It Takes Two 01
Image: Electronic Arts

When developer Hazelight Studios launched It Takes Two back in March 2021 in partnership with Electronic Arts, it's safe to say that the co-op action-adventure title took everybody by surprise. By combining split-screen gameplay with a narrative that's both hilarious and poignant in equal measure, it struck a chord with gamers worldwide, going on to win several prestigious awards, perhaps most notably the Game of the Year gone at 2021's The Game Awards.

It seemed a no-brainer that the game would eventually make its way to the Switch, then, and it's certainly something that's been on the minds of the developers over at Hazelight Studios and porting studio Turn Me Up Games for quite a while.

To mark the launch of It Takes Two on the Switch, we spoke with director Josef Fares at Hazelight Studios, along with producer Louis Polak and executive producer Scott Cromie at Turn Me Up Games, to discuss the game's positive reception from fans, the high expectations for the Switch port, and what's been added to the game for this new release.

Nintendo Life: How has it felt to see a co-op game be so well received at a time when gamers are perhaps more invested in single-player games?

Josef Fares, Hazelight Studios: It’s been really nice. From my start in this industry, with Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, I’ve always followed my heart and what I believe in. I would always say to just trust your instincts and go with it; my games are written from the very beginning as a co-op game, it’s not a drop-in, drop-out experience. There are always people who will say, “Can you really do this, will people want to play this?” and obviously these games are something people want to play. A Way Out and It Takes Two have both done incredibly well. These are also games that I personally want to play. When I came up with A Way Out, it was something that I wanted to play with my friend, and there were no games like that out there.

So I would boil it down to believing in your own vision and not caring about whether people will like it or not; I think that’s important.

[the game has] become almost a sort of test for relationships!

You can definitely tell that It Takes Two has been created with passion and creativity. I played the game back in 2021 with my wife who was around eight months pregnant at the time; she’s not a gamer, but she absolutely loved it!

Fares: That’s great, how was the communication between you? Are you still together now?

Oh yeah, we’re good, we managed to get through it!

Fares: That’s good to hear, it’s become almost a sort of test for relationships!

Definitely. So just to touch on the creativity in the game, as someone who’s grown up with Nintendo games, It Takes Two feels very much like a Nintendo game in the best possible way; would you agree with that?

Fares: Oh yeah, it is in many ways a love letter to Nintendo. I love the approach Nintendo has to game design, it’s super inspiring to me. I’m a huge fan of Nintendo and I have been since the NES; I’ve owned every console, played almost every game, Mario, Zelda, Pikmin, you name it. It’s definitely inspired [by] Nintendo, for sure. There are obvious Easter Eggs and achievements in It Takes Two that are clearly nods to Nintendo.

It Takes Two
Image: Electronic Arts

With Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, that game came to the Switch in 2019 with co-op play added in. Did this inform the decision to bring It Takes Two to the Switch too?

Scott Cromie, Turn Me Up Games: Yeah, I would say it influenced our pursuit to work with Josef and Hazelight again. When It Takes Two came out, it was obvious to us that it was a natural fit and, based on our expertise and track record on the platform, we have to do this. If we don’t do it, then someone else will, and I don’t know if they would do it as well as we can.

If we don’t do it, then someone else will, and I don’t know if they would do it as well as we can.

How do you determine the viability of a Switch port? It Takes Two is a beautiful game, so is there any kind of hesitation in bringing it to the Switch?

Cromie: Our goal is always to exceed the expectations of fans, especially with a GOTY title like It Takes Two. At the time when we signed on to do the project, it wasn’t a GOTY title, so the stakes got raised pretty quickly. But for us, thankfully we’re in a position to strategically decide what projects we want to pursue; we want our team to be excited and inspired by whatever title we decide to bring to the Switch and It Takes Two has that in spades. We absolutely loved working on it, it’s a great fit for the platform, and those are the things that we look for in a project, we always like to think “what can we do that nobody else can, and what are the fans going to appreciate us for doing?”

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Image: Electronic Arts

Is there anything specific that’s been included or changed with this port of the game?

Louis Polak, Turn Me Up Games: I think players will find the controls very familiar to the original game; considering it’s a GOTY winner, we didn’t want to tweak too much, we wanted to stay true to the original design. We did some UI scaling for handheld mode to take into account the smaller screen, we’ve added touch screen implementation for the menus, and we’ve obviously included local wireless play, Switch to Switch. We’ve also added new voiceover languages, including Japanese, Spanish, French, and German; those are all new things for the Switch.

We did some UI scaling for handheld mode to take into account the smaller screen, we’ve added touch screen implementation for the menus

Brilliant! Were there any big challenges in bringing the game to Switch?

Cromie: I would say it’s the typical challenges related to most bigger, beautiful games like It Takes Two that weren’t ever really intended for the Switch — there are these incredible environments you’re running through pretty fast — so yeah, there’s going to need to be a lot of work done to ensure we’re consistently hitting that 30FPS and that it looks great at 1080p in docked mode or 720p in handheld.

But I think, overall, it’s the players’ expectations; there are big expectations when it comes to bringing over a product like this to the Switch. There are around 111 million units of the platform sold, so that’s a big player base, some of which are already fans of the title and some who may not have played it before. So there are a lot of expectations, but I’m confident that we’ve exceeded them.

Fares: Yeah, let me just say as well that I think this port looks really nice. Of all the third-party ports that I’ve seen, this one is looking really nice. I was surprised myself, considering that the hardware is pretty old now, I was surprised that it’s looking and running really well. There are huge challenges in getting that done.

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Image: Electronic Arts

We’re definitely looking forward to checking it out! So to finish up then, are there any Switch games you’re all playing at the moment, or anything you’re looking forward to?

Fares: I’m going to play Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope and probably get into Bayonetta 3 a little bit. Sometimes, the only problem I have with action games is that there are a lot of button combinations to get used to, so hopefully it’s been simplified a bit for the new one. But yeah, definitely those two.

Cromie: It Takes Two! I know that’s the cliché answer but I can say we’ve been playing a lot of it all across the entire studio. That, and some other projects that we’re excited about that’ll be announced at some point in the future. We tend to target games that we ourselves want to play on Switch and It Takes Two was at the top of that list.

Polak: Yeah, I would just repeat what Scott said; I haven’t had the chance to play this game with my wife yet, though, so I’d love to show her what we’ve all been working on.

Fares: Testing your relationship there, Louis!

Polak: Yeah, exactly! So yeah, I’m just excited that this game is coming out soon.

Thanks so much for speaking with us today, and good luck with the launch!

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

Thanks to Josef Fares, Louis Polak, Scott Cromie, and everyone at Hazelight Studios and Turn Me Up Games. It Takes Two launches on Switch on November 4th.

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