Developer Double Eleven talked to Nintendo News about their first Nintendo game, PixelJunk Monsters, set to land on the Wii U eShop on May 19.
Tom Pedalino is a designer at the Double Eleven studio based in England, where a team of 30 people with over 100 years of industry experience make and publish titles like PixelJunk Monsters. Pedalino answered a handful of questions we asked him earlier this week.
PixelJunk Monsters has released on multiple other platforms. In addition to its upcoming release on Wii U, are there any plans to release it on Nintendo 3DS or Nintendo’s upcoming video game platform, codenamed “NX”?
We don’t currently have any plans to release Monsters on [any] other platforms, but it’s one of our most beloved titles so we’re always thinking about it. The 3DS is one that has come up in conversation a few times as there are a couple of us in the office who have a lot of love for Nintendo handhelds. Having worked on the Wii U version, we’re really happy with how the second screen and touch controls compliment Monsters’ unique take on tower defense, so it would definitely be a good fit for the 3DS.
PixelJunk Monsters marks the first title our studio has made for any Nintendo device and it’s a milestone we’re all really proud of! Right now our studio’s focus has been on bringing PJM to Wii U and its community. In the future, it’s our hope that there will be more opportunities to work on current and upcoming Nintendo platforms. Monsters certainly isn’t ruled out!
Where did the idea for the game come from? Were there any games that directly influenced its look, gameplay, or storyline?
PixelJunk Monsters was the brainchild of our friends at Q-Games. Apparently the game was born out of some concept images featuring Red Riding Hood in a forest. The concept didn’t spawn anything directly, but when it was decided the company would try its hand at the tower defense genre, the concept was revisited. Over time the concept was revised to feature aspects of Tiki culture and from there our beloved Tikiman was born.
About how many hours can players expect to get out of PixelJunk Monsters?
Monsters is a hefty game. We’ve included all the previous DLC packs in the Wii U release, so just completing all of the levels can take anywhere from 20 to 25 hours. If you were to try and perfect every level and complete hardcore mode (it’s seriously hardcore!), you’re looking at about 70 hours of play. In addition to that, we’ve also included Tum Tum Island, which randomly generates levels based on whatever 5-digit password you enter. We’re really hoping players discover some great levels on Tum Tum Island and share them (and their high scores) on Miiverse.
How will the game make unique use of the Wii U GamePad?
We have a few configurations for Monsters that allows players to customize how the GamePad works based on their preferences.
First, we offer an option where the GamePad simply mirrors what is on the TV; this enables touch screen controls, simply tap where you want Tikiman to go and he’ll run there. Tap a tree and a radial menu will pop open for you to choose a tower. The entire game can be played using the touch screen if you want it to. Monsters is one of those “just one more go” type of games, so we really feel like allowing the game to be played entirely on the GamePad will save a few arguments when it comes to who gets to use the TV.
The second configuration keeps the main game on the TV and displays the Tikihut on the GamePad. The Tikihut is where Tikiman can buy more powerful and extravagant Towers. By having the Tikihut on the GamePad, players no longer have to walk Tikiman back to the hut each time they want to make an upgrade — they can just tap the Tower they want to buy and it will immediately be purchased. This means you can keep Tikiman right where you need him the most!
The final option is one we had never considered, but after looking on forums all over the Internet, we’re pleased to say that we offer users the option to turn off the GamePad screen to conserve battery power. We hope all you battery conservationists have fun with that one!
Can you tell us some things that are less obvious or secret in PixelJunk Monsters that players may not know about?
This isn’t so much a secret, but it isn’t well known: If you hold the “R” and “–” buttons while selecting a stage, you will be joined by a computer-controlled Tikiman. While you can’t earn rainbows and unlock levels using the AI partner, it is a great way to practice levels and learn what enemies are coming on each wave. What’s interesting about this cheat (and this is something no one knows about) is that we were only made aware of it by a long-time fan of the series after we had published the Steam version. Q-Games didn’t mention that it existed during development, so when we found out about it we were really worried it might have broken the game in some way. Fortunately it worked flawlessly and we were able to pretend we knew about it all along!
Is your studio working on any other projects for Nintendo, or any other platforms?
We aren’t currently working on other Nintendo projects, but we’ve been working hard on a range of other platforms. We’re currently finishing up work on the BAFTA award-winning Prison Architect for Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 4, which has been an absolute pleasure to work on. The chaps at Introversion have really trusted us to do our thing and that’s been great given that we’ve had to completely rebuild the game from the ground up to make it work without a mouse. Incidentally, Prison Architect would probably work quite well with the Wii U GamePad!
Fun question: How are you envisioning Nintendo NX?
I’m really hoping that NX is some sort of home console and handheld hybrid. You still have a box that sits under your TV, but you play games with something similar to your 3DS. If you need to leave the house for whatever reason, you just take the handheld with you and can continue the game on the go. I’ve dreamed about being able to do that since I got my first Game Boy! It’d be a great way for people with busy lives to play games with some real substance to them. I also think this would be a great way to retain backwards compatibility with the Wii U (using the handheld screen instead of the GamePad). The thing with Nintendo is that you never know what to expect, and NX could completely stun all of us and be something totally unpredictable!
PixelJunk Monsters launches in North America and Europe on May 19 for $9.99 and £6.99, respectively. There are currently no plans to bring the game to the Wii U eShop in Japan.
PixelJunk Monsters Trailer (Wii U eShop)
We thank the Double Eleven team for taking the time to talk to us about their project.