Bitfinity launched a Kickstarter campaign for their debut game, Tadpole Treble, late last year and was successfully funded in early December. The game passed its base goal of $30,000 by nearly $5,000, but fell a little short of the Wii U stretch goal of $45,000. They are still looking to bring the game to the Wii U, thanks to its reputation of being full of fun and unique games.
Bitfinity are an independent video game developer, founded and staffed by Italian brothers Matthew and Michael Taranto. Matthew is well-known for his work as an artist and writer for the popular web comic, Brawl in the Family. For those who aren’t familiar, Brawl in the Family doesn’t just rely on still images like regular comics but also animations set to music inspired by Nintendo’s own library. Michael, on the other hand who is lending his programming and business experience to the team, also co-owns a restaurant in Baton Rouge, the same town Bitfinity are based in.
Nintendo Enthusiast wanted to find out if Tadpole Treble was still in the cards for the Wii U, so we spoke with Matthew Taranto to find out, as well as if there were plans for any Wii U unique features.
Who are Bitfinity and which gaming platforms were you raised on?
Bitfinity was founded by us in 2010. As is fitting for a couple of Italian brothers, we’re lifelong Nintendo fans and we’ve always wanted to create games. We grew up on games like Super Mario Bros, Super Metroid, Final Fantasy 3 (6), The Legend of Zelda,and Super Smash Bros.
Your debut game is called Tadpole Treble, which instantly sounds unique. How would you describe it?
Tadpole Treble is an action/music game where players navigate through the musical staff of the game’s original songs. While dodging the musical score, they’re aiming for a score of their own by avoiding damage and hitting bonus objects to get a high rank.
The game’s main character — a newborn tadpole named Baton — finds herself almost eaten early on and must find her way back home. Between each stage, comic-style cutscenes will show the transition of her journey and she may even run into a few friendly faces amidst the wild, carnivorous world out there.
How much content do you plan to pack into the game and can you give any examples?
Sure. We’re aiming to put as much content in this game as possible, especially in regards to replay and unlockables. While the core game isn’t enormous, there’s plenty of things to do for thorough gamers and it’ll be quite a challenge to 100% everything. For starters, each stage will have five different goals to aim for. Beginner players can just try to stay alive throughout the level to see the story through to the end. More advanced players can shoot for the elusive S rank in each stage — which unlocks stuff — or conversely, going for all the Bubbles, which can be used in the store.
There’re also the Challenge Flies, a special bonus awarded to players who tackle specific conditions, such as beating a level without getting hit or smacking every cymbal or bamboo in one run. And finally, what might be the toughest rank to get — the F rank! If you’re clever enough to get an impressively low score, you just might unlock a few other things.
Viable challenges in games are fun to us, so we’ve definitely tried to make this game accessible for all gamers; getting to the end of the game will be somewhat tough but doable, but getting the best/worst rank, beating Concerto Mode, and getting all the unlockables will demand the best in players!
It sounds like you’re putting a lot of care into the game, specifically with regards to the soundtrack and atmosphere.
We want each level in the game to stand on its own, with an original feel in both the music and environment. Two stages have characters actually sing directly to Baton, for instance, while another stage might be so toxic that it constantly is draining her life, forcing players to get as much food as possible just to survive. Every few stages, you’ll face off against a boss, which gives Baton another troubling obstacle to deal with, of course.
The soundtrack will be available to many of the backers, but we’d also love to put it on iTunes around the time of the game’s release.
There seems to be several unique gameplay elements in the game. Can you tell us more about these?
Sure. Many of the elements in Tadpole Treble stem from the core sheet music concept and were built from there. The game is auto-scrolling because of the linear nature of music, but we also wanted the player to have a good amount of choice when playing, too, which is why Baton has a lot of “lines” to move between and an action button as well. To drive home the musical aspect further, players can use the action button to tail-smack various objects, such as bamboo and cymbals, to boost your score.
So to get the best scores, you not only need to deftly dodge obstacles, but also have the rhythm to hit objects on the beat. We’re also currently working on an ability that lets you destroy rocks for a brief time if you play well enough. The end result feels pretty unique to us and we’re happy with how it’s turning out. Due to the original nature of the gameplay, though, it’s quite tricky getting everything to work well together in a fun way. We’re actually very excited that no one has really come up with this concept before.
You’ve told us about your unique game. Now, how do you plan to make use of the Wii U’s unique features?
We have! If the Wii U version gets made, we’d definitely like to feature Off-TV Play at least. We’ve also considered some potential local multiplayer modes. Since the game could easily be controlled by a Wii Remote, it’d be cool if one player could destroy notes using the GamePad and stylus while the other went through the stage. This would be a good “co-star” type of mode for younger or more inexperienced players. It’d also be fun to have a vs.-type mode, where the stylus user could create notes in real-time while the other player, as Baton, dodged them.
Tadpole Treble had a very modest base goal, which you passed. You didn’t quite make it to the $45,000 Wii U stretch goal. How is development progressing?
In terms of funds, pretty slowly at the moment! We’re definitely doing our best to balance out the game’s budget in areas we feel are most important. We’re looking into the best ways to make this happen on the Wii U, but due to monetary considerations, it’s not a sure thing that we’ll be able to afford the programming for that system at this time. We’re still working on seeing how we can get that to happen!
On the plus side, the base goal was a realistic amount for us doing what we want with the core game. We’ll be able to include the stages we initially planned for and have a complete polished game for people to enjoy!
How did you find the path to becoming an approved Nintendo developer and would you want them to change anything about the process?
It took a bit of back-and-forth; we were initially rejected when we sent them the very old Tadpole Treble demo. But we stuck with it, reworked the engine from scratch and refocused our efforts on what we wanted the game to be, and they approved us upon seeing the new demo (and Kickstarter)! Since then, they’ve been helpful and easy to work with along the way.
We wanted to bring Tadpole Treble to the eShop because — well, it’s Nintendo! They’ve given us a lot of entertainment over the years and we’re eager to hopefully give others some fun times through our own game(s). It’s definitely a long-time dream of ours to have a game playable on a Nintendo system. The game is also being designed in Unity, which the Wii U supports, making things easier for everyone.
Once the game has been released, what’s next on the agenda? Could you move into a new title and possibly bring that to a Nintendo platform?
Hopefully, more games! Nintendo fans can rest assured that Nintendo’s sytems will always be a huge consideration for us in terms of supported platforms. We’ve got lots of game ideas that we think would be fun and original, so keep an eye out. Heck, we wouldn’t mind revisiting the world and concept of Tadpole Treble at some point, either.
Thanks to Matthew and Michael Taranto from Bitfinity for the interview. To keep up-to-date with the latest news from them, check out their website. If you’re interested in seeing Tadpole Treble on the Wii U, you can still back the game via Paypal also on their website.