September 4th, 2012 | By Mark Isaacson
So you log into the App Store in search of a new game to test your metal and spend some hard earned cash on. You browse through some of the new releases, see some familiar developers in the crowd, your Chillingo’s and your EA’s. Then, out of the corner of your eye, you spot an intriguing looking logo. You click on it, read over the description and scroll down to see the screenshots, and nod inwardly.
It just so happens that’s exactly what came about the other week when I came across Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team’s second release, Supermagical. I haven’t been able to put it down since.
The Spanish-based Super Awesome team, a group of five experienced developers with resumes that feature the likes of Plants vs Zombies and the Worms franchise, are already making a name for themselves & not just because of their company name.
Their first title, Pro Zombie Soccer, was a rather unique combination that introduced a side scrolling shooter/pinball like mechanic to a rather strange and darkly humorous world infested by the undead, kicking soccer balls to knock out the oncoming zombies. It’s not far from a side-scrolling version of Puzzle Bobble, just with way more zombies and plenty of blasting. So where did all this come from?
“While working on separate jobs around the world we decided to start working on Pro Zombie Soccer for iPhone in our own free time,” explains Enrique Corts, co-founder and designer at Super Awesome, “Due to the decent success of the game, we thought about leaving our industry jobs and focus on our own team, which is what we’ve done since we started on Supermagical.”
“On a team of 70 people you pretty much stick to your assigned job everyday. If it’s making vegetable textures, there it is, you’re sorted for the next one year and half! We wanted to have the full experience of making a game from scratch and have our input in there. Everything on our games is talked about among the team and on your area nobody tells you what to do, so it’s a lot of responsibility but a lot of fun at the same time.”
That all leads me into the most obvious question: Why soccer?
“We just thought it’d be a funny combination,” Enrique explains, “We are big fans of an anime series named ‘Captain Tsubasa’, which is an over the top soccer story, so I guess the urge to do something cool and edgy with the two things together came naturally. Plus we love zombie films and all.”
The experience on Pro Zombie Soccer (and the updated edition on iPad) led to the development of Supermagical, which uses a refined version of the same play mechanic.
“I assure you this is the last game we make with the same control scheme,” Enrique tells me with a laugh, “At least for a while! It’s just a great control mechanic that works flawlessly on touch devices and we thought there was so much more we could do with it.”
Pro Zombie Soccer is far more a hardcore gameplay experience compared to the colour and magic of Supermagical itself, with the darker zombie undertone and plenty of spilt zombie blood. The lessons learnt from that first game off the ranks led the Super Awesome team to branch out to the very contrasting, childlike wonderment of its latest, largely in the hopes it could bring in a much wider audience. But that wasn’t the only lesson learnt.
“On my side before PZS, I didn’t have any professional experience making sprites or animation and I think they are much better on Supermagical,” Enrique explains, “But on the technical side I think knowing the machine and the engine we work with much better is also a plus. We always try to squeeze the iOS platform’s power quite a lot and (it) is something that we truly achieved on Supermagical too. It’s much more pretty to look at than PZS, which was a bit cruder.”
Even naming the game played its part. “I think we’ve had like 5 ‘final’ game names for it, just because we got wind on PZS that the word ‘Pro’ was alienating people because it kind of meant (a) high(er) difficulty.”
Supermagical took a year and a half to create, and it certainly has a ton of features packed into its small price point. There’s variations on the touch and shoot, colour match making style among a number of unique twists and turns across a ton of levels. As Enrique points out, though, at one point there was even more to it.
“The game had seven continents instead of three at the beginning of development but of course we had to cut a bit on that area because if not we’d be still busy finishing the game for the next four years!”
The results speak for themselves. Supermagical has only been out for a short while, but already it has won two Spanish based awards and was the Editor’s Choice on the App Store not long after its launch.
So what’s next for the team?
“We are not sure just yet. We have a lot of work still left with the multiplayer modes of Supermagical and if the game is successful enough we’ll keep updating it for a while, which will keep us busy. But we are studying some new game ideas at the moment of course, only we still don’t know when we’ll be able to start properly on those.”
Whatever they do come up with next will no doubt continue the success Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team have found so far.
Keep an eye out for our full review of Supermagical on iOS real soon, and a big thank you to Enrique and the team for taking the time to talk to me!