Exclusive: Publisher X Marks iPhone Games


Posted July 28, 2008 - By jmanalang

When Apple CEO Steve Jobs dropped the BOOM on March 6, 2008 with the announcement of the software development kit (SDK) for the iPhone/iPod Touch, the floodgates of software possibilities opened up. But no matter what applications third-party developers had in mind, we only had one series of applications swirling in our nerdy little brains - games.

We picked up the phone and chatted with digital games distributor Publisher X and developers of the award-winning mobile game Critter Crunch, Capybara Games, to discuss what they think about Apple's phenomenal device. Check it out after the cut.

Just three weeks since the announcement of their company, San Francisco-based Publisher X already has its eyes set on Apple's product. Co-founder Doug Kennedy said that the announcement of the SDK accelerated their company's launch, which was originally set for this fall."We sat down with [Apple] to hear what they had to say about gaming," said Kennedy. "When you hear Apple, you get excited."

And, indeed, Kennedy and his company are excited. Just a week after going live, Publisher X announced that they were already working with with four international developers to create games for the iPhone. One of them was Capybara Games, creators of the mobile puzzler sensation Critter Crunch.

Based in Canada, Capybara Games have been in the mobile gaming business since 2003, but working on Apple's product was a completely different experience. "It was a fresh take," said company president Tom Frencel. He added that the iPhone had a more "attractive" approach to mobile games, thanks to its intuitive control possibilities and 3D graphics. "The iPhone is a completely different device," said by Capybara Games Creative Director Kris Pioerwski. "It has so much potential."

And it wasn't a difficult choice when the company decided to port their award-winning mobile title, Critter Crunch, to the iPhone upon its release last September. Nabbing the Best Mobile Game award from the Independent Games Festival and IGN's Best Mobile Puzzle game last year, Critter Crunch was a prime candidate for Apple's product. Also, Capybara had already begun developing the game before the SDK's announcement, according to Kennedy.

At its core, Critter Crunch casts the player as the famished, furry forest dweller named Biggs as he uses his toad-like tongue to launch smaller critters into bigger ones in a "Food Chain" puzzle concept. "It's something a little bit different," said Pioerwski, in comparison to other puzzle titles. Thanks to the iPhone's capabilities, he said that they were able to rethink the game's controls and implement more vivid sound effects.

Frencel said that one of the challenges in developing the game was to figure out how to make the control scheme work. With the iPhone's touchscreen functions, players were given more tactile control over the game, allowing Capybara to speed up the game's control and give the title a more fast-paced approach. "We really expanded the game itself," said Frencel.

So, besides the award-winning history of Critter Crunch, how is this title supposed to out-chomp the hundreds of iPhone/iPod Touch titles invading the Application Store? "I feel very confident not because of all the awards...I’ve been reading a lot of [positive] consumer reads," said Frencel. As far as creating more titles for Apple's product, Frencel said that his company is still in the process of  "brainstorming" ideas. "I hope we're following this up with something," said Frencel.

Aside from Capybara Games's puzzle title, Publisher X is also distributing other iPhone games titles, including Zen Studios's ZEN Pinball: Rollercoaster and the casino game series, Reed Deal, from War Drum Studios. Also, being a digital games distributor, Publisher X is delivering games to the Playstation Network, WiiWare and Xbox Live Arcade. "Taking a look where the [video game] industry is moving, digital titles are very important for that," said Kennedy.



Critter Crunch Trailer »



Check out Publisher X and Capybara Games for more info.

Exclusive: Publisher X Marks iPhone Games


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