Last week Jesse, Samuli and Drazen took a hike around Otaniemi to track down and interview the first Finnish game developers – Virtual Air Guitar Company – to launch a real-live commercial kinect game – Kung Fu High Impact. Zen-masters Teemu Mäki-Patola and Aleksi Ahokas took the time to take us around the office and show us what’s what in northern Kung-Fu. And you know what, it blew us away! And more than that, we got to kick some ass ourselves!
About the game
Kung Fu High Impact takes the Kinect’s punchline “you are the controller” to a whole other level. You infact are the controller, the character and the one kicking and punching your way through the storyline. The game uses Kinect to render you in to the game graphics and recognizes the moves you make as punches, kicks, jumps, blockings, special moves and poses and turns all that in to an integral part of the game experience.
The storyline is paced by comicbook style plot-scenes which require you to get yourself in to the appropriate poses for the situations, often with hilarious results. The actual gameplay is reminecent of the old side-scrolling beat-em-ups in the best way possible. The bad guys jump up left and right and the player can utilize barrels, boxes and special weapons to take them out, not to mention mr left and right. Another really cool feature is your friends can grab a controller and give a go at you as the enemies. I could just imagine some seriously awesome game nights with my buddies on this.
Kung Fu High Impact is infact a sequel to Kung Fu Live developed originally for the Playstation Eye, available in PlayStation Store. Kinect offered great possibilities to further improve the technology with use of depth-data and the infrared sensor being less vulnerable to dim lighting. Being some hardcore coders these guys dumped the most basic tools for kinect utilization and made their own to work with the best of kinect’s. The result was unbelievably responsive gameplay and intuitive control over your character, by far the best feature of the entire game and tackiling an issue that has bugged most motion sensor games since Nintendo first published wii.
Virtual Air Guitar Company
Virtual Air Guitar Company has a strong background in image recognition and processing technologies. Founded in 2006 the first projects were built as research projects and their first actual product was infact on display in Heureka – the Finnish Science Center. Around the time the big players of the gaming business were getting all excited over some plastic guitars and rythm games these guys developed technology to do it for real. The foundations of the company were built on research funding, winning startup-competitions and real live scientific prowess. To me, this is the bleeding heart and soul of what makes Finland an innovation powerhouse and it’s a shame these stories aren’t celebrated more.
After we had been playing for a good while we got to talking about the startup scene and the state of Finnish games development. This particular company was blessed with founders whose energy just doesn’t seem to run out. The original developers were the guys running over to events and doing the legwork while keeping up with continuous development of the product. By no means did their product fall from the sky in a nicely wrapped parcel. It took 60 hour weeks, tears and sweat, not to mention a housplant at the gameroom had to take a serious beating but now their latest child has come of age and is about to be published just in time for the christmas markets. I really hope these guys now get a chance to kick back and watch the kudos roll in, and we MSP’s will happily do our part to support stuff like this.
How to get your hands on it?
The game can be first seen on this weekend’s DigiExpo over at Microsoft’s and later in the fall with the Geeks on Wheels Tour taking over Universities all over Finland. I for one can’t wait to get my hands on this awesomness again.
For more info:
And our video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvXKLDmH7cw
Jesse (@JesseSanttila) is an IT student at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences. He loves technology, gadgets, design, punk rock and videogames. He has been lately very excited about the upcoming Finnish startup-scene and brilliant ideas people come up with.