Axle Brings Award Winning Platforming Straight To Your Phone
Ben Sheene / Nov 14th, 2012 No Comments
Have you heard of Axle? Surely the name Mario or Sonic rings a bell, right? Soon enough, the Kickstarter-funded Axle could have the platforming chops of Super Mario or Donkey Kong Country paired with the portability and addictiveness of Angry Birds.
Whether it is an Italian plumber, an orange bandicoot, or a blue hedgehog, everyone needs a mascot to get behind. For Fallstreak Studio, the eponymous yellow gear Axle is that recognizable character. The story of Axle is about a young gear that was invented by a toy maker to help fix toys around the shop. Axle eventually sets out to find his true place in the world and along the way will meet bigger and more dangerous machines to repair. The premise is simple but paves the way for a unique platforming experience. All the mechanics are instantly recognizable—lives, moving obstacles, traps, timed jumps, collectibles—but are delivered through a unique world of gears inside World War 2 contraptions. Yes, you read that right. Don’t let the initial appearance of a smiling, bright yellow gear fool you into thinking the game doesn’t have an edge. While early levels in the game take place in a toy shop and slowly introduce you to the mechanics, eventually the game sends poor Axle in the guts of WW2-era war machines.
[adsense250itp]What makes Axle so appealing is how simple it is to control. As a mobile game, players don’t want to be bogged down by virtual buttons and complex mechanics; the ability to intuitively pick up and play is crucial. Players will move Axle around by using the touch screen to rotate a small wheel in the right-hand corner (either clockwise or counter-clockwise) and make Axle jump by tapping the screen. Since moving and jumping is the crux of any good platformer, it needs to be effortless and feel natural; Axle does just that.
Despite all the promise, there is still one problem: the game isn’t out yet. Recently, the small team of Fallstreak Studio used Kickstarter to help fund the project and make the release of Axle a reality. Before the Kickstarter even began, Axle won first place in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ Gamesig Intercollegiate Showcase. The event was hosted by industry veteran Brian Fargo who recently raised millions through Kickstarter to fund the development of Wasteland 2. Initially, Fallstreak’s plan was to raise $15,000 dollars so that Axle could be released for Android phones. That initial goal has been met and now the plan is to reach the $22,000 mark where Axle can be released for iPhones, iPads, Kindle Fire, Windows 8 phones, and even the Ouya console. The stretch goal is $30,000 where the team will release a level editor. As with most Kickstarter projects, there is a series of tiered rewards and the more you pledge, the more you get.
Gaming Illustrated had a chance to talk to Liz Fiacco, Axle’s game designer, about bringing the game into the players’ hands. From the start, it has been a learning process for the team at Fallstreak Studio. Aside from the growing pains of programming Axle, the team had to develop the business side of things with the help of Chapman University’s eVillage business incubator. With the work done through eVillage and Kickstarter, the team has become a tight-knit group of entrepreneurs. “We want the game to give to you as much as you give to it,” said Fiacco. On the studio’s Kickstarter Fallstreak says they “strive to empower our players to be better equipped to overcome challenges inside and outside the game universe” and believe games “can be more than a distraction.”
In a manner of speaking, Fiacco hopes that they will make games that actually educate. In the industry, the stigma of an “educational game” has often left any brave players with a bad experience. Often, though, the best kinds of educational games are the ones that educate without the player even realizing it. According to Fiacco, “Games are integral to everything. If you pour that much time into something, it should give back.” Instead of being seen as educational, games could instead be intellectual experiences.
On the surface, Axle is a platforming game. But it strives to be so much more. The hope is that enough funding will come in to bring the game to as many platforms as possible. A level editor would allow the Axel community to grow and create new challenges. Leaderboards are in development to give the game that competitive edge. Post-release plans would include level expansions, character skins, power ups, and even microtransactions in the form of watts (Axel’s in-game collectible currency). The foundations are in place for Axel to be a hit and a memorable face on the market when it releases. More than anything, Axle looks to provide a unique take on a mobile platformer and further proof that mobile games can stand strong among their PC and console brethren.
Check out the Axle Kickstarter page; and while you’re at it, donate!
tags: android , axle , fallstreak studio , iphone , kickstarter , mobile