For the second generation in a row, Frozenbyte will be one of the first developers to release a game on a new Nintendo platform. Based out of Helsinki, they are most well-known for the critically acclaimed Trine series. Has-Been Heroes is a brand new IP that Nintendo showed off at the Switch reveal event on January 12th.
We had a chance to speak with Kai Tuovinen from Frozenbyte a bit about the game, Frozenbyte, and Switch development in general.
Here is the full transcript of our interview:
On Has-Been Heroes
Trine was a critical and commercial success, what inspired Frozenbyte to create this entirely new IP?
We are working on a few different projects these days, and Has-Been Heroes came as a result of a team-first approach we took. We had a small initial team that wanted to make a challenging roguelike game, and that was the starting point. They made some designs and prototypes, until at one point we had something that got everyone at the office hooked on the mechanics. We’ve been working on it ever since and are still having fun with the game.
The initial idea for the story was about an epic quest that a group of heroes had to perform – it quickly turned into them escorting the two princesses to an academy, and because the characters looked old, we came up with the Has-Been Heroes name. Their quest also isn’t that epic if you think about it: Essentially they’re taking the princesses to school, so it fits the name of the game! However, the easy-enough quest actually turns out to be the most epic yet so looks can be deceiving!
For our fans that are not intimately familiar with Has-Been Heroes, how would you describe the game?
Has-Been Heroes is a challenging roguelike game of strategy and action, where you play as three heroes and use a plethora of spells and attacks to overcome an incoming horde of evil enemies. It features a band of heroes on a quest to escort the King’s twin princesses to a faraway Academy.
Each run will be different due to a permadeath system that forces you start from the beginning if you die. The fun part, however, is that spells, items, enemies and the map is randomized every time you play, and there are 300 spells, 200 items, 14 regions and 12 different heroes in the game!
The difficulty curve goes up the more you play and the more you make progress, as the world map keeps expanding.
It takes hours and hours to be able to beat the game and even more to unlock everything, so it’s a pretty long game.
What differentiates Has-Been Heroes from other rogue likes on the market?
The combat system is pretty unique, as are the controls. The way it works is you have three lanes and play as three heroes. Enemies will keep coming at you and you’ll have to carefully plan your melee attacks as well as spell usage to defeat them. All actions have a certain cooldown which you’ll need to manage, different characters hit for different amounts and do various amounts of damage, and lane swapping your characters is also vital for survival.
The game runs real-time, but you have a toggle button for pause that you can use at any time. You’ll need it quite a bit to be able to plan your moves and execute them in tough spots.
What feature of the game excites the development team the most?
The amount of spells and items, and randomization in general which we were able to put in, which makes the runs so different each time excites us the most!!
Can you elaborate on Switch specific features such as HD Rumble?
HD Rumble works so that you “feel” when spells you’ve cast move across the screen, rather than just a general rumble.
On Nintendo Switch
Has Nintendo been supportive of the development process? If so, more or less so than other platform holders?
Yes, Nintendo has been very supportive and quick to respond to any questions we’ve had throughout development, and were great at helping out with hardware as well.
I think all the platforms nowadays are pretty good with that.
How difficult has it been to develop for the Switch?
It has been a pleasure to work with the Switch due to how nicely everything has been thought out from a developer perspective. Our programmers were very happy with it.
What most excited the team about the Switch?
It’s something different, being a hybrid. We always love to try new tech. Having a full-fledged gaming console and a portable in one device opens up intriguing possibilities for developers.
Many of us have already pre-ordered the Switch for ourselves, so there’s definitely lots of excitement in the air!
With a plethora of indie games coming down the pipeline for the Switch, how did you get your foot in the door to be a launch month release?
We’ve had a long-term relationship with Nintendo ever since getting Wii U dev kits in time to make that launch back in 2012, so it probably helped us get access to the development hardware in time.
We have our own game engine which gives us a lot of flexibility in adapting new platforms, and the development process for Switch was quite straightforward for us to make the launch window in time.
On Other Topics
Are there any plans to bring Nine Parchments to the Switch?
No info on this just yet, we are looking forward to continuing working with the Switch after Has-Been Heroes, but can’t make any promises yet.
If the development team could be any type of tree, what type of tree would they be and why?
Palm tree on a beach somewhere! We’re not exactly loving current freezing weather here in Finland.
We extend our gratitude to Kai Tuivonen for taking time to speak with us about Has-Been Heroes.
Has-Been Heroes will be available on March 28th for $19.99 for both digital and retail versions. Published by GameTrust, the retail version will be sold exclusively at GameStop.