It just couldn’t be better that one of the top 10 selling games on Steam right now is Trombone Champthe utterly ridiculous and hilarious trombone sim-cum-Guitar Hero game from one of the funniest developers in the industry. But it’s also amazing, given the stupid obscurity of the game’s themes.
I watched his games Trombone ChampIts developer, Holy Wow, for over a decade. From revolutionary Icarus Proudbottom in: The Curse of the Chocolate Fountainin which a man propels himself through the sky with the power of his own poo, to the endlessly amusing collection of multiplayer mini-games, Icarus Proudbottom’s typing party, and everything in between, indie developer games have been making me laugh for years. What I say is basically to brag that I knew them before they were cool. And wow, husband and wife team Dan Vecchitto and Jackie Lalli are cool now.
“No and no!” says Vecchitto when I ask him if any previous Holy Wow games have been this successful and if he expected it this time. The previous games were a bit cheesy stuff, with Vecchitto explaining that he’s a self-taught programmer, but he rose above their peers because of how funny they were. Trombone Champ shows another evolutionary step forward, it’s Nintendo Mii-like graphics and a gorgeous interface that belies a game of abject nonsense.
In the Trombone Champyou must try to play the trombone through it Guitar Hero –as an interface, moving the mouse up and down to match impending lines, holding down a button to ‘toot’ when they cross the line. Except the mouse movement is reversed, outrageously unstable, and all deliberately clunky. Which makes for fun times. Fun times that absolutely deserve success, coverage on all the mainstream gaming sites that usually ignore such quirky indie games, and a top 10 position on Steam’s new chartsbut surely no one expected it?
“I always thought the concept was funny,” explains Vecchitto via Twitter messages, “and I expected various gameplay videos to go viral, but I didn’t expect the game itself to take off the way it did.” So why does he think he might have? “It seems to hit a lot of audiences: casual gamers; true music game enthusiasts; real brass players; ska fans (apparently there are a lot of them!); and so on Even so, I’m kind of at a loss as to why this one took off the way it did.”
I wonder if this means they might want to re-release their previous library of games now the rest of the world has finally woken up to Holy Wow. Maybe release them in gold plated boxes. “I would really like to do an HD Icarus Proudbottom learns to write!” Vecchitto immediately gets excited. Might as well. As Nathan Grayson (late of this parish) once wrote: “Icarus Proudbottom learns to write it’s incredible.” And it really is, even if it has a somewhat archaic look, despite its release in 2013.
“Also, I would like to do an update Typing party and produce more arcade cabinets,” continues Vecchitto. “We currently have one Typing party office at Wonderville in Brooklynand it’s tempting to make more and try to distribute them to independent arcades around the country.”
“But with Trombone Champits success,” adds Dan, “I think we’re going to spend some time on that one.” Not bad for a game made in the evenings and weekends around a full-time job. While previous Holy Wow games were more of an even split between the married development team, Trombone Champ it was closer to a solo project. Vecchitto explains, “I’m comfortable wasting my nights and weekends on a stupid game like this, but I didn’t want to ruin my only husband’s free time as well.”
You can, and you must, pick up previous Holy Wow games via Itch, because they are so damn awesome. Then you can claim you were cool too, before all this new found steam based success.