Eurogamer: Let's talk about your new game, Alien Zombie Death. Do you like the direction Sony's been taking with the PSP Minis?
Michael Michael: I think it comes back to the iPhone thing: the App Store's just scalpelling out huge chunks of the handheld market. Every month that goes by is dangerous, so Sony had to put something out to compete with that. This is all me speculating, of course.
I actually really like what Sony's doing. I know some people don't think Minis are being pushed enough by Sony, but I think that's how it has to be at first: get it started, get the games building up, don't push the platform too heavily, and then get all the problems and teething issues dealt with. I have no doubt they'll start to push the channel at some point, but you have to make sure it all works how you want it first.
And remember, what Apple's doing is just scary. It's taken them 18 months to essentially become the top handheld. That's some serious momentum, and it's not going to flatten out any time soon.
Eurogamer: It may actually get worse, with changes to ActionScript 3 making it even easier to port Flash games directly to the iPhone? That's two over-saturated markets converging.
Michael Michael: Exactly! When that happens, I think Apple just has to come up with a smart way to find things. I want to be able to say to the App Store, "listen, I just don't f***ing like Match 3, I don't f***ing like this or that type of game, and they can just p*** off."
Eurogamer: Cripes. So how does a game like Alien Zombie Death come together? Do you tend to start with a pretty strong idea of what you want to do, or is it more experimental?
Michael Michael: Generally, I get my way. I moan a lot, and I don't stop. When we started making games, I was thinking about how much I love Defender. It had such a feeling about it: you were on the edge all the time. So we made Space Tripper because I wanted that same feeling.
Then I was thinking, "Robotron's really cool too..." It was a ridiculous idea, actually - I mean, who had joypads on the PC? What were we thinking? We sort of shoehorned in this mouse and keyboard control which was f***ing awful.
But anyway, I'd always wanted to make platformers - a platform shoot-'em-up. And I was thinking, where are they nowadays? It's a genre that's gone completely. Metal Slug's been doing well, but it's not really a proper platformer. So Miles and I spoke about it for a bit, and originally it was levels, and complicated maps and lifts and stuff, and then we decided to just strip it down - right down to a survival shooter in a square arena.
We tried that and we loved it. We just loved it, and that's why we decided to carry on with it. It's just chaos - a platformer with the pace of a shooter. You can only fire left and right, so there are these restrictions, but you can move up and down. It reminds me of Reloaded, really. Um, that's not a great way to promote our games, really, is it? "It's just like our other s***! But from the side!"
But that's how it works, really: we sit around, talk about stuff, laugh quite a bit, and then we give something a go. That said, we have now extinguished the three things we always spoke about doing - the Defender, the Robotron, and the platformer shoot-'em-up. That's it then. I'm not tipping my cap to the past anymore. We have to move forward now.
Michael Michael is one half of PomPom Games. Alien Zombie Death is due out on the PSP and PS3 Minis label imminently.