Adorable and wholly original, developer DreamRift's Monster Tale has been on our radar since it was first revealed last year.
DESTRUCTOID: So in your own words, tell me what this Monster Tale business is all about, if you could.
Ellie and Chomp progress through the game world by exploring a large open world while doing combat with enemy monsters and bosses, and acquiring abilities which allow further progress when used on the environment. Ellie’s pet monster, Chomp, is able to immediately switch between the two DS screens on-the-fly during gameplay. He can help Ellie deal with challenges on the top screen, or go to the bottom screen which is his home where he eats, rests and plays in order to grow further.
There’s a constant decision that the player has to make as to which screen he or she feels Chomp is most effective in at the time. The question of how the two screens with their different types of gameplay can come together was what intrigued us most about making the game, and we hope that also remains true for the audience as they play it.
When we originally pitched the concept to publishers, we noticed that many publishers perceived an original IP as being too risky for the current DS market, preferring instead to go with sequels to existing games or products based on other licenses. Due to that climate, we felt a sense of accomplishment when we reached an agreement with Majesco to publish the game.
I think that Monster Tale is one of a few, if not the only, new IP games from a western studio to have been signed in the past year on the DS. We have the utmost respect and appreciation for Majesco’s support in working with us to bring Monster Tale to reality.
The decision to create an original game concept of our own played off of what we saw as our strengths as a team. We have a lot of experience in creating a new IP from scratch, including Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure, which my founding-partner, Ryan Pijai, and I worked on as Lead Designer and Lead Programmer. In fact, I have never actually worked on a sequel across a professional game design career spanning more than a decade.
Although we love and respect certain games, we don’t look to recreate them. Instead, we seek an understanding and exploration of the fundamental principles that tend to underlie our favorite games (as well as books, movies, etc.) through the process of creating something new. This means we’re constantly learning throughout, and that’s what keeps the endeavor of making a game most interesting and fresh to us.
Thankfully, it seemed to resonate very well with people, even though our team had been less than 1/3 the size of leading games in its genre. Last time I checked, no other non-Japanese original DS game ever released has a higher overall critical rating (Metacritic) than Hatsworth! The game’s success definitely increased our confidence in our ability to create a new game where our passion would translate to the audience’s experience, and it served to whet our appetites for seeing what else we could do.
What are thoughts on the 3DS, NGP, iPhone, and the future of portable gaming in general?
With the introduction of so many new platforms, this is a time when the portable gaming scene is very much in flux. One danger is the dilution of overall gaming experiences with oversaturation of toy-like/time-waster type “games,” which might lead to games being thought of as more disposable entertainment.
I’d like to see game-makers put their best effort forth to maintain the integrity and depth of games as meaningful experiences. It will be interesting to see how the differences between each platform’s hardware can translate to different types of game ideas that are best suited to each platform.
To that end, we’re currently working on a 3DS game we’re extremely eager to reveal, which could only be done on the 3DS.
[Monster Tale is published by Majesco and is in stores now.]