Mediatonic's vaudeville-themed side-scrolling brawler, Foul Play, was inspired by the music video for The Smashing Pumpkin's "Tonight, Tonight" and creative producer Jeff Tanton's own stage experiences.
Speaking with us during PAX Prime 2013, Tanton explained that the developer wanted to do something more narrative heavy than the genre typically allows. After watching the music video for "Tonight, Tonight" — which features a surreal, stage setting — Tanton felt a connection.
"What really endeared us to it is this idea of people wanting to show something spectacular without quite the technology to do it," Tanton said. "I think that resonated with being an indie developer. You're always fighting a battle. It seemed like a really interesting fit for a brawler. We didn't want to just do Castle Crashers again."
Foul Play offers a two-player co-op experience as reclusive daemon hunter Baron Dashforth and his youthful assistant. For one night, the pair will act out Baron's accomplishments on stage. Players rack up combos by hurling enemies across stage or thrusting them into the air with repeated hits.
The trick is to keep the audience entertained, even when things go wrong on stage, like a prop falling over or the janitor making an accidental appearance. Tanton describes it as a Willy Wonka-esque event, where people are looking for spectacle and drama.
"It's very important for the player that they keep the audience in mind, form combos and be spectacular," Tanton said. "People are trying to put on a show. They'll go to any ends to get the desired effect across."
Foul Play is currently slated for launch Sept. 18 on Windows PC and Xbox Live Arcade.