8-bit Death Skating: The Plans of Fryza

Posted November 19, 2012 in
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Gaming has always linked me to a few simple things: pixely squares, layered MIDI tracks, and hours spent fighting to the death with friends every summer playing Skate Or Die.  The folks at the Salt Lake-based mobile app developer Fryza plan to bring that back with their own 8-bit death skating experience: Retro Skate. SLUG spoke with Fryza CTO Mark Price, Chief Cook Jason Brewer and CEO Kevin Flint about the project, which is currently in development for iPhone, iPad, Android, PC, Linux, Mac and OUYA. Retro Skate is being funded through Kickstarter, and the campaign ends on December 7th, so swing by and throw them a few pennies.

SLUG: You describe the game as being somewhat of a combination of Skate or Die, TMNT II and Double Dragon.  How does the game play, and what do you envision it being?
Price: We want the game to embrace retro and old school 100 percent.  We want retro music, artwork, even things like the characters eyes getting huge when he sees an obstacle and their voices being 8 bit.  We also want to have specific tricks—heelflips, varial flips, kickflip—and then add battling features—riding down the street and knocking people off their boards Road Rash style—and even doing it multiplayer online. [We want to bring] back the memories of playing Ninja Turtles at the arcade with your four buddies. 

SLUG: You guys have very diverse backgrounds. Jason, I know you’ve been skating for about 10 years. Mark and Kevin, you’ve both been building games for a long time. Tell us a bit about yourself, and how this Fryza team came to be.
Price: Well, like you said, Jason has been skating for over 10 years, and I actually started building apps.  I built apps for clients, and then eventually people started doing games for iPhone and that’s actually what [Kevin and I] do to pay the bills, but we’re really hoping this can take life and use this to do less client jobs and build a company. This has been something we’ve been doing since 2007.

SLUG: Jason, in your 10 years of skating, were you ever sponsored?
Brewer: I was actually sponsored by a local shop for a few years, and even opened my own skate company called Prodigy Skate Boards, which I had for about a year.  Skating has just been in my blood, and combining that with retro games is my passion.
Price: Jason is also here to make sure there are real tricks in the game.

SLUG: Danimal Cannon composed the soundtrack, for Retro Skate. On your page you mention you guys are all huge fans of chiptune music. Where did you find him?
Price: Being a game designer, I’m very particular on how games are put together.  For months I had been searching for chiptune artists who could build amazing sounds, and be a team player.  I found a lot of companies that charged quite a bit, and didn’t really deliver anything on our level.  So, I found him actually with a concert flyer, called him and he was 100 percent on board.  He has since done soundtracks for multiple games for us, and will be doing all of Retro Skate. He is also playing the sounds in his tours right now—he is truly an amazing artist.

SLUG: You guys are planning to launch a skateboard line as well, correct?
Brewer: With the skate company, we want to hold to the classic feel and stay true to skating. All the designs will be 8-bit graphics and pixel art to bring that classic look to skating.
Price: We want to do something that no one else has done before. We want to bring a passion to skateboarding and retro gaming and tie them together. Retro Skate will go way beyond just the first. It will move to snowboarding and other sports. We call it “gamification”—we want to first bring it to the world of skateboarding, and take it from there.

SLUG: So will you be releasing the ‘80s retro boards as well?
Price: Absolutely. We plan on releasing the classic fishtail boards, reaching back to Tony Hawk. I even want to put the plastic bumpers on the boards.

SLUG: One thing that really excited me was the talk about level creation packs. Will that only be available on certain platforms or is it for everything?
Price: If we hit our stretch goal, we will have that available on all platforms. You can drop in your own obstacles, buildings, baddies, and really go crazy.

SLUG: What are your favorite games to date?
Brewer: Anything skateboarding I’ve been playing a lot of Skate 2, I played Tony Hawk on N64, I then bought it on Dreamcast. I love skating and want to stay up to date with any skating.  I’ve also been downloading anything retro I can find on my iPhone.
Price: I, of course, still play my Super Nintendo, which is cool, as well as the NES. Some of my favorite games in the past have been Donkey Kong Country, Battletoads in Battlemaniacs. I’ve also been a huge PC gamer, especially with Counter-Strike. And since the iPhone, I’m a huge casual gamer—you know, when you’re at the bus stop, you’re flicking birds at targets and what not.
Flint: I’m a little more current. My wife is a huge Halo fan, so our date night normally consists of us playing Halo.  Also, my Xbox is hacked, so I play a lot of 8 bit games like Battle Toads, and the 8 bit Mario games as well.

If all goes well, Retro Skate will hit your mobile devices and PC in March. By pledging at the Retro Skate Kickstarter page, you can earn rewards such as the game’s soundtrack, T-shirts, skateboards, the game itself, and much more. Take a second and check them out at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2120551029/retro-skate, and be sure to pick up your pledge copy.