and now Xeodrifter been on Switch?
I am not a programmer, so I don't feel the pain first-hand. Matthew Gambrell handled the technical aspect of bringing the games over to the Switch, which has been a fairly straightforward and relatively fast process in terms of getting the bones working on the new hardware. Extra time is then needed to polish it up and utilize any of Switch's features, such as the multiple controller configurations, HD Rumble, and the online leaderboards we added to Mutant Mudds Collection.
What was your interest and exposure to the rumours of NX?
I had no inside knowledge at any point, unfortunately. I was eating up the rumors along with everyone else. I learned of Switch when the rest of the world did. That first three minute video was my first introduction to the Switch, and I was instantly excited about it.
What were the influences for Mudds and Xeodrifter?
Bringing Mudds and now Xeodrifter over to the Switch - what has the fan reaction been like?
I recall the moment I tweeted out an image of Mutant Mudds running on Switch. The reaction was awesome! That tweet received a lot of likes and retweets, which was very exciting. That was before we revealed the fact that it was going to be a collection with Mutant Mudds Deluxe, Mutant Mudds Super Challenge, and Mudd Blocks. When this news was announced, players were very excited and appreciative of the collection and price point. Xeodrifter has had a similar positive reaction. It will be interesting to see how well the game sells on Switch.
It must be exciting to bring your games to a new audience, especially considering how well Nintendo Switch is doing.
Yes, I really love Switch, so being able to bring our titles over to it is very exciting. I am looking forward to bring new titles to Switch, too.
Have you had the chance to check out many new games on the Switch and if so, which ones?
Yes, I try to check out as many as I can. I have spent a lot of time with Splatoon 2, and Super Mario Odyssey. I have spent some time with The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, and need to go back to it. Other titles I have spent some quality time with include Golf Story, Steamworld Dig 2, Celeste, Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King, Hammerwatch, Yooka-Laylee, Slime-San, and Rocket League.
Has there been demand from fans for any particular title from your back catalogue?
Mutant Mudds and Xeodrifter have been the main titles players have mentioned, as well as Dementium of course, but that is not an Atooi property. I would love to see Dementium on Switch too! I expect that I will develop a new survival horror game someday. It is a very interesting genre to work in.
Mutant Mudds collection was a great bundle of three games for Switch. Can we expect any additional content for Xeodrifter?
Thank you! Xeodrifter does support HD Rumble, but other than that it is a direct port of the original experience.
What's next for you and the team?
Xeodrifter is due to be released February 15. Totes The Goat is at Nintendo Lot Check now, so that should be released sometime in March. After that we will be releasing Soccer Slammers on Switch in time for the World Cup. We're kicking around the idea of running a Kickstarter campaign to bring an HD version of Chicken Wiggle to Switch with new high definition artwork. Other than that we're still hammering away on Treasurenauts, which we'll have more news on at E3.
Thanks to Jools for taking the time to speak to us. Xeodrifter lands on the Switch eShop on 15th February for $9.99 / €9.99 / £8.99.