May 31, 2007 - Mini-games are big. Short, fast-paced blasts of gaming action seem to have become rather popular since Wario first plopped his quirky offerings onto Game Boy Advance in 2003. Now, you can get your quick fixes of fun in countless mini-game collections, including like Feel the Magic or Rayman Raving Rabbids.
However, the next mini-game compendium fighting for youe fleeting attention is Hot Pixel from French developer zSlide. Featuring more than 200 peculiar mini-games, this PlayStation Portable game aims to bring something new to the genre. However, the path to success for Hot Pixel hasn't been particularly smooth. Originally slated for release last Christmas, Hot Pixel has since undergone a style makeover, a name change (it was originally just Hot PXL) and the addition of new mini-games.
Now, it's set to arrive on European PSPs on June 22. Ahead of the launch, we chatted to the game's lead designer Jordane Thiboust about what it's like making a mini-game collection and the possibility of either DS or PlayStation Network versions of the title.
IGN: What was the basic concept behind Hot Pixel? Did you always intend to release the game on PSP?
Jordane Thiboust: Well, originally the idea was to create games sampling something fun and fast paced - like sampling something on a tune or zapping TV channels because staying focused on one show is just boring. We've sampled both retro games and come up with some original ideas too. We thought that although we like retro games and it's fun to see them make a comeback, you can't really play something like Breakout for two hours. But could you enjoy retro gameplay that lasted just a few seconds? We thought so.
Originally, Hot Pixel was aimed for the PS2 platform but, with the things we wanted to do online, the PS2 just wouldn't cut it. When the PSP came out though, we saw it as the perfect platform for what we wanted to do - it's handheld, it has multimedia capabilities, Wi-Fi connection and a Memory Stick to store and manage additional content.
IGN: Is it fun to come up with all the different mini-games? Which one is your favourite and why is it your favourite?
Jordane Thiboust: Yes, it was a lot of fun to come up with all the different mini-games. What is funny is that finding 200+ game ideas becomes harder and harder with time. And this is where the craziest and weirdest concepts come to mind… from abducting cows in space to memorising how steaks are grilled on a BBQ. Our game concepts come from everywhere - from everyday life (catching cereal in a bowl) to 'not the average day' (zombies hunting brains in a supermarket).
It's not easy to choose a favourite game among the 200+ games, but I think I speak for the team when I say our favourite element is the 'Partixel' gameplay. It is based on large colourful pixels acting as particles with different rules of attraction/repulsion, which you have to grab and catch or avoid. It allowed us to create a lot of funny and completely original mini-games. It's definitely the "main" gameplay of Hot Pixel, one that could even sustain a standalone project all by itself.
IGN: Was it useful to have access to the Atari back catalogue to use as part of your mini-games - thanks to the fact Atari is publishing the game?
Jordane Thiboust: Having access to Atari's back catalogue was a lot of fun and a great opportunity to make those games live again, and to even be able 'revamp' them with new graphics or small changes in their gameplay. Players who are familiar with the original games will still recognise them and will have fun trying the new versions.
IGN: Why did you choose to infuse the game with 'youth culture'? Are you worried that the *** hop style of the game may actually put some people off?
Jordane Thiboust: The idea behind infusing youth culture in the game, was to target the people who like high tech gadgets (MP3 players, next gen consoles and such), but who are still young. Basically the 80's generation who are into 'digital lifestyle' as we like to call it.
As for the hop style, yes we were worried that it would actually put some people off if they thought we were serious about it. This isn't actually the case because Hot Pixel is a fun game and the style in it is more of a parody than something serious. We don't pretend to be Marc Ecko or Tony Hawk.
This is why we decided to alter the style of the game a bit. Everything now looks funnier, so there is no mistake that even if Hot Pixel is taking a lot of its inspirations from hop style and digital culture, it's still a crazy game that's all about fun.
IGN: Do you think the style of Hot Pixel is only suited to the PSP. Can you envisage it coming to DS, for example?
Jordane Thiboust: Hot Pixel would definitely be suitable for the DS or any other platform, in fact that is something we are seriously considering, be it for Hot Pixel or for a future project, who knows!