Home » Hi-Fi RUSH Interview: Tango Gameworks Director on the Studio’s New, Not-Horror Game

Hi-Fi RUSH Interview: Tango Gameworks Director on the Studio’s New, Not-Horror Game

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One of the biggest games announced during Xbox’s Developer Direct livestream last week was Tango Gameworks’ rhythm action game, Hi-Fi RUSH. Released on the same day as the live broadcast, this amazing work gained popularity overnight with its colorful visuals and rhythmic battles.

IGN interviewed Hi-Fi RUSH Director Jon Johannas to find out why Tango, best known for horror games like The Evil Within and Ghostwire: Tokyo, chose a more colorful route this time around, and why it’s their biggest game yet. We discussed how we made one of the successful. Surprise of the year.

IGN: My entire timeline talks about Hi-Fi RUSH. I’m curious, when did you start developing Hi-Fi RUSH?

John Johanas: It was actually right after The Evil Within 2. I supervised it. [Tokyo] It was the next game the studio had already started working on in pre-production.

Also, when developing games with other team members, we talk about other games that people like. When we’re playing games on our break, we talk about action games. I had this idea bouncing around in my head for a while, but in my heart I was like, ‘Oh, this will never get approved,’ because this studio is known for horror.

I wrote a very brief pitch on this idea about how good it feels when a hit lands to the beat in a trailer or movie. What if an action game could do that? And just with the idea of ​​rhythm action, everything is synced to the music, but it’s not a rhythm game.

This is the most non-Bethesda game imaginable, as it showcases visual ideas like a throwback to the cel-shaded look of the PS2, Dreamcast and early Xbox days. I said, ‘You probably won’t accept this, but I think this is a really cool idea and I have a really strong idea of ​​how this works.

my boss [Shinji] Mr. Mikami said, “It’s cool. It really started at the end of 2017.

This studio is famous for horror, so in my mind I’m like, ‘Oh, this won’t get approved.

IGN: I think Tango is primarily known as a horror game studio. There have been many rumors about what your next game could be. When the project was finally revealed it was this bright and colorful action brawler set to a rhythm. A studio like you What does it mean for you to branch out into this new direction?

John Johanas: Well, you could say it was always intended in a way.

Looking at the original vision of the studio, it wasn’t just created to make horror games, but to foster new ideas and support new developers. But we didn’t put together a team to create the ultimate horror game. I was making an action game just like Mr. Mikami. He also has a history that transcends those boundaries. We didn’t feel like we should or should be confined to the Horror He First studio image.

I think it was important to show that you can do more than that. [horror] I think that was the most important thing.

If we’re going to do it, we have to show people that we can do it. it has to be a good one. A lot of time and effort was spent on this. Some call it an indie release or something, or a small project, but from my point of view, I spent five years on it, so it wasn’t small.

IGN: One thing I want to mention is that Hi-Fi RUSH is not small. I’ve been playing it and can see that every cutscene fits its rhythm.

John Johanas: The short answer is very, very, very difficult.

The long answer is basically that you need to tweak how the animation system works so that all animations are interpolated to the beat, whether it’s a little faster or slower. We have to create this new animation flow and people create these cool animations. It was a series of trial and error. Luckily, as development progressed, most people got the hang of what it takes to do this, so that helped.

The cutscenes were a lot of work. Cutscene director Jun Watanabe and I talked in detail about how to do this, and how to do it in a stylized way. The script and he had the BPM and put everything on a click track to animate it. We estimate that it takes about three times as long as a normal cutscene.

IGN: You mentioned the cel-shaded art style, a throwback to the old platform. When you see games like Hi-Fi Rush, other classic cel-shading games like Jet Set Radio immediately come to mind. Why go the cel-shaded route?

John Johanas: It was born out of the idea of ​​feeling like an old-school game. An old-fashioned game, but not retro. We also wanted to remind people that games are supposed to be fun. We wanted whatever we make to pop and be memorable like the games you mentioned.

first [at Bethesda]some people played it and talked to each other about it…they said, “Did you see that game they’re making there?”

IGN: Let’s talk about music. Do the in-game music choices reflect your team’s tastes? Are you a Nine Inch Nails fan too?

John Johanas: Amazingly, very early on, the team was like, ‘John, you can choose the music. A lot of people disagree about music, and I think sharing a playlist is the most embarrassing thing you can do. It’s like an odd “open diary”.

But I felt that we were headed in a very specific direction.And like I said, it was a weird personal project for me.Playing games and things that stuck in my mind or

I wanted something that felt late ’90s and early 2000s, because if that makes sense, it was the era I was talking about: the Dreamcast, the PlayStation to the Xbox era. It’s had a bit of a past, but it’s also kind of an exposure to artists that even the younger generation might not be listening to.

IGN: We published a big interview with Phil Spencer. One of the cool things he said was the idea of ​​Tango in his drop in the game Shadow.

John Johanas: This is the marketing team’s idea, not Tango’s credit. they pushed it through. We knew Hi-Fi RUSH was going to be very different from what we had done so far, but we also knew early on that something very special had happened.

This isn’t a horror game from a horror studio, so the “maybe” question may arise at first. Shadow When he came up with the idea for drops, he basically thought about allowing users to make their own decisions and play the game. When we saw the game for the first time in-house, there were many reports saying, “It looks interesting, I want to play it right now.”

We weren’t trying to give people the wrong idea, we weren’t trying to make people think, ‘Oh, that’s low quality. I was able to show it immediately. We were very confident in the product we had. I think that helped our title. ”

I think it was important to show that you can do more than that. [horror] and do well

IGN: I think one of the advantages is that people with subscriptions like Xbox Game Pass can jump right in. Did you consider that as well?

John Johanas: Yeah it was totally part of it. Again, you probably get a lot of skepticism when you ask someone to buy something on Shadow Drop, but the fact that Game Pass exists makes people basically mostly , which is theoretically a demo. But this is a full game, not a demo. They can just play and almost naturally talk about the game, talk to their friends and tell them how cool it is. So that’s what we wanted.

Inside, people never stop talking about it. In fact, that’s how it was built within Bethesda. I think it’s a whole other story how a game like this comes out of Bethesda, but it’s because a few people inside the company played it and talked to each other about it. are you there? Just playing this game caused this weird viral positive, and Game Pass quickly took what onboarding could be a little tricky or people were skeptical about just by playing it. It felt like the perfect opportunity to let go of that skepticism.

So far, based on the comments we’ve seen, it seems people really understand what we’re trying to do. People were saying, ‘I don’t know…’ and some people were saying, ‘No, wait a minute, I just downloaded this, I need to try this, I need to see this. It’s exactly what we wanted, but credit goes to the marketing and PR team for making it happen.

Matt TM Kim is IGN’s Senior Feature Editor.you can contact him @lawoftd.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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