Former Fable developers are rebooting physics-based fighting game Rag Doll Kung Fu for iPhone and iPad.
Another Place Productions, a three-person indie developer founded by some of the key people behind the Fable series, hopes to have the iOS version out in early summer.
Rag Doll Kung Fu was created by Mark Healey in his spare time while he worked at Lionhead Studios in Guildford. After showing it off at the Game Developers Conference in 2005 and catching the eye of Valve, Rag Doll Kung Fu became the first wholly independently developed game to be distributed through Steam.
Buoyed by the success of Rag Doll Kung Fu on PC, Healey left Lionhead, co-created the ground-breaking LittleBigPlanet and co-founded the now Sony-owned studio Media Molecule.
Now, some eight years later, some of Healey's former Lionhead colleagues are rebooting the game after the Rag Doll Kung Fu IP owner gave them permission - during Media Molecule's 2012 Christmas party.
"I went to the Media Molecule Christmas party and had a chat with him there," Guillaume Portes, former Lionhead technical director, told Eurogamer. "Mark being Mark, he was just like, 'Yeah all right, do it.' I said, 'Okay, great!' So we started working on it on 26th December."
Mark being Mark, he was just like, 'Yeah all right, do it.' I said, 'Okay, great!' So we started working on it on 26th December
Guillaume Portes, former Lionhead technical director
At the Game Developers Conference last month Another Place showed the game to Eurogamer running on two iPads connected via Bluetooth. It has a re-jigged control system for touch (one finger controls movement, two fingers control attacks), a single-player survival mode and a new art style, courtesy of John McCormack, former art director of the Fable franchise.
But Another Place believes it's Rag Doll Kung Fu's new multiplayer mode that will enjoy most attention. The game can be played two-player locally over Bluetooth or wi-fi, as well as synchronously over the internet, with full Game Center integration for online leaderboards.
Players progress through the belt system as they improve their rank, starting off as a white belt with the ultimate goal of becoming grandmaster. You can play against a friend or have the game match you with a player who has the same level belt as you. Along the way players improve their customised fighter with new super powers, such as Lightning and Fist of Flames.
"Grandmasters are twice as fast and have Big Trouble in Little China powers," McCormack said, "for example floating and spells. It goes from base fighting to superhuman stuff. People fight each other to climb the ranks to get the powers to get to grandmaster.
"It seems like there's a gap on iOS for this," McCormack continued. "There aren't many fighting games and there aren't many synchronous games. Any fighting games we could find were basically the same game but the controls were bad."
As soon as Guillaume did the port, he stuck in a quick multiplayer mode, and we were laughing while playing it. We were really enjoying it and thought, maybe there's a different game in here
John McCormack, former art director of the Fable franchise
Rag Doll Kung Fu on iOS will be a free download supported by in-app purchases. Another Place is still working out exactly how they will work, but it looks like you'll be able to buy customisation items, new powers and boosts. What the game won't have is an "energy" system that means you have to pay to continue playing.
McCormack added: "The original idea was we would take it, tailor it to iOS and do a straight port, essentially. But that changed immediately. As soon as Guillaume did the port, he stuck in a quick multiplayer mode and we were laughing while playing it. We were really enjoying it and thought, maybe there's a different game in here. We can use the same mechanic, but maybe there's some multiplayer we can play with."