On forced vacations, palette limitations, and other ruminations
“The Shovel Knight guys.” That’s what people call Yacht Club Games. The fact that many members of the team there worked on Contra 4, Double Dragon Neon, and many other classic IPs is often glossed over. Between five years of massive updates to his original 2014 adventure, multiple cameos in other games, and all-new titles like Pocket Dungeon and the upcoming Shovel Knight Dig, Shovel Knight casts a big shadow.
But for now, the blue burrower is taking a break, giving the spotlight on a hollower named Mina. But what the heck is a hollower? And why is the company’s next big marque title a pseudo-Game Boy Color game about a whip-cracking mouse?
Of course, they had a lot to say about Mina, but I also wanted to “dig” into what really defines Yacht Club Games. As it turns out, this is the kind of company that sees an intern’s passion for the NES games in the original Animal Crossing and takes it as a sign to hire him full-time. Not only do they discourage crunch, even in the midst of a massive Kickstarter campaign, but they also allow their staff unlimited vacation days, and force them to take at least some time off every year. And they also aren’t ashamed to let you know that they may not have quite as much cheese in the bank as many may think.
It makes sense then that their next big game is about a tiny rodent who spends much of her time out of sight, concocting geo-magic underground, never sure of exactly what will happen when she pops her head up next. Ever since Yacht Club’s first game, I’ve had a theory that each of their titles is an unintentionally autobiographical metaphor about who they are and where they’re at in their careers.
We get into that too, but this time, Sean actually returned the favor. In the email chain that led to this Mina the Hollower interview, he let me know that while the rest of us see this…
He sees this.
And I couldn’t be more flattered.