Week in Mobile: Glorkian Warrior writes a punchy love letter to classic alien shooters
For Pixeljam Games, the nostalgia of the classic arcade alien-shooter is bedded in its simplicity. Glorkian Warrior: The Trials of Glork for iOS (later Android) evokes the same childlike wonder you may have felt playing Galaga and Space Invaders, but it’s not the same experience by any stretch.
As the Glorkian Warrior, players take on waves of aliens with their trusty Super Backpack and often end up showered in exploding basketballs or kittens (with love from a Magic Robot) as they fire lasers and tennis balls.
“No game is ever the same,” Miles Tilmann, the co-founder of Pixeljam, told GameZone. “The invaders fly in different shapes and formations each time, different challenges present themselves each time you play, and occasionally something happens that's either completely unexpected or just plain crazy. It still surprises us sometimes, and we've played it probably 10,000 times now.”
Pixeljam was been working on Glorkian Warrior, its first mobile game (with a Saturday morning cartoon feel), for four years now. The project began when the developer’s musician, Mark DeNardo, met with cartoonist James Kochalka at a concert in New York City.
“James mentioned to Mark that he had always wanted to make a video game and basically pitched the idea of Glorkian Warrior to Mark right there,” said Tilmann. “We were all big fans of his work prior to that meet-up, so we jumped at the chance to work with him.
“The actual inspiration for the character is something best asked of James ... but we all took to the character pretty quickly. Something about the Glorkian Warrior's bravado and foolhardiness seemed to resonate with the type of stories we wanted to tell with our own games.”
That story has taken shape in a graphic novel that Kochalka has been working on for the duration of development, called The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza (out March 25). Its release arriving so close to the game’s launch was well-timed coincidence, Tilmann said. Kochalka has two others drawn and ready for the lengthier process of book publication.
Kochalka's hand-drawn art and humor, evident in his comics, is also what separates Glorkian Warrior from the Galagas and Space Invaders. But Tilmann notes that’s not the only advantage to a modern love-letter shooter like theirs, which pays tribute while making its own mark on games.
“Personally speaking, modern shooters give me way too many options and often crumble because of that,” he said. “I like a game that gives me a very small set of rules and excels at fully exploring what's possible within those rules.”
And it helps when that game is as fun as Glorkian Warrior. Goodbye, serious shooter. Hello, Magic Robot.