Interview with Lead Programmer of new WiiWare title Jam City Rollergirls

We get a lot of information from publishers about new games, but the press release from Frozen Codebase about their new WiiWare title Jam City Rollergirls caught my eye. The company is based out of Green Bay, Wisconsin, which is near to my hometown, and the game is the first roller derby video game I can remember seeing since RollerGames was on TV back in the 80’s. I contacted the company with a few questions and heard back from lead programmer, Adam Larson.

Jam City Rollergirls was released on the Wii Shop Channel yesterday. Click on in to read more.

How did you decide to develop this game for WiiWare versus other platforms? Are you looking to port it to other systems?

WiiWare was a perfect fit; it allowed us to create a game which allowed more focus on gameplay and design. While we’re always interested in new version of the game, nothing is official right now ”“ but we’re fairly confident sales on the WiiWare platform will merit looking at additional platforms.

Based on previews I’ve seen, the game seems to have a Tony Hawk meets Mario Kart vibe to it. What were the inspirations for gameplay?

We definitely used both of those as inspiration to this title along with a few others such as “Road Rash” and “Jet Set Radio.”Â  We were able to take little ideas from a multitude of games that helped us balance and refine the gameplay. Also watching Roller Derby and taking input from skaters also helped tremendously in shaping the gameplay, which is, when all is said and done, still based on a sport with pre-existing gameplay mechanics of its own.

How will this game appeal to people who aren’t already fans of roller derby?

This is the part I’m most excited about, as we offer a very easy to pick up, yet fun to master style.  Anyone familiar with arcade racers will be able to jump in and play, and when they are ready to master the intricacies of Derby they can work through the tutorial.  The controls were a big focus, we wanted to make sure they were easy to use, and that each skater feels different to control based on their attributes. The gameplay has enough familiar aspects to it that it should be very easy for players to get started.

Does Jam City Rollergirls take advantage of any of the Wii’s unique controls?

We wanted to the game to be fast paced so we implemented a few simple shake controls such as performing a whip or doing a trick while in the air.  This allows you to stay in the action and still pull off some kick ass moves. We experimented with pumping the Wii Remote and Nunchuk to skate, but this was tedious and repetitive and didn’t last long.

Do you have any other WiiWare games in development?

For reasons of national security, we can’t really reveal anything we’re working on now.

In what ways does Jam City Rollergirls succeed where RollerGames (for the original NES) failed?  (Just kidding, but I had to throw it in there.)

Its funny you bring that game up, we all loaded up the ROM to check it out early on in production.  Rollergames is a bizarre mix of combat and platforming, I think we actually delivered what Derby fans are looking for.

[Infendo’s review of Jam City Rollergirls should be posted later this week.]