The Nintendojo Interview: GalaxyTrail’s Stephen DiDuro

We spoke with the producer of Freedom Planet on the game’s Sonic ties, Nintendo exclusivity, and more!

By Marc Deschamps. Posted 03/30/2015 09:00 1 Comment     ShareThis

As the Nintendo eShop continues to grow, the number of indie developers rising up to fill the demand only continues to increase, as well. Developer GalaxyTrail is one such team, and its title Freedom Planet promises to be an exciting new addition for fans of Sega’s classic Sonic the Hedgehog titles. We had the pleasure of speaking to Stephen DiDuro, the game’s producer, and he told us why Wii U owners should look forward to the title when it releases later this year!

Nintendojo: Freedom Planet originally started as a fan-made Sonic the Hedgehog game. How far along into development were you when you decided to make it an original IP?

Stephen DiDuro: I originally worked on the game as a small, unnamed Sonic tribute, but after a month or so, and with some prodding from my colleagues, I replaced everything with original content and made tweaks to the engine to make it more combat-friendly. I felt like it had some potential, so I began a Kickstarter a few months later after building our first prototype.

ND: The industry has seen a lot of homages to older franchises that have either disappeared or “lost their way,” so to speak. Mega Man fans in particular have seen homages like Azure Striker Gunvolt and Mighty Gunvolt appear on the Nintendo eShop. Did you feel like Sega wasn’t quite delivering what Sonic fans were looking for?

SD: It’s difficult to say, but I have a theory. The thing about the Sonic franchise is that in contrast to other platform games like Mario, which stick to a single formula, Sonic games frequently change their core gameplay to keep things fresh. The fact that Sonic reinvents itself with each new game leaves something to be desired from older fans who prefer the original Genesis formula, so in this sense, Freedom Planet as a homage to the Sega Genesis happens to scratch that itch.

It’s interesting to think about, but the type of gameplay that Freedom Planet expands on is something that Sega and Sonic Team haven’t used in a long time, which I feel discredits the notion that we’re copying their work; Doubly so because of how we inherit elements from a bunch of other well-known franchises at the same time.

ND: What other elements does Freedom Planet inherit? Are people out there accusing your team of copying the work of Sonic Team?

SD: Reviewers have noted a pretty strong Treasure vibe with the gameplay, which makes me happy since I’m a huge fan of their stuff. I’ve always admired how they pushed the Sega Genesis to its limit with fast-paced action games like Gunstar Heroes, Alien Soldier and Dynamite Headdy. Freedom Planet has a ton of huge bosses that provide most of the game’s challenge, and I really loved building them out of smaller sprites and making them move seamlessly with some math magic.

Aside from that, I feel like each of the three main heroines embodies a different game franchise. Lilac is the fast Sonic-type character with a boost attack similar to Ristar or Rocket Knight, and since she’s the main character I think that’s where most of the Sonic similarities come out. Carol plays more like a Capcom character with her fast punches and kicks and Mega Man X-like wall jump, and she gets to ride a motorcycle that lets her ride up walls. Milla is more like a Nintendo character with a Yoshi-like flutter, a smaller health bar and the ability to pick up and throw item blocks.

ND: So far, Wii U is the only console that Freedom Planet has been announced for. What is it about Nintendo’s console that makes it a good fit for the title?

: We placed priority on Nintendo since we feel like most of our audience has their consoles, but also because it’s been a dream of mine ever since I was little to make a game worthy of the Nintendo Seal of Quality. To know that it’s finally coming true is indescribable.

That being said, we hope that the Wii U won’t be the only console we release on, so we’ll have to see what the future brings!

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One Response to “The Nintendojo Interview: GalaxyTrail’s Stephen DiDuro”

  • 1558 points
    penduin says...

    Great interview! This game looks like a blast, and I look forward to playing it on Wii U. It’s very exciting that indie studios can pick up where traditional publishers left off and revive some of these great formulas and mechanics.

    When Sega comes out and says, “there’s no single-player future for Sonic”, I just scratch my head. I understand them wanting to try new things, but there’s still so much more mileage to be enjoyed in these old gameplay styles.

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