Soul Bubbles: Fighting the Tide We've mentioned Soul Bubbles a few times, most recently in regards to the expert bias inherent in game reviews. GameSetWatch has a great interview up with Oliver Lejade, artistic director of the small French studio that turned out the DS game — it's reasonably lengthy, and a lot of issues get touched on, from Soul Bubbles itself, to that same 'expert bias,' to the market for DS titles (which Lejade says is being killed from a lack of originality and problems related to retail distribution channels). On the problem of how games are picked up by (large) retailers, Lejade has this to say:
... Basically a publisher has about five minutes per game, to explain what the game is about. So when you're selling a license? It's easy. You say, "Oh, well, we're making this game that's Spider-Man 3, it's going to be blah-blah-blah," they know what Spider-Man is, they know they're going to be signing X quantity of it, mechanically. So that's fine. You're saying, "Oh, this is a game about little girls, pink ponies, and you know that little girls are going to buy this," it's X number of units are going to go, it's an easy sell. But when you come in with an original game, that they don't have any clear reference to the gameplay of something that has been done recently, that has no license, then it's a very hard sell. And if you have only five minutes? I can't explain Soul Bubbles in five minutes. It's not doable — and I made the game.
Lejade's discussion of the gameplay of Soul Bubbles is particularly interesting, especially since he manages to convey the sense of 'People didn't get what we were trying to do' without sounding like a whiny, pretentious jerk. With the discussion of the casual-hardcore divide that's been going on recently, it's great to hear how people are attempting to bridge that — with some success, but not necessarily from a reviewer's perspective. Interesting interview and well worth a read. In case you're unfamiliar with the game, one of the gameplay videos is appended below. Mekensleep's Lejade - The Extended Soul Bubbles Interview [GameSetWatch]