WarioWare with skeletons, a storyline and movie tropes is spookware

WarioWare with skeletons, a storyline and movie tropes is spookware

Tech Highlights:

  • The creators, Adam Pype, Viktor Kraus, and Tibau Van den Broeck, didn’t set out to replicate themselves and their film-watching habits as micro games. Instead, Pype created Spookware as part of the Game a Month challenge, which requires developers to create one game per month for a certain amount of time. Pype and Kraus had previously collaborated, and Kraus provided sound for the earliest version of Spookware, while Van den Broeck came in later.

  • Spookware, on the other hand, is more than just a WarioWare reskin. It’s a collection of witty, film-themed microgames surrounded by a brilliant storytelling method about three skeleton brothers who decide to leave their basement movie cave and embark on a world adventure, solving challenges and inventing new ones along the way.

The early version of Spookware was just a small, rapidfire micro game set. But they were quickly approached by DreadXP to participate in one of its Dread X Collections, low-cost bundles of small, clever horror titles made in relatively short periods of time. DreadXP asked the trio to flesh out Spookware, and so of course they added skeletons.

Spookware’s micro games are instantly striking, with over-the-top horror music and bold text making pun-filled quips about each successful game completion. My favorite game involves playing the bongos to accompany a skeleton on the saxophone, with the musical interlude concluding “Now that’s jazz!” upon success. They’re all goofy like that, using horror tropes to delight rather than to scare, and while there are definitely a lot of skeletons, there’s very little repetition in terms of tropes or micro game activities. Also, skeletons are extremely funny and cool, turns out.

Spookware opens with the skeleton trio — Lefti, Midi, and Righti — lounging on a couch and watching horror movies, which manifest to the player as a series of horror-themed micro games. There’s one where you saw off a limb, another where you assemble bones in the right places on a skeleton, one where you dig up a skull out of the ground, and another about defusing a bomb. There are others, too, that feature regular activities with a horror veneer, like chopping wood in a quiet forest or a ghoulish hand filing paperwork. Finish all the micro games for a card sorting boss battle game, and the skeleton brothers will complete their movie watching and venture out into the world. From there, the skeletons visit a school and later a cruise ship, meeting people and overcoming obstacles in the form of, yes, more micro games.

Pype and Van den Boeck attribute their clever micro game stylings to their main inspiration for Spookware: film. They and Kraus may not have intended to base the skeleton trio on themselves and their regular movie nights together, but to an extent that’s what happened. Pype says that now, when the three get together for movie nights, they’re constantly thinking about ideas for new micro games based on the films they watch.

“Just in terms of coming up with a good idea for a micro game, I think at least I try to look at movies a lot and find small, memorable things,” Van den Boeck says. “For example, in the school you have to grab the paper boats — that’s a very famous scene from IT. I feel like that’s always a good way, you take horror movies or movies that fit into the chapter’s genre, and then think about memorable moments, and usually there’s very simple actions.

“We try to limit micro games to one or two actions, because people need to be able to understand it immediately. Then on that basis, we try to create something easy and quick. You don’t want micro games to be long — I think the longest one we have is 15 seconds, hard max for a micro game.”

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