Inspired by retro gaming consoles, 8Bit Box is a package providing console-like elements (such as cardboard controllers) and three individual games to play with: Pixoid (a one-against-all chasing game), Outspeed (a racing game with spaceships) and Stadium (a sports game in two teams where you will have to manage your endurance!).
Each game aims to recreate the joy experienced with classic video games from our childhood, while also bringing the thrill of sharing this unique experience with friends through board games. Made for both video game and board game enthusiasts, 8Bit Box is the first-generation board game console.
When previewing the game to European retailers earlier this year, we had the opportunity to chat with 8Bit Box’s game designers, Frank Crittin and Grégoire Largey, and its illustrator, Djib (Schotten Totten) and dive into the development of what is shaping up to be IELLO’s most innovative product yet!
You were two game designers working on 8Bit Box. How was the working process?
Frank: When you are two and you get along well, it’s easy to go forward because you can challenge yourselves. For 8Bit Box, we were initially working on other ideas, for example on a racing game. Then, when developing prototypes and detailing game mechanics, we thought it was fun to use symbols from a familiar console…
Grégoire: There were no controllers at first, we just used cards with well-known symbols on them!
Frank: It became a platform with base materials and a reference to video games. It was stimulating and let us imagine a lot of things!
So, do you play video games?
Djib: I was late to the party because my parents didn’t want me to have a console, so I started with the Game Boy. I tend to become addicted very quickly, so I avoid playing too much!
Frank: I have played a lot, but not as much now, although I still love it. At the time, we used to make crazy gaming nights with my friends. Transposing this exhilarating feeling with a cardboard controller is an homage to all these good times!
What about retro games?
Frank: I love modern games, there are some very interesting games!
Djib: In my time, I played a lot of games like the first Mega Man, Marios, and Zelda, but today I’m not looking to play retro video games.
Grégoire: I love pixels, there’s a thing about them. I really like the artistic direction that Djib took with the illustrations for 8Bit Box: They look modern but they keep that essence we wanted to capture!
Djib: (laughs) Yes, it’s complicated. The project manager likes to talk about the “modern pixel.” I tried to find sensation of cubes, with the use of square visuals, with effects on textures and light, a bit like if the pixel was more dimensional, like we can see in the movie Pixel that came out a couple of years ago. Throughout the process the artistic direction remained modern, while maintaining that old-school feeling.
Frank: Which is great, because the product itself also feels old-school. The controllers are super funky. When you have one in your hands, you know you are playing a video game. Djib’s illustrations are just adding an even deeper level of immersion!
Grégoire: Yes, we saw the first visuals from Djib and they do look very promising indeed!
So, you created many different games, on top of the console. Only three games will be included with the console at launch. Are you working on other 8Bit Box games already?
Frank: This is a very interesting platform from a creative point of view, because you can use it to create different types of games. We want to explore all different types of games like racing, co-op, and more. We want to allow people to play any genre of game. This console is like a sandbox for game designers!
Djib: (laughs) It’s a challenge every time, and I like that. As I said to IELLO, I can relate to the different universes because I played a lot of video games when I was younger, but at the same time, as an illustrator, it takes me out of my comfort zone. For example, one of the games, Pixoid, is very minimalistic, which is not my usual style. It kept me challenged and it was very interesting.
Djib, each game and each cartridge has its own unique universe: how was it creating something coherent, but at the same time, different?
Djib: It’s very interesting for me to work with different universes. In terms of style, if we exclude the universes themselves, the challenge was to change the art style for each game, while keeping the common theme of the modern pixel. I don’t like making the same thing all the time, so I tried putting a wide range of styles and skills into this project.
Grégoire: We are looking forward to see all the final illustrations. It’s all coming along very quickly, it’s very exciting!
Frank: Yes, we are thrilled to see what’s next, it’s going to be a very beautiful-looking game!
About 8Bit Box
Due to be released at Essen 2018, 8Bit Box introduces the concept of a board game console, mixing the thrilling sensations of board games with the joy of retro titles. 8Bit Box is a board game that will remind you the golden age of video games as each player has a gamepad to program their actions, using three wheels: direction, symbol, and value. The base game contains three different games influenced by classic old-school video games. There are three games: Pixoïd, Stadium and Outspeed.
As the first ever “board game console”, 8Bit Box is a highly-innovative product whose packaging and gaming experience are sure to grab the attention of both video game and board game enthusiasts!