You can’t get further away from the Nintendo aesthetic than a scorpion pumping its toxic payload into the guts of a stunned wolf spider. When Miyamoto looked into his garden he envisioned Pikmin; when the chaps at Rainbow eyed their Arizona backyard they envisioned a gritty crime thriller played from the perspective of nature’s creepiest crawlies. It sounds a little out there, but then it hardly came about via normal means.
“I had a dream,” explained lead designer Jordan Itkowitz when we went for a playtest. “In the dream I was a snake and was controlling the snake with the Wii remote, side to side, back and forth. And I was going through the grass and I saw a mouse, and I reared up with my right hand, the Wii remote, and I struck the mouse and killed it. The next morning I pitched it to the guys and they all thought it was pretty cool.” Crikey. A quick prototype later and the team realised that slinking around as a snake wasn’t as exciting as it was in the dream, and the focus shifted to the assassin-like spider and pugilist scorpion.
Since our last playtest a hefty dose of insect viscera has been added. Pinching and stabbing your foes sends streams of green goo splattering around, occasionally smearing the camera for extra effect. The fluorescent green blood is all part of a hyper-real take on the insect kingdom that runs through the entire game; the developers acknowledging that although their creature design process begins with fact, certain elements have been inflated and tweaked for a more cinematic effect.
And so we find the scorpion pulling off finishing moves more suited to one of THQ’s WWE titles – a series of powerslams and whips that would cause serious spinal injuries if there were only a spine to injure. The order of the day here is the cracking of exoskeletons to reveal spongy undersides ripe for a sting or a bite. Not that your enemies take it lightly, Itkowitz also describes encounters with the horned lizard, famed for weeping a caustic blood from their eyes that coats and burns would-be attackers.