I read a comment on Gamasutra that mentioned the game Soul Bubbles by French developer Mekensleep and how its lack of definite genre and audience limited it to an order-only title exclusive at the Toys R Us stores. I did some Googling to find some interviews and interesting stuff.

I also found this great GameSetWatch interview where the creative director Oliver Lejade discusses how the game came to be. From starting off as a PC tech demo, to becoming an innovative title making extraordinary use of the DS’s capabilities. Here’s a quote on why they had a hard time selling the game to distributers.

You’re saying, “Oh, this is a game about little girls, pink ponies, and you know that little girls are going to buy this,” it’s X number of units are going to go, it’s an easy sell. But when you come in with an original game, that they don’t have any clear reference to the gameplay of something that has been done recently, that has no license, then it’s a very hard sell. And if you have only five minutes? I can’t explain Soul Bubbles in five minutes. It’s not doable — and I made the game.

You can read the interview here:

One of the things that he discussed is that many reviewers gave the game a low score in spite of how great the game was otherwise. They said it was too easy, as the game offers hint bubbles to help you out if you get stuck. The developers wanted casual gamers, which are the majority of DS audience, to be able to enjoy the game and make it to the end. So everyone could enjoy it. The point that the developer makes is that the clues are only user initiated, so if you don’t activate the help you don’t get any. Which allows the more hardcore gamers to figure it out themselves.

soul_bubbles

I found that developer video page on a GameFAQs.com forum post, where someone posted this in response…

“Thanks for posting that. I was curious about the game from an article in NP, but then they gave it a low review. I was not going to buy it until I came here and saw that video. I just picked it up from Toys R Us and brought it home. I’ll post more after I’ve played it.”

It definitely sold me on the game, I’ll have to hunt down a copy of it. The art looks fantastic and the effects looks great too. I’ll reserve my judgment till I play it, which may be a while as I work through a mountain of Xbox games, but it’s apparent that it’s well beyond the shovelware the DS is known for. I’m glad they took the risk and are able to continue making DS games.

About the author:
Bryson Whiteman (http://www.sonofbryce.com)
Bryson is the guy behind all of the Sokay creations. Heading artwork and development, he's determined to make sure each game has a "distinctively Sokay" quality to them. He's always looking forward for a chance to experiment with new technologies to explore exciting ways to achieve fun.
  • Very interesting read. I can empathize with trying to sell a game in 5 minutes. The flash games industry gives us a bit of slack in that department, but even still, if you go out on a limb with something new, you better have amazing graphics to keep the sponsor around long enough to see what’s going on. Thanks for sharing, good stuff.

  • That bit about the difficulty being too easy because of the hint bubbles is ridiculous, the reviewer really shouldn’t have their job with thoughts such as those. It’s nearly impossible to appeal to all levels of players as far as difficulty goes, I’d say allowing hints such as they did was a great idea; the fact they were penalized for that infuriates me.