When indie developer Samuel Eng isn’t teaching middle school children and adults how to program video games, he’s making one of his own for Wii U called Zarvot. Eng’s studio, SnowHydra Games, is where the magic takes place.
“I’m based out in New York City, and am ‘the everything’,” Eng told Nintendo News. “[I’m a] programmer, artist, marketer, janitor … you name it!” So far, it’s just Eng and music artist Matt Clapis working on the project. “All the other programming and artwork is done by myself; however, I would not have gotten far without my friends’ very close moral and playtest support.”
Zarvot is a local multiplayer game that’s meant to be played with a group of friends — a quick party game. There’s also a wide variety of modes, Eng explained. “Survival mode is the no frills, simple kill ’em all mode, and King of the Hill is super fun and works well. Instead of spending resources developing for the GamePad, we focus more on having a more inclusive party aspect. So you can play the game on the same screen as all your friends using the GamePad, Wii Remote, Pro Controller, and more!”
But don’t worry, End said a single-player option will be included in Zarvot for those who prefer to go solo. “It’s a puzzle-based challenge mode for people who want to just sit back and enjoy a bunch of challenges in a single player setting. The great thing though is that there’s also a co-op option, if you want to sit back with a buddy and ace them! There will be over 30 challenges for you to tackle, either solo or with a friend.”
Fans of developer Messhof’s 2014 side-scrolling fighting game Nidhogg on Steam and PlayStation may notice strong gameplay inspiration in Zarvot. “I absolutely loved [Nidhogg] when I first played it with one of my best friends,” Eng said. “It was such a great time. I love the local multiplayer realm of gaming for its amazing social aspect. I can only wish that Zarvot would hold a candle to Towerfall’s greatness.”
As for the game’s art direction, Eng said Monument Valley directly inspired the artwork. “It is absolutely gorgeous with its sharp lines and smooth gradients. I am at heart a staunch minimalist, and Monument Valley spoke to my aesthetic sense in a way no other game ever has.”
Unlike story-oriented games like Half Life 2 or those from the Zelda series (two of Eng’s favorite types), Zarvot compares more similarly to games like Street Fighter or Chess. “You can play one game [of Zarvot] and never play it again, or you can take the time to dissect its strategy and gameplay depth underneath its gorgeous artwork. I’d prefer if you took a look at all the deep gameplay design I put into it through iteration upon iteration of polish and tuning.”
SnowHydra Games hopes to launch Zarvot sometime during summer 2016. Beyond that, Eng said there’s “definitely” a chance that his game could come to Nintendo “NX” or Nintendo 3DS in the future.
It’s possible Eng and the studio will launch Zarvot on other platforms, too. “Games take so long to create. I have plans to release it on PC and Mac for sure, but I think of Wii U as the defining platform for its awesome local multiplayer focus due to games like Super Smash Bros. I’m planning on releasing Zarvot for Xbox One as well.”