Like a great many developers, 17-BIT's Jake Kazdal has an affinity with Nintendo. Employed at Sega once upon a time, Kazdal went indie and founded his own outfit – briefly called Haunted Temple Studios – before switching to the name 17-BIT, and releasing the well-received Skulls of the Shogun on the Xbox 360 (which, incidentally, is coming to Switch soon). The company's subsequent title, Galak-Z: The Dimensional, began life as a PlayStation exclusive way back in 2013, and has since seen a spin-off title – Variant S – on Switch; a bite-sized free-to-play offering built around quick-fire missions and optional in-app purchases.
Variant S has been a critical and commercial success – Kazdal says that 'lots' of players downloaded it and it was a 'perfect fit' for Nintendo's machine – and that has encouraged the studio to release the game upon which Variant S was based – hence this week’s eShop launch of Galak-Z: The Void Deluxe Edition. "They are two totally different games," explains Kazdal when asked why the Switch needs both versions of Galak-Z. "Variant S is a sequel, which we worked with [publisher] GungHo to create. The original game is a much more intense rogue-lite shooting game, and we think it’s a natural evolution to bring it to the Switch. We see both games as complementary to each other, Variant S being a much more casual experience for a broader range of users, and the original [a] much more gamer-centric game!”
With Variant S, 17-BIT seemed to be scaling back the scope of the experience to account for the weaker processing power of Switch when compared to the PS4, which might lead some to (incorrectly) speculate that getting the original up and running on Nintendo's hybrid console might prove taxing. Kazdal refutes this stance. "The Switch hardware was great to work with, and Unity support on the Switch is fantastic, so we faced relatively few issues porting it over – just a few changes – but it was feeling and looking great quite soon after we started." While Switch owners will benefit from the "endlessly replayable" Void DLC from the off (something PS4 owners had to wait and pay extra for), Kazdal stresses this is effectively a straight port of the Sony version, without any additional Switch-exclusive content.
Speaking of exclusive projects, Kazdal reveals that discussions had previously taken place to bring the game "to other Nintendo platforms", which would suggest that either a 3DS or Wii U version was once on the cards. However, Kazdal also adds that Switch is the "perfect platform" for the game, which suggests we might not have gotten the full experience had Galak-Z hit a Nintendo system earlier. While Galak-Z has not benefitted from any special relatioinship with the platform holder, Kazdal hopes 17-Bit and Nintendo can work more closely soon. "Nintendo has always been an inspiration and a potential partner," he comments. "The opportunity has not come up to work directly with Nintendo on these titles, but we look forward to collaborating with them in the future."
The Switch port of Galak-Z is sure to introduce a whole new generation of players to the exploits of A-Tak, Beam and Crash, and it’s only natural to ask if 17-BIT will leverage this newfound interest with a ‘proper’ sequel to the original. “We have spent a good chunk of our lives on Galak-Z, and love it dearly,” Kazdal replies. “But we are moving into new dimensions for our latest game and have several other projects planned that are quite different. Never say never though!”
As for what that new game might be, Kazdal is understandably keeping quiet for the time being, but he is happy to reveal that the Switch features in his studio’s future plans. “We are huge fans of the Nintendo Switch,” he says. “It’s a fantastic, flexible platform with a wealth of great games, and my favorite Nintendo Machine since the Super Famicom/Super NES! We hope to bring more 17-BIT experiences to Switch as soon as we can!”