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Inside PSN Store – Crocodile Entertainment

Inside PSN Store – Crocodile Entertainment

Spanish developers Crocodile Entertainment made its first big splash on PlayStation Store, an old school platforming game which we reviewed and gave 73% to. The price has now been reduced by 30% to £7.99 and in May, will have 50% reduced from its price for PlayStation Plus users. Better yet, a Zack Zero demo is due out on May 9th. We talk to Crocodile Entertainment’s Alberto Moreno about the experience of developing and launching Zack Zero…

Platformers these days tend to focus on speed and precision (Ms. Splosion Man, Super Meat Boy) while Zack Zero was more of a throwback to old-school platformers, which not many developers are doing nowadays. Why did you decide to go with that style of platformer?

We’re really fans of platform genre, but with many adventure elements, the kind of gameplay you can find in games as Ghost’n’Goblins, Rygar, Pitfall or Flashback, or more recently in the first games of the Jak & Daxter and Ratchet & Clank series. Colorful and no linear levels, many different enemies and, above all, a fun and entertaining game for all ages.

What was your thought process behind the price you launched with? Was it something Crocodile Entertainment was free to decide or something discussed with Sony? How do you work out the ‘right’ price?

Yes, we were totally free to decide the price. But as it was our first console game, we listened to the advice of Sony too. And finally, we had a look to the price of other games on PSN, and kept it to the average price you can find in similar PSN games. But for a unknown game, maybe that price lost us the impulsive buyers.

The reviews ranged from as high as 85% to as low as 30%. Why do you think the reviews varied as much as they did?
Yes, it’s true, it’s weird to me. Although most of the reviews are positive ones (around 85% of them), some things in the initial release appeared to frustrate some people and these bad things carried more weight than the good ones. Fortunately, we released a patch trying to improve these things and the reviews after the patch have been all good. Some reviews also said that Zack Zero lacks innovation, but innovation is not what we were looking for while developing Zack Zero, our primary objective always was to make a fun game with varied enemies, levels and gameplay.

What can you learn from reviews which vary that much?

Although working for a magazine, web or blog, a review is made by a particular person, and it’s a matter of personal preference. And if a reviewer doesn’t like your game, you can only try to learn from the constructive criticism and use the lessons learned for the future. The trouble comes when your game is getting low scores in all reviews. But I said before, almost all Zack Zero reviews got high scores.

Is there anything you would have changed, from a design point of view, looking back at Zack Zero now it has been released?

Yes, a more thought-provoking use of powers to progress through the game, not only to solve puzzles, but also when fighting with enemies. Also, more MetroidVania-esque levels with small quests in order to finish the levels. In Zack Zero, we have reached this kind of gameplay in the first cave level, people write us telling that it’s the level they have enjoyed most. In short, allowing the player to explore more.

What would you say your biggest challenge on Zack Zero was? And with the patch and discounted price, how do you overcome the challenge of regaining momentum and ensuring as many people as possible know about Zack Zero for the second time?

As indie developers, our first challenge was to get funding for the project and later, finishing the game with just four people (two full-time and two working in their spare time) was really hard, especially during the testing phase. Many bugs arise and few people can fix it.

What is the main lesson you learnt from developing and releasing Zack Zero?

The importance of promotion. Our biggest mistake was that we didn’t generate the “hype” about the game before the launching and when the game was released, people wondered what  Zack Zero was. And for a small studio with no marketing budget, you need to work very hard to make your game well known almost from start: forums, social networks, game festivals and so on.

What would you say to those thinking of giving Zack Zero a try?

All gamers who enjoyed old school platformers, or younger people looking for a fun and easy gameplay and colorful graphics, will enjoy Zack Zero. Zack Zero takes the elements of old school platformers and brings them to a modern platform. And now you can get it cheaper!

What can we look forward to from Crocodile Entertainment in the future?

As Zack Zero is not an exclusive game for PS3, we would like to see it on most platforms, so we’re working in the PC version of Zack Zero. It will be a better version, not only a PS3 port: improved platforming gameplay, better combat and use of powers, bigger levels and some surprises. And of course, if it’s possible we’ll try to update the PS3 version with all this new features.

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