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


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.




Original Biggs concepts by Capy artist Tri Vuong, prior to Sony's greenlight




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?



More prospective consumable creatures from Krunchatoa's world, and a scattered few from its backgrounds





Roughing out Sylvain "Sylve" Coutouly's scenery with production notes, and an early overview of Krunchatoa





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.