Shane Brouwer is neck-deep into the launch of his iOS puzzle-platformer Super Lemonade Factory, and yet found time to chat with me over a heavily-iced glass of lemonade about his pixel-laden creation. Much like the protagonists in Shane’s iOS jam, I tossed a few questions on his back, only for him to piggy-back some good answers my way.
Q: What did the pitch for Super Lemonade Factory sound like?
Shane: When I began Super Lemonade Factory, all I knew was that it was going to be a game about a lemonade factory and it was going to be set in the late 40’s or early 50’s. I had a shortlist of pixel artists I wanted to work with but luckily my number 1 pick wanted to be part of it.
Q: Where did Super Lemonade Factory pull its inspirations? Musically, visually, and thematically.
Shane: Creatively, the game pulls inspiration from every video game I’ve ever played and enjoyed. Visually, I have to give all the credit to Miguelito. He’s a fantastic artist, and his pixel art is amazing. Musically, I heard Easyname’s music and knew it was the right fit.
Thematically, everything that happens in the game has been drawn from memoirs, personal accounts and history books. I felt there was a story here that had not been told adequately and should be highlighted, regardless of how long ago it happened.
Q: Could Super Lemonade Factory be done in 1988 on an NES, hypothetically speaking?
Shane: Great question. Hypothetically it would be possible, but it would need to be stripped back.
One thing that gives NES games their distinctive look is the limited color palette. The sprites in Super Lemonade Factory use colors far outside of the 56 colors of the NES, as well as subtle gradients would also be impossible.
The next thing to go would be the voice acting. There is no way that real sounds are going to fit on those cartridges.
I think after removing the particle effects from the gameplay there is not too much holding it back from being able to work on a NES. It would be a lot of work and I have a lot of respect for the coders and artists who worked during that era.
Q: Where did the undertones come from? When during development was the idea kicked around?
Shane: It wasn’t enough to have a platformer that had some unusual mechanics. I really felt I had a story to tell and this game was the best vehicle to get that story out there.
There was always going to be a story element to this game, but during development I made the creative choice to have the story as optional as possible. I wanted to show respect for the people playing the game, and let them choose whether to delve into the story or not.
Q: What is it about games with underlining meaning, that makes them feel special, in your opinion?
Shane: Any medium that has something beneath the superficial surface is always a special thing. For instance, in the 1986 animated Transformers film, Grimlock asks Kup to tell him about the petro-rabbits. It wasn’t until years later that I found out that was a hat tip to American author John Steinbeck’s Of Mice And Men.
Q: Can you clue us in on what’s next for the co?
Shane: Super Lemonade Factory is going to get an update with iCade support shortly. There’s going to be a few little fixes and we’re going to include the first user created levels. Once that’s done I’ll sit back and take stock of what people liked and didn’t like about Super Lemonade Factory, and begin work on the next game.
I spent a better part of my weekend playing through his charming game, and spent the rest of it airing an episode of RetrodiOS about Super Lemonade Factory. Needless to say, if you haven’t yet given the game a chance, you should.
WYK and I want to thank Shane for the time, and wish him the best of luck in the future.