Foul Play is about Baron Dashforth, a Victorian demon-hunter who's recounting his epic life story in a stage show. It's on the stage that the gameplay takes place in the form of mock fights, with one player as Dashforth and the other his trusty sidekick Scampwick. As the top-hatted, monocle-sporting Dashforth bashes adversaries about with his cane, messages of 'ACCEPTABLE!' and 'GOOD SHOW!' light up the screen. "It's very, very British," mused Croft, before taking a long sip of his Earl Grey as he returned to his Times crossword*.
When we resumed, Croft described Foul Play as "like a side-scrolling brawler meets Rock Band," since it doesn't have conventional health bars or damage meters. Instead, players are rated by how good a show they're putting on for their watching audience. The more complicated and varied the combos they pull off, the more the patrons whoop and cheer their efforts, and the better their scores become. Fail to entertain, and they'll be hissed and booed off the stage.
The game is Mediatonic's first foray into XBLA; the London-based studio is best known for 2010 PlayStation Mini Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess. Croft said Foul Play was also originally intended as a PS Mini, but Mediatonic felt its scale required a different platform. When we asked why it switched to XBLA and not PSN, Croft simply replied his studio is "working with Microsoft," although he didn't discount a future PSN release.
*we might've remembered this with a creative liberty, what what