South African game developer and resurgent blast from the past, Celestial Games, has revealed they have been working on Toxic Bunny HD – a remake of their popular 1996 platform game. SA’s Apex Interactive has been appointed exclusive distributor of Toxic Bunny HD in South Africa, making this game a truly South African affair.
Apex Interactive will be releasing Toxic Bunny HD at the rAge 2012 expo, which takes place from 5 – 7 October 2012. The game will be playable and purchasable at the expo, available on Windows and Mac OS PC.
Celestial formed in 1994. The studio published two PC titles – platformer Toxic Bunny, and action-RPG The Tainted.
We caught up with one of the original designers of the game and Toxic Bunny HD project leader, Travis Bulford, to learn about the journey of bringing this remake to life.
MyG: How has the reaction been to the announcement of Toxic Bunny HD?
Bulford: We have been pleasantly surprised by the very positive reaction. We didn’t expect so many active gamers to remember the original game. Ironically, it seems a lot of the fans of the original didn’t in fact know it was a local product.
MyG: Any plan to bring Toxic Bunny HD to consoles and portable devices (Android/iOS)?
Bulford: We have been exploring the options. In fact, the level data streaming solution was built with Android and iOS kept in mind knowing they have smaller memory footprints. I don’t expect PS3 will be an option in the short term, but iOS, Android, and Xbox 360 are high probability.
MyG: What spurred you to get Celestial Games back together for this project?
Bulford: It fell together out of the blue really. I started porting Toxic Bunny to Java a while back (2005 one lazy night in Cameroon). At some point we realized that we could do so much more with today’s technology. Of course we needed more art and more programming and one thing lead to another. The decision point could be the day we decided to purchase new art for the game and start adding enough value to call it a new product. I don’t recall what day that was. One fortunate thing was that we could self fund. Funding a team is a huge obstacle even for the international teams. Here with no industry the issue is amplified. The HD version has taken more hours of work than the original to date.
MyG: How many of the original developers are working on the HD remake of Toxic Bunny?
Bulford: Of the original team of four, only two of us are still involved – Nick McKenzie and myself. Nick has been acting on more of a part time basis, whilst I have fortunately been able to dedicate more time to the project. Caleb Salisbury has moved back to New Zealand (although in Oz currently) and Brian Johnson unfortunately was unable to dedicate time (he has however been regularly available for moral support).
MyG: Any chance that The Tainted will see an HD remake?
Bulford: Perhaps, but in that case we might say simply a remake. There is a proof of concept version I built to show the team what we might do, but at this point we are not convinced the product would be well received in today’s market.
MyG: Does Celestial Games have plans for any new IP in future?
Bulford: Yes! We spent the last years dreaming up games we want to make; now it’s down to finding the time and choosing the order.
MyG: Can we expect anything special for the launch at rAge 2012?
Bulford: The game will be at our stand to play and on sale. Additionally, we will be running a “Could you be a Game character” competition. There is another competition we want to launch; one that is geared towards encouraging local developers. However, we can’t be sure we will have all the pieces of that puzzle together for rAge. Keep your eyes open, this is just the beginning.