Space Whale Studios is a local, independent video game developer that consists of five Philadelphians – Andrew Aversa, Jordan Santell, Zachary Brooks, Aaron Chapin, and Michael Worth. I met with Andrew and Jordan recently to discuss their current project, a PC and Xbox 360 Indie Game, Return All Robots.
Andrew is the president, and also a designer and composer. He graduated from Drexel’s Music Industry program and now teaches there. Jordan is the vice president, as well as producer and designer. He graduated from Drexel with a degree in Digital Media. The group had worked together on video games during their time at Drexel, and decided to become a business and try to make games professionally.
Their first video game, Return All Robots, is an action-puzzle game with retro 16-bit sentiments, catchy 80s-inspired music, and a plethora of quirky humor. You are The Intern, and you’ve come to the lab for your first day of work under your mentor, Dr. Mentor. But things go awry very quickly, and amid the fires, lava, ice pillars, and bio sludge, you must save your robots by solving puzzles and teleporting them to safety. You use a remote control to call the robots, maneuvering them around the room and into the teleporter.
In addition to the environmental hazards, there are also bad robots, who hate humans and want to kill them on sight. There are many ways to fail the level – when The Intern comes into contact with the red robots, the red robots touch the blue robots, or the blue robots or The Intern come into contact with environmental hazards. There’s only one way to succeed, and that is to successfully get your blue robots into the transporter.
More After the Jump!
The puzzles range from polite brain teasers to maddeningly hard, with complex rooms rife with malevolent laser-shooting robots and conveyor belts (these things don’t mix well together). I told Andrew and Jordan that it was like Rubik’s Cube but with robots and death fans. Not everything is against you, though – there’s a mutated turtle, a hybrid between a turtle and a robot, affectionately named “Buddy Bot.” He’s invincible – due to the status of being soulless – and so can stand in the way of the red robots and help you get your blue robots to safety.
But that’s not all. Once you beat the game – which has over 40 puzzles in it – 18 even more challenging bonus levels appear for your pleasure. Additionally, each level in the game has a record of what you’ve accomplished – how long it took you to complete the level, how many red robots you killed in the level, and how many calls you used on your remote. This allows you to go back and replay the levels and try to beat your previous scores, ramping up the replayability of what already promises to be a fun and addictive game.
There’s also a lot of what Andrew referred to as “flavor” in the game – most objects in the game will be interactable. Vending machines have items like Brawndo (it’s what plants crave!), and bookshelves have quality science fiction literature like I, Robot and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The music is fun and nostalgic, inspired by music from the 80’s, put through a chiptune filter. The soundtrack will be available as a free download with songs from the game as well as chiptune remixes, or can be purchased with even more bonus content as a physical disc. The artwork is off the charts, mixing in that retro feel of when NES box art featured a photo of a buff guy flexing, a far cry from the 8-bit reality of the game.
My favorite feature mentioned was multiplayer, a 2-player battle mode in which two scientists try to kill each other. I’ll be picking up this game as soon as it’s released, which is sometime this month. Check www.returnallrobots.com for more information and to purchase the game when it’s available.