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The Showdown Effect: Magicka dev does Smash Bros

... But with more blood, guts and bullet casings

The origins of Showdown Effect were forged during the strenuous stages of developing Magicka, the critically acclaimed freshman effort from Arrowhead Games.

In the words of studio CEO Johan Pilestedt, it was at hectic time when the Arrowhead team was "knee deep in shit" and in their most trying moments, relieved stress by slapping each other around on Smash Bros Brawl.

Zoom

"We could be sitting at 11 in the evening saying 'this bug is killing me, I can't get rid of it, I need to clear my head'," Pilestedt recalled. "You'd just shout "SMASH BROS" and you've got people gathering round to play."

Eventually reprieve turned to inspiration, and when a Paradox producer came calling about something new, Arrowhead's passion for the Nintendo brawler became its next big thing for PC and Mac.

Get to the Choppa
The idea was to take the side-on, four-player brawling gameplay of Smash Bros and marry it with the multiplayer options and approachability of Rare's Nintendo 64 shooter GoldenEye, then wrap it all up in a hammy classic movie motif.

The Showdown Effect attempts to charm the pants off of players by playing up classic movie clichés. It opens with a bodacious (yes, we're bringing that back) electric guitar solo during the logo splash screen, and almost-obnoxious buttrock plays as you navigate the menus.

Hop into Neo Tokyo and you'll see Godzilla in the background punching down buildings and the character roster is a who's who of movie archetypes too, all played up to the ridiculous extreme. Dutch McClone is an Austria-born kindergarten teacher living in America, and yes, he sounds just like Schwarzenegger.

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Sgt. Lance Koboldski is a long-suffering, undervalued beat cop. He's got his cheap gold watch and is ready to end his last shift before retirement, but ends up getting dragged into this ridiculous battle royale. There's also a wise old kung-fu monk that awkwardly stutters his way around the Engrish language. Our favourite, Mizu Ichiban, is Japanese school girl that alternates between 'I'm so kawai' and Gogo Yubari-type psycho.

Battle Royale
In terms of gameplay design, The Showdown Effect plays it simple. Each of the game's six characters has a close range melee attack and a long-range attack using a firearm. Both are executed simply by left-clicking with the appropriate weapon equipped.

Smaller weapons such as knives are quick, but require the player to be really close to the target. Heavy weapons inflict a lot of damage, but are very slow. Mid-tier weapons such as Baseball bats and swords offer a nice balance of both, while certain items such as pillows are designed primarily to block damage.

Characters also have a special ability themed after the particular movie stereotype he or she is based on. Dutch has a futuristic personal shield, while Lance has a medpack. Mizu can activate a mode styled after Kill Bill's black-and-red silhouetted sequence,in which she recovers life when making contact with blood (even her teammates'), and Mr. Shun Foo has a flying kick, obviously.

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