Pushy and Pully in Blockland Interview – Retro Arcade Throwback
Pushy and Pully in Blockland just released on most major platforms, and Ester Sanchez from Resistance Studio has left some time out of her busy schedule to give us some information about this cute, classic arcade game and the development process.
Chris: Give us the elevator pitch for Pushy and Pully! Why should indie game lovers check out this arcade game?
Ester: Pushy and Pully in Blockland is a cooperative arcade game in which you have to push blocks to defeat monsters, join 3 blocks of the same colour to get power-ups and fight with bosses to recover your spaceship and escape Blockland. The game has 5 themed worlds with unique monsters and 50 challenging handcrafted stages + 5 boss fights. You should check it out if you like classic arcades and cooperative games. Also if you want to have a quick play to something easy to pick up but challenging enough to keep you engaged.
Chris: What games inspired you to make Pushy and Pully? Do you have a love of retro games? I read that your focus is on arcade gameplay.
Ester: All the people in the team love arcade games. We grew up with them and we have very good memories of them. The game is an homage to Don’t Pull (part of Three Wonders Capcom’s arcade) but we got inspired in many more Japanese 90s arcades like Bomberman or Snow Bros.
Chris: How did you design the monsters and the bosses? Was it hard to implement them into the bomb puzzle gameplay?
Ester: This was mainly the job of Julio Romacho, the game designer of the game. He took an iterative approach to it, and all the people of the team gave the input. Once we had monsters and levels implemented, we had a group of people playtesting the game to make it the best possible (is it fun? is it very difficult? etc).
Chris: Can you explain to us the game mechanics of each block in the game?
Ester: There are 4 different colour blocks and only 3 of them will give you a power-up. You can’t push the black ones with an X.
For the others:
The yellow blocks will give you a bomb. This bomb acts like another block, so you can push it and it will move until it’s stopped by a block, a wall, or a monster. When that happens it will explode, blowing up a 3×3 tiles section. It won’t hurt the player if it’s inside of that section.
The pink blocks will give you a diamond. If the player gets that diamond it will give an extra 1,000 points. With 20,000, 50,000 or 100,000, the player gets an extra life. Joining multiple blocks of the same colour also gives you extra points. So making a diamond is a quick way to increase your score and get that extra life.
The green blocks will give you a silver block. This block can be picked and carried around to throw it to monsters. This can be very useful for monsters like the jumpy guys on World 3 that move around randomly or for the boss fights.
Chris: How did Resistance Studio come to be? How many developers are there?
Ester: Resistance Studio was born after we were making games for hobby and my contract with the last company ended. We had an idea of making Pushy and Pully since the Switch came out but due to my demanding job, I couldn’t really have time to code the game. Then, my contract ended and I decided to dedicate myself full-time to it. That was the beginning of 2018 and that’s when Resistance Studio started. The people in the original team were: me as the programmer, Julio Romacho as the game designer and Jose Ramón García as the music and SFX designer. Then, two pixel artists joined the team Kerrie Lake and Joseph Pendon, and finally, Marnix Arnold helped me in the last months of the development with programming.
Chris: Do you think there are a lack of co-op games out there?
Ester: I do believe so. I think Overcooked brought back that feeling of fun for couch co-ops. I think for a long time multiplayer competitive games have been kings, but not everybody wants to play those. [We developed Pushy and Pully] for those people who want something more co-op. [We wanted] to fill up that gap a bit.
Chris: What is the Dutch game development scene like? Is it supportive?
Ester: While I live in the Netherlands and therefor Resistance Studio is registered in there, the whole team is remote and international living in 3 different countries. We are part of the Dutch Games Association and they have helped us A LOT since the beginning in many different ways: from providing answers to a lot of questions about business here, to giving us some space in the Dutch pavilion on Gamescom, so we could showcase our game. We are very grateful for all their help.
Chris: This is your first published game as a studio. What was that process like?
Ester: Apart from being a developer of the game, I am also the head of the studio, which means I took care of the production, porting and publishing of the game, as well as all the business-related things for the company. My background is technical; I am a software engineer. So I had to learn a lot of stuff about making business plans, pitches, or financial plans. We are publishing the game on 4 platforms by ourselves (Xbox One, Steam, Nintendo Switch, and PS4). We first got all the devkits, and I developed the 4 versions more or less in parallel. When I added one feature on one of the ports I made a build for all the platforms and fixed any issues that appeared or ported that feature to consoles if that was something very specific (like the leaderboards). This way I managed to finish all the ports at the same time to be able to launch all platforms not so far from each other. I also managed to get [an] investment fund (WINGS) interested on funding part of the game, which gave us the chance to get a nice marketing agency to promote the game.
Chris: What surprises are in store for people interested in checking out Pushy and Pully?
Ester: There are action levels and one puzzle level per world. There are also unique boss fights. You should check it out and try to complete all the achievements of the game too!
Ever since playing Sonic the Hedgehog on the SEGA Mega Drive (that’s right, Americans!), Chris has had a love of the gaming medium. He may write too much about Kingdom Hearts, but he also likes to play first person shooters, platformers, Japanese RPGs, walking experiences, and more! You can check him out on the Active Quest podcast every week with Joseph Yaden and Josh Nichols.