Nintendo News propped up a virtual chair with indie developer Jaywalkers Interactive to learn more about Kick & Fennick, the studio’s upcoming futuristic platformer on Wii U.
A little boy with a huge gun, his pint-sized hovering robot companion, and a vast colorful, lively, and dangerous world for both of them to traverse — all things brought to life as a video game by just two men who work at a studio located in Western Europe.
But while the men, Laurens Bruins and Vincent Bonefaas, are longtime friends and colleagues who develop game software, their work does not involve a routine daily commute to a building. Instead, they work on projects as a team through the powers of that thing called the Internet.
“We’re just two guys, so we basically do everything together and don’t have very strictly defined roles,” Bruins told us on Wednesday. “We both have a background in 3D art, but Vincent specialized in animation and I specialized in game design. We both work from home and communicate mostly over Skype.”
Bruins painted a detailed explanation about where the idea for the game derived, and it all dates back to early childhood days — you know, the ones many of us still live in today:
“The idea for Kick & Fennick started with us looking back at our childhoods and the great times we had imagining ourselves as superheroes, taking on armies of robots and monsters with our brothers and friends [while] donned in cardboard armor with a towel wrapped around our necks — armed with pine cone grenades and big sticks representing the most explosive super weapons you could imagine. Looking back as adults, we thought that if a 9-year-old boy actually fired a weapon like that, he would be launched into the air just from the recoil … which would actually be pretty cool! This is the core idea of Kick & Fennick, one in which you must guide Kick and his little flying robot friend, Fennick, through many levels and obstacles designed around the recoil mechanic. Not only does shooting your gun help dispatch enemy robots coming your way, but shooting downward makes Kick do massive jumps in the opposite direction!”
Games like Jak and Daxter and Ratchet & Clank helped shape the game’s concept, but the two-man team didn’t initially set out to make something from those two games. “The whole process of designing Kick & Fennick has been very dynamic,” Bruins explained. “We wanted Kick to have a friend to explore the world with, as that’s where the inspiration came from — playing with our friends.”
When Nintendo News first reported that Kick & Fennick was coming to the Wii U eShop a few weeks ago, one reader, via social media, said “It looks like it could be a rip off of Ratchet & Clank.” We asked Bruins his thoughts on that:
“Ratchet & Clank is an amazing series. We especially love how polished the games are! [Vincent and I] both love animation and the Ratchet & Clank series is a fantastic example of what can be achieved. Although Kick & Fennick is a platforming game about two friends, one of which is a cute little robot, we didn’t really look at Ratchet & Clank specifically. We love all sorts of games and we are as much gamers and fans as we are developers, so everything inspires and influences the choices we make.”
Kick & Fennick debuted exclusively on PlayStation Vita in February 2015. Starting in June 2016, Abstraction Games will publish the game on consoles; Wii U and PlayStation 4 owners can purchase Kick & Fennick on June 2, while Xbox One owners can grab it the following day, on June 3. Fans in Japan may also eventually see the title if things go according to planned, Bruins shared.
As for the game coming to other Nintendo platforms, there are currently no solid plans, but the boys at Jaywalkers Interactive “have a lot of ideas for the world of Kick & Fennick, and upcoming Nintendo platforms could be very interesting.”
We asked Bruins to describe his studio’s relationship with Nintendo. “As Kick & Fennick is published by Abstraction Games we don’t have a lot of direct contact with Nintendo, so our relationship with them doesn’t go much further than us being humbled that they liked Kick & Fennick and wanted to release it on their platform,” he said. “It’s a dream come true to have our game release on the platforms we’ve been such big fans of since we were kids.”
As with many of our other exclusive developer interviews, we’re always interested in knowing how studios envision Nintendo’s next video platform, codenamed “NX.” Here’s how Bruins imagines it:
“Nintendo is always very hard to predict, but since VR swept us off our feet, it would be very cool to see Nintendo’s take on something like that! Or maybe the NX will be some kind of an augmented reality toy … a device that allows you to play elaborate interactive games outside with your friends, like the games we played as kids in our imagination, but with a device that somehow brings that to life. Who knows! We’re definitely looking forward to whatever Nintendo is cooking up!”
The next game for Jaywalkers Interactive is called Arizona Sunshine, a virtual reality post-apocalyptic zombie survival shooter. They’re collaborating with developer Vertigo Games to “bring it back to life” with Steam VR on HTC Vive.
To better understand how Kick & Fennick works, check out the game’s PlayStation Vita trailer below.