It’s been made clear recently that the indie community is one of Nintendo’s biggest supporters for the current generation, as more and more indie games are announced for the Wii U and 3DS every day. As such, we want to highlight some of these independent developers that are supporting Nintendo consoles the most, taking a look at their history and where they might go in the future.
If you have ever been at all interested in the indie scene, chances are that you\’ve heard of Renegade Kid. From Dementium to Mutant Mudds, they are no stranger to going out of their comfort zone and trying new things. Founded by Jools Watsham and Gregg Hargrove in 2007, the small team has been all over the map, and they\’ve made a name for themselves the process.
It all began in 2007 with the release of Dementium: The Ward. With the game, the team attempted to fill a significant void in the Nintendo DS library and bring a first-person horror game to the system. They partnered with Gamecock, a small publisher that allowed them creative freedom and let them keep their intellectual property, to bring the game to life. It was a solid success, garnering an impressive reputation in no small part due to its ambitious visuals for a handheld, and it sold over 100,000 copies. They began work with Gamecock on a Wii game called Son of the Dragon, but unfortunately, the publisher soon merged with Southpeak Games and, in the process, the game was cancelled. But fear not, for Renegade Kid had another major project in the works that did see the light of day: Moon.
Using the same engine as Dementium, Moon was another first-person shooter and, also like Dementium, it garnered solid — if many mixed — reviews. Alas, the game sold quite poorly. The team had joined forces with Mastiff Games, another small publisher, but this time, the rights to the game and franchise belonged to Mastiff for five years. The game released in January 2009 and around this time, Renegade Kid pitched a DS version of the (eventually cancelled) Crash Bandicoot game, Crash Landed, to Activision but it never panned out.
They followed up with a sequel to Dementium, published by Southpeak Games. This time, however, they lost the rights to the franchise. The next year, ATV: Wild Ride was released for the DS, where Jools and the team once again partnered with Mastiff. Unfortunately, the game failed to garner many sales or much recognition.
And here we come to Mutant Mudds, whose development is certainly an interesting tale. Originally envisioned as a third-person shooter for the Nintendo DS and even getting a working prototype together for E3 2009, the game failed to attract publisher attention and so, the plans fell through. After several more attempts to get the game made, it disappeared for a while. At E3 2011, however, the game resurfaced in its current form: a retro-style 2D platformer for the eShop. This was by far Renegade Kid’s most successful game, selling extremely well on the 3DS\’ digital store, especially for the low cost it took to make it. Soon, they began porting to other consoles and updating the game with new levels. By the end, the game had been released on 3DS, PlayStation 3/Vita, PC, and Wii U, as well as doubled its original number of levels.
Several other titles released for the 3DS by the team. Neither Face Racers: Photo Finish nor Planet Crashers received much praise, but both the puzzle game Bomb Monkey and the 3DS upgrade of ATV: Wild Ride garnered solid reception. Sales for all of these are largely unknown, though it seems Bomb Monkey underperformed to at least some extent while ATV: Wild Ride 3D must have done well enough for the team to use the same \”DS-retail-to-3DS-eShop\” port strategy for a later title.
That title would end up being Moon Chronicles. With the franchise’s publishing rights returning to Renegade Kid from Mastiff, the studio decided that, like with ATV: Wild Ride 3D, they wanted to update the game for new hardware and give more people the chance to play it. With their desire to not rely on publishers in the future, they decided to use the eShop to distribute the game. Moon Chronicles is also using a new form of distribution for both the developer and for Nintendo. Like The Walking Dead series, it will be released in an episodic format and, depending on how well this is received, this may become a recurring business strategy; testing the format using a remake was certainly clever and it allows Renegade Kid to continue the series by adding episodes beyond the end of the original game, should it sell well enough.
So what’s Renegade Kid up to now? Where do they go from here? They certainly have no shortage of projects in the works. First up is Treasurenauts, another self-published 2D platformer for the 3DS eShop. Expected to release in Q3/Q4 of this year, the game is Jools and the team’s attempt to step away from Mutant Mudds in order to keep a fresh perspective on the genre. Mutant Mudds 2 has also been confirmed for development. Though it was announced not long after the original’s release, very little is known about the project; it does sound as if the game will be on hold until Treasurenauts is finished. A 2014 release date was the original goal, but the game will be slipping into 2015 instead. There is the recently announced skating game Razor Global Domination Pro Tour, a game which will supposedly be very similar to ATV: Wild Ride, in that it is focused on delivering a fun arcade experience. The game will release in 2015, published by Scarab Entertainment — aside from that, we know next to nothing.
Finally, we have Cult County, another first-person horror title. Originally announced as a tech demo at PAX a year ago for the 3DS, the game outgrew the scope of the handheld and so, Renegade Kid elected to move it to home consoles instead, which included the Wii U. The game was planned to, like Moon Chronicles, be released as an episodic and downloadable release. The 3DS was added back into the mix part way through the campaign. Alas, their attempted Kickstarter failed and the fate of the game is currently up in the air. Announced soon after this was an experimental 2D game for the 3DS, but no other information has been given about the title.
There is definitely a busy future for the studio. Moon Chronicles, if it does well, could keep them occupied for a long time yet, creating new episodes and seasons. Mutant Mudds 2 and Razor Global Domination Pro Tour will wrap up sometime in 2015 and their experimental 2D 3DS game could take goodness knows how long to release. Cult County could be abandoned, in which case the time that would have been spent on it could be used on other projects. There is the chance that the project will be revived and, like Moon Chronicles, could keep them busy making new episodes in the foreseeable future.
After these wrap up, though, who knows what the team will go on to do? From platformers to first-person shooters to sports titles, Renegade Kid has proven that they could do anything. Whatever happens, it seems we are destined for years more of their work on our Nintendo consoles and, no matter how you look at it, that can only be a great thing.