Ojiro Fumoto found great success with 2015’s Downwell, a mobile game about falling down a well while collecting power-ups and combating enemies. Following Downwell’s various ports to other platforms, Fumoto joined Nintendo and worked on Ring Fit Adventure, but left to once again pursue his own games, and released Poinpy last month on Netflix’s mobile game platform. Ponipy is a game about climbing a well and collecting fruit to feed a ravenous blue monster.
Fumoto, unfortunately, avoided our questions about his time at Nintendo over an e-mail interview, but he did answer our questions about how Poinpy came to exist, how the partnership with Netflix came about, why Poinpy or the player might be the bad guy, and why traveling to [redacted] was the logical finale for the game.
Is Poinpy’s upward climbing gameplay a response to Downwell?
Ojiro Fumoto: Yes. While I’m happy with how Downwell turned out as a whole, I felt its high difficulty blocked out a lot of the players from discovering the most fun aspect of the game which I think is its hidden combo mechanic. With Poinpy I aimed to recreate a similar type of fun while making it a lot more accessible both in terms of difficulty and controls.
Were you happy to leave the world of pixels behind for this new art style?
Poinpy is a project that was started with me and my illustrator friend, Error403, whose art I’ve always been a fan of. It was great to be able to depend on him to handle all art related work in producing such charmful visuals for the game, while I could focus on game design and implementation.
How did the partnership with Netflix come about?
From the start of the project we were aiming to get the game onto a mobile subscription based platform rather than sell it as a premium app, as it made more sense to do so considering the mobile landscape today. Then our publisher Devolver Digital got us the offer from Netflix and, while I was surprised as anyone about their new games service, we’ve been very happy to work with them.
You must collect fruit in Poinpy to feed the big blue beast.
Can you explain the name? What is “Poinpy”? What does it mean?
Before we even had any concept for the game our artist suggested the title of the game be “Poinpy” and that was that.
When you steal fruit from the fruit carriers they cry. Is Poinpy the bad guy?
It’s the player who controls the game.
Would you consider raising the level cap or letting you equip more items in the future?
Currently no additional content is planned.
Going to space was a fun surprise at the end. How did that idea come about?
A game needs to have a bombastic end and we’ve been making the player go upwards so ending up in outer space was a natural choice.
Is there room in the modern mobile landscape for games that don’t have microtransactions?
I’d like to think so.
Poinpy is an expert jumper.
Why are there no leaderboards?
There is a mode with high score tracking after you’ve reached the ending, but as for leaderboards, we might add one in time.
Do you plan on issuing any patches or updates to the game?
Maybe for bug fixes yes, but I have no content updates planned.
Are you considering porting the game to other platforms?
The game is exclusive to Netflix for now, so there are no specific plans at the moment.
Spelunky’s Derek Yu is thanked in the game’s credits. Did he help with development?
He playtested the game and gave me some feedback. He breezed through the game in just one weekend and that had me worried the game was too easy (laughs).