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Exclusive Interview with Pukka Games

Adam - Editor
July 8, 2001
Pukka Games Ltd. currently hold a firm dedication to developing top quality games for multiple systems. Their work is top-notch, and so is their expertise. Located in Somerset, England, the Pukka Games team continously strive to produce excellent games, even so since they started 3/4 years ago. Relative to the Game Boy Advance, they have two potentially great games scheduled for release this year. Hot Potato, released this month, and Thunderbirds 2 to be launched later this year. Here at Nintensity GBA, we bring you an exclusive interview with two of Pukka Games top Directors, Damon Branch and Clive Townsend.

Adam Later, NintensityGBA: Being in development for about three years now, how far do you think your team has come?
Damon Branch, Managing Director of Pukka Games: It's more like a family these days. Most people have been here for years. Anyone who comes to Pukka simply does not leave. They do not want to leave because we have a very unified and fair work and play ethic. Whilst we adhere to a standard company structure the people at the top are in actuality at the bottom, using their knowledge and experience to support and nurture an ever growing creation. Our considered company philosophy - and subsequential policies make for a company that is strongly united, aware, and driven.

Nintensity: How important do you feel it is to stretch your audience, mainly among consumers in America, even though you are based in England?
Damon Branch: It's really all about knowing your stuff. I spent six years of my life in videogame retail. That means, We really want to create extraordinary games. That is the company desire and objective.Extraordinary games penetrate more cultures and a wider demographic within them. Given a football game or a region specific license we would aim to use the game to actually expand the existing audience, i.e. to people who have never heard of say Thunderbirds but know it only through the game, or people who care little about football but for playing the Pukka game. Only great games do this.

Nintensity: The impression I got from your upcoming release title Hot Potato, was that it's general appeal would be towards the younger age groups. Am I going to be proven wrong?
Damon Branch: Hot Potato has a game design akin to Tetris in its sheer originality and natural addictiveness. I think the little nippers will pick it up first but as it gets around its general appeal will win over every age group. The fundamental difference between this game and other games with cutesy characters is that it is original - and instantly addictive. For these reasons you will be proven wrong.

Nintensity: There's a certain aspect of humour covering Hot Potato, do you think this will credit the game's overall storyline, or simply just provide more fun gameplay?
Damon Branch: The storyline is utterly absurd and is there for a laugh really. The daft things the spuds (from Mars) do is largely there to enhance the gameplay. Many of their stupid actions will get you more points or a multiplier, whilst other actions are just to make you laugh.

Nintensity: The originality of the game provides something gamers can always look forward to. How difficult was it achieving this?
Damon Branch: The game designer, Dima Pavlovsky - famed for Microsoft Arcade, had been working on this game for four years before we picked it up. He has a very austere approach to design and through that patience and simplicity comes a masterpiece.

Nintensity: How is the Thunderbirds sequel unravelling? Have you an idea of when it will be completed and released on the GBA?
Clive Townsend, Technical Director of Pukka Games: Completed in about one month's time, and should be in the shops for Christmas.

Nintensity: Do you predict something of a similar success for the GBA title, that was gained from the GBC instalment of Thunderbirds?
Clive Townsend: It depends if the public are ready for a life altering experience. Seriously.

Nintensity: Could you tell us what the major changes from the GBC version are?
Clive Townsend: Most noticeably the addition of all the main International Rescue characters in a plethora of platform levels. As well as all the regular craft - Thunderbirds 1 to 5, The Mole and FAB 1 (3D)- we have added FAB 2 (3D), Lady Penelope's ocean-going pleasure cruiser. On top of this, Thunderbird 3 levels are now a 3rd person 3D space battle!

Nintensity: Have you any other GBA games in the works, and are you planning or considering any?
Damon Branch: Yes and yes. However we are sworn to secrecy. Sorry.

Nintensity: Will you be implementing a multiplayer feature into any future GBA titles? If not, why not?
Damon Branch: Yes. We have some incredible ideas here and they will be implemented in our next batch of games.

Nintensity: How important do you think it is to expand into next-generation systems development, such as the Game Boy Advance?
Damon Branch: It is not really important presently because from a universal perspective the GBA market has many players (perhaps even saturated now) and many decent games will be hitting the public. The point where it does become 'important' is when too many of those games are a bit crap and we all get pissed off - saying if only they did this or that. Then our presence in the market is important becuase having new games with new ideas is important.

Nintensity: What's your opinion on this new handheld? Is it harder developing for compared with the GBC?
Damon Branch: No. It is excellent and Nintendo are very good in the area of support. My only critisms would be the 16mhtz processor limiting potential gameplay, however with the stupidly skilled and experienced programming team we have this hasn't affected any of our games. Obviously the dull screen is a problem also.
Clive Townsend: I don't think the processor limits gameplay, it does in fact encourage people to make 'traditional' games - good solid fun instead of just fancy graphics.

Nintensity: You currently seem to be covering both Microsoft Xbox, and Nintendo GBA. Are there any plans for Nintendo GameCube development?
Damon Branch: We have a proprietary 3D engine which has been in development for about 4 years built from polygon 1. We can port this to any console and so remain agnostic to any particular system presently. We have one game which is aimed for GameCube only and another for Xbox or PS2.

Nintensity: What is it like developing for BAM! Entertainment? How high do you rate their standards?
Damon Branch: They are a remarkably sharp and energetic lot. I have never worked with such an efficient and honourable publisher. It is odd.

Nintensity: And finally, enlighten us. Do you EAT Hot Potatoes?
Damon Branch: For fun and profit.
Clive Townsend: Of course! Most lunchtimes I have a baked potato with small boiled potatoes as filling, usually with a side plate of mash and chips. Isn't this normal?

Nintensity would like to thank Damon Branch and Clive Townsend of Pukka Games for this interview. Also, a great thanks goes to Pukka Games Ltd. General Manager, Jonathan Rogers, for providing us with this opportunity.


Related Links
Hot Potato Preview
Pukka Games Profile