INTERVIEW: Chatting with WayForward about Spidersaurs, a run-and-gun shooter
Running, gunning, spiders, and dinosaurs
Way back in 2019, WayForward brought some timed exclusives to Apple Arcade. One of those games was Spidersaurs, an original 2D co-op run-‘n’-gun action game. Right from the game’s debut, quite a few Switch owners were sad to see that Spidersaurs wasn’t planned for Switch. Little did we know that all we had to do was wait.
Back in March this year, WayForward revealed that Spidersaurs was finally going to make the leap from Apple Arcade to Switch. Slated for release in Spring 2022, this Switch version of Spidersaurs is more than just a port of the Apple Arcade release. This version is greatly expanded as it includes an all-new stage, a new true final boss, a new ending, two new difficulty settings, and two new unlockable modes (arcade mode and speedrun mode). Throw in some other tweaks and balance adjustments, and Spidersaurs is like a brand-new game!
To get some more insight on all things Spidersaurs, we virtually sat down with Tomm Hulett, director at WayForward. You can see our full interview with Mr. Hulett below!
GN: Spidersaurs was an Apple Arcade exclusive at first, but now it’s making the jump to Switch. Was there always a plan to bring the game to other platforms after the Apple exclusivity ended?
Tomm: We’re always evaluating opportunities for older titles to appear on current platforms, and this seemed like the right time for Spidersaurs! I did have a few tweaks in mind if we got the chance to port the game, so I can confidently say players will be getting the ultimate edition (and Apple Arcade users will get an update so they don’t miss anything either)!
GN: Is Spidersaurs inspired by any other gaming franchises?
Tomm: Many members of the Spidersaurs team previously worked on Contra 4 for the Nintendo DS. So some of our inspiration was getting back to our familiar run-’n’-gun stomping grounds. We had also just completed The Mummy Demastered, which paired Contra-style gameplay with the Metroidvania structure, so with Spidersaurs we added in special abilities you earn after each stage, like you might find in Mega Man X. While the basic moment-to-moment is pure Contra-style goodness, there are other surprises mixed in.
GN: How did the idea for Spidersaurs first come about?
Tomm: Creative director Matt Bozon came up with the premise and the characters, and some overall rules for the brand. Then they had me direct the game and fill in the details. The initial idea came from 1980s cartoons, as Matt and I both have a soft spot for the catchy theme songs that live in our brains rent-free. I compiled a spreadsheet of all the best ones and that helped set the tone for development! (Yeah, X-Men is cool and all, but have you ever started off your Sunday with King Arthur and the Knights of Justice?)
GN: What makes Switch a good fit for Spidersaurs?
Tomm: Spidersaurs is a great fit for Nintendo Switch - especially because Switch lets you grab a friend for 2p no matter where you are. Growing up, the run-’n’-gun genre was known particularly for memorable 2-player experiences (arguments?), and it was certainly a staple at sleepovers. I’m excited we can bring that experience to the Switch players of today.
GN: What new features and/or content can we expect in the Switch version of Spidersaurs versus the original release?
Tomm: There are a number of additions to the gameplay, including a new stage, new final boss, and additional endings. We’ve also rebalanced the various weapons, improved the boss encounters, and tweaked stage designs. We’ve added two new difficulty modes, and once you complete the game you can replay in Arcade or Speed Run modes! For Switch specifically we’re planning to feature HD Rumble, as well.
GN: WayForward always has excellent music in their games, and Spidersaurs seems no different. Who’s behind the tunes this time?
Tomm: Our music was composed by Harumi Fujita. She’s been composing since way back in the NES days, and has worked on Strider, Rescue Rangers, and Tomba, among others.
The catchy ’80s-style theme song was performed by Cristina Vee (voice of Shantae) with guitars by RichaadEB.
GN: The writing in Spidersaurs seems to really lean into humor. How hard is it to write something that gets the audience chuckling?
Tomm: I’ve spent a lot of my time at WayForward writing for licensed projects, and I have a very good ear for staying “on brand,” having worked on Adventure Time, TMNT, and Goosebumps. But Spidersaurs was my chance to find a voice for a big new WF brand. I think the other WayForward series have a distinctly off-beat, wacky kind of tone that I tried to capture. It actually took me back to my time at Atlus in the early 2000s, working on Steambot Chronicles and Metal Saga. Once you establish the characters themselves, you can put them into different situations and kind of hear how they would interact…and Spidersaurs definitely has unique characters that are interesting together!
GN: Is there a particular stage, moment, or element in Spidersaurs that the team is particularly proud of?
Tomm: I think everyone on the team has their favorite Spidersaur. But the one character that became a sort of team favorite is the Roach. He is our recurring mid-boss type character, and each time you face off with him you learn a bit more about how he came to exist. He’s a very satisfying character visually and narratively, and he’s also a good rival to test your abilities as he is still developing, himself. He’s even a dating option in our hit April Fool’s simulator, “Are We Soulmates or Am I Just Being WayForward?”
GN: Can we look forward to some WayForward Easter eggs tucked away in Spidersaurs?
Tomm: Easter Eggs? I thought these were Spidersaur eggs… Ewwww…
GN: Should we expect a future for Spidersaurs as a franchise, or is this more of a one-off experiment?
Tomm: That’s really up to you. Yes, you, the person reading this! Try out Spidersaurs and let us know what you think! I’m sure Victoria and Adrian aren’t done saving the world, if that’s the sort of thing players want. (They could certainly use the money - Victoria’s band tees aren’t going to silkscreen themselves!)
A HUGE thanks to Tomm Hulett and the whole WayForward team for taking time out of their busy schedules to chat about Spidersaurs with us! We’ll be sure to bring you full details on the game’s official release date and pricing once that information is shared.
That certainly is a combination I would have never thought of! Ill definitely be keeping an eye out for this one when it comes to switch, it looks like a lot of fun.
Here's to hoping we get a fresh look at the Indie World Showcase!