Interview With Sanuk Games About Hysteria Project (Sony PS3/PSP)

Hysteria Project is an interesting mix of survival-horror and Full Motion Video, a video game format whose heyday was with games like Night Trap, Dracula Unleashed, Dragon’s Lair and Mad Dog McCree. It came out in April of 2009 for the IPhone and now Sanuk games has brought it to the PSP Minis collection. Being a fan of all things FMV, I leapt at the chance to speak with Yan Marchal, the managing director of Sanuk Games, about bringing Hysteria Project to both of Sony’s systems.

Diehard GameFAN: Tell us a little bit about the plot of Hysteria Project and how this game came about.

Sanuk Games: Hysteria Project is an entirely filmed adventure in which YOU are the hero. You wake up in a filthy room with your hands and feet tied, and with no knowledge of what brought you there. You can nonetheless feel that you’re not in a safe place and you better not stay there for long. You have to keep a sharp eye on what’s going on around you and make the right decisions to make it out in one piece. This game is recommended for fans of new experiences and thrill-seekers.

Bulkypix, the team who’s behind the first version of Hysteria Project, are fans of the horror genre (and of The Blair Witch Project, which this game is inspired from) as well as choose-your-own-adventure gamebooks. Hysteria Project was the first game they produced in their newly founded studio: they opted for an interactive horror movie because they had what it takes to do it right, and it was offbeat enough to get noticed.

DHGF: Hysteria Project was originally developed for the Ipod Touch. What made you decide to port it to the PSP?

SG: Hysteria Project is not a platform-specific game in nature. It works as well on PSP/PS3 as it does on the iPhone, and it could work on other platforms too. However, for it to offer good value for money to the player, it must sell as a download for a reasonably cheap price. Apple made this possible first with the AppStore, and then Sony made it possible with the Minis program, therefore it was the natural way to go. Bulkypix offered to partner with us thanks to our experience on the Playstation Minis platform, and I gave it an immediate go after I tested the game.

DHGF: Were there any challenges converting the game from a touch based system like the Ipod Touch to the PSP?

SG: Not really. At some points in the iPhone version, the player is asked to touch different spots of the screen in a timely fashion. On the PSP version, he’s asked to press the right buttons. At first we made it such that all four shaped buttons could be asked randomly, but play tests showed that this was too hard and frustrating for the player. Therefore we limited it to two buttons, and it works very well.

DHGF: Hysteria Project is comprised of Full Motion Video, a genre that hasn’t been used that much outside of the Sega CD era with games like Dracula Unleashed, Who Shot Johnny Rock? And Mad Dog McCree. What was the decision behind bringing back FMV to this extent?

SG: The iPhone and the PSP are among the first generation of mobile/handheld devices that are technically able to run FMV games, while also providing an adequate distribution model. Yet the least I can say is that we haven’t seen many so far. Therefore the timing was right to revive this genre and open it up to new audiences.

DHGF: To be a PSP Minis title, a game has to be 100MB or less. Was it hard to get Hysteria Project down to that size since it’s almost all video footage? Was a lot of compression involved?

SG: The iPhone version is 127 MB. We reduced the Minis version to 83 MB by re-compressing, and also because the PSP screen (480×272) has a slightly smaller resolution than the iPhone screen (480×320).

DHGF: Do you have any plans to bring Hysteria Project to other systems? It seems like Hysteria Project would be a perfect fit for the DSiware.

SG: DSiWare is unfortunately not a suitable platform for FMV games, because it imposes very tough restrictions on game size. Let’s hope the upcoming Nintendo 3DS will solve this problem!

DHGF: Does Sanuk Games have plans to bring over any other games to North America. I have to admit, as an ex-resident of the UK, I’ve wanted to play Ready, Steady Cook and Cuisine Party.

SG: “Ready Steady Cook“ and “Cuisine Party“ were commissioned by Mindscape and were released as retail products. I don’t know if they have any plan to bring them to North America – this does not depend on me.

For games we publish by ourselves in digital distribution, such as Hysteria Project, we release them in all territories we can, and this obviously includes North America. We have a couple more Playstation Minis games in the pipeline: I’ll give you more information as soon as I can!

Hysteria Project will be available this Thursday, April 22nd, and we’ll have a review up here at Diehard GameFAN that same day. In the meantime you can learn more about the game by visit Sanuk Games‘s website or the home page of the game’s developer, Bulky Pix.

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