Super Exploding Zoo was a surprise addition to the Eurogamer Expo and was announced just as the doors opened at Earls Court.
“We’ve been working on Super Exploding Zoo for a while now (its origins go back to a flash prototype we did about 4 years ago),” explained Honeyslug’s ‘Scouser, Evertonian and Tea Monkey’, Mark Inman, “But getting something polished and ready for the show was happening right up until Wednesday, so we knew we wanted to announce before EGX, but only once we were happy with what we had to show and talk about.”
Beetle-like aliens have invaded your zoo and are advancing on the delicious eggs that are dotted around the play area. Unfortunately for the aliens they have landed in the world’s only Exploding Zoo, home to pandas, lions and other assorted animals that spontaneously combust when they come in to contact with the aliens. Imagine Michael Bay directing Animal Planet and you’re half way there.
“The eggs are precious because some contain new animals species to add to the zoo,” said Mark. “The animals on the demo are just a small sample of what will be in the full game (over 30 animals divided among 11 animal categories). While some animals will become available with progress, others are inside the eggs, however to get into it, you have to throw a load of explosive animals at it to break it. So it’s always good to make sure you end a level with a healthy surplus.”
Using the joysticks or the touch screen players must move the herd of animals around the zoo, collecting other species as they do so. Once you have a decent amount of critters you can then send them on a kamikaze run towards the aliens which are making a slow but unrelenting march towards the eggs. The skill is to choose which animals to send to their untimely deaths and which to use tactically as each creature has different attributes and skills.
“We have Lions, which are super powerful in terms of their bomb power, however, they can also act defensively when deployed to a plinth,” explains Mark. “They will stand on top of it and roar, which scares any nearby aliens, slowing them down and buying valuable time for the player to gather more animals.”
“The strategic compromise in doing this is, like when using a croc for a bridge, you lose the bomb power that animal gives to the herd,” said Mark. “This isn’t always the case, Monkeys can climb certain walls and – because they have opposable thumbs – they can also operate TNT plungers, but their individual bomb power is rubbish, so the key to them is to keep them safe in the herd until you can use them. Meercats, pandas & elephants all have different skills, but we’re keeping our powder dry (to stick with the explosive theme) on some of the categories & skills for now.”
While some of the animals are roaming around in the open, others are locked behind walls that must be destroyed, thus depleting your supply of precious animals. The demo levels, of which there were four, contained multiple alien attackers so keeping an eye on the enemies, the location of the eggs and the herd is a finely balanced juggling act.
However, the Daily Mail can hold off the “Video Game Forces You To Kill Pandas” headline for the moment as there are not your normal endangered species.
“I wouldn’t say they’re endangered in the traditional sense, they’re exploding animals, so their reason for being is to explode! Plus, have you seen how many pandas are in the game? I don’t think exploding pandas have the same reproductive issues as the more traditional non-explosive type.”
I have a feeling that Super Exploding Zoo may be surprise hit on the Vita, admittedly it’s hard to get a decent impression of the game with just four levels and the bustle of EGX in the periphery of my vision but I can imagine the multiplayer – which includes cross-play between the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita – being an awful lot of fun. You will certainly get your money’s worth as the game will ship with 80 levels and once you have finished them you can play a mode that randomly generates scenarios.
Finally, I had to ask Mark why they named the company Honeyslug? Honey – mmm! Slug – eww! Who thought of the name and did they consider Baconspider or Cakesnake?
“It was kind of a battle between the other founders of the company Nat & Ricky. We settled on something non-obviously gamey with the ambiguity of the words being an important aspect. We did have another name idea at the time of Guncake. We sacked it off because of the ‘Gun…’ bit.”
Super Exploding Zoo will be released for PS Vita and PlayStation 4 at some point next year.