Like Ghibli Barfing Rainbows: the Art and Motion of Capybara's Critter Crunch

By Brandon Boyer

CritterCrunch_Aug17_1p_1.jpg Even in their inauspicious mobile-focused beginnings, it was clear from the start that Toronto indie Cabybara Games had a keen eye for pushing the visual boundaries on whatever platform they were given. The pixels of the handset and later iPhone version of their original debut puzzler Critter Crunch popped aggressively with a pastel palette against its warmer autumnal backgrounds, an art direction that helped earn the game its fair share of mobile awards.
More recently given the chance to bring that sensibility to the PlayStation 3, though, the team took the risk of not simply cheaply upscaling their vision to the wide-screen, but to give the game a top to toe graphic overhaul and create a full HD-res 2D animated game. crunchwithlove.jpgThe results -- put plainly -- are basically staggering, with the soft and surreal wonder of Studio Ghibli-esque backdrops underscoring the hectic hand-animated critter-bursts on top, and are even more impressive when you learn that they're not the work of (as you might assume) a field of tirelessly slaving outsourced animators. In fact, nearly all of what you see in the game is largely the output of just two compatriots (or -- as Capy co-founder and president Nathan Vella terms them -- '2 radical dudes'): Nick "Qiqo" Stephan and Sylvain "Sylve" Coutouly, respectively responsible for character animation and background/world map art. Documenting just what heights a tiny team can reach with vision and proper passion, then, posted here is a rare look into the conception and evolution of the world of Krunchatoa and its creatures within (and a special bonus look at main character Biggs invading other Sony/PlayStation classics), alongside the theatrical-quality animation produced by Capy to surround the launch of the game, available now on the PlayStation Network (with the launch of its free demo version due tomorrow, Oct. 22nd).
Before the art, though, Capy's awesomely cinematic launch trailer shows just what you can expect from the finished product: a single or multiplayer evolution on Data East's cult classic puzzler Magical Drop with, appropriate to its name and gluttonous lead, a food-chain chain-system where each critter can only be fed to another progressively larger. biggs1.jpg biggs2.jpg biggscomp.jpg
Original Biggs concepts by Capy artist Tri Vuong, prior to Sony's greenlight
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Nick "Qiqo" Stephan takes over Biggs' design, and brings him into the world of other Sony (and fellow indie) games -- can you name them all?
CritterConcepts.jpg BGCritters.jpg
More prospective consumable creatures from Krunchatoa's world, and a scattered few from its backgrounds
sheet-withnotes.jpg SHEET1.jpg SHEET2.jpg map_v2.jpg
Roughing out Sylvain "Sylve" Coutouly's scenery with production notes, and an early overview of Krunchatoa
CritterCrunch_Aug17_1p_2.jpg CritterCrunch_Aug17_Cutscene_1.jpg CritterCrunch_Aug17_Vs_2.jpg CritterCrunch_Aug17_Vs_4.jpg
Scenes from the finished game: single-player, cutscenes, and versus multi-
Finally, the trailer that capitalized on the rainbow-barfing craze
For more information on Capybara and their other games (including the upcoming DS RPG/Puzzler Might and Magic Clash of Heroes) visit their official site, where you can also find a selection of instructional regurgitation T-shirts, and for Crunching on the go, be sure to have a look at the iPhone version of the game available in the App Store.

Published 5:15 am Wed, Oct 21, 2009

About the Author

Just trying to live a wild, pure, simple life.

15 Responses to “Like Ghibli Barfing Rainbows: the Art and Motion of Capybara's Critter Crunch

  1. wispsmoke says:

    Lots of people are looking at the big studio PS3 releases and claiming that they now want to own one. For me, though, it’s all about this game and some of the other puzzlers on the PSN. I’m a puzzle fanatic, and this just looks wonderful.

  2. ArnoDick says:

    Haha, “Nature is gross.”

    This game won me over with that line.

  3. jdmorse says:

    Cute. Sick, but cute. BTW, the original robot fighting contest “Critter Crunch” is running this Sunday at MileHiCon. http://www.milehicon.org This contest has run annually since 1987.

  4. Chrs says:

    Good lord, that is gorgeous.

  5. Anonymous says:

    it’s not just ‘like’ ghibli barfing rainbows

  6. Anonymous says:

    This is wicked awesome.

  7. Daedalus says:

    Great art, and crazy cute, but for barfing rainbows, I’ll take the King of All Cosmos over these furballs any day!

  8. superbrothers says:

    PRAISE BE – it’s a lovely thing to see Mr. Brandon Boyer back in action & it’s fantastic to see the miracle of Qiqo & Sylve’s artwork revealed like this.

    To the PS3 owners out there, know this:
    CRITTER CRUNCH PSN is a beautiful thing to behold in crisp HD, it sounds as spectacular as it looks & it plays as smooth as it sounds. It’s a perfect side dish to this season’s PS3 blockbusters or a delicious meal all on its own. GET IT YO!

  9. Anonymous says:

    this is such a beautiful game, and definitely worth every penny! <3

  10. theawesomerobot says:

    I’d say it’s worth owning a PS3 for this game. It’s just so pretty, consider the purchase as a purchase of a moving work of art – $300 isn’t too shabby if you lie to yourself!

  11. thekinginyellow says:

    this game looks sweet as hell but i refuse to purchase a ps3 for any reason. if they release out a wii ware version i would totally spend some points on it.

  12. Kylini says:

    This game looks absolutely fantastic to the point where I’m considering a PS3. Thank you BoingBoing for hosting this article too!

    Would it be remotely possible to have official wallpapers too? I would love to show this artwork off at work when I’m away from my desk.

  13. Anonymous says:

    When talking about barfing rainbows, one cannot forget http://www.rainbowpuke.com

  14. AirPillo says:

    It took me five-times skimming the sentence to stop incorrectly reading “Toronto indie” as “Totoro indie”.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Hi guys a nice interview of Neil Blevin from Pixar here.. talking also about Myazaki! Check it:

    http://www.camminandoscalzi.it/wordpress/neiblevin-interview.html

    Bye ;)