Mangahigh.com // February 2012 – May 2012
The end of 2011 was busy, with three big games – A Tangled Web, The Wrecks Factor and Sundae Times – all released in the the space of just five months.
Unfortunately, this meant that there was little time to work on fresh game concepts, so as 2012 dawned the race was on to get something new into production as soon as possible.
For a while I’d been toying with the idea of moving… something… back and forth along a number by answering sums. Early ideas included a Lemmings-style game in which you guided meerkats to their nest and another where you used sheepdogs to herd sheep into a pen, but nothing that quite worked.
With the pressure on to produce something quickly, I decided to keep it simple and came up the idea of an explorer running left and right along a number line, blasting weed killer to repel the man-eating plants (think Audrey II from Little Shop Of Horrors) slowly descending from the jungle canopy. If a plant reached the ground, it gobbled you up with a loud burp. One screen, limited assets, basic gameplay – simple.
I thought the target audience (kids from 9 to 12) would enjoy the tension and the comic horror but it was deemed ‘too dark’, so instead it became a game about candy-crazed kids smashing piñatas. While the gameplay was essentially the same (bar a bit of retooling here and there) I felt the new theme was a touch juvenile and lacked ‘edge’, but you can’t win them all.
But despite those minor misgivings, I still think is Piñata Fever is a great game, thanks in no small part to another sterling effort from the dream team of Jan Rigerl (code), Rob (graphics) and Paul Weir (sound).