Reviewers love surprises, especially when they’re great ones. One of the latest was Battle High: San Bruno, a $1 Xbox Live Indie game that brings back an era of rampant 2D fighters all hinging on the success of Street Fighter. Battle High is better than than though. It comes from PointFiveProjects, and after we found the time to put the title down for a while, the developers took some time out of their day to respond some questions via e-mail.
Who are you and what do you do?
V: Vanni Del moral. Character design and graphic arts for the Battle High, both the PC version and XNA version.
M: Matthew DeLucas. I’m a game engineer at Schell Games in Pittsburgh. I did all of the programming for the XNA version of Battle High as well as small contributions to design and graphic design.
How long was the development process?
V: For graphics, about 4 months.
M: The XNA version of the game took me just under a year to finish, but I was working on the project on-and-off.
What is the planning like for the special attacks? Jiro throws a type of rock cube for example. How did you come up with that?
V: Each of the characters has some kind of special ability to manipulate a specific type of natural element. We designed the character’s persona and moves set based on his/her assigned element. Also, one of the considerations in design was to just have fun with it, from Arvid’s throwing “Trading Cards” to Bryan throwing sinks and other appliances and fixtures a horror monster could use to smash your head with.
Were you trying to emulate any specific hardware in terms of something like color limitation or resolution? It sort of looks like a Super NES title with a slightly diluted palette.
M: I don’t know about SNES specifically, but we did try to emulate the some aspects of older fighting games such as a limited color palette for easy palette swapping and smaller file size.
What fighting games (beyond Street Fighter) were your inspiration(s)? Since there are schools fighting, the immediate thought for me was Rival Schools/Project Justice.
M: Gameplay-wise one of my inspirations was Guilty Gear. I always liked the concept of the Roman Cancel, but I was never good at pulling it off effectively, so that is why I implemented the Rush Cancel; the fact that aerial dashing is horizontal was also influenced by GG.
The game has a very distinct, juggle-focused feel. For instance, a fierce/strong jump kick actually lifts opponents into the air. Traditionally, that’s a ground combo starter. Was that always the intent from the beginning of the design?
M: Yes. The originally PC had many juggle-based moves, and I wanted to keep that alive in the XNA version and combos setup from those types of attacks, I think, are a lot more fun and not as difficult to pull off.
Prejudice is a key part of the story. Is there any insight into that or were you just aiming for a more comic book feel?
V: It’s more comic-book feel. You have your good guys, your bad guys, and guys in neutral. We then mixed it with typical hardships a high school student would go through. The story, however, is focused more on the two brothers, Jiro and Shinji and how love brings them together and yet separates them.
M: There was a slight bit of rewriting for the XNA version, and the bit I contributed for that mostly involved the prejudice intro. I was influenced a lot by the X-Men movies, even the 3rd one. I actually don’t read comics.
Was there a temptation to implement more mechanics (i.e., parry, air blocking)?
M: I started implementing air blocking actually, but decided to put it on hold since the game, I feel, is more simple and there’s aren’t projectiles flying everywhere like a Vs. game or BlazBlue, so I didn’t feel like air blocking was really necessary. Not gameplay mechanics exactly, but I still want to involve scoring for a Score Attack mode and then other modes like Time Attack and Survival with online scoreboards of sorts.
Were there any specific styles of martial arts you were aiming for?
V: Nothing in particular.
M: The only characters I really tried to represent actual fighting styles, in the slightest, were Khai with kickboxing and Heavyweight with boxing.
Why is the game windowboxed instead of full screen? My guess was it easier to work with any performance issues.
M: The original PC version was made at a 4:3 aspect ratio at 400 by 300 pixels. Essentially I didn’t want to scale-up the size of the game by more than 200% or else it would get badly jagged; the next size up would be 400% but that would be too big. I was going to try and do what MVC2 for PS3 and 360 did, but I didn’t like that because you’d be corner but still have a few good hundred pixels, and I founds that confusing. I then thought the art may not work well with a larger distance between the characters, so I just scaled up by 200% and gave it the standard def. view.
How long before we get Super Burning High Turbo HD Remix?
M: *laugh* That’s a good question. Probably not anytime soon. My hope is to be able to keep the game at a dollar for as long as I can, which would mean not upscaling the sprites for quite some time. Maybe we’ll skip the HD part and go right into 2.5D like Street Fighter 4!
Please make a beat-em-up with this same style. That’s not a question.
Do you mean visually or gameplay? Either one I’m not quite sure about, but you’ll probably see more games from Vanni, me, and PointFiveProjects, and maybe, if you’re lucky, one of them will be a beat-em-up!
Thanks to PointFive for the interview and this game which deserves a wider audience… although a beat-em-up would be awesome too.