STRONG on Planet X, is an arcade-style musical rhythm game that combines elements of Rock band, and Plants vs. Zombies in an exciting but strange adventure. You play as one of the top 12 independent artists who use the power of rock to defend the earth from an invading alien horde.
With the help of FACTOR, a Canadian non-profit organization dedicated to helping the growth and development of the Canadian music industry, Pop Sandbox has amassed an incredible talent pool, including Metric, Fucking shit, July Discussion, Lights, Metz, Australia, Tegan and Sara, and Cadence weapon, with expansion plans for this star-studded range. Availability on Steam, iOs, Android, and Playstation Network means music lovers around the world will be able to experience fantastic Canadian music in an epic, fun-to-play game.
On May 5, Pop Sandbox launched STRONGKickstarter campaign. With a good start to the campaign, he is already two-fifths of his goal of $ 50,000. CGM had the chance to speak with Alex Jansen, the creative producer of STRONG, about the project, the music and Pop Sandbox.
Comics Gaming Magazine: When FACTOR got involved, did they already have a list of bands they wanted you to go with? Or did you have to come to the table with some ideas?
Alex Jansen: It was funny actually, since we were well into development before the program was launched, it was more of a fluke that it worked like this.
It’s actually funny the first group that was on board was Depressed because they worked with us on Pipe problem. Then we kind of went through a long development process of raising money, rebuilding the game, getting the team together, and getting the go-ahead, which happened this time around last January. But when FACTOR joined, it allowed us to be able to manage all the different licenses for the different artists. Right now we’re sitting at 8 artists with 2 tracks each, so 16 tracks. With Kickstarter, our goal is to get 12 artists with 24 tracks by launch.
In addition to that, we will have some kind of original components. We do an original score with Mike and Jonah, from Depressed. Brandon Canning and Justin Peroff from Broken social scene make an alternate score. We’re in talks to make a third one and squeeze the sheet music into a 7-inch green vinyl with artwork by comedic artist Michael Deforge, which will be really cool for the Kickstarter campaign.
CGM: How did it work?
AJ: It was interesting. It was linked to a feature-length documentary, examining the problems of the Peace River region of British Columbia and the continued development of natural gas. It was licensed by TVO, which has an older audience. So what we were doing with the video game was looking for a way to try to get young audiences involved in the same issue with blatant satire to explore the ongoing issue of natural gas development. It was in the same vein as the McDonald’s game with more industrial stuff. It was a way to educate a new audience about certain issues. It was the first time that we collaborated with Jonah and Mike from Depressed who made the original score for Pipe problem, and they were the first group on this one.
Oddly enough, this game is a departure for us because everything so far has been based on non-fiction, social issues, and then it’s just a fun, silly music game, which is great. It’s a refreshing start.
While it doesn’t necessarily touch on social issues, I think what it has the power to do, ideally, is provide a new way to experience new music, especially Canadian music. It’s exciting for me because, at least in this case initially at launch, they’re all Canadian artists. The programming that we’ve put together with the support of FACTOR, and they have a very forward-thinking agenda around their digital marketing front, which is to bring Canadian music to more audiences, but through digital means. It’s an interesting program.
CGM: So what made you move away from social justice issues and into something lighter?
A J: It was, oddly enough, already in production. He ended up being in this mad controversy with Pipe problem. Ultimately, but it worked really well to get more people involved in the discussion it was intended for. But it’s good to see our next project end in a different vein.
[LOUD] is funny because for me as a gamer what I would do most of the time is play old classic games and turn off the [in-game] music and play my own music. So i would play Pac-Man with my own music and I think that’s where the first thoughts came from. I just loved playing with music in a more immersive way. I am a big fan of Plants vs. Zombies tower defense style, so inspired by this, our initial concept for STRONG was more of a tower defense with a 60/40 tower defense to punctuate the tap. Now it’s more of a 60/40 / rhythm tap-based shooter with tower defense elements. It became a game that I wanted to play more than anything.
CGM: So how does the game combine groups and gameplay? And will it be necessary to play to the end to unlock all the groups?
A J: The first level will be a tutorial of you playing in a live show at a small club. You learn the mechanics by pressing “B” to start the music to make the crowd happy. The audience will be all Kickstarter contributors, which will be great! Then the portal opens and they are transported to the alien planet. And at that time, when you get to the real planet, you will have all the groups. You work in the game to unlock new towers, bonuses or second tracks for all groups. You move across the entire planet with all these different types of aliens with some teleporting and so on en route to unlock this portal so you can have a final showdown with the original boss at the club.
STRONG on Planet X will run its Kickstarter campaign until June 5. Click here if you would like to support the project and let us know what you think in the comments section below.