We’ll be working on a review for Habroxia 2, so I got in touch with Lillymo Games to talk a bit about the game. Come check it out!
PS4Blog: Hi! Good morning to all. Could you please help us get this going by introducing yourselves to our readers?
Barry: Hello, I’m Barry M. Johnson. I do the programming and game design at Lillymo Games. We are a small indie studio based in Guelph, Ontario, that I run alongside our Chief Creative Officer Colin Moriarty. Joining me for the interview is Wayne and Anthony, who are responsible for the art and music for Habroxia 2.
Anthony: Hi! I’m HangOnGetReady or Anthony Swinnich. I’ve done sound and game design across several projects, including Shutshimi: Seriously Swole, Dog Gone Golfing, and Super Bernie World, as well as the still-in-development JUNKPUNCHER.
Wayne: I’m Wayne Kubiak, an artist and game designer that specializes in pixel art. I’ve been in the games industry since about 2012, working with various folks, and I’m also co-owner of Neon Deity Games. I worked with Barry on Habroxia 1, and we liked working together…so here we are!
PS4B: On that note, Habroxia 2 is set for a PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and Nintendo Switch release. How would you describe this one?
Barry: Habroxia 2 is the follow up to our retro-style shooter that we released in 2019. You play as a young space pilot named Sabrina as she sets off to rescue her father, who never returned from his mission. The game is an arcade-style scrolling shooter with an extensive upgrade system and special weapon customization. Rather than being strictly horizontal or vertical scrolling shooter, Habroxia 2 features levels with both styles of play and actively switches between the two mid-level.
PS4B: How have things changed between the first Habroxia and this sequel? What was different in the development cycle?
Barry: We have a customizable special weapon system, twin-stick firing, more enemies and bosses, branching paths, loads of unique environments, a killer soundtrack, a touching story, improved boosting system and pickup abilities, A NG+ with harder enemies and bosses, and side modes to unlock when the story is complete. We went all out to make it better than Habroxia 1 in every way that we could, and I’m super proud of what the team has pulled off.
Wayne: After we finished Habroxia 1, Barry and I were talking about doing some improvements to it only to realize the scope was so large what we really wanted to do was a sequel. Thus development went from a list of assets to more of a collaborative effort in creating more unique designs and mechanics that were even more hand in hand with the visuals. This also resulted in a push toward some more personal character to work alongside the new story elements.
PS4B: What was the aim of the Soundtrack for the sequel? What games inspired or influenced the sounds of Habroxia 2?
Anthony: While the action is keeping the player’s hands engaged, it’s my job to set the tone. I wanted to capture that adventurous feel prevalent in Konami SHMUPs like Gradius and Salamander or Compile games like Gun-Nac. There’s a bit of wonderment to some of those soundtracks that eventually gives way to a fierce determination as the game progresses. I tried to emulate that journey here.
PS4B: What influenced the art for this sequel? Everything feels more alive and detailed. Was there a particular shoot ’em up that drove the art direction onto this path?
Wayne: Thanks so much for the kind words! I’m a bit of an STG(shooting game) aficionado, so I’m constantly playing and parsing through different shoot em’ ups, so there’s a lot of little influences in spots, everything from staples like Gradius to some less talked about ones like Bio Hazard Battle and Dragon Spirit as well as some more recent releases such as Super Hydorah & Jamestown. I don’t like to stick to one source to reference from, or things end up coming out feeling too much like a copy for my tastes.
Sabrina and her father are inspired by 1980s and 1990s anime, and ships and monsters range all over the board from various horror and sci-fi concepts as well as various non-STG games. Lastly, right before we started to dive into the meat of development, I moved into a new area. I’m regularly taking walks in the nearby, which influenced me to create some more organic and natural environments. I’m glad that ended up coming through!
PS4B: Last time around, Habroxia got a limited print run thanks to the partnership with eastasiasoft. Will this also be the case for the sequel? If so, is this going to be only for the PlayStation family, or is a Nintendo Switch physical copy also in the cards?
Barry: We have again partnered with eastasiasoft and Play-Asia for a physical release of Habroxia 2. The Limited Edition Physical release of the game was up for pre-order through December 2020. Unfortunately, at this time, orders are now closed!
PS4B: And that’s all the time we have for today. Is there something else you’d like to say before we go?
Barry: I hope that fans of arcade shooters, twin-stick shooters, and retro games, in general, will give Habroxia 2 a shot. I feel like we have created something special, and do not hesitate to say it is our best title so far from Lillymo Games. Thanks for having us on for this interview.
Anthony: I’ve been around the block over the years, and working with Barry and Lillymo Games is among the best experiences I’ve had. Keep your eye on this squad, there’s something good in the water.
Wayne: Thanks so much for having us, and thanks to your readers for being interested in our game. I hope our love and desire to create some new and unique experiences even within classic genres shows through, and some of you enjoy what we’ve made!