The last 18 months have seen EA step up their investment in digital distribution considerably. The success of their digital-only titles, like Battlefield 1943 and DeathSpank, has prompted them to begin diversifying further in this space.
Their latest digital title, Spare Parts, is a family friendly action game, but one with some unique co-op benefits. The keen Gary Napper, game designer at EA Bright Light, told us about high-fives, sci-fi references and why Spare Parts is a game for everyone.
What were some of the inspirations that went in to Spare Parts?
I play a lot of games like Ratchet & Clank with my girlfriend, and I just wanted to make something that is an accessible action game that the whole family could play, as well as hardcore gamers, like myself. I couldn’t really call out a specific title, but I play so many games that they’ve all really had a big influence.
Co-operative play is a big part of the game. Can you tell use more about that?
Yeah, we made sure the game was co-op focused. There’s things in the game that you can do, like if you both double jump at the same time, you perform a high-five which gives you a health pack. If you’ve got certain items equipped and you use at the same time, you get a bonus for using them. And others can be combined to create a greater attack. We wanted to make it so that the second player was a real asset to have there, rather than just a copy of you running around, doing the same thing.
Length is something more dedicated players are quite vocal about. You mentioned it’s about six hours long.
Yes. Between five to seven hours for the main story and 10 hours plus for 100 percent completion. We have Action Parts for the robots to collect. Ship Parts, which drive the story to repair the ship to escape. And also upgrades that you can purchase for each of the robots. We have other robots you can find in the world and repair, and they become selectable characters to play as.
It’s drop in/drop out co-op. So I can just drop out a second player at any point or play on my own. We don’t have a drone character, so if you’re there on your own, it’s just you.
The presentation will be familiar to anyone who’s played Ratchet & Clank, Metal Arms: Glitch in the System or seen DreamWorks’ Robots. You’ve also added a number of Easter eggs and sci-fi references for fun, such as Mrs Fusion.
A lot of our Action Parts have a big reference to sci-fi things or people on the team. We all put our nods to our favourite films and games in there.
We have 100 Ship Parts to collect in total. To complete the game you need about two-thirds of that, but there’s always those really well hidden ones as well. We also have Data Discs hidden in the world that give you programmes to use in the training room. So that’s where you compete on Xbox Live to get the fastest times and high scores and stuff.
Pretty much everyone on our team has got their own little Ship Part hidden in there somewhere. Our animator Neil Parkinson has a part in there called the Neilkinson Matter Animator. So little things like that.
Who are you hoping to capture when Spare Parts is released?
I like to think that we’ve made a game for everybody. It feels like it’s a young person's game, but it’s the sort of game I hope a lot of older players, like myself, will play. I just hope it does well, and lot of people get to play and enjoy it.
Spare Parts arrives on XBLA and PSN in winter 2010.