Phil Fish’s Fez might be the toast of the indie game town here at the end of April 2012, but the mind-bending paean to pixelated platforming and puzzles may be a little too passive for some players. For anyone out there hungry for indie sidescrolling that involves explosions and frantic brawling, good news: Indie classic Noitu Love 2 Devolution came to Valve’s Steam this week. Originally released in 2008, Joakim “Konjak” Sandberg’s game is an elegant mixture of pixel art and twitch play with some unusual controls. Sandberg spoke with Digital Trends about the Steam release, working on different platforms, and what’s on the horizon.
“I asked Steam about including Noitu Love 2 on the service back in 2008, but at the time they didn’t support games made with Multimedia Fusion 2 software,” explains Sandberg. Steam’s policies have of course changed since. “I don’t think they had any Flash games or similar at that point. I didn’t ask again, mainly because of my lack of confidence is already great in my output, but it only grows as time goes on! My friend Daniel Kaplan of Mojang insisted I go at it again and it only took one more asking for it to be accepted.”
An action platformer in the vein of Gunstar Heroes, Noitu Love 2 distinguishes itself from old-school games in how it controls. The WASD keys on the keyboard move protagonist Xoda Rap in the cardinal directions, but the mouse controls a targeting reticule that moves independently around the screen. Rather than shooting when clicking the mouse, a click hurls Xoda at badguys and further clicks let off a series of punches and kicks. It’s visceral and strange.
At first glance it may seem like a perfect fit for pointer-based control methods like Wii, PlayStation Move, or Kinect, but Sandberg disagrees. “I am very much about instant and precise controls,” says Sandberg. “Most of the new ways to control games seem to get as far from precision as possible. Even [the shift from 2D to] 3D was a step toward imprecision since we needed things like lock-on. Noitu Love on Kinect couldn’t work at the same pace. Like how many Kinect and Wii games are on rails, it would need a lot of auto-play to create a visually similar experience.”
That said, there were plans at one point to bring Noitu Love 2 to WiiWare but the project has been silent since 2010. Sandberg didn’t go into detail. “Let’s just say it’s problematic.”
That doesn’t mean there isn’t more Noitu Love coming in the future. “I do have a finished synopsis and structure idea for a Noitu Love 3. I want to make one. I’d love for it to be more hand-drawn art as well. But I have so many projects right now.”
Those projects include doing freelance animation for WayForward and completing The Iconoclasts, his long in the works 2D action game about Robin the mechanic. The Iconoclasts borrows the exploration structure of games like Metroid and so require far more work than a level-based action game like Noitu Love. “Iconoclasts is my focus, even if it may not seem the smartest right now. I just don’t feel willing to abandon it. Might be reckless with the size of the project, but I’m sticking to it.”