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Interview: Alex Neuse of Gaijin Games


A Bit.Trip-themed party at LA's GR2 gallery/store served as an E3 kickoff of sorts for us, as we prepared to be dazzled by new games with a night of dazzling Bit.Trip games projected on the walls outside the store.

Gaijin Games CEO Alex Neuse took a break from watching attendees' minds be blown by the magnificence of gigantic Bit.Trip Runner to speak to Joystiq about the future of the Bit.Trip series, the successs of Runner, and being in awe of Tetsuya Mizuguchi. A note: the wink at the end will make more sense after you read that Gaijin announced an iPhone version of Bit.Trip Beat two days after we conducted this interview.

Joystiq: How's the party going?

Alex Neuse, Gaijin Games: The party's pretty fun! It kinda started off slow, and I thought maybe no one's going to come, but now it's filled out and I couldn't be happier. I really like playing the games all big on the buildings, but the most fun for me is talking to fans of the series and to see how much they really care for it. I'd say it's going really well tonight.

Are the games any easier on the big screen?

Man, I wonder. You know, they might be. They just might be. But they're harder with a crowd of people pressuring you to beat the boss of level 1 in Runner.

How have people been responding to Runner? Has it been different from the previous, less abstract games?

That's interesting. That's an interesting question. We think that Runner has been so well-received because it's way more literal.

You're a guy and you jump.

Yeah, you're a guy and you jump and you can kind of relate to that. It's still super abstract and out there and weird at times, but, yeah, the feedback that we have gotten is that people are liking it a lot.

So is the next one going to be even more literal? Is it going to be MMA? Commander Video's giving a guy an arm bar?

Yeah, totally! It's next gen stuff. No, but it is more literal. And this has always been planned from the beginning of the series: we were going to start super bonkers and abstract, take it into the literal a bit ... I don't want to give away where we're going next, but you can kind of guess, right? But the next game is still in that literal sort of area, and then I think we'll kind of take it back to the roots after that.

For number six, right? It's a six-part series?

It's a six-part series, right.

Now that everybody has a crazy controller, are you looking at Move and Kinect?

Yeah, absolutely. The motion control thing, for me, is: use it when it's appropriate. Do not force your game to use it. That's how I feel about it. For instance, with Bit.Trip Beat, we felt that it was appropriate and necessary to use the motion controls. But for the other games in the series, it wasn't, so we're not! I am excited about those motion control things, but I'm only going to use them if we come up with something appropriate. And I will tell you what: we've got a lot of ideas for those two things, that I won't talk about.

Is there any thought toward porting the existing games?

There is thought to that -- this is a hard question to answer, but I think basically the most honest answer I can give you is that we are just three guys, and we don't have a lot of time to work on side projects with this property, and so what we're doing now is focusing on finishing out the series. And I think we're going to kind of evaluate it at the end and see where we go from there.

So about how far out is the next Bit.Trip?

Probably a few months. A couple months out. We're deep in development.

Do you make them one at a time or do you have all of them going?

We make them one at a time. Right now we're about halfway through, maybe, with Bit.Trip 5. There are parts of it that are super awesome, and there are parts of it that are super crusty, so we're trying to figure out, okay, how can we make this really work out? The one thing I can promise is that it continues the story, and it's kind of like the Empire Strikes Back of the series, if that means anything to you.

Have you seen any of the E3 announcements yet?

I have seen nothing. Anything cool?

Tetsuya Mizuguchi announced a Rez-like game for Kinect.

Dude. Rez is among my favorite games ever made, and I can't wait to see that. Tetsuya MIzuguchi is a huge inspiration for me and for the Bit.Trip series, of course. I met him last year and he was a very nice guy, very cool. I can't do anything but hope for the best for that game and his career. He's awesome. I can't concentrate anymore now that you've told me about this.

It's an odd thing to open a mass-market presentation with.

The way you described it, like a spiritual successor to Rez ... the interesting thing is we're working on something post-Bit.Tripthat is really wacky and out there too. And people are ready for that. I think people are starting to get sick of the same old same old in their games. Or at least I hope that. Because e're trying to break the mold a bit, right? And if this is that sort of thing I hope that he's doing the same thing, and we're all kind of going for it now. Let's get creativity back in this medium. That's how I feel.

Why is a game like Bit.Trip Runner only on the Wii?

I think the short answer to that is that we are a studio of only three guys. So we only have time to focus on one thing at a time. Eventually, you will see it on other platforms. I guarantee that.

iPhone? It has to happen.


I saw a wink!

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