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Two Strikes - Retro Reactor's Danilo Barbosa Interview at IndieDevDay

We swear Retro Reactor has no affiliation with Gamereactor, but it's just that, other than such an awesome name, we loved how these guys hand-draw their fighting games in Brazil. In Barcelona the studio's owner and solo developer told us about inspiration by Akira Kurosawa's samurai movies, differences coming from the first entry, tactical mind games, and more.

Audio transcription

"Alright, we're in Barcelona for the IndieDevDays and we're taking a look at the game by iStudio which looks like it has something to do with Gamereactor but they don't and it's looking really really nice which is Retro Reactor and they are presenting this very interesting, very nice looking hand-drawn fighting game which is Two Strikes, so thank you so much for joining us Danilo What can you tell us about the main concept of the game other than its beautiful art style?
Well, the idea came from watching samurai movies and especially Seven Samurai from Akira Kurosawa and in this movie there's a scene where there's a duel between two Ronin, like two wondrous samurais and like in the beginning they fight with wooden swords and then they attack at the same time and one of them say oh yeah well it was a tie and the other said no actually if it were like real swords you'd be dead by now and the other guy oh no let's do it again let's draw real swords and they draw the swords and the whole situation changes, everybody tenses up, everybody's like sweating like the crowd gathers, nobody can breathe and just like that, just in a flash, like in one strike the fight is over and that's what was the idea that I got for my first game, this is my second game my first game is One Strike and now I'm with the sequel I'm working on this one for almost five years now and it's almost ready to be released Are you a solo developer or do you have a team with you working on the art and the gameplay design and everything?
I have a lot of people working with me, not anymore but as freelancers but it's a solo project like I'm the programmer and game designer of the game and I hire people to work with me, artists and sound designers, QA historian now working with me as well I'm not acquainted with the prequel, with the original game so what can you tell us, I don't know the differences between the first game and this one so what can you tell us about what you're trying to achieve here in terms of I don't know graphics and gameplay differences compared to the first game They are very very different, the first game was my first commercial game I used to do educational games before and that was my first shot with outdoor games and I did everything by myself because it was really hard to find people to get in the band with me to try to do something together, so I did everything by myself in eight months I finished pixel art, it has the same simple premise but it's a lot simpler than this one on this one what I wanted to do was to get everything that I learned from the first game make it more interesting in any way possible so the art is such a huge leap that it's even hard to explain because one game is my, I started pixel artist working on it and this game is made by really really good talented skilled artists and the gameplay is also another thing that is very different from the first one because the first one didn't have a lot of testing and didn't have a lot of community I didn't have a lot of touch with the community so with the first game I gather like a community, a lot of people like the game because it was released on the Nintendo Switch, it did quite well there so I actually have now like a kind of a supportive community that's behind me now and this game had all of that, so it's better in every single way from the first one now that you mentioned the art, what can you tell us about the work that went into making this beautiful artwork work frame by frame, hand-drawn in a fighting game which always you know for example we were talking with Mario developers the other day and they were like if we go too complex with the animations then what about the response and then how both characters collide, right?
so how do you work on balancing beautiful art hand-drawn with frame-based fighting game?
It's a difficult situation, it's a very difficult situation because I decided to go with 2D again because I already had experience so I decided to keep on something that I was comfortable with and at the same time it was difficult to work with such great artists because balancing a fighting game means changing the animations, changing the velocity that they play so I mean I had a lot of drama to deal with It was almost like a fighting game with your artist It was basically, yeah, at some point he even said that I was ruining his art so yeah, now you have like an understanding we're all Brazilians so imagine it's a big drama And how does that gameplay work?
What are you guys, what are players going to do here?
Is it very complex in terms of combos or is it simple input but you have to be very fast and very skilled so how does it work in terms of you know the different characters and how the fighting works?
Well, I have to say that this is a very unique fighting game because it's not, I don't think you're going to play anything like it and I'm not saying that because I'm trying to boost anything it's just because I've been participating in a lot of events like this and I've seen like, and I love fighting games as well so what goes into this game is a mixture of beautiful art, strategy and very casual gameplay but not ultra casual so it's not as simple as like dive kick or footsies it doesn't have any combos I decided to remove that because it was something that I never enjoyed that much about fighting games I think it's beautiful to watch but as a fighting game player I never was really into it but I always loved the other aspects of it so like the footsies, the mind games so this game is completely focused on that on moving your character around like creating plays that trigger defenses on your opponent or like an attack that is not going to hit and you can like capitalize on that so it's about, I would say that the strong point on it is mind games even though it's a really fast paced game it's also quite strategic because there's a lot of, like the game loop is quite short because it's one or two strikes that finishes the match exactly, there's no energy bar, there's no life bar and this is on purpose because since the game is actually inspired by movies I wanted to give completely UI free gameplay so the only things that the players they have to look, they have to pay attention is the characters and it's a life or death duel, you have to be serious but at the same time between rounds I put like a round counter so the game stops a little bit so you can think on your strategy for the next match so at the same time it's super fast paced the matches can last 5 seconds or 20, 30 seconds but you stop a little bit and you think okay so I did this this round what can I do to get my opponent on the next round you know and any sort of specials that you can pull off and what can you tell us about the characters themselves, the differences between them no there's no specials, each character has weak attacks and a strong attack the strong attack finishes in one strike and the weak attacks finishes in two strikes but of course the strong attacks they have a long animation and they are really easy to defend and besides that you have mechanics that for example the parry mechanic even though you cannot hold the button and defend, it's a parry mechanic if you do it properly it's very strong so attacking is very dangerous in this game so that's why you have to think a lot, you have to trick your opponent to use the parry because the parry at the same time is quite strong if you fail it can open you to counter attacks and it looks fantastic, it looks like Star Wars Visions the first episode it looks like this with the black and white it looks really really good and you mentioned the Switch before, so which platforms are you aiming to release on and I've heard that you have a publisher so when can we expect to be playing Two Strikes?
Well we just recently signed with Intel 2 Studios and we're working on it, so far we don't have the exact dates but it will be early 2024 and the idea is to release in most platforms so Switch, PlayStation and Xbox Where did you get the name of the studio from?
Oh good question, it's quite old I've been doing games for 8 years now and at that time I always imagined that I would do more retro style games but with this game it didn't work out that way So now, I don't know In a way, fighting is retro Yeah, so the Reactor came because I'm an electronic engineer I'm not like an IT guy So I used to work with solar panels So I wanted to bring this to my gaming career So that's the reason And we love Reactors, I game Reactors So that's very nice Thank you so much for your time Enjoy the show and good luck with the game Thank you and thanks for having me"

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