It’s taken some time, but Axiom Verge is now finally on the Vita! If you are unfamiliar with the game, it’s a mix of many games from eras past blended into a side-scrolling action adventure. We caught up with the developer, Thomas Happ, to find out more about the game.
Hello Tom! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us! Can you tell us a little bit about your studio and how you got into developing games?
Thomas Happ Games LLC isn’t so much a studio as a legal construct made so that I can sell games. It’s basically just me in my home office. I’d been developing games since 2003 working on titles like Crash Nitro Kart, NFL Street, Tiger Woods, End of Nations, and Grey Goo as an animator and a programmer depending on what they were hiring for. Axiom Verge was more of a hobby that I worked on in my spare time.
We are here to find out more about your upcoming Vita title, Axiom Verge. What is it about?
It’s a side-scrolling action-adventure.
What was the inspiration behind the game?
My original idea was to combine a bunch of my favourite games. I actually wanted to mix Bionic Commando, Rygar, Blaster Master, and Metroid, with dashes of Contra, Ninja Gaiden, and others, but it ended up changing as it went on.
The game has a very impressive art style, how did you settle on the look and design for the game?
It was a mix of trial and error and the gameplay needs. Tiles are very important to the gameplay so visuals that are overtly tile-based were important to telegraphing the properties of the world. So with that restriction the rest was about trying to replicate the way you remember classic NES games versus how they actually looked. For example, there are a limited number of colours in each tile, and usually they have black in them, like the first generation of NES games. But in the background there will be gradients and shades impossible to reproduce on 1980s hardware.
Is the game be cross buy/save with the PS4 version?
We want to do cross-save with a later patch. But there is quite a bit going on between myself and Sickhead Games (who made the port) and it depends largely on how busy we are in the coming months with all of the trade shows and new platform releases coming up.
Many Vita versions of titles have fallen by the wayside recently, and Axiom Verge did have difficulties during development. Can you share any insight with this, and was there a point where the Vita version didn’t happen? Or were you committed to seeing it through?
There was never a point when it wouldn’t happen. The main stumbling block was not having Mono or Monogame on the Vita, but Sony put Sickhead on the task, and it seems to have paid off. They basically had to write a cross compiler from scratch and replicate all of Microsoft’s .net libraries for the Vita. This took many months. Towerfall was the first game to benefit, then Axiom Verge.
What are your thoughts on the Vita as a system?
I like it. Especially how I go to the PSN store and “Indies” is like the 4th thing down. The d-pad is probably the best out there; I wish Sony would just stick the same tech onto the DS4. I’m not a fan of the rear touchpad or motion controls, though. I feel like that stuff is more for casual games on the phone. I do wish there were AAA adventures like we had on the PSP; MGS, God of War, Silent Hill, etc.
What is the future beyond Axiom Verge?
At some point there will be a sequel or prequel game. You may have to wait a while; I now have a special needs child and he comes first.
Are there any titles on the Vita that have really impressed you? Is there anything coming out that you are excited for (or want to avoid releasing with)?
Bloodstained! Also I think I’d prefer Hyper Light Drifter on Vita over other platforms, if it can be done.
Finally, there are two versions of the Vita available, the OLED and the Slim. Which do you think is the best?
I was late to the party so I just have a slim. Unless you count my devkit, which isn’t portable and so not very comparable.
We would like to really thank Tom for his time with this interview, it really means a lot. Axiom Verge is out now. What are you waiting for?
This article first appeared in May issue of The Vita Lounge Magazine. Look out for more exclusive and magazine first content in the magazine soon!