Publisher: Plug In Digital
Developer: Too Kind Studio
Published Physically: 30/09/2018
SLG Release Number: #10
Pankapu is a narrative action-platformer that takes place in the dreams of Djaha’rell, a child troubled by a tragic incident. Upgrade your skills, find new competencies, switch your Aegis in real time in order to get rid of Nightmare’s invasion.
- 2D Action-Platformer
- Beautiful and unique artstyle
- Outstanding soundtrack by Matthieu “Ganaé” Loubiere and Hiroki Kikuta (Secrets of Mana)
Interview With The Developers
Too Kind Studio started out in 2014. How did the team form?
The core team was composed of 3 former co-workers. We decided together to start this incredible adventure to develop our own Universe. After a few months we decided to stretch up a little bit the team with 2 more people.
With Pankapu you released your first game as a developer. Was it hard to start a dev studio and a new project from scratch?
I won’t say it was hard. It was huge, exciting, a little bit frightening, but we were so well surrounded that it went quite well. The most difficult part was to know where and how to start this adventure. So much things to do between game development, funding the company, gathering partners.
What challenges did you face during development of Pankapu?
Sticking to the initial schedule and don’t add new stuff during the production were the most difficult part. As our own bosses, it was so much easy to postpone milestones or add new features that were not planned. It’s one of the most common traps with indie dev: doing what you want and loose time and focus. Fortunately, we already had some experience in our previous jobs so we limited the damages.
Any special moments that you won’t forget?
After the launch of PANKAPU, I read a review that really moved me. The author seemed to have some hard time at this moment, and she wrote that the game and its story touched her mind and soul. She didn’t know exactly why, but she understood that there were more than a little childish story and the message really got her. She said our game has helped her to cross this difficult time. As a storyteller and creator of games with meaning, it was the most beautiful thing that I had the chance to read. When I feel depressed, I always remind me that we managed to create a game that touched even one persons soul, and believe me, it’s such a great feeling. 😊
How was your experience with Kickstarter and would you recommend this to other devs?
Managing the Kickstarter campaign was both the most amazing and awful moment we lived for this production. It demands a lot of personal investment. You work really hard to prepare everything, and you know that the first days are crucial. And they are! But it’s not only the start that counts. We had a nice launch, and everyone said after 2 days that we’ll make it without difficulty. But as every KS campaign, the middle is like a spell in the wilderness. There were days when nobody even pledged 1€. So everyone in the team did its best to communicate, produce some nice stuff, talking to everyone and everywhere about the game. The campaign took 200% of the time of every member of the time. We never stopped passing from hopefulness to despair. But in the end we did it and the feeling at this time was so great. So if I have one advice to fellow developers that plan to start a KS campaign: prepare well, be aware that it will be a difficult time, keep going, and never loose hope.
Pankapu combines the realm of dreams and reality of a young child. How did you come up with this narrative idea?
We always had this idea of 2 interconnected worlds. We already had in mind characters that were in our reality (the Child and the Father), already had their own personal stories and life in mind. But we wanted to start softly with this concept and then we had the idea to tell a simple story in the World of Dreams, based on a classic tale, but that reflected more huge stuff that took place in another reality. So, we built the story of Pankapu on the idea of a sick mind trying to overcome a trauma. And that’s how we linked both Worlds.
The main theme of the Orbis has been composed by Hiroki Kikuta who also made the soundtracks of Secret of Mana and Shining Hearts. How was it working with such a renowned artist? Matthieu Loubiere and Kikuta-san really did a great job!
Thanks to them! And yeah, we were really lucky to work with such talented people. Hiroki Kikuta-san, despites his reputation, was really accessible and our exchanges were very nice. He totally understood what we wanted for our game and he perfectly embodied our vision. It was such an honour to work with a great composer like him, more over for the main theme of our Universe!
On the other side, Matthieu is a friend of mine since Junior High School. He has always been into music and always believed in and supported me on my career in video games. He never had doubts about the fact that one day I would create my own game and always said to me “Jimmy, when you’ll create your own game, I’ll compose the music for you.” And his promises were not empty words.
Pankapu looks and feels like an homage to games from the 80’s and 90’s. Did you have certain games of those periods in mind while working on yours?
Of course. We grew up with all those games from classic NES (FAMICOM), Super NES and Megadrive (GENESIS). While creating Pankapu we had in mind games like Super Mario Bros, Zelda, Sonic, Donkey Kong, Landstalker, Wonder Boy, etc.
Dreams are the overarching concept of the game – what do you dream about?
We dreamt to create our own game, and this dream became reality. Now we’re dreaming of continuing this great adventure and to share our dreams with our players.
Any hints on what we can expect next from Too Kind Studio?
The original universe that we developed for years before creating Too Kind Studio is a lot bigger than what we can glimpse in PANKAPU. So you can expect more games in the same universe, learning more about the Orbis and its inhabitants.
What’s your favourite food?
In the team we have some people who are a lot into Japanese food (and a lot of other Japanese stuff too). We also have a Belgian guy in the team so, as a tradition, I would say that we like French fries and beer (please drink responsibly 😊 ).
Is there anything you would like to add?
Believe in your dreams! The tiny warrior that fights for them lives within you 😊.
We hope you’ll enjoy the game as much as we enjoyed creating it.
Why Strictly Limited loves this game
Not only 90’s kids remember the action-platformer games like Mega Man of the 90’s. Games were straight forward back then. Challenging and satisfying gameplay, easy to pick up yet difficult to let go of. Pankapu brings back the style of these 90’s action-platformers and transitions them beautifully into the modern framework.
The opening introduces a fairy tale-like narrative story of a child awaking from nightmares. So the dream keeper Pankapu intervenes to help rid the child of its nightmares. Told as a bedtime story it opens up into two perspectives: the story of Pankapu with its dreamworld and epic narrative, as well as the life of the child with a dark and tragic atmosphere.
The fascinating narrative framework is filled with a charming art style reminding of old Disney games. The beautiful backgrounds and and animations will put a smile on your face every time you discover a new lovingly crafted detail. Supported by an OST from Hiroki Kikuta who also designed the music for Shining Hearts as well as Secret of Mana, Pankapu offers a heartfelt gaming experience we haven’t seen in a long time.
Pankapu offers you three different Aegis (Avatars) with different playstyles to switch on the fly during a near perfect mix platforming and battling enemies. The gameplay is diverting as it is long-term motivating with plenty of optional backtracking to collect all hidden items, improve your Aegis, or trying to beat the best times of each level if you’re looking for some competition.
We felt that Pankapu offers the complete package of a story driven action platformer bringing back the spirit of old times that pulls you in with its beautiful art style, lovingly narrative and precise gameplay that keeps you wanting for more.
Therefore a child needs your help to battle the nightmares. Will you do it?