Interview: Serious Sam Double D XXL dev Nathan Fouts talks fire-breathing cats and pancake monsters
Serious Sam Double D XXL is raging toward its Xbox Live Arcade launch with guns a-blazin’ and absolutely no remorse. In its wake, the game is leaving behind piles upon piles of dead alien creatures including one-eyed beasts (hmm), fire-breathing kitties, and pancake monsters. Mmm … Delicious, syrupy, buttery pancake monsters. Previously available on Steam, Double D XXL offers some awesome additions to the entertaining 2D shoot ‘em up such as new enemies and missions. I had the chance to speak with Nathan Fouts from Mommy’s Best Games, and it definitely seems like this will be the definitive version of Sam “Serious” Stone’s 2D action romp.
GameZone: What is your favorite new feature in Serious Sam Double D XXL? Is there anything you wanted to add but couldn’t for one reason or another?
Nathan Fouts: My favorite is co-op because it’s so fun to play with somebody else. Having more options is what I like to do. Stuff we didn’t get to add ... umm ... there were some secrets we didn’t get to include. We have about 70 secrets that you can discover already in the game, but there are more that we would’ve liked to add. Maybe we can go back and use those secrets in the future.
GZ: Now, this is something I really wanted to talk about: fire-breathing cats. I love just how insane this enemy is. I mean, I play video games because of their insane themes! Is this the last time we’ll see them in one of your projects? What other ideas do you have for hybrids of adorable animals with insane abilities?
NF: [Laughs] Oh, I don’t think it’ll be the last time. Like you, I love violence and gore and silliness in video games. We were already doing that in our games, and that’s when Devolver came to us with Double D. I didn’t want to make Serious Sam: The First Encounter squished into 2D. We wanted to make an original game, something with brand new levels and enemies, not just a 2D version of an older Serious Sam game. I had a blast working on Double D.
As for the insane enemies, I also really liked the pancake monster. The pancake monster was a big fan favorite. I hope it shows up in one of the 3D Serious Sam games.
GZ: Do you think you’ll work on a future entry in the Serious Sam franchise? What would you like to personally see as a fan and developer in the next game, whether it’s a 2D shooter or an FPS?
NF: Aww man, I love Serious Sam, but I think I need to step back for a bit. I loved working on Double D, but we have so many other projects in the works right now. I would like to take a break after XXL but I’d do another Serious Sam game. I love the franchise.
As for something I’d like to see in a new game, I’d like to see more variety in the enemies. I remember seeing stuff in trailers that wasn’t in the games, so I hope the next Serious Sam will have more variety.
GZ: I read once that Shadow of the Colossus was an inspiration for Weapon of Choice. Would you ever delve into a larger-than-life exploratory adventure like that?
NF: I kind of love how Shadow of the Colossus and The Last Guardian, like, what those guys are doing with the massive creatures is great. But the thing about a lot of games is that once you kill these massive creatures, you can walk right through them and they’re no longer a part of the world. In Serious Sam Double D XXL, you can use the dead bodies as platforms. The monsters you kill never go away, and then it gets to this point where you’re running on top of their bodies and other enemies are running on top of their bodies. The whole idea of “corpse-stacking” is something that I think is really cool and not seen in a lot of games.
GZ: What indie games are you currently playing, and what are you excited to play for yourself? Any upcoming projects that you’re interested in check out down the road?
NF: Oh man, that's a good one. I know this is a little more out there and comes up every so often, but I wouldn’t mind playing Jonathan Blow’s The Witness. I know that game’s kind of up in the air right now, but I’m really curious to see what it’s like.
As for stuff I’ve been playing, there’s a game called CJR, I think it was a demo, but I loved it. It’s a 2D action game, and when you kill the monsters, blood splatters all over the screen. Oh, Spy Party! I think that’s a really interesting game. There’s also Matilda Castilla, which is really cool. It’s sort of like a Ghouls ‘n Ghosts type of game. I’m also still trying to finish Arkham Asylum, which is a little embarrassing since that game’s been out for a long time. Oh, and there’s also Escapegoat, which was a pretty interesting indie game that came out not too long ago.
Aside from answering my questions, Nathan also stated that he was doing fan art for Double D XXL, which is quite interesting considering you don’t often hear about developers making fan art for their own games. It’s something that’s indicative of Nathan’s appreciation for the Serious Sam name. In terms of gameplay, Mommy’s Best Games has been going really in-depth with the guns, an effort geared toward making them more than just weapons but rather an integral and involved part of Double D XXL.
For instance, Nathan explained that the checkpoints scattered throughout the game allow for "micro-encounters" that require a bit of strategic planning. This is evident due to the fact that you can’t edit your Gunstacker whenever you want and instead need to wait to do so at checkpoints. The way the game is split up allows you to plan, and even if you get killed, you can always go back and edit the Gunstacker for a better shot at survival. Nathan described this as “chunks of gameplay delivered as brainless but solid fun for the console crowd,” and I think that’s an appropriate description for the action-packed style of Double D XXL.
Nathan also shared some details about the game’s local co-op component: “For local co-op, we don’t throw anything more at you that’s not already in the single-player mode. You’re your own worst enemy, and since we’re doing both platforming and shooting, there’s a lot to do that doesn’t need to be changed from the single-player. What was the most annoying thing about the multiplayer in New Super Mario Bros. Wii? Running into each other. In Double D XXL, we don’t have that. If you move away, the camera zooms out. You can never go too far away from your co-op partner, but the camera zooms out to let you go off a bit. If you die in co-op, one guy dies and he lies there. In Double D’s revive system, one player collects crosses, and that determines how much health the fallen partner regenerates, but it takes some of the first player’s health away.”
I would like to personally thank Nathan for taking the time to answer my questions about Double D XXL. After spending some time with the game, it’s very evident that this is not just some 2D shoot ‘em up with a familiar name on it. This is authentic Serious Sam in 2D, retaining the spirit of the FPS franchise and going in a slightly new direction gameplay-wise while still offering that familiar and enjoyable action-soaked attitude that fans of the series have come to truly appreciate.
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