On February 3, 2021 Intellivision Entertainment released a work in progress trailer for Finnigan Fox, the Amico version of the 2018 game Fox n Forests. Although the original Finnigan Fox reveal on August 5th 2020 was met with a lukewarm reception the February 3rd video spawned a mini tsunami of reaction videos. Being one of the handful of content creators who covers the Intellivision Amico while not being in Tommy Tallarico's circle of trust, I of course made a reaction video too .You can view that video below.
Not satisfied with my own coverage of Fox n Forests, I reached out to Bonus Level Entertainment, the developers of the game, in hopes that I might get a few questions answered. Expecting to speak to a PR representative I was shocked when the CEO of the company Rupert Ochsner replied to my email. While you may not recognize Rupert's name he does have game credits for various jobs within the game industry including, but not limited to, game director and animator. You can see his full credits at Moby Games here.
After a brief exchange of pleasantries, Rupert agreed to answer questions about Fox n Forests, Finnigan Fox, Shark! Shark!, and, the newest Bonus Level Entertainment game, Seven Sins. What follows below are the questions I sent Rupert and the answers he sent back. Whether you are looking forward to Finnigan Fox or think it looks like a Flash game, I believe you will find something worth reading in the Q and A below. One last thing before I let you read the Q and A, I want to thank Ruper Ochsner for his openness, honesty, and willingness to talk to and answer questions from a small site like this one. Additionally the teaser trailer for Seven Sins can be viewed at the very bottom of the page.
FOX n FORESTS
1) FOX n FORESTS looks and feels exactly like the 16-bit games of my youth. Were there games in particular that inspired FOX n FORESTS? If so, in what ways would you say they did so?
The game was definitely inspired by some of my favorite 16-bit games, such as Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, Wonderboy in Monster World and ActRaiser 2.
2) During the game you change between 2 predetermined seasons in each level, was this always how you imagined the gameplay or was there a time when you thought about allowing the use of all 4 seasons in every level?
I actually did consider having four seasons at first, but we found out in pre-production that the gameplay would feel too much like a puzzle game that way. However, my goal was to create a platformer focusing on action and exploration with fluid gameplay.
3) In one of the forest levels, I won't spoil which, there are faces hidden on the trees. Are these based on members of your team?
Actually, that was a reward tier on Kickstarter you could back.
4) The shooter level was very fun and I was a bit disappointed that there was only one, why was this?(Editor's note: I meant to type two but typed one. Fortunately Rupert didn't make a big issue of my flub.)
I am glad you like it! There are two SHMUP levels in the game.
5) What was the reason behind the choice to only allow Rick to fire his crossbow when he was standing still?
Gameplay wise Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts was a big inspiration and you cannot shoot while running there either. It makes the game a bit more challenging and is an approach Capcom took for Resident Evil 4 as well, another one of my all-time favorites.
6) Have you considered a sequel to FOX n FORESTS?
That would be a great thing, ideas for a sequel already exist.
7) With all the buzz around Finnigan Fox, have you seen a bump in sales for FOX n FORESTS?
Actually yes, that was a pleasant surprise.
8) From my understanding, you had the idea for FOX n FORESTS for quite a while. Did you ever consider pitching it to a developer or publisher or did you always want it for yourself?
For FOX n FORESTS we took the Kickstarter route and then teamed up with Euro Video as a publisher. The game was a co-development between Bonus Level Entertainment and Independent Arts Software.
1) How did the decision to change the art style of the game come about? Which style do you prefer?
The new art style perfectly fits to the fresh vision behind the Amico and I think the team did a great job with both looks.
2) Finnigan Fox looks to be aimed at younger kids while FOX n FORESTS was aimed at retro gamers. Were the levels changed a lot to accommodate this new audience?
It is true that the new version is aimed at a broader audience, so we took out some edges, did a few changes in the game and level design and made the whole experience more fun and accessible.
3) Was the story changed at all or has it remained the same after the name and art style change?
No spoilers here.
4) How much creative control do you have over Finnigan Fox? Were there any things dictated to your team when the deal was signed?
Working with Intellivision is great and their feedback is very dear to us as they are very experienced and passionate people!
5) Were there any strings attached to the Bavarian Arts Grant given to your team for the game's development?
No strings attached; it is always a pleasure to cooperate with the FFF Bavaria.
6) What can you tell us about the multiplayer mode that is being implemented in Finnigan Fox?
Once again, I do not want to spoil anything, but it is a fun, new competitive multiplayer mode.
7) Was it easier/faster to develop Finnigan Fox since you had FOX n FORESTS for a base or did the needed changes make it harder?
Changing all the graphics was a big effort, as simply painting over the existing pixel sprites would not have done our vision justice. We are now using rigged characters enabling more frames per animation and thus resulting in fluid movements. A lot of content has been completely redone and we hope people will enjoy this new version as much as we do.
8) How will Finnigan Fox take advantage of the unique Amico controller?
As already teased in its reveal you can now buy maps that will help you locate the hidden magic seeds you need to find in order to unlock new parts of the world. We are using the unique features of the controller to indicate the player when close to a magic seed. It’s a very nice addition to the game as some seeds are pretty well hidden and fun to look for. We even changed some of the seed’s locations, so it definitely makes sense to have another go on this one.
9) Is Finnigan Fox going to be ready for the Amico's launch or is there more work to be finished on it?
10) Were you happy with the audio changes to the game? How did Filippo (Filippo Beck Peccoz did the soundtrack for Fox N Forests.) feel about the changes?
The whole team loves the new soundtrack and we are all very excited what people are going to say. One thing is for sure: Finnigan rocks!
11) Are you surprised by the reception for Finnigan Fox compared to the reception that FOX n FORESTS had? Are you surprised by how many people prefer the new art style?
The reactions are really quite positive and I am very grateful for that, as a lot of work, love and passion went into Finnigan Fox, which is once again a successful co-development between Bonus Level Entertainment and Independent Arts Software.
1) How close to the original Shark! Shark! game is the reimagined version?
I think it is a perfect mix between the spirit of the original and a modern gameplay approach.
2) How many players will Shark! Shark! accommodate?
One to four.
3) Were there any features you wanted to put in the game that you were unable to do so?
No, it was a fun co-development between Bonus Level Entertainment and NeoBird.
4) Are there any FOX n FORESTS/Finnigan Fox Easter Eggs in the game?
That would have been fishtastic but both titles should stand for their own.
5) How far along is the game, will we get a playable demo before release?
The development is almost finished.
1) What inspired you to make this game? (I'm definitely getting a Castlevania type vibe.)
The art of the Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch was a great inspiration for me as I have always been a big fan of his work. Games like Castlevania, Mega Man and especially Eternal Darkness also inspired Seven Sins.
2) Is Seven Sins planned to be a game you can theoretically beat in one sitting like FOX n FORESTS or is it going to be a longer game?
Story will be a very important part of Seven Sins so it definitely features more hours of gameplay. We have action levels, puzzle levels and a lot of boss fights.
3) What can you tell us about the gameplay mechanics in Seven Sins?
In Seven Sins you play as an investigative Cleric who can enter the minds of people, via transforming into gruesome creatures with unique abilities, such as a Griffin, a Werewolf or a Gargoyle, in order to fight the seven deadly sins and free the plague infested village.
Once unlocked you can switch between and individually upgrade your creatures and what starts as a crusade against the seven deadly sins quickly evolves into an epic battle between good and evil.
My favorite aspect however, is the fact that you can enter the minds of all the villagers in the game, over 30 in total. If the villager is a sinner, his or her mind features an action level based on one of the seven deadly sins, if the villager is innocent, you will have to complete a challenging puzzle level. So, we have a huge amount of creative freedom and a lot of variety in gameplay!
4) Will there be a multiplayer mode for this game or is it strictly envisioned as a single player experience.
So far it is a story and action heavy single player experience.