Sorry, Mario, but our princess isn’t in this castle. She kind of has a country to run and went ahead and saved herself a few hours ago. Maybe if you hadn’t been goofing off in the sewers, of all places, you would have made it here in time.
That’s the idea behind MK-Ultra’s Knight & Damsel, an “uncooperative” multiplayer side-scroller that turns each rescue into a race. Play as either titular character, navigating randomly-generated mazes of blocks with unique properties. As you jump, hack, and burn through the course, you can keep you opponent in check by throwing blocks from your screen to theirs. Not only will this shoot out extra obstacles for them to overcome, but inter-screen flinging can trigger a variety of inconvenient game changers for your opponent. Nothing kills a cocky attitude like a well-timed avalanche, right?
We caught up with Creative Director Mathew Kumar to learn more about the game.
JI: The premise for Knight & Damsel is quite striking. What inspired the developers to subvert the Damsel in Distress trope like this?
MK: Well, I guess it feels kind of a long time ago, but before the Toronto Indie Games Jam 2013 the first Tropes vs. Women in Video Games video had just been released and I saw a lot of criticism that was like “oh yeah? Why don’t YOU make a feminist game if you’re so clever?” So I tried to view it as a design puzzle – how could you critique the trope through game design alone? I used that as my impetus to design the version we created at the Game Jam in 2013, and then we decided to go ahead and produce a full game based on the idea.
When we announced the game I got really excited about this idea and really tried to push that it was a “feminist” game but I wouldn’t go that far now, especially as the game has gone through a lot of changes as we developed it. I think it’s a game that does consider the trope, and it does reflect my own personal feminism, but it’s a video game first and foremost.
JI: Can you tell us any more about the “mix-and-match” Arcade Mode?
MK: Oh, this is pretty simple. The game has twelve unique item blocks that you can select up to three of. They all interact in interesting ways (sometimes with each other) and as the game is very much about two players having fun facing off we thought it would be great if players could just choose how to play themselves. Plus every level in the game is generated from randomly selected level “chunks” so every game is different!
JI: Does the Campaign Mode feature all four unique settings? Is there a storyline involved?
MK: It does. There’s not really a storyline, we wanted the “play” to be the centerpiece of the game. It’s more of a nice way to play through all four settings.
JI: We know that this is a whole new twist on (un)cooperative multiplayer, but what would a single-player experience be like? Is there an AI to play against?
MK: There’s no single-player simply because the AI required for it would be rather challenging for such a small team. However, I do think there’s a lot of potential for single-player designs based on this unusual design where blocks swap screens, however!
A huge thank you goes out to Mathew Kumar and everyone back at MK-Ultra Games. Knight & Damsel doesn’t have a concrete release date yet, but count on seeing it go live on Steam and OUYA early August.