Earlier this week, Nintendo revealed a giant list of Wii U and 3DS indie games releasing in the next three months. One of the titles on the list was Squids Odyssey by first-time Nintendo developers, The Game Bakers. The game was originally announced for the Wii U and 3DS back in August during an indie-centric Nintendo Direct, but we hadn’t heard much about the game since, so I decided to get in touch with Director Audrey Leprince (Tom Clancy’s EndWar) to find out more.
NE: Who are The Game Bakers and who makes up the team?
AL: The Game Bakers is an independent studio created in 2010 by Emeric Thoa and myself after years on the AAA console game development side with big publishers.
We are a core team of six people : Nam and Greg on the programming side, Chris and Simon on the art side with art director Jerome Noam Renéaume and Squids musician Romain Gauthier. For this Squids Odyssey, we are also working with another indie team, Assoria, who is handling the programming.
NE: What other games have you created in the past and how long has Squids Odyssey been in development?
AL: We have released three mobile games — Squids, Squids Wild West, and Combo Crew — on mobile devices, but we are now turning our focus to console development starting with Squids Odyssey.
We have been working on the Wii U and 3DS version of Squids Odyssey since summer 2013.
NE: What actually is Squids Odyssey?
AL: Squids Odyssey is a role-playing game in which you control a party of brave Squid heroes fighting to save their underwater kingdom from an insidious black ooze that is turning ordinary crabs and shrimp into dangerous monsters!
It’s a turn-based RPG game, with a unique fling mechanic that lets you throw your Squids on the battlefield. The game features tactical maps where the player must make the most of his Squids characteristics (there are 4 classes of Squids, and they all have different strengths which can be upgraded).
NE: Interesting. How many levels and character classes will feature in the game?
AL: The game has more than ninety levels that you can play in the Story mode or in the very challenging Pro mode. You can choose your party and recruit about fifteen Squids from four character classes: Scout, Shooter, Destroyer, and Healer.
NE: What was the inspiration behind such a game?
AL: Squids has been inspired by the traditional RPG games that have appeared on Nintendo platforms over the years. It is also a game that has been designed with the “Nintendo philosophy” in mind: a colorful world, a fun story, and simple controls, but lots of gameplay depth like in the Zelda games!
NE: I’ve seen that pearls appear in the game. What purpose do they have?
AL: The pearls are just the currency of the game; you get them while playing and you use them to purchase new helmets, boosters, or unlock new Squids. All the content can be unlocked by playing. There are absolutely no real money transactions in the game.
NE: Will there be any unique content for the Wii U and 3DS versions of Squids Odyssey?
AL: The Wii U and 3DS versions will have the same content, but in comparison to other platforms, yes, Squids Odyssey is pretty unique. As the ultimate Squids compilation, Squids Odyssey includes the two campaigns previously released on PC and mobile devices with tons of improvements and tweaks, along with a brand-new campaign in the Japanese kingdom of Wakame (Japanese for “seaweed”). It also includes a new Squid hero named Oktoku and four exclusively themed helmets.
NE: How about any of the Wii U’s unique features such as the GamePad?
AL: The controls have been completely reimagined for the Wii U console. Players can use the left stick to aim and shoot, go hands-on with the Wii U GamePad touch screen, or even play exclusively in Off-TV mode on the GamePad.
NE: Do you think it would be possible to add an extra fifth player, perhaps in an asymmetric role? How about online features?
AL: We would love to, but not for this first game.
NE: When will the Wii U and 3DS versions release?
AL: Squids Odyssey will be shipping for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS in Spring 2014. We think before the end of March.
NE: The Wii U has had a hard time of late. Why did you decide to bring the game to Wii U?
AL: Developing Squids for Nintendo platforms always made a lot of sense and we had it in the back of our minds. We actually spoke to Nintendo even before the game released on mobile and PC. Nintendo made the Wii U development as smooth as possible for us, so we went for it. We are also super excited to play on the big TV and the game is just great with the GamePad. It gives another dimension to the game play, especially to the Scout characters.
NE: How did you find the process of becoming an approved developer? Is there anything you would like to see improved?
AL: It was super smooth, both with NOA and NOE. The team at NOE with whom we have had the most contact (being in Europe) has been extremely supportive. The process is actually quite straightforward. I am always amazed that they are super reactive like they are and they answer all their emails quickly. This seems a given, but when you work in the mobile world, this is not something you are used to anymore!
If there was one thing to make it easier, it would be to have one unified process between NOE and NOA, but we understand the way Nintendo is currently built.
NE: Once development is complete, what’s on the cards next for The Game Bakers?
AL: We are working on our next game for console and PC! It’s very exciting to move back to console development and our next game is a big thing for us. We hope to be able to reveal a bit more after Squids Odyssey releases.
NE: Are you planning on releasing additional content and would it be paid for or free? Could there be a sequel on the cards?
AL: The sequel for Squids is definitely in the plans; we also have a TV series in development with a major French partner, in addition to the comic books available on the App Store. We are talking to a few very exciting partners about the future of Squids and we hope to be able to announce more very soon.
NE: Do you see yourself developing more games for the Wii U or the 3DS?
AL: Definitely. Of course, we will see how Squids Odyssey does, since it is our first release on the eShop and we don’t know what it will take to make players aware of the game and how competitive the shop is. But considering our next game is using Unity, Wii U development could be even more straightforward and the 3DS is also a great handled platform. Squids is a beautiful game, but with the 3D effect, it truly is amazing!