The mecha genre is one of the most storied and celebrated in anime. For those who are unfamiliar, mecha anime are a type of science fiction series that focuses on battles between robots. Originating in Japan in the 1950’s, the mecha genre has seen many variations of itself, most notably between “real robots” such as those seen in the Gundam franchise, robots that are bound to more realistic physics and “super robots” which delve more into the fantasy element such as Gurren Lagann. With so many series created for the genre, Banpresto, a division of Bandai Namco Entertainment, created a turn-based strategy series that brings popular robots from a variety series into an original story, utilizing a unique art style that features detailed super-deformed 2D sprites in fully animated battle sequences.
Code: HARDCORE is an upcoming indie title with an art style inspired by Super Robot Wars but plays as a full 2D platforming shooter. The game is currently being developed by Chinese developer Rocket Punch Games after a successful Kickstarter campaign. Code: Hardcore features original mecha and a single player story campaign along with its local and online multiplayer modes. CGMagazine got in contact with Louiky Mu, Bingo Li and Peter Ren, founders of Rocket Punch Games through email to learn more about the conception and development process of Code: HARDCORE.
CGMagazine: How did you come up with the idea of Code: HARDCORE?
RocketPunch Games: It’s actually kind of interesting. During last year’s Spring Festival, Louiky Mu (Rocket Punch Game’s founder) was at his grandpa’s home, which is a cave in the urban area of Shaan Xi. He was suffering from insomnia and his thoughts were all filled with fighting scenes of Gundams and Super Robot Wars. “What if I can operate a Gundam myself to perform those awesome moves?” Thinking about that, he was inspired to try to make a game to based on the idea. He jumped out of bed and immediately wrote down and drew his and our thoughts. Later, these ideas became Code: HARDCORE.
CGM: What games were your biggest inspirations? What mecha series if there are any specifics?
RocketPunch Games: We played the 2nd Super Robot Wars in junior high school and couldn’t stop loving this franchise after that. Super Robot Wars taught us a lot about how to make animations. Banpresto has always created top quality 2D animation in the gaming industry, which inspired us a lot. Namco Bandai’s arcade fighting series, Gundam Versus features really tight controls too. In 3D mecha games, we feel nobody does it better than this. Titanfall may have also given us inspiration when it came to the pilot evacuation feature.
CGM: How large is your team and what got you into game development?
RocketPunch Games: RocketPunch Games started with 3 like-minded guys, and now has more than 20 people. Each of the founders is passionate about the game industry and studied in game-related programs in university. They have worked in the game industry for five to 10 years, and are working together to chase after their dreams of indie game development.
CGMagazine: How long is the single-player campaign of Code: HARDCORE?
RocketPunch Games: We are still focusing on developing this part of the game. The actual time length can’t be determined yet, but it will be announced in the future. We hope to make Code: HARDCORE’s single-player campaign fun and interesting for players.
CGM: How many mechas are you planning to add into the game? Are any inspired by famous super robots or real robots?
RocketPunch Games: We are planning to do over 10 mechas now, but the final number of mechas may be adjusted based on game experiences. We are definitely influenced by many classical robot productions. We not only pay tribute to Mazinger and Gundam, but also use our own understanding of the mecha culture to create new designs. We look forward to showing these ideas to other mecha fans who play our game.
CGM: Rocket Punch is the name of a technique used by the classic super robot Mazinger. Is your studio name a reference to this?
RocketPunch Games: There are a countless amount of games and animations that pay tribute to Mazinger because it plays such an important role in mecha culture. Productions today are able to resonate with enough people they surpass the field they’re targeted for and reach a much wider audience. Rocket Punch is a passionate skill that can break through barriers. We are using RocketPunch as the name of our studio in hopes that our mecha game can light a fire in many people’s hearts.
CGM: Do you intend to develop more mecha games after the release of Code: HARDCORE?
RocketPunch Games: We really hope to make more games, but everything depends on the success of Code: HARDCORE.
CGM: Code: HARDCORE was a part of Sony’s China Hero Project. How did it feel to be included in this initiative and how did it benefit you?
RocketPunch Games: It was exciting! Sony is not only giving us technical support but also more promotion possibilities. Through the China Hero Project, we can be sure that the game will be released on PlayStation smoothly.
CGM: With the game being a Kickstarter project, have there been any troubles during development?
RocketPunch Games: We have been met with a lot of challenges during the development of Code: HARDCORE as many indie game teams do. We ran into financial problems originally, which is the reason we did the crowdfunding campaign. We solved many technical problems with the help from all our team members. And we will maintain our passion for game development no matter what kind of difficulty lies in front of us.
CGM: Is there anything you’d like to say to fans awaiting Code: HARDCORE?
RocketPunch Games: Please continue supporting RocketPunch Games and Code: HARDCORE! Your support is our power source! Thank you!