I can’t imagine what life has been like recently for members of Frima. The decade-old Québec-based studio is about to steamroll into a five-week “Frimarathon” that will see six titles launched on four different platforms. I had the opportunity to sit down with Director of Intellectual Properties Jérôme Dumont and Director of Marketing Jean-Christophe “JC” Caron to learn about what’s in store. Beyond the games, what impressed me the most was the flexibility and versatility of the studio.
From a PlayStation Move title that’s actually a lot of fun (shocking, I know) to smartly designed digital books and companion “toys” for young children, Frima is bringing something to the table for touchscreen gamers, Facebook users and parents interested in teaching reading skills to their children. In addition to the diversity in content is a breadth of animation styles that wonderfully fit the games with which they are paired. Everything you see in a Frima title was developed by a team of in-house animators, and the studio is recognized in the industry, often taking on contract work from other developers in need of assistance.
Lights, Camera, Party!
The first game up, coming this Tuesday, August 28, is called Lights, Camera, Party! imagine if your favorite WarioWare title were a multiplayer experience with a single controller passed among the players. That’s essentially what this monkey-infused title is all about. I had the chance to play the story mode and try some of the 50 mini-games that will be available at launch. Using a single Move wand for multiple contestants on this absurd game show adds to the hilarity as players are forced to stay on their toes. You never know whose turn will be next, so paying attention is vital.
The Move tracking worked extraordinarily well, with the gestures operating in 3D space challenging, but not because of problems with tracking. The mini-games are well designed and varied, with the intent to create an experience that is equally suitable for both families and parties with adult beverages. Lights, Camera, Party! supports up to eight players in party mode, four in story mode and also features a multiplayer survival game type along with a series of challenges to get in a little extra practice. The title will be available on the PlayStation Network for $29.99.
On September 6, just in time for back to school, two apps will be launching for iOS and Android. These are the first of 10 in the CosmoCamp series, designed with the help of education specialists and aimed at children as young as two years old. CosmoCamp Picnic Problems is an interactive story book with a variety of uses. For younger children, the story includes “pictowords” that appear mid-sentence. For instance, instead of the word “cake,” there might be a picture that toddlers can tap to hear the word. For pre-school aged children, the story becomes more in-depth.
In addition to a voice actor reading the story, there is an option for the parent to read to the child and for both to record voices that can be played back as part of the tale. Along the way, there are parental tips that can be accessed for additional exercises that build upon the story. The animations, which can be activated by tapping are adorable and will enthrall children. From my experience with my own kids, the content is age appropriate and engaging.
Launching alongside the first storybook is the CosmoCamp Coloring Book. This app features images from the first story, 40 different colors and patterns and a magic wand for young children to fill in the picture where ever they touch. Completed images can be saved to the camera roll to be shared later. Later stories in the series will be partnered with other activities like a memory game. Each of the 10 apps will cost $3.99.
Rock Paper Sumo
Going into Facebook closed beta on September 13, 2012, is Frima’s take on Rock, Paper, Scissors. In this freemium game, players will face their friends by customizing their Sumo wrestler with over 200 different items. How items will factor into one of the world’s most simplistic games isn’t entirely clear, but apparently you can level up your wrestler and his moves. I can’t wait to throw a level 10 scissor… that seems like it should still be susceptible to a level 1 rock. The verdict is out on this one until we get our hands on it.
A Space Shooter Blitz
Building on the concept of 60-second gameplay of titles like Bejeweled Blitz, Frima is taking their galactic shoot ‘em up A Space Shooter for Free and giving it the ADD treatment on Facebook, iDevices and Android. Each day, players will get five play tokens (just like at Chuck E. Cheese) and a scratch-off ticket that can earn them even more chances as well as remnants, the game’s currency for purchasing single-use upgrades.
During the minute of play, you’ll be tasked with building up a multiplier, nabbing pickups that provide shields, missiles and other goodies, and taking down a boss. For those of us that like our bullet hell in short bursts, it’s going to be hard to stay away once the title launches for free on September 20, 2012.
My personal favorite of the titles in the Frimarathon will be arriving last, on September 27. Nun Attack is a lighthearted homage to 70s films. The titular nuns are on a bullet-filled quest to defeat their evil sister, who has unleashed demons on the world. In each level, you’ll get to pick up to three of the characters to take into battle. The Leader, Slayer, Tank and Medic all have their own weapon preferences, special abilities and roles in battle. The game is one part RTS and one part active-time battle RPG.
In each of the 40 missions, you’ll take your team across an overworld map, avoiding projectiles as you make your way toward a portal. Once you arrive, the perspective switches to an isometric view with enemies approaching from either side. Assigning targets is handled by dragging a line from one of your nuns to an enemy.
Should you get into trouble, you’ll be able to call upon single-use miracles. These are optional, and if you are low on money for the power-ups or weapon upgrades, you can acquire some more through in-app purchase. I asked JC and Jérôme if they were concerned about using nuns in a game so focused on firearms.
I was told that the studio is working hard to ensure that the art style and approach are lighthearted and humorous. They’ve removed all religious symbols in an effort to stem any criticisms that might come their way. In addition, the protagonists are likable enough that Jérôme is sure that the nuns he knows (“Yes, I know nuns!” he was quick to reinforce) would absolutely love the game because of the strong portrayal. I’m looking forward to the game’s release given it’s intuitive control scheme, appealing art and engaging gameplay.
It’s no doubt that the team at Frima will be due for a vacation by the end of next month. Keep an eye out for these titles. There’s a lot to like coming out of this Canadian studio.