Leuvsion’s Lewis Pugh talks with me about his Wii U Kickstarter, and shares some exclusive news with Pure Nintendo …

PN: For those who’ve yet to check out the Kickstarter, can you give a brief overview of Twisted Fusion?

Twisted Fusion is an open world platformer exclusive to the Wii U. I’ve deliberately not looked at any one particular franchise for inspiration but it is turning into an odd mash-up of Shante, Metroid and Mutant Mudds. In the game you play as Cora, a character who has also been in my previous games and could be described as my Mario character. If I have a fun idea I need a character for Cora usually does a great job filling that role, and thus is now multi-talented like our favourite Italian plumber. In Twisted Fusion Cora finds herself warped from the real world to the fantasy world of Evan, with just a pair of water pistols. Here she finds the world overrun with vicious creatures of all shapes and sizes, but all have the same particular weakness: water! Cora must use her water pistols to take down the evil foes and solve the mystery of Evan to find away home.

BkV48hYIEAEcIyMPN: Gamers may know you from prior mobile releases as well as your work for Infendo.  Can you expound on your gaming background a bit?

My first Nintendo gaming device (not including a Game & Watch) was the original Game Boy and a lot of my favourite games are still on that platform.  Link’s Awakening, Wario Land 2 and Pokemon immediately come to mind as classics that have stood the test of time. I didn’t get into the SNES until later in the generation, and it came with the Super Mario All-Stars & Mario World bundle, so straight away I had a lot of great platformers to play. 2D platformers have always been one of my favourite game genre’s ever since. This fondness for platformers only grew when playing more non-traditional platformers such as Super Metroid. The SNES secured my loyalty to the Nintendo console and I’ve not missed one since. I remember it was before I got a Nintendo 64 I had started creating simple PC games using visual programming tools like Click Teams Klik & Play. I started making games more than I was playing them, but when I did it was very likely a Nintendo game.

Fast forward to 2008 when Apple announced the App Store and release the iPhone 3G, this really caught my attention as a great opportunity to get small games out to a lot of people. I decided I was going to not only learn how to code for the platform in Objective-C but do so in 30 days, including finishing and uploading my first simple game. This was surprisingly a success and ever since I’ve been making mobile games, me being the coder and partnering up with different people for the graphics and music.

Bj_FeWJIMAEI_oZPN: What’s the process like to become a Nintendo developer?  Have they been supportive?

Ever since WiiWare I’ve been interested in creating a game on a Nintendo system. It just made so much sense. However no matter how hard I tried there was certain obstacles I was not able to overcome. Both the 3DS and Wii U eShop launches gave me renewed hope but still some of the same barriers from before remained. This all changed one fateful day when I was reading about Nintendo 2013 GDC coverage.  Not only had they just realised a new web based development platform for Wii U they had come out and confirmed they had changed a lot of their enrolling policy’s. It seemed all these previous barriers were removed! The same day I sent in a new development request, and admittedly it did take a long time to hear back at first. When I did however, everything went very smoothly indeed.

PN: As a Nintendo fan, how has Twisted Fusion been influenced from some of their classic games?

I try not to base games off of an existing franchise, ideally each game you make should be unique but inevitably you will be influenced by games which have left a lasting impression. Twisted Fusion has some odd influences when I try to dissect it afterwards. The day/night system in the game was most likely influence by Ocarina of Time. The difficulty system, which is controlled by a slide bar and can earn you bigger rewards the higher you have it set, is based off of Kid Icarus Uprising. I’m not sure where the open world nature of the game comes from, it’s easy to point to Metroid as a clear example.

proxyPN: Some pics have shown Cora holding a Wii U GamePad in her hands.  Can you share with us some information on how the Wii U GamePad will be used?

I’ve yet to show the screens of the Wii U GamePad and the simple reason is we’re just not there yet in development to have the graphics created for the second screen elements. The plan is to have all your HUD elements down there to free up the TV screen. The Wii U GamePad will act as Cora’s smart phone, although the game does take place in a fantasy world, Cora herself came from the modern real world so it will be cool to take advantage of this. In addition to the HUD elements I plan to also have widgets that display the weather and time both important elements in the game, with the Wii U GamePad screen you could get a forecast to plan ahead. There will also be off-TV play.

PN: How has the response to the Kickstarter been so far?

As of time of writing we have just ended are first week, and so far support has been tremendous! We are already more than half-way to our goal. I imagine support will be trickier in the middle of the project but I’m planning lots of interesting updates including new trailers and news announcements. I’m also running a ‘Cora Costume Contest’ so budding artists can enter a design for Cora’s new threads. After 2 weeks, the entrants will be collected up and the backers will get to vote on their favourites. The top 3 costume designs will become free DLC exclusive to backers! I’m hoping things like this and some surprises yet to come will keep interest in the project.

BkS2FjxIgAAwkcvPN: The initial funding goal is fairly modest, but there’s numerous stretch goals listed.  Any in particular you hope to see reached?

I’m excited for all the stretch goals and they were a lot of fun to put together. One of the ones I’m hoping we can make it to is the Twisted Smash multiplayer mode. It’s heavily influenced by Super Smash Bros and gives all the characters a move set more appropriate to arena brawling and will introduce a lot of new characters to mix things up. Not only would this be a fun multiplayer diversion but it can also be played single player with bots and has a bunch of modes in itself including an events like mode where you battle through different challenges. Our final stretch goal has also gotten a lot of interest. Titled “21 days” it is not only a game in itself but even bigger than the scope of Twisted Fusion’s open-word. 21 days runs on the same 2D platformer open-world engine and takes inspiration from Major’s Mask 3 day dooms day clock and makes it a 3 week (21 days) dooms day clock. You would use the Wii U GamePad as an organiser like the bombers note book to keep track of appointments over the 3 weeks. It would also introduce more complex rpg elements, the statistics you build up on Cora will keep after the 3 week loop but you will lose any gear you haven’t secured. The final goal is to destroy the force that is causing this time-rift, during the final hours.

PN: What are your current thoughts on Wii U, as both a fan and a developer?

I love my Wii U, I really do. I’ve had some of the best gaming experiences on it. A lot of people skip over Nintendo Land but it has become one of my favourite multiplayer games ever, the replay value is incredible. I must be an odd-ball because with the Miiverse, eShop, Virtual Console, and full compatibility with all my Wii stuff the breadth of games I can play on it is amazing. Rayman, Wonderful 101, 3D world, Tropical Freeze and lots of cool stuff to come it gets most of my game playing attention, and again great for local multiplayer which I’m a big fan of.

As an indie developer creating a game I’m very happy too! Nintendo made a very smart move in making an indie friendly environment with the Nintendo Web Framework. It uses modern web standards so not only are you not tied into proprietary tools for coding there a whole wealth of advance tools to take advantage of and you can play around with a few and choose what works best for you. In the same way because it’s based on open standards a lot of existing projects can be ported to it using converter tools. So it’s great for new games and moving existing stuff over.

BkNssvmIMAAGM5uPN: You’ve described Twisted Fusion’s as an ‘Open Platformer’.  Platformers tend to perform well on Nintendo hardware – why do you think that is, and what does Twisted Fusion offer Nintendo gamers?

Nintendo has been in the gaming scene for a lot longer than the new kids Sony and Microsoft, in fact neither of them made a 2D console. I think it’s because of Nintendo’s strong legacy in great 2D games that their audience is a lot more receptive to new takes of something traditional, like Donkey Kong Country Returns. You don’t see the other platform holders betting big on a 2D platformers beyond Sony’s short fling with Little Big Planet, but that was more stage creator than skill based platformer.

Twisted Fusion offers a new game experience. Although it may look like something you have played, it doesn’t feel quite like anything I’ve played before. The game lets you explore but keeps the narrative going. You will be controlling different characters, upgrading powers, sneaking around in stealth sections and you may find yourself outside of the fantasy world of Evan. With the same locations looking and reactive differently depending on the weather or time of day there really is a lot going on but at the same time a lot of freedom in how you play it. If all goes to plan it should be perfect for replay value.

pure-nintendoPN: What can you share with Pure Nintendo that hasn’t been announced yet?

I’ve deliberately tried to keep as many cards to my chest as I possibly could. Of course that’s a risky move when asking for support on funding a game, but it is the gamer themselves funding it. They don’t want their game ruined and there’s a lot of secrets the game holds. What I think is a good thing to exclusively announce now is the pet system. You save these little eyeball creatures called “Go Gos” throughout your adventure and you will be able to raise, and race these. The plan is to be able to have this running on the GamePad also at the same time in its own widget amongst the weather and time. It’s based on the Chao Garden from Sonic Adventure which I also thought was a great idea, in fact the widget would be reminiscent of the VMU screen from the Dreamcast version. You will also be able to get battle bonuses depending on how they’re raised and some can even change the weather!

PN: Any final words for our readers?

If you are reading this please really consider supporting the Kickstarter. I’m a huge Nintendo fan (That’s why it’s Wii U exclusive) and a tiny indie developer. It’s going well so far but things will slow down soon and I really need all your help so we can fund Twisted Fusion and make an amazing game together! There’s some creative rewards also, for example the ‘create an NPC’ reward, not only do you get to design the look of the character (or simply send a photo or picture in) and the name but also the personality and background. The NPC won’t be static and you will see them travel around during your adventure and they will give out more of their background the more you interact, instead of repeating the same line of dialogue.

Thank you everyone who has pledged already, there has also been new rewards added since so do check them over again to make sure you not missing out on something awesome. If Twisted Fusion is successful I look forward to making many more games on Nintendo platforms.

Twisted Fusion - Kickstarter banner

Pure Nintendo wishes to thank Lewis for participating in this interview, and invites readers to check out the Twisted Fusion Kickstarter