We continue our interview with nWay, digging into the challenges of working with licensed-IP, crafting a true multiplayer fighting game experience on the go, and what the future holds for their games.
Steve Kuroki: We had successful launches in Asia partnering with great publishers including Netmarble and Netease. We were about to bring ChronoBlade to the west and self-publish when Lionsgate approached us with the Power Rangers opportunity. Peter Levin from Lionsgate thought really highly of ChronoBlade and felt we were the right team to create a real-time multiplayer game like that for Power Rangers to tie into the new movie launch. Naturally, we couldn’t have agreed with him more. We ended up evolving the ChronoBlade design into what eventually became Power Rangers: Legacy Wars, but kept the real-time PvP at its core.
The remarkable thing about a smaller studio like ours is that we can move fast. We were able to make Power Rangers: Legacy Wars in nine months to a quality we want, and 35 million downloads later, the game is still going strong.
SE: We knew that we wanted to create a real-time mobile fighting game but in early development, we realized that traditional fighting game controls over mobile networks on varying mobile devices does not offer the best player experience. We were interested in designing a new combat system that extracted the essence of the fighting game genre with a control scheme built from the ground up for mobile gaming. With those pillars in mind, we prototyped dozens of different control schemes that aimed to simplify the players the movement and decision-making of a fighter.
SE: It’s key to make sure all the character’s not only look differently from each other, but also differ drastically in playstyle. For Legacy Wars, we referenced the animations from the Power Rangers TV show, identifying each characters’ signature moves and seeing if they had a distinct fighting style. From there, we went into the design phase and made the references work with how we wanted each fighter to play. For example, the Mighty Morphin Pink Ranger has a bow weapon so we designed her to play best as ranged fighter.
Download now on iOS, Android and Amazon. Learn more at playlegacywars.com! Rita Repulsa, the space witch, has infected the Morphin Grid! Enter the Morphin Grid, defeat Rita Repulsa and reestablish the connection to the Power. Fight back with your own team of legendary Power Rangers and villains from the multiverse in real-time head-to-head battles!
SE: We’ve learned so much along the way that it would be hard to list them all but a few that come to mind are directly related to the passion of the players. For a PvP game, fairness is super important and when you win or lose a match, we need to make sure it’s due to the player’s own mistakes or triumphs. We knew this going in but the Power Rangers fan base is borderline rabid! Anytime we do a new character release, a litany of new requests for someone’s favorite season or character pour in and it never ceases to amaze me how rich in content the universe is. If nothing else, we’ll almost never run out of new characters to add!
SE: We see the fundamental long-term goals of the two games to be different. Legacy Wars is more of a character collection game – like your giant action figures collection – only that you can take them into action to fight and test your skills. “Collect them all” is core to the fun. ChronoBlade is at its core a side-scrolling brawler, so there’s more focus on level and gear progression. Old school side-scrollers such as Double Dragon and Golden Axe had big influences on the design of ChronoBlade.
SE: I’d say both the science and art of it. The science side is solving the hard problem of making real-time PvP work on mobile while considering all of the variables that can break it.
The art side is two fold. First, I’d say it’s the level of quality we have delivered in terms of visual design. The game looks great and we’re really proud of how everything came together. Second, it’s the attention to detail we have given to the characters and how true we have stayed to the IP. It’s not just the characters’ looks, but every move comes from us sweating over the TV show footage frame-by-frame. With 25 years of history behind it, Power Rangers has a large and avid fan base, and these are the things they care about. This attention to detail – this tribute to the franchise and the fans – has rewarded us with new Power Rangers fans discovering our game every day, and core fans continuing to stick around months in and months out.
SE: nWay has a great game engine that handles real-time multiplayer across platforms, and it’d only make sense we try to build on that. We don’t have anything to announce quite yet, but do keep an eye out on us. We will have more to share when we’re ready!