The PSVR-exclusive Astro Bot Rescue Mission originally had a couch co-op multiplayer mode, but developer Japan Studio decided to scrap the idea before launch. The cut Astro Bot Rescue Mission multiplayer mode allowed three other PS4 players to control additional robots on the TV while the fourth player controlled Astro in VR.
According to a PlayStation Blog post by Nicolas Doucet, creative director at Sony Computer Entertainment Japan, Japan Studio scrapped the multiplayer idea halfway through the game’s 18-month development cycle after they realized they had been unintentionally prioritizing TV play over VR. According to Doucet, the levels the team had built with multiplayer in mind weren’t fun in VR.
“[T]he levels built for multiplayer were too large and felt empty,” Doucet wrote. “There wasn’t enough use of verticality or perspective, largely because the TV camera had to fit four players on screen at all times and therefore keep movement and amplitude at a minimum.”
While the decision to cut multiplayer was controversial within the team, Doucet said the change quickly proved to be the right choice, as the team began creating interesting levels that took advantage of the unique gameplay enabled by VR.
Doucet detailed other cut features in the PlayStation Blog post, including a “Mecha Spider” enemy that was scrapped because it was difficult to animate after players would cut off some of its legs with the game’s shuriken gadget. Doucet also explained how some of Astro Bot Rescue Mission‘s levels contain portions that were originally a part of others, but were repurposed for pacing reasons, including a portion of the Canyon Stage that was transformed into part of the Volcano Stage.
Finally, Doucet noted that the team planned to include idle animations for Astro that would have the little robot dancing and singing to each level’s music. Japan Studio ultimately decided to cut this feature, instead putting more effort into other animations.