At Spiel 2018 I had the chance to interview the two designers behind the recent release from IELLO, 8Bit Box, Grégoire Largey and Frank Crittin.
Grégoire has a background in Electrical engineering, and he works on the business side for a renewable energy institute. He became hooked on board games since playing Magic: The Gathering. Frank has a PhD in Mathematics and provides the "science behind the game," and has been a fan of board games since his teenage years. Both have attended Spiel in Essen since 2004.
What inspired you to come up with 8Bit Box?
Frank - 8Bit Box games are inspired by several real video games, including Pac-Man, Out Run and Track & Field. We have a nostalgia for playing these. As board game designers, we liked the theme and came up with a gamepad concept; two wheels, one for numbers and one for “buttons".
We wanted to then consider a system rather than a one-off game, something to allow more games with universal components, thus the gamepad can be used on any game in the console and this has been a success. In addition to the three games in the console, a new game is currently scheduled for February.
The idea is to have more designers create their own games for the console. Three designers are already working on new games for 8Bit Box.
Grégoire - Indeed, instead of six dice, you can get the equivalent with six gamepads and six cubes. IELLO added a third wheel which has given more options and more versatility.
With more games using an app, is this a consideration?
Frank - To be honest, it's up to the publisher and any new designers whether they would like to add an app to the game.
Thinking about nostalgic games, what were your favourites?
Grégoire - Bruce Lee on the Commodore 64. (This might explain the next release).
Frank - Rollerball, also a film! Also on the Commodore 64.
Grégoire - Today, I like the Nintendo Switch as a portable device.
Have you considered a portable or mini version of 8Bit Box?
Both - No we haven't! But that's a good idea!
Many video games are co-operative, to an extent. Do you have plans on using this style in your games?
Grégoire - A co-op version of the game is being developed and could be out in 2019. A designer has contacted IELLO to create a solo game as well, to see if it can be viable.
What about difficulty settings? I remember unlocking Mania in Street of Rage III
Frank - We love Double Dragon and Street of Rage. In February, we are scheduled to launch a game that has you manage your “fury“, it’s called Double Rumble. You start the game with a number of lives, depending on the difficulty setting, for example, three lives on ‘easy’ setting. In this instance, when you die, you can retry two more times. In 'Difficult' you can’t die at all!
Grégoire - A two-player, harder co-op game is coming to the system by another designer as well!
It seems like this has been a long journey of development with IELLO. When and why did you contact them?
Both - We sent emails to them in 2016. We collaborated from there. Many designers were needed for the system and IELLO worked well to have that talent available.
Have you played any other games by IELLO? Any favourite board games in general?
Grégoire - King of Tokyo from IELLO, and then Jamaica Inn.
So, what games can people expect to find in the 8Bit Box console?
Both - You have Outspeed, where you need to manage your fuel. Pixoid, where you aim to avoid the ghosts, and Stadium, where you participate in two round of trials. This game is for four or six players only, and there is a difference mechanic for each sport.
Double Rumble is scheduled for release in February. There will be four stages and a boss. You choose your fighter and they have unique abilities. You have nine energies and your fury starts on zero initially. You can choose special moves as well. The game is programmable, you can see the enemies ahead and must prepare to fight them in order. When your life reaches zero, you lose.
An in-depth review for the system and games in 8Bit Box will be coming soon to Zatu Games. Thank you to Grégoire Largey and Frank Crittin for speaking to us!