Hi, I’m Mike Kennedy, a Senior Producer at Vogster Entertainment, and I’m here to talk about our brawler for the PSP titled Unbound Saga. Right off the bat, you’re probably thinking “Vogster who?” A reasonable question, considering we’ve only put out one title prior to Unbound Saga (a critically praised RTS for the Nintendo DS called Robocalypse), but with several more hot titles in the pipeline, you should be hearing about us more in the months to come.
In a nugget, Unbound Saga is an old-school, arcade-style brawler that puts you in the shoes of Rick Ajax, a surly comic book tough guy trapped in a world of endless trouble. The thing is, he knows he’s a comic book character, and after 30 years of dealing with one ridiculous plotline after another, he’s had about enough. So you get to take him on an epic adventure to escape the pages of the comic in search of The Maker, the mysterious entity responsible for his daily misadventure.
So why make it a brawler? Well, aside from the logical activity perpetuated by the lead character, we frankly couldn’t get enough brawlers growing up in the 8-bit and 16-bit days, and there doesn’t seem to be enough of ’em coming out any more these days. We were hooked on games like Streets of Rage, Final Fight, TMNT Arcade, X-men Arcade, Captain American and The Avengers, etc. They were colourful, visceral, over-the-top, and tons of fun. The gameplay was easily accessible, with simple to understand controls — Punch, Kick, Grab, Throw — that could be strung together to pull off easy-to-execute combinations. There were no blocks, counter-blocks, reversals, deflections, none of those thorny hardcore fighting game maneuvers. Just the satisfaction of knocking down bad guy after bad guy in rapid succession.
Sure, nobody would credit any of those early-90’s plotlines as any sort of attempt at Shakespeare, but that campiness and Hollywood-style machismo is what made them so magnetic. Mohawked street punks and muscle-bound mafia hitmen wandering gutted city streets and other action-movie settings, occasionally having to fight a kangaroo in colourful boxing shorts or a robot zombie or two… it was that sort of over-the-top unpredictability that made us want to keep playing. That and the endless head-smashing.
With Unbound Saga, the team wanted to recapture some of that fun and nostalgia, but with many layers of extra awesomeness. While sticking to an accessible arcade-style control scheme and the fixed left-right perspective, everything has been ramped up with the latest technology: sharp 3D graphics, real-time physics and ragdoll reactions, real-time lighting FX, etc. The gameplay itself has been given some extra strategic depth with the ability to switch between the two main playable characters, either Rick and Lori Machete, on the fly. Each of them has a completely different fighting style, with individual abilities that can complement the other character when things get sticky.
Rick is the muscle, the tank, the heavy hitter who relies on bodyslams and brute smashing strength to get things done. Lori is more about speed, stealth, and her bag of ‘ninja tricks,’ like smoke bombs and gas grenades, to finish the job. Both characters can be upgraded through individual skill trees, allowing the player to tailor their characters with more unlockable powers and moves. Both offer unique gameplay experiences, but you’ll have to take advantage of each one’s strength to get through the campaign.
In the next entry, we’ll talk about bringing the comic book world to life in our game, and how we’ve partnered up with experienced, recognisable industry talent to give our brand some authentic comic-book style.