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Semnat Studios Interview

When we heard about the upcoming WiiWare game Eduardo the Samurai Toaster, we couldn't not gasp in awe at the concept (come on - it's a toaster!), so we got in touch with one of the developers, Daniel Coleman, to give us the lowdown on the game.

Hello, would you like to start by introducing yourself?
My name is Daniel, and I'm a part-time art student. I'm the co-owner of Semnat Studios along with Robert DeMaria, who is our sole programmer. I guess you can call me the director and artist among other titles. All of us wear many hats! 

How did Semnat Studios come to be, and how big is the team there?
There are three of us working on the game: myself, Robert, and Ian Bowie. In addition to that Raymond Gramke has made music for us. Robert and I started working on games around five years ago and officially formed the company in early 2005, If I recall correctly. We're all students or recently-graduated students, and we're making games in our spare time. You wouldn't believe how many hours fit into "spare time". 

Why did you choose to bring 
Eduardo the Samurai Toaster to WiiWare?
The opportunity was too good to pass up. We had been chatting with Nintendo about their downloadable games service and, incredibly, were given licensed developer status. For a small-time developer like us it was a dream come true.

How long has the game been in development so far? 
We began development on the WiiWare title late last year. This Eduardo is a completely different game from the PC versions we were working on before, though a lot of art has been brought over. We're sorry that we couldn't bring this out for PC at the same time, but we simply didn't have the resources to do so. 

Has it been an easy process developing for the Wii?

All development has its challenges, and maybe we'll be able to go more in-depth about that in some post-mortem. Working with Nintendo however, has been great. And no, they didn't ask me to speak kindly of them :) - it honestly has been wonderful.

Eduardo the Samurai Toaster is certainly one of the most odd names for a game I've ever heard. What's the story behind it?
Several years ago I sent this short email to Robert about a platformer starring a magical toaster. It's a silly concept, but we stuck with it as it's transformed over the years. I have a friend named Eduardo and thought it would be a good fit. Not too many Brazilian protagonists in games out there. 

How do the gameplay mechanics work in 
It's our take on the run 'n gun genre. You have a basic proximity-based melee attack, your projectiles, and the grab/throw moves. In addition to that you can ride around in a scooter shooting lasers at enemies or fly around in a rocket pack. There are two rocket pack-specific levels that play like a shmup, but during co-op you'll be able to use both these vehicles in most levels. When we show video of the game people will get a better idea of what makes Eduardo unique within the genre. Screens don't convey the action very well. 

In the recent Eduardo press release, "five different pastry pickups" were mentioned. What are these, and how do they work?
We'll be showing these off in video shortly. I apologize for being coy, but we want to save some stuff for the video footage.

Fair enough. Eduardo 
has a pretty unique art style using a variety of mediums. Why did you choose to go with this?
The art in the final game represents experimentation on my part over the last several years. I'm still an amateur, but I have tried to push myself and at the very least create some unique areas within the restrictions we're under. I'm most proud of our final area, which I cannot wait to show off in motion. Every single middleground asset in that level is comprised of three images each, giving it a neat animated look. All of the characters in that level have cycling images as well. If people are interested I was planning on doing some process-oriented blog posts about the art in the game.

What is the audio like in the game?
We had some fun with the sound effects. A couple of enemies have this toy raygun sound effect when they shoot their projectile at you. The music was all done by Raymond Gramke, and he did an excellent job there.

It's nice to see a good co-op game every now and then - how does the four player mode work in 
It's the single-player with your friends. Each successive co-op partner makes the game more fun, and we still crack each other up when we play co-op. We took a note from Nintendo's Four Swords Adventures multiplayer in terms of co-op interaction. It's not as sophisticated as that game's co-op, but you can choose to be great teammates and really cooperate to beat each level, or you can drive each other nuts by throwing each other around the screen, throwing enemy projectiles at each other, that sort of thing. That's my preferred way of playing co-op. 

How far into the development are you with Eduardo?
We're nearing completion. We hope that it'll be available within Q1, so before April. 

What kind of a response are you looking for when the game becomes available on WiiWare?

I hope that gamers enjoy it as much as we do. We put a lot of passion, an immense amount of hard work into this, so hopefully plenty of people enjoy it. But all reactions are valuable to hear, positive and negative. 

How much are you expecting Eduardo to be priced at?
I can't really comment on price since it's ultimately up to Nintendo, but we hope to release it at a very affordable price.

How well are you expecting the game to sell on the WiiWare format?
If it sells well enough for us to be able to quit or day jobs, we'll be ecstatic.

Do you have anything else to tell our readers?
I hope you all have fun with the game when it comes out.

Thanks for the interview! 
Thank you, too. 

We're really looking forward to getting our hands on Eduardo, and can't wait for the first video footage to watch the game in action. Hopefully it plays as interesting as it looks, and as soon as we get our hands on it, we'll be sure to give it a review - although sadly, a European release is currently looking unlikely for a while due to the cost of going through the age rating system. Here's hoping it sells exceptionally in America so that Semnat Studios have the money to sort out this problem in the near future, although Daniel assures us that a European release is still planned.