Kid Tripp Interview With Developer Mike Burns
We think Kid Tripp would have made an impact in the late 80s on the Nintendo Entertainment System, though we're happy to play it on our iPhones and iPads. Set to debut on the App Store August 1st for $0.99, this retro-inspired platformer challenges players to guide a youngster through a plethora of increasingly difficult stages. One hit or fall results in death, which gives the title a tough old school vibe.
That said, we caught up with its developer, Mike Burns, to learn more about the game on the eve of its release. Something to keep in mind: he's 19. If only we did something this cool at his age.
Kid Tripp consumed two years of your life. Describe the ups and downs. Did you have flashbacks to Indie Game: The Movie?
I confess I haven't seen Indie Game: The Movie yet. It's on my watch list though!
There were definitely ups and downs. I built Kid Tripp from the ground-up (it doesn't use any engines like Cocos2D or Unity), so early on, especially when I was coding the game's core engine, there was a lot of running into roadblocks that would take weeks to get through. There were also times when college and other things had to take priority, and the game would pretty much stand still for months at a time. On the other hand, I learned a ton, and I absolutely loved handing an early version of the game to someone and then watch them enjoy it. That alone makes it all worth it for me.
The game's quite difficult. Why did you go this route instead of the usual hand holding so prevalent in today's games?
A couple of my favorite things about the older games on the NES and SNES were that a.) they were very, very challenging and b.) you would just turn the game on and play it. I really wanted Kid Tripp to have that same feel. It's very no nonsense, and you really have to earn your way through each level. I think that makes hitting the goal line all the more satisfying.
Where did you draw this inspiration? Is that Sonic the Hedgehog's Green Hill Zone landscape in World 1?
Tons of games. I don't think I could remember (let alone name) them all. The first world was definitely inspired a bit by Sonic, but you'll also see hints of Adventure Island, Super Mario Bros., Yoshi's Island and even a touch of Donkey Kong throughout the game. It still has a pretty unique style, though. It's very chunky and compact, and the tiles are actually much smaller than those in the aforementioned games.
Here's a fun fact: It's possible to fit six screenshots of Kid Tripp (at its original, unscaled resolution) inside a screenshot of the original Super Mario Bros., with room to spare.
You mentioned the game only takes an hour or two to beat in the hands of a skilled player. What's the plan for updates down the road?
I'd like to elaborate a bit on that - the game's short, yes, but intentionally so. It's a bit arcade-like in nature, so it's designed for repeated playthroughs. I know someone with an early copy who's already beaten it four times, and he still isn't done trying to improve his overall time and other stats on the leaderboards. In the most skilled hands it can actually be beaten in under seven minutes, which is comparable to the original Super Mario Bros.
So to answer your question: right now I don't have any concrete plans for content updates. I have some ideas for new worlds and levels, but they'd have to be added in such a way that they wouldn't interfere with players' records already on the leaderboards, and I haven't figured that out yet.
You seem to enjoy retro games quite a bit. How big is your collection, and what are some of your prized treasures?
Oh it's pretty big. I've bought a ton of old retro games on the Wii and 3DS shops, and I have a pretty decent collection of old SNES carts. My absolute favorites would have to be Chrono Trigger and Super Metroid, and of course New Adventure Island on the TG-16. I'm also a big fan of Super Tennis.
What do you think of the early reaction to Kid Tripp from people on message boards and in the media?
I'm thrilled. It's been fantastic so far. When you make a game that's pretty high over the average difficulty level of most other games, you worry about people playing it a bit and then dismissing it because it's too hard, but I've not seen much of that so far. Most people play the game and they instantly "get" it. It's very, very hard, but rewarding rather than punishing, and they seem to be having a lot of fun with it. It's great.
What's your biggest fear with this game?
I suppose a bit of that fear I just mentioned is still there, and of course there's every indie developer's nightmare of your game slipping through the cracks and being buried under the radar forever. The game's received some nice coverage so far though, so I'm feeling pretty optimistic.
Conversely, what are you most proud of?
I'm really, really happy with the way the physics turned out. Jumping is fast and has a nice weight to it, and that's sadly something that's becoming ever more rare in AAA platformers. I spent a ton of time tweaking it so that it feels just right, and I think it was worth it.
We die all the time. What are some general tips players should keep in mind?
Don't be afraid to sprint! Just hold down on the right side of the screen and watch Kid Tripp go. It makes some sections much, much easier to get through.
And of course most of all, have fun and don't give up!
What is your background? What keeps you busy when you're away from Kid Tripp?
I'm about to begin my second year of college, so that will be keeping me pretty busy in the coming months. I also love playing tennis and have two truly fantastic dogs, and best of all, I have a really, really great family. Big shout out to them if they're reading this.