When Gaijin Games released Bit.Trip Presents Runner 2: Future Legend Of Rhythm Alien earlier this year, it did so simultaneously on several platforms: Windows PC, Mac, Linux, Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network and Wii U. Notably absent was the PlayStation Vita.
This summer — hopefully sometime between mid-July and mid-August, according to the developers — Gaijin will release Runner 2 for Sony's handheld. We caught up with Danny Johnson (game designer), Chris Meyer (artist) and Dant Rambo (associate producer) at E3 2013 to play an early version of the PS Vita version and learn how and why the colorful platformer is making its way to Sony's handheld.
A small, independent studio doesn't have the resources to do everything it wants to, Johnson explained. Though the Vita version has long been on Gaijin Games' minds, it didn't make the initial launch platform cut.
"We kind of always kept that in mind, but we weren't ready to jump on that boat just yet," Johnson told Polygon. "We knew that was something that was going to be post launch. We're really just treating it as an additional platform for the game. So it's not like we're trying to do all this crazy Vita stuff. We're really just saying, 'Here's the game that everybody already loves, just on a portable device.'"
"We didn't want to mess with touch controls if it wasn't necessary because the game already works"
Gaijin established a solid working relationship with Sony while developing Runner 2 for PS3 and will continue that relationship when the game comes to PS Vita this summer. When asked whether working on the Vita has made them interested in more handheld development, Johnson implied that it has.
"The bummer would be to release on a platform and never use that platform again, when we already have that knowledge know, and we have the ability to port to that," he said.
Until its release, Gaijin will be optimizing the version for Sony's handheld.
The early version of the game we played on the show floor has only been in development for about a month, but it feels solid and its running and jumping feels uniquely suited to a handheld. It feels like a direct port of the console version because it is.
"We didn't want to mess with touch controls if it wasn't necessary because the game already works," Johnson said. "There's something to be said for games that try to do something different when coming to a different platform, that's just not the approach we're taking."
They're not sure if the game will launch with a promotion, though they're "definitely" interested in sales because they've been successful for the developer before.
Unfortunately, Runner 2 won't support cross-buy, they said, because a different publisher was behind the PS3 version. So, for the next several weeks, Gaijin will work to get the game running to their satisfaction and release it on Sony's handheld where it hopes Runner 2 will find a new fan base.
"We're kind of traditionalists, in some sense," Johnson said. "Consoles are what we grew up playing. We love having games for that, but we also realize that there are markets and stuff like that. If the game works on the Vita and it makes sense, we'll put it out on the Vita.
"We're not trying to exclude anyone or anything like that. We'd love to get it in as many people's hands as want to play it."
For more on Bit.Trip Presents Runner 2: Future Legend Of Rhythm Alien, be sure to read Polygon's review.