Interview: A Hat in Time is reviving the collect-a-thon

June 27, 2013


A Hat in Time, a new 3D platformer from Gears for Breakfast, is in the final hours of its Kickstarter campaign. The game’s big hook? It aims to bring back the collect-a-thon subgenre, popularized by games such as Donkey Kong 64 and Banjo-Kazooie. Recently, we were able to speak with Gears for Breakfast’s Jonas Kærlev about the project, the genre and more.

Snackbar Games: How did Gears for Breakfast start? Was A Hat in Time the first project your team pursued?

Jonas Kærlev: We originally began with only a handful of people who offered their free time to help with a rough prototype. Then in early 2013, we gained more talented members who helped bring the game to where it is now. We created the Gears for Breakfast company to represent us as a team on Kickstarter, and we chose the name because it really sticks with you! A Hat in Time is our first real game.

SBG: The collect-a-thon is a genre that has always been associated almost exclusively with consoles. How do you intend to show the PC gaming crowd that the subgenre is worth checking out?

JK: We feel that it’s a matter of power and what we can do with it. The game is currently running on the PC platform, and the frame rate is extremely smooth due to the power of the hardware. The game controls really well on the keyboard and mouse, and we feel that PC gamers will love it. Plus I haven’t met a PC gamer who hasn’t at least tried a Zelda or Mario game, and it should be an attractive quality to play this sort of game on PC. If you look real closely, a lot of people are running emulators as well, so we suspect all gamers on all platforms will want to check it out.


SBG: You have mentioned trying to obtain a license for the Unreal Engine on the Wii U, so you may release a port of A Hat in Time on Nintendo’s next-gen system. Can you share your experiences as a developer working with Nintendo?

JK: At this stage it’s too early to share those details, but as we specified in the Wii U update on Kickstarter, we require the aid of a publisher with a UDK license. We have had several big names approach us, but in order for us to get the best deal for both of us, we need time. So for the moment we’ve had Nintendo’s blessing, but we’re still too early in the game.

SBG: What do you feel you are doing with A Hat in Time to refine the gameplay mechanics inherent in the collect-a-thon subgenre? What do you feel you have done that is completely new?

JK: We believe that our main goal is to bring back that feeling that the old collect-a-thons of old evoked, but at the same time, we want to bring it up to today’s standards. Of course that means nice visuals and fancier physics, but mechanics are still being worked on at this stage. We have several ideas being cooked up that we’re especially eager to share. Nintendo always seems to come up with great new ideas, like the “Time Object” in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. We want to do the same, to come up with great new mechanics and delight people with them. So keep an eye out, as we’ll be slowly showing them off as time passes.

SBG: Banjo-Kazooie composer Grant Kirkhope will be contributing to A Hat in Time. How have talks with Mr. Kirkhope gone so far?

JK: Very well! He’s a very friendly man and always replies on Twitter. He has also shown interest in the game, and admires our goals. We look forward to working closely with him, and I’d tell you more, but we have some good ideas to make use of his music and we want to see you smile when you hear it.


SBG: What makes collect-a-thon games special to you and your team? What is your favorite collect-a-thon game?

JK: That’s quite a tough one to answer, as the team has a varied interest in collect-a-thon games, but I believe we all agree that we loved the four games we mentioned in the Kickstarter video: Banjo-Kazooie, The Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong 64 and Super Mario 64. It feels like a long time since we played this genre in the same style that these games evoke: an open-world adventure, with side quests and a crazy storyline that fills the player with charm and delight.

A Hat in Time’s Kickstarter campaign ends June 28. It’s also on Steam Greenlight. For more information, check out the game’s official site.