We haven’t covered Tecmo‘s Fret Nice on the PlayStation.Blog, and here we are…two days away from launch. So we’re trying something a little different here. Fret Nice is coming to PSN/PS3 this Thursday, so Producer Ray Murakawa and Creator/Designer Mårten Brüggemann provided a back-and-forth interview with all the details you’ll need when it hits later in the week. Hope you like it!
Ray Murakawa (Fret Nice Producer, Tecmo) – Everyone’s going crazy here for the release of Fret Nice. It’s been a treacherous road up to this release date, but everything came together better than expected wouldn’t you say?
Mårten Brüggemann (Creator/Designer of Fret Nice, Pieces Interactive) – Rock On!
RM- To commemorate the band’s new release and to get a bit into the Fret Nice spirit, we’re gonna rock these paper Fret Nice face masks for this interview, cool?
RM- OK, you get the Hairbänger one and I’m sporting the Maja one. I’m usually the only one around the office wearing this thing so just roll with me on this one. And NO you don’t have a choice. Marvelous. Since we’re now in true character let’s start this blog off with a little background on Fret Nice. A lot of groupies wonder “Music game or not?” Well, Fret Nice is musically endowed, but it’s an action platformer with a cool new mechanic that’s played with a guitar controller or any regular controller. And no- this is NOT a rhythm game! So how did this twisted idea come to be?
MB- The game actually started as a degree thesis project and as that aimed at looking into the concept of adding an unorthodox game controller into an ordinary game genre such as the 2D platformer to see what benefits could be drawn from the new way of controlling the game. Although the game has since evolved to being not so much about the academic side of things, the guitar controller and what it can be used for in its new context has always been the essence of Fret Nice’s design.
MB- You having trouble breathing in this thing?
RM- NO. We’re rolling bro. The game definitely keeps its retro roots, but playing with the guitar controller really takes it somewhere new. It takes patience at first, but once it seeps in, you begin to notice the advantages of being able to pull off quick riffs.
MB- One important point while designing the game around the guitar controller was to never lose the feeling of actually using a guitar for controlling the game and that it, in this case, would be the ideal choice of controller. We in fact wanted the game to be played like a rock song, and from that the attack system of the game, The Riff Combos, are derived.
RM- Riff combos get really intense on some areas of the game. There are some instances in the game where I need that quick strum to rock my way out of a danger zone- You sadistic designer you!
MB- The Riff Combos focus on a part of music playing that is usually non-existent in existing music games. The games that are normally played with the guitar controller or dance mat games have their focus on rhythm based interaction. In Fret Nice we wanted to add the improvisation part of music, and the Riff Combos combined were a perfect way to explore this.
RM- Good point. Fret Nice is not a traditional music game because your success isn’t rhythmically tied to the music, but how well you freak the combination of notes to attack enemies. How about those of us who were born on the wrong end of the musical gene pool?
MB- Fret not, no need for any musical experience as the magic Riff Combos will always play in tonality with the background tracks. The Riff Combos will always blend into the rest of the soundtrack.
RM- That’s fantastic! No musical “skillz” required! Not that I lack in this department… The game still feels good with the regular controller. It’s a slightly different game from that perspective as well.
MB- It’s getting kinda itchy behind this mask man.
RM- I feel nothing. Let’s get back to the game Mårten.
MB- With the console version of Fret Nice one goal was to make the game playable with a normal gamepad as well, to include players that don’t own guitar controllers, or just to make it easier for players to gather enough controllers to play cooperatively with a friend. When playing the game with a gamepad the player also expects the controls of a platformer to behave a specific way, and this also led to some tweaks in how the game was played with a guitar. Both controller types have their advantages over the other, the guitar being tailored for the music-based Riff Combos and the conventional gamepad stemming from the conventions of the platformer, but none of them should totally outdo the other.
RM- We should also mention that not all Guitar Controllers are built the same. You can change the sensitivity of the tilt motion in the game to compensate for some controller mechanics, but if you have a GH Guitar Controller- pull that one out at the top of my list.
RM- So explain to me the style of these crazy masks we’re wearing. What compels a man to think hipsters chasing furballs would turn out to be a cool game?
MB- The art style of Fret Nice is a greatly stylized version of the real world with a touch of crazy randomness. The presentation of the world and its inhabitants is inspired by traditional cutout animation made out of paper. Fret Nice mixes 2D and 3D in an unconventional way to create a fresh look. Colors are the strongest tool to express the mood in the world and it’s creatures are simplified but very characteristic.
RM- I think that wraps it up for this installment wouldn’t you say? The game is available on PlayStation Network on Feb 4th! Plug in and rock out!!! I can’t tell you how many compliments I get on these masks! The different gear, instruments, hairdos, you know I’ve been growing out a mustache hoping it’ll boost my Fret Nice skillz!
MB- OK, I’m done with this mask thing…