by Joe Bourrie & Patrick Hackett
Rumble Box is a great, innovative beat-em-up game done with tons of style. You can download it, for FREE, from the developers web site:
What was the origin of Rumble Box? Where does it draw it’s inspiration from? In other words, what the hell were you thinking?!
It’s a tradition in games for enemies to disappear when defeated, a tradition based on both technical and gameplay limitations. Rumble Box was our way of challenging that convention, by creating a game where the enemies don’t disappear but instead pile up to create a new landscape. Of course, the concept is a bit morbid when you think about it, but the way it was presented (no story, colorful abstract graphics) made it into a very lighthearted game.
The inspiration came from numerous sources. The combat system came from a combination of Streets of Rage, Enter the Matrix, and some crazy ideas of our own. The simplicity of the game design was inspired by games such as Bomberman and Katamari Damacy. The integration of the GUI and game was actually just us being fed up with uninspired GUI designs. 🙂
I really like the design of the game in that each enemy has a distinct behavior and attack method. This, in my opinion, is how game design should be done. Simple behaviors that, when combined, lead to complex situations where the player can use strategy and quick thinking to their advantage. Would you agree?
We agree that this method is the best way to create good action games, proven by games such as Zelda, Katamari Damacy, Jet Set Radio and Tenchu. Even the more complex seeming games, such as Half Life, are fundamentally built on this method. However, there is definitely something to be said for the designers like Will Wright and Sid Meier, who can take complex systems and create an interface to them that is so simple that anyone can use it.
You mentioned in your earlier comment on the blog that you didn’t think Rumble Box was commercially viable as it stands, and I agree for the most part. What, in your opinion, would change that? Multiplayer? A quest mode? Bosses?
Rumble Box was originally concieved as an arcade game, so the game was designed to be played in short bursts on a few quarters, but highly replayable. With very little modification, it could be made into a successful arcade game. Home gamers, though, are looking for a longer and more complete experience, and any attempt to turn Rumble Box into a larger game would break the balance of the idea.
We considered bosses, huge creatures that rise from the blocks piled on the ground. This idea went away when we settled on “one-hit kills” and a smaller box size. The original design also had various other “events”, such as “block-rains” (a waterfall-like barrage of blocks falling into the box), walls that would close in on you, drains that would open in the bottom to let blocks out, and even an event where the whole level would rotate and all of the boxes would fall into new positions. Many of these were removed for both technnical and gameplay reasons. As far as a quest mode goes, the concept of piling up enemies requires a smaller, more claustrophobic space, while a quest mode would need to open up the game in a way that would be better served by another game design.
Was there ever any thought given to a multiplayer mode? Or, even better, a co-op mode?
We considered multiplayer co-op at one time but we instead focused more strongly on the single player mode, since the game is designed to be as chaotic as possible while still having complete control. To add another player to the match would be so chaotic that you would constantly lose yourself in the mess of blocks and explosions. A VS mode was never even considered, because the fighting mechanic was never designed for one-on-one and so a VS mode would have been a very dull punch-fest.
What are you guys planning to do next? And plans for a sequel?
There are currently no plans for a Rumble Box sequel, as nearly all of the features we wanted made it into the original game. To try and saturate it with more “fluff” would detract from the experience more than add to it. We are currently working on a non-linear story driven brainteaser called Lemmon’s Workbench, trying to prove that there is still room for innovation in the lowly puzzle genre. 🙂
Hehe, well, I have my skepticism regarding their puzzle game efforts but I believe that if anyone can do something new to that tired genre – it’s these guys!