An Interview With the Developers of Wandersong
Last week, we learned that the musical side-scroller Wandersong is now planned for the Nintendo Switch.
Intrigued by its premise and curious about its gameplay, we got in touch with the developers of Wandersong to learn more about it.
Wandersong is described as a musical side-scroller with puzzles to solve through the use of music, but we still don’t have a solid grasp on what the gameplay mechanics will be like. How will puzzle-solving work? What would you compare the gameplay to?
It’s very very hard to compare it with other games because we don’t know any other games like it. Which is surprising for us, because the premise is so simple in practice!
It’s a sidescrolling platformer, where you essentially play as a walking musical instrument. You walk around and talk to characters (like a Paper Mario or something), and anytime anywhere you can sing! Different characters, creatures and objects react to your singing in unique ways and puzzles are often about playing with those different interactions.
An example I often come back to is a vine that you can ride that grows in the direction you sing… but everything in the game has its own rules. Sometimes a character wants you to write them a song, sometimes you have to sing along with a melody someone else is playing, sometimes you need to repeat music someone else sang… the only rule is that there’s not really a rule. The overriding experience is something playful and a bit open-ended, a joyful exploration of music and melody.
According to the Kickstarter page, Wandersong was inspired by a 5,000 mile bike ride across America. Could you tell us a little more about that?
This was something I did after I finished my previous game, as a way to expose myself to new experience and challenge myself. I wasn’t actually sure if I could make it coast to coast, but I wanted to do my best and see where my limits were. And eventually I made it after all. It was 5 months of my life, and there’s a lot I could say about that… but suffice to say that along the way I faced a lot of adversity, met a lot of amazing people from all walks of life, and found a lot of strength in myself I didn’t know I had. I wanted to find a way to make something about all those feelings… and after a lot of time and processing Wandersong is what I came to from that.
So far, the game has been announced for the PC, Mac, and Nintendo Switch. What made you pick the Switch for its console release?
I’m a huge, completely shameless fan of Nintendo and I have been from the moment my mom gave me my first Game Boy. Philosophically, I feel we align with the Switch and its vibe… even though Wandersong is single-player it’s very openly a game about connections, friendship and joy. And if you compare Wandersong to other games, it’s one that cares a lot more about creativity and personality and variety and less about “status” things like graphics and fidelity. There’s a lot I could say about this, but I think the kind of game player who chooses a Switch is more likely to enjoy Wandersong too. It might be my favorite game console ever.
You’ve compared the story to those of Earthbound, Over the Garden Wall, and My neighbor Totoro, and the website also mentions a large cast of characters. Would you consider Wandersong a story-driven game?
Absolutely, yes. The story is essential to giving the game context and adding personality to the world. For players who are not excited about story, I’ve taken great care to keep the text in the game tightly edited and minimize the number of conversations that are mandatory so that even they can have a good experience. But for those who want to explore, there is a huge wealth of story and characters to discover in this world and they all add something to the experience. One of the pleasures of making a game is getting to make as much as I want and go as deep as I want in every direction, and it will only be seen by the insatiable players who want it.
Finally, is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers about Wandersong?
Tons, but mostly I’m excited to just share the whole game with you when it comes out. 🙂
I’ll specifically mention that we are really concerned with accessibility, and we want to make sure all kinds of players can enjoy this game, including those who aren’t confident game players, or those with color blindness or hearing impairment. I want to reach as many people as we can and make their lives better with stories and art. So no matter who you are, if there’s something about this game that intrigues you I hope you come along with us on this journey!
We’re happy we had this chance to learn more about Wandersong. What do you think? Share your thoughts on Wandersong in the comments below.