Guitar Heroes, Tony Hawk, And Spider-Man Helped Vicarious Visions Create Swappable Skylanders
Posted on Wednesday, September 25 @ 08:00:00 PST by Daniel Bischoff
Last week I got to invade the personal work space of everyone at Vicarious Visions, one of Activision's key development studios. I grew up with VV's games mostly due to their dedicated work in porting popular franchises and licenses to portable platforms. Chief among those incredible handheld translations was Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 for Game Boy Advance.
Tony Hawk proved a huge success for VV when it managed to filter the 3D action-oriented skateboarding gameplay from console to an isometric perspective on a vastly underpowered handheld system. The company's work on Game Boy Color games impressed Nintendo so much that Vicarious Visions received an early license and kit to develop on the next-generation Game Boy Advance platform. With that, it struck up a handshake deal with Tony Hawk and Activision at E3 and the rest is history.
I spoke with Vicarious Visions Co-founder Guha Bala about the way that history on portables has helped their process with Skylanders, Activision's massive toy franchise that VV has the lead on this year with Swap Force. I asked Guha if he missed working on projects small enough to fit on a Game Boy Color:
Prototyping has also helped Vicarious to meet the challenges of a product as big as Skylanders. With Swap Force, where the game's signature toys-come-to-life theme is complicated by toys that can now interchange their top and bottom halves (and retain separate strains of experience and skill trees despite that swapping), Vicarious discovered that magnets could make the figurines entertaining and interesting to play with.
"With Swap Force, we have so much more power across all systems than we had back in the day. You could make the mistake and say that's all there to make the game look good, but what's really important is that everything has thoughtful design behind it."
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