- Jackie Spencer
You're Invited to the Exclusive Taste Test for Cricket, at PAX ONLINE
After spending the last few months hard at work in the kitchen, we're now prepared to share our first sampling of Cricket: Jae's Really Peculiar Game. It's got a taste similar to that of other RPGs; fun, with deep flavor and a complex finish. We recommend that you pair it with your favorite controllers and a fresh connection to Steam, maybe a little bit of your favorite streaming platform if you are feeling bold.
We will be sharing this appetizer at PAX ONLINE, from September 12th - 20th! We'll have a few tasty treats including some giveaways, merch, and of course, the main platter - our DEMO!!! More details on that coming up!
Okay, now that's out of the way, I'd also like to take some time to talk a little bit about some of our thoughts and actions behind the scenes. With that in mind, Jimmy and I had a little talk, and here are some of his thoughts along with what you can expect when you sample Cricket at PAX this year.
Cricket's gameplay is a mix of Super Mario RPG, Paper Mario, Street Fighter, Chrono Trigger, and Dragon Quest, all rolled into one. Timed hits, super meter, partner attacks, turn-based combat, where the player's actions in the overworld affect the difficulty, we felt, was such a unique blend that we couldn't pass it up. We ran through many prototypes before we had something we were happy with.
Features of the game
As mentioned before, the combat is a mix of timed hits, super meter, and partner attacks, all wrapped into a turn-based system, blending execution and strategy with easy to understand elements.
For the overworld, we felt that JRPGs recently had not really grown much in this area, this led to us having conversations like "what if you could walk away while someone is talking?" and such.
As these ideas were being implemented and tied together, we decided that we needed this all to affect combat somehow, leading us to create the Notoriety system. Notoriety will go up as the player wreaks havoc in town, from bumping into NPCs to hitting people with trash cans, or walking away mid-conversation; as notoriety builds, combat becomes more difficult but will net better rewards, creating a sort of risk-taking element.
On top of notoriety, there are various hidden treasures and objects to ram Jae's head into by sprinting, leading to some weird discoverability moments! Try running into a ton of things, who knows what you'll find?
We hope that you find the number of things you can do in the world of Cricket to be dense and enriching, we spent a lot of time on it!
The narrative mainly focuses on Jae, a young, shy, and naive boy who has a tendency to be a little too trusting, as he tries to make a wish in the land of Yimmelia. Jae is clever but lacks the confidence to actually state how he feels.
He is joined by Zack, his big brother figure who is a very gifted young boxer. Zack loves his friends more than anything and is always willing to go to bat for them. Zack is brash and hard-headed but has a heart of gold.
Symphony joins up with the boys a bit later on, and while she rarely opens up to people, her sense of humor and wit will easily distract people from how she really feels. Always one to lighten the mood, Symphony is truly unforgettable.
Acacia is a bit of a mean spirit, but she won't mince words, and that honesty can be appreciated in the right context, she has a wish of her own to make in Yimmelia. Deep down though, Acacia has other ambitions, which you'll have to play to find out!
Twila is a half Dimi who just wants others to see her for who she truly is, her dry sense of humor and unwillingness to trust others makes her hard to get along with, but in those rare moments where you see her true side, she's truly endearing.
Charlie is a brilliant inventor whose eccentricities may be off-putting to some, but her unwillingness to waste time may be welcome. Not one to engage in pleasantries, Charlie operates quickly and gets the job done! A perfectionist to her very core, Charlie is not one to accept failure and is her own worst critic.
People may see bits of themselves in each of the characters, and I certainly hope so, we worked very hard on writing them! We hope you grow to love them as much as we do.
Seriously though, writing about the characters without spoiling anything is hard.
Why a JRPG?
Because they're my favorite genre, they're capable of delivering incredible stories with really solid gameplay that's easy to understand.
The game feel had to be uniquely us, I felt, so that meant having a sense of irreverent humor while using that as a vehicle to make salient points.
Earthbound ended up being a huge influence, from the setting to the art style. We felt that a wholesome approach to aesthetics was a great way to deliver the narrative. Irene, the artist on the project, has done an incredible job of taking Earthbound's feel and truly making it her own.
Dragon Quest was obviously an influence, in terms of how we would deliver narrative and how the player will traverse the world.
Audio-wise, it's hard to tell, kinda Earthbound, some Lord of the Rings, but with our own touch.
What made you decide to make Cricket?
Ever since I was a kid, being a huge fan of Dragon Quest, I always wanted to make a JRPG. As I grew, I thought that JRPGs were becoming less and less of what I wanted, except for the Dragon Quest series, so I decided to use the game engine that I had been working on to make something special, something that I would play. What originally started as an exercise for fun began to take shape, and I felt the fantasy story I was writing wasn't gonna cut it anymore.
I decided to reach deep down into my past to dig up something I had been meaning to tell for years, discussing the death of a loved one.
That's how it all began, really.
What do you hope the player gets out of it?
I want the player to have fun with characters with whom they feel are real friends, people they can go to the moon and back with!
By the end of the game, when the adventure is over and it's time to say goodbye, I want the player to feel as if they lost some real friends, I know I've had that feeling after playing a great game!
I want the player to know that, no matter what happens, no matter the adversity, their friends will have their back, as they will for them too. I want the player to know that they're going to be alright and that while the world is a weird place, their friends will help them through it all.
Cricket is truly something special to me, and I hope it'll be special to the player too.