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Akermans Arcade Asylum Three New Games Announced

February 28, 2010

Akerman’s Arcade Asylum – Three New Games Announced
By Nick Akerman

The collection of digital downloadable games are racking up

This week's column takes on a new feel. I talk to Olivier Vermeille, Project Manager from up-and-coming publishers Zallag and former employee on Trine. He gives us the scoop on what it's like working for a team who exclusively publishes titles for download, and reveals exclusive information on three new projects. I also drop into the crazy world of Beat Hazard, an MP3-sapping indie title that will make your head-spin. To round it all off, I go exploring with Lazy Raiders, the most recent arcade title to throw players off balance with environmental challenges.

Lazy Raiders (Xbox Live Arcade)

Coming from Sarbakan Studios, Lazy Raiders is the next arcade title to incorporate full Avatar integration into its 360 degree spinning game world. If you prefer, you can play as lazy explorer Dr. Diggabone, whose minimal leg movements have his obese belly flying all over the place. You take control of the environment, and fling characters through a selection of mazes, picking up treasure, rare artifacts and keys to unlock doors. It's simple stuff, and requires precision to work through effectively. The game incorporates a eye-appealing cartoon look, and plenty of opportunity for time-saving strategy. Backed up by a chirpy sound selection, Lazy Raiders is worth a shot if you're looking to kill time between the more serious titles hitting XBLA this year.

Beat Hazard (Xbox Live Arcade Indie Games)

Although it's not particularly new, Beat Hazard is one hell of an exciting game. This psychedelic uses your MP3 collection and converts them into a twin-stick shooter that isn't for the faint-hearted. Check out our video below, where we stop talking and strap in for 'face-melting' ride.

 

Next, I speak to Olivier Vermeille, who worked on Trine, one of the biggest surprise success stories over the past year. He gives us the low down on all things Zallag below.

For those who aren't aware of Zallag, can you explain a bit about the publisher?

Zallag is an independent publisher specialized in digital distribution. We really believe in this new way of playing games and we want to pioneer in this sector. Indeed, we are the first and only publisher 100% dedicated to digitally distributed games on consoles.

What do you aim to achieve?

Our main goal is to offer great quality games to the players at an affordable price. Thanks to this digital model of distribution we can put a lot more money into our development budget. This is essential to us as we are all gamers at Zallag. We enjoy quality games and if players have fun playing our games we will have achieved our goal. 
 
We understand you worked on Trine with other Zallag employees, how has this experience helped when setting up your own publishing studio?

Trine was the game that set Zallag in motion. It showed us that it’s possible to make a really great and successful game specially developed with digital distribution in mind.  This new way of buying games is also a great way to discover original games at an affordable price.


Trine was one of Olivier Vermeille's projects with Nobilis

You're currently working on three games for WiiWare, can you give us any details?

Of course! We’re really excited about these games. The first project is called “Racers’ Islands” and is actually separated into 2 games. The first one is a racing game set in a colorful and original universe. The tracks and characters of the game are inspired by several countries of the world. “Racers’ Islands” possess a unique gameplay as it’s the first racing game that will allow you to drive and aim at the same time. This particular aspect is new to the genre and ensures a real learning curve for gamers while the game remains accessible for everyone.

The second “Racers’ Islands” project is actually a party game 100% multiplayer oriented. It shares the same universe as the racing game. The unique gameplay feature of driving and aiming of the first project is still there and will offer a great deal of variety in the mini games.

Our third game is completely different as it is a strategy game. It’s called “Gods vs Humans” and gives the player a chance to play as Gods. Humans are trying to build a tower to get to Heaven and measure themselves to their Gods. Your goal is to stop them using your powers but without killing them! Indeed a God always need to have humans believing in them . “Gods vs Humans” will let you play with many Gods from 4 different mythologies among the most memorable.

Are you looking to expand to PSN and XBLA in the future?

Yes, it is our hope that in the future we can expand to PSN and XBLA. Zallag being a new publisher and regarding our budgets we were presented with two choices: either to do a mediocre game on PSN and XBLA or do a great quality game for the WiiWare. We do not want to rip off players by offering them low quality game so this decision was easy to make. If our first titles prove successful we will be delighted to be able to offer games on PS3 and Xbox 360 as well.

Zallag also specializes in distributing comics based on its video games, what can readers expect from these? 

It is our goal that both our comics and our games are complementary medias of a shared universe. To make it short: one is not the by-product of the other. We are very quality oriented about our productions and we are currently working with talented comic book artists as well as great scriptwriters. Hubert Chardot (scripwriter of Alone in the Dark 1, 2 and 3) is actually one of our scriptwriters on these projects.

Regarding the content of the comics, they will share the same universe but will not tell the same story. In “Racers’ Islands”, the comics will explore what happened to the characters before they ended up in that race and how they all met. It is an interactive process as the game’s development has repercussions on the comics and vice-versa.

If you were to convert one retro game into downloadable form, what would it be and why? 

Personally, I would love to be able to download Shenmue 1 & 2 as these are among my favorite games. I also love Squaresoft’s RPG during the PSone era (Final Fantasy Tactics, Chrono Cross etc..). To get more retro I would definitely want to be able to download Street Racer, a great Super Nintendo game, which really inspired us for the production of “Racers’ Islands”.

Any final words for our readers?

Well first thank you for reading this! I hope you’ll stay tuned about our upcoming games and that you will give them a try once they’re out! Once again our goal is to offer quality games to the players. If you guys have fun playing our games then it’s “Mission Accomplished !”

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Drop by next time where I once again don my leather chaps and stroll down the Valley of Downloadable Content.

Gw
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