What's the Gum Recipe? - Garbage Pail Kids: Mad Mike and the Quest for Stale Gum
Now, who doesn't love to chew gum? Here at Mega Cat Studios, we chew gum every chance we get. And we also had a chance to interview one of the developers of Garbage Pail Kids: Mad Mike and the Quest for Stale Gum, Tim Hartman, of Retrotainment Games, and here's how it went!
How was this game born?
The game was born out of our love for the Garbage Pail Kids and the Nintendo Entertainment System.
As young kids in the '80s, Greg and I grew up fans of trading cards and various products that emerged as the GPK craze broke out. Garbage Pail Kids were loved by kids, hated by adults, and snubbed by the gaming industry in the NES era. They were controversial, which may have kept them out of the space. We like to say that we're creating the Garbage Pail Kids game they've long deserved.
What was development like?
The design process for this game flowed very well as our team loved the opportunity to work with Topps to bring their characters to life and felt natural to do so. It was a real treat to get deeper into the GPK lore since many of us on our team are lifelong fans and collectors.
One of the main ideas was to bring as many GPK characters to life as possible; so we went through the cards, found ones we liked that we thought would work, and then brainstormed about what they could do in the game to make them unique and add variety. In the end, we were able to include 40+ characters.
Developing for the NES is nothing but difficult though. You have to deal with the challenge of game development along with hardware restrictions, space constraints, and more. But this is what we love and what GPK deserved so we wanted to make it happen.
What did you learn about yourself through this game?
Personally, I learned that it was very difficult to make the tough choices of which characters to use and which characters not to use in the game. There are so many amazing characters in the GPK universe and it was super tough to narrow it down.
What makes this game special?
It's a legit game made for the original NES and directly ported to modern consoles like Nintendo Switch, Xbox, and Playstation. You get the same game regardless of where you’re playing it.
Even though it is littered with GPK lore, characters, and fun, gross elements, it is however a game someone can pick up and play without being familiar with the Garbage Pail Kids. We designed it with the idea that every level has something new and surprising in it. It also has minigames, a trading-card mechanic, fun NPCs, and a silly story. Our audience is anyone who likes games. It's also cool to give people a chance to get their first new NES cart, which is something a lot of players have never experienced before.
How does sound play a role in the game?
A quirky and unique brand like Garbage Pail Kids deserves an equally goofy soundtrack that’s fun to listen to and a fun set of sound effects. Complete with burp and fart samples, the sound is definitely a highlight of the game.
What games influenced this one the most?
We started by making the game we wanted to play. It wasn't a case where we were looking at another game as a model or a direct inspiration.
Any fun stories or wild moments during development?
Getting to work with Adam F. Goldberg, Ira Friedman at Topps, iam8bit, Digital Eclipse, and Joe Simko was particularly fun, as we got to smash a ton of '80s nostalgia and love for the era into this goofy project.
The wildest moment for me personally was when I was having a meeting with Ira Friedman, and my son threw up during it. I quickly yelled out Up Chuck (a character in the game) while Ira assured me it was a Luke Puke.
I still laugh about this every time I think about it.
Do you think preserving older gameplay mechanics in new games is important?
Yes, but I think it is healthy to have both new and fresh mechanics whenever possible when developing. Old mechanics are tried and true, being very familiar to players, but taking a chance on fresh mechanics can really help create a new experience. For example, Leaky Lindsay and Luke Puke both have projectile attacks but Lindsay’s snot rockets are the classic straight-ahead shots while Luke’s projectile vomiting follows an arching path. This allows for some unique combat with Luke because you can hold B to get more distance, rain the attack down onto enemies below or leave a pile of puke in front of an enemy and wait for them to step in it and take damage.
What's your favorite memory as a gamer?
My favorite memory as a gamer is playing Baseball Stars for the NES with friends like my business partner Greg Caldwell. Creating our own leagues and teams, playing full seasons, keeping stats, throwing controllers, and getting into fights over gameplay is something I will cherish forever.
Who will enjoy this game the most?
Garbage Pail Kids: Mad Mike and the Quest for Stale Gum is for old kids like us and young kids like our children. We think the older crowd who grew up with the Garbage Pail Kids will have a great time with it. It's fun and silly and gross -- which makes it great for younger kids as well. Ultimately, it's for people who want to experience a retro game, whether this is their first time experiencing an 8-bit game or they've been playing NES since they bought one new.
Retro gamers will enjoy this the most, but I feel modern gamers who give it a chance will be quite surprised by the various hero characters and their unique offensive arsenals. Each of our hero characters has a unique strength that will help you tactically in the game if you pay attention.
Bottom Line, why must someone play this game?
You must play it to experience what people are calling "The Grossest Game of the Year.” And if you knew GPK from the ’80s, it’s a fun trip down memory lane.
How do you want this game to be remembered?
I'd like this game to be remembered as us giving the Garbage Pail Kids the 8-bit game they have always deserved. The brand was so iconic and important, so them not having a game back in the late '80s was a travesty.
Right now we are continuing to market Garbage Pail Kids: Mad Mike and the Quest for Stale Gum and our other games, Haunted: Halloween '86, Haunted: Halloween '85, and our newest open-world, mystery-adventure called Full Quiet. In addition to creating our own IP, we’re also entertaining ideas to bring existing IP to life in retro form, especially for others who never got their moment in the 8-bit sun.
We love retro and remain committed to that space with whatever we do which includes the publishing venture 8-Bit Legit, consisting of Retrotainment Games and our partner Mega Cat Studios. In 8-Bit Legit, we take games from cartridge to console.
Anything else you'd like to add?
It's all about 8-bit. It's what we do at Retrotainment. The cartridge comes first. We also think it's cool to expand the NES catalog with games that have been passed over back in the day. Keep an eye out for what goofy game we can cook up next in our 8-bit laboratories. And as always, shout out to the NES homebrew community for making all this possible. We love being a part of such a vibrant, passionate, growing community!
Check out the launch trailer here!