An update of the arcade classic Lode Runner™ is on its way to Android this fall. Called Lode Runner X, this new version will only be available exclusively on the Xperia™ PLAY in early November. We had the opportunity to interview the legendary Scott Tsumura, Chief Advisor and Executive Producer at Tozai Games. Read on to find out what Scott says about this exclusive release.
A new journey is set to begin for Lode Runner™, the classic puzzle-action game many of us grew up with as fledgling gamers. Tozai Games is porting this gem from the Xbox 360 to its newest platform – Android™ mobile. And fittingly, the Xperia™ PLAY will be the first Android device to introduce their new version, called Lode Runner X. At Developer World, we’ve seen Lode Runner on a touch screen, but we can’t wait to try it out with dedicated controls on Xperia™ PLAY this November. We hooked up with Scott to ask him more about Lode Runner X coming to Xperia™ PLAY.
How did you get started as a game developer?
In 1976, I started as a developer for arcade games and helped to bring several notable products to market, such as Moon Patrol and Kung-Fu Master. I also was responsible for bringing Japanese titles to the U.S. and conversely, introducing U.S.-made computer games to Japan, including Lode Runner. I attribute Lode Runner, a game that I encountered while temporarily working in the U.S., as the catalyst for moving here and driving my passion for gaming.
What first got you interested in mobile gaming, and what do you think the future of mobile gaming is?
Travelling back and forth from Japan for business, I was constantly carrying mobile phones, which at the time were very bulky and heavy and had no display for games. As mobile phones got smaller and cheaper, their popularity grew and mobile gaming began. Today, smartphones have the screen resolution and processing power to play console games. So, I believe the future of mobile gaming will be based on strong multiplayer experiences.
Can you tell us about your history with Lode Runner?
The original game, called Kong, was invented as a PC game by Doug Smith in 1982, and became published under the title Lode Runner. I was responsible for gathering a team of developers, and worked directly with Doug to publish several versions for Japan. In 1984, I helped developed the arcade version and numerous sequels, which marked the first-ever PC game to launch as an arcade version. At Tozai Games, I have continued to oversee the development of Lode Runner versions to other platforms. Now, I’m excited to be working closely with Southend Interactive to develop Lode Runner X for the Xperia™ PLAY.
How was the game ported from console to Android™ mobile?
We are working with Southend Interactive to build Lode Runner X. They used their own in-house game engine called the PBX. The engine provides support for a diversity of platforms including native Android, XBOX 360 and PS3. Utilizing this compatibility, they are able to transfer the gameplay logic without rewriting anything. Rendering, controls, sound playback and menus needed to be adapted for the PBX Android interfaces to complete the port. All assets needed to be updated as well. Texture resolutions and the level of detail of models needed to be decreased slightly, as well as changing texture and sound compression.
Are there any special features or new levels planned for Lode Runner X?
Lode Runner X for the Xperia™ PLAY will have the full journey mode and all the single player puzzles of the console version, including all of the environments and special features. But, the puzzles were so well received that we are considering adding some brand new puzzles to this version.
Do you have any final comments about developing Lode Runner X for the Xperia™ PLAY?
Developing to the Xperia™ PLAY doesn’t differ from developing to any other Android device. Sony Ericsson provides libraries and source code for utilizing the Xperia™ PLAY controller as well as how to display an Xperia™ PLAY compatible game in the Xperia™ PLAY Game Launcher. As the Xperia™ PLAY device is Android 2.3 enabled you also have the possibility to utilize the “Native Activity” library. This renders all Java code obsolete, making the games pure C++ code, which increases performance and simplifies the work flow.
We (at Tozai Games) are really pleased to be working with Sony Ericsson to bring Lode Runner X to this newest platform. The playability of the game on a mobile device with dedicated controls will be really exciting for a wide range of gamers. It’s a great opportunity to bring the most enjoyable gaming experience from console to mobile.
Thanks so much, Scott-san! Developer World appreciates your time.
And if there are other classic arcade games (Moon Patrol, R-Type or Kung Fu Master perhaps?) that you’d like to see for Xperia™ PLAY, let us know!