At EGX 2015 in Birmingham (UK), I had the pleasure of speaking with the developers for a neat little indie game called De Mambo. The team consists of three people (Lucy, Ammit & Shaun) who were all present at the event, and each offered some insight into how the game came about and what the future holds. Now, as I’ve mentioned in my other article regarding the show, this was my favourite game at the show, ahead of Street Fighter V, Smash Bros and The Division. Why was this game so good? Well, it was fun – an aspect I feel other developers don’t seem to consider as important. Yes, each game had it’s cool moments, but as with many titles I played at this years event, many of them were forgetting that the product is entertainment. There is a big gap between fun and immersion, and immersion often is the by product of fun; so why big companies set themselves the task of immersing the player rather than trying to entertain them, is still a mystery to me.
De Mambo is an absolute delight, where up to four players can battle it out to try and knock each of their opponents off the screen. De Mambo uses only the directional pad and a single button, so this is definitely a pick up and play type of game, but the way in which you use different attacks is through timing: by pressing the button you can prong your opponents with spikes, by holding the button down for a moment, you can use the all important spin attack that deflects projectiles and can send opponents reeling, and by holding it down a little longer you can shoot projectiles. The gameplay forces the player to rely on muscle memory style tactics, where you feel it instinctive to use the right attack in the right moment, and the added bonus of getting that attack to connect sweetly means your opponent will helplessly fly off.
FULL INTERVIEW WITH THE DANGEROUS KITCHEN:
Ryan: So, here we are with one of the developers from The Dangerous Kitchen, Shaun who are the guys behind De Mambo; I’ve had yet another quick blast on it and it was absolutely fantastic. Now, tell us Shaun, where did you lot come up with the idea for De Mambo?
Shaun: Well, I can’t say that it was an actual idea at first, we wanted to make a game that celebrates Smash Bros because of the 3DS version was coming out at the time. Ammit was looking to learn coding, so we sort of combined his training with that idea, and it just took off from there.
Ryan: So, it was true then that there was no coding or programming experience within the team at the start of the project?
Shaun: Yeah, that’s right, 100% of the coding experience came from making this game, and De Mambo was the result of Ammit learning the code. So, the game WAS his training.
Ryan: It’s really nice that something came out of the learning experience. So, De Mambo is sort of a homage to Smash Bros?
Shaun: Yeah, it was great that we got an actual game out of the process; but I wouldn’t say its a homage to Smash Bros, I mean it definitely inspired us to create De Mambo; we essentially looked at what makes Smash Bros the game it is by de constructing it, taking away all of the aesthetics and just looking at the core gameplay, what makes it fun. We then used that as a benchmark, where we went on a slightly different development path and then it all just happened from there.
Ryan: I noticed when playing De Mambo, that the core element in all aspects of the game, from the menus, to the gameplay, is fun that engages the user.When you have four players jumping around, battle royale style, you have so much going on, yet it doesn’t look too busy which is that perfect balance between the two. How is it, with so little experience between the three of you, did you manage to nail that core element all the way through, first try?
Shaun: Yeah, I’ve played a lot of Nintendo games, and analyzing those games, asking yourself “Why is this fun?”. When you take that sort of approach and read how those guys managed to do it, and are still doing it 25 years later, they are doing something right, so once you’ve figured out how to make a game fun, by using other’s experience and from your own experiences as a gamer, it’s quite simple really (chuckles).
Ryan: So, essentially – you’ve learned from your childhood heroes, the people behind the games you found fun growing up?
Shaun: Exactly; Looking at one of the great legends, Masahiro Sakurai, at how he looks at creating a game, getting to know that process and then getting that core element of fun; was key to making De Mambo.
Ryan: So, what does the future hold for De Mambo?
Shaun: Well, the idea is to add more content, and we want to keep adding things until we feel it’s worth people paying the price of the game.
Ryan: I thought I’d quickly mention, the Kickstarter. The platform is being used to help publish the game, how close to the target are you now?
Shaun: Well, we have just shy of 2 weeks left on the Kickstarter, and we’re just under halfway to the goal.
Ryan: Think you’ll make the target in time?
Shaun: I hope so! (chuckles)
Ryan: So, once De Mambo is finished, released, done and dusted; what’s next for the Dangerous Kitchen? A sequel, or something else entirely?
Shaun: We won’t be doing a sequel. We’re all very creative people, so we’re probably going to look to do something completely different, but the main thing is for us to get this game finished first! We’re not looking at the next project until we’ve finished this one. So we’re putting all of our time and effort into making De Mambo, the best game it can be.