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Mikyska talks Atomic Ninjas: “We Wanted the First Moment You See the Game to Feel Almost Like a Punch in the Face”

July 31, 2013 Written by Joseph Fait

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Atomic Ninjas is a 2.5D death match style platformer, with a ton of environmental elements thrown in the arenas, coming to PS3 and PS Vita. We spoke to Jakub Mikyska, co-founder and co-CEO of Grip Games about the game, the studio and exclusivity.

Could you tell us a bit about Grip Games and how the idea of Atomic Ninjas came about?

Grip Games is an independent game developer and publisher from Prague in the Czech Republic. We were established in 2009 by me and my colleague Jan Cabuk. Since that time, we have released over ten games, mostly for Sony’s platforms. The most notable are The Impossible Game and Foosball 2012.

Atomic Ninjas’ concept was “simple, quick, fun and colorful multiplayer 2.5D platformer”. When we were testing the first playable prototypes, we found out that pushing other players into environmental hazards, instead of simply shooting them, is actually much more fun. It creates completely new and fresh gameplay, while remaining familiar. And that’s how the game was born.

We started with purple boxes instead of ninjas and went through several ideas, including secret agents and space broccoli ;-), but the moment the “ninjas” idea came in, we all heard a loud click, as it all suddenly locked in its place and made a lot of sense.

Over the generation, it seems we’ve seen a lot of color leave games, obviously this isn’t the case with Atomic Ninjas! At this point, do you believe that having proper color actually makes you stand out a bit?

That was definitely our intention. We wanted the first moment you see the game to feel almost like a punch in the face. To make you remember Atomic Ninjas. Going against the trends is a good way to get noticed. We like colors and we think that colorful games look better. So we made Atomic Ninjas as lush and colorful as we could.

There have been enough of gritty, dark realistic games. We wanted a bit cheesy game that is all about having fun and good laughs. Colors help that.

From the looks of it, anchoring around objects in Atomic Ninjas is key, can you explain the mechanic and how it came about?

You’ll have a plenty of super abilities, weapons and other gadgets at your disposal and each one brings completely new set of gameplay options and play styles. The grappling hook lets you swing around and avoid getting hit. Rocket lets you fly around like on a jetpack. Force Grab lets you pick objects in the arenas and throw them at other ninjas. Other weapons and abilities, like invisibility are more “defensive” and slower-paced.

Each player will find what suits him. You can be stealthy & smart, you can be an acrobat, or you can be a hulk. Each is different and gives a unique spin on the gameplay. You have to think during the matches. You have to use your character’s advantages against the other players’ disadvantages.

Why change from a death match format to something nontraditional, like killing via objects in the environment?

We still have Deathmatch game mode in the game, as well as Capture the Flag, King of the Hill and many others. So, the game will feel immediately familiar. But we also wanted something new and innovative. In most other multiplayer games, you don’t really need to adapt or think. You just let your skills and experience guide you. In Atomic Ninjas, the situation keeps changing every moment.

You have to constantly evaluate which weapons you have and which weapons are equipped by the other players and where in the arena you are, in relation to the positions of environmental hazards, various traps and “playthings” and your opponents.

It sounds complicated, but in the end it’s simple. Push other players into that lava pit and try to stay away from that laser grid behind you.

Why PSN exclusive, and are you taking advantage of Sony’s self publishing? If so, how big of an advantage is that for you as a developer?

We work closely with Sony for many years and have been developing games for the PSP, PS3, Vita and also PS4, so going exclusive is always the first idea on our minds when we make a new game, if it makes sense for both sides. It lets us focus on the game and leave the porting troubles for later. We are publishing Atomic Ninjas ourselves, so it is possible that the game will eventually come to other platforms. But for now, it’s PS3 and PS Vita. 

I really dig the music in the trailer how did you decide on such cheery music to go with a type of death match?

Just like the graphics, we wanted the music to stand out. To let you think, just by hearing it, “that sounds like Atomic Ninjas”. And we also wanted to go against the trends again. So, no hip hop or epic anthems ;-) By the way, the music in this trailer is called “Socks” and it was composed by Terry Devine-King, the same guy who composed Heavy Rain’s main theme.

Finally, if there is anything you’d like to tell our readers about Atomic Ninjas that I didn’t ask about, please! 

Atomic Ninjas is a game for everyone who enjoys having a good time, fun and laugh. It can be intense and dramatic, but it is also always full of jolliness and bit of cheesy humor.

Everyone who enjoys games like Fat Princess, Super Smash Bros., or Crash Commando will feel like at home with Atomic Ninjas, and yet the experience will be quite new and unique.

The release date is planned on the end of this summer, for both the PS3 and PS Vita and the players on both systems will be able to play against each other. Cross-buy is also quite probable ;-)

To find about more about Atomic Ninjas, click here