Or, how pinball, hurry-up monsters and a misspent youth inspired an arcade blaster
Hello everybody! I’m thrilled to let you know that we will be releasing Scintillatron 4096 exclusively for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita on 18th December. The game is a fast-paced, highscore shooter with a big emphasis on combo building. We’re launching the full trailer today, which you can see on this page.
I thought the best way to explain the game would be through some of its inspirations…
1. Classic arcades
I claimed a misspent youth in the tag-line, which on reflection may be mis-selling. It wasn’t an exciting youth of wild rebellion but I did play a lot of great video games. I’m thinking back to the ’80s and ’90s. These were halcyon days for the coin-operated arcade and the home computers that had the games ported to them. Scintillatron 4096 borrows from this era:
- Highscore is king – your score on the ranking boards (both local and global) is what matters
- It’s tough – think a couple of minutes per game at first, up to half an hour once you’re properly competitive
- Boss fights – although we did these slightly differently, overwhelming you with swarms of tiny enemies rather than one big bad guy
There are also more subtle things like the ‘Hurry Up’ mechanism.
When I used to play Bubble Bobble with my brother there was what we called the “Hurry Up Monster” – a nasty dinosaur thing that appeared if you took too long. Scintillatron 4096 has its own Hurry Up… not exactly a monster but a nasty red, glowing thing that turns up, multiplies and kills you off – mean!
You’re right – there are no balls or flippers! However – Chris (my fellow developer) and I played pinball in the arcades, at home on the Amiga, and in an awful smoky pub during our lunchtimes in the early 2000s (misspent later youth.) Pinball is all about building a score, learning the table and knowing which risks to take.
Scintillatron 4096 is built around similar “score-building” gameplay. Most important is the Combo. It’s one thing to clear a wave, quite another to pick off every enemy of the same colour in sequence and earn the “Perfect” Trophy.
3. Risks and reward
There were a couple of things many of the best arcade games seemed to share:
- If you lost a life it was often because you took an extra risk and you never blamed the game.
- Similarly, you’d invent little extra challenges for yourself – “yes, I can clear wave 1 pretty easily, but how about I do it in only 20 seconds / without touching the floor / with no use of the brake…”
From the off, we wanted to get this feeling of taking your own risks and setting your own challenges into Scintillatron 4096. I think it works. When I play I almost always die doing something unwise for a few extra points. The thing is, when it does come off and you scrape the Perfect in a blaze of pulses and particles with the Hurry Up lurking…. it feels pretty good. And here we are…
It’s a rather eclectic set of inspirations and experiences, but I hope it gives a picture of what makes Scintillatron 4096 tick. If you remember the classic arcade games or like something skillful and pretty intense it might just be your thing. We’ve taken the trophies very seriously too – there are 45 including some proper challenges. I wish I’d also had space to talk about the co-op and competitive two-player modes on PS4 – maybe a future blog…
Scintillatron 4096 is out 18th December as a Cross-Buy bundle for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita.