Old School Gamer Magazine chats with Kung Fu Jesus’ Craig Snape (Founder & Lead Developer, Celestial Gold Studios), who details the game’s origin, creative process and so much more.
About the Developers:
Based in Scotland and founded in 2016 by lead developer Craig Snape and musical director Phil O’Shea, Celestial Gold Studios’ many years of musical releases and app design have prepared it to deliver games that tell the weird and wonderful stories of the universe. Joining the dynamic duo are Tony Li (Crossing Souls, Jenny LeClue, Disco Elysium) and founder of software developer Pixel Crushers – as well as Mikel Osarion of Osarion Games and Thorben Hegemen of Codeer Studios. To learn more about Kung Fu Jesus and Celestial Gold Studios, please visit https://kungfujesusgame.com.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How was Kung Fu Jesus born?
Craig Snape: It started as a music project. I was looking into getting something made to promote my latest album in 2016 and decided if I was going to do some type of game. Then I was going to put my heart and soul into it – and make it a digital reflection of my mind. Thus Kung Fu Jesus was born with a little encouragement from the big man upstairs.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What is your role in the game?
Snape: I was the lead developer, the storyteller, and the music man for the most part … but I did select all the songs that weren’t my own! There are a few – and they are awesome. I also rallied the team together to get everything done as well as I could with the resources I had.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What has development been like?
Snape: The development has been fun at times, very painful at times, and sometimes monotonous. But when I sat back and played through the game, I was really quite proud of what we had achieved. The atmosphere I love, the messages in the game I love – and the soundtrack speaks for itself. It’s already been referred to a couple of times as “the best soundtrack for any game out there” – so that’s a good sign. I really like the combat as well; it gets pretty varied as you progress through. At the start, you need to use the jump kick for a few bosses. But then you’ve got judo throws and other grappling techniques, powerful combos, shields, and projectiles – and you need to adopt different tactics for different enemies. People that only play through the first part of the game are missing out on how fleshed out the combat gets later on.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What makes Kung Fu Jesus special?
Snape: First off, the soundtrack makes Kung Fu Jesus special. It really is a good soundtrack from a variety of great artists. Second is the in-depth look at “mental illness” from someone who has experienced his fair share of it. Also, the amount of conspiracy TV and subscriptions Kung Fu Jesus has access to adds a unique aspect to the game that I’m sure most game developers wouldn’t touch. The dark thoughts are unique in themselves – and the story is totally unpredictable; it covers all sorts of ground that other games won’t go near. It’s as unique a game as you’ll find!
Old School Gamer Magazine: What games influenced this one the most?
Snape: The obvious influence when it comes to the core gameplay is Streets of Rage and Final Fight – but that’s just on the surface. Deeper influences are Dark Savior and Shadow of Memories – two great story-driven games that had multiple endings which all tied into each other. They were really quite different when they were released – and they still are. Their stories really left a mark on me as a younger player, and I always thought they should have been better received than they were. I also loved Metal Gear Solid 1 and 2. I thought the characters, stories and social commentary were amazing for the time – especially when the AI general in MGS2 revealed that the AI was going to control mass human thought processes with memes and such, which came to be true years later. I also have a soft spot for Final Fantasy VII and its obvious telling of how corrupt corporations rule the world of men while destroying our natural habitat.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Any fun stories or wild moments during development?
Snape: The fact that God told me to make the game in the first place was pretty wild. I’d been having daytime hallucinations for a few years at that point, and he told me he had a project for me – so I got to work on it after toying with the idea of making some small app to accompany my latest album at the time. That was pretty wild, obviously. I also got some coverage by Get Indie Gaming (who refuse to cover it now) when I was at EGX, and there was a comment on the video by a guy called Morse Code telling everybody to avoid the game. I’m pretty sure he turned up at EGX as well and decided to tell me how crap it was lol. So I decided at that point I wasn’t going to cater to anybody and just make the game I wanted to make with no reservations as a “fuck you” to him – and I also put that whole scenario in the game. You can actually find Morse Code and beat him up if you want. Do so and you’ll be rewarded with a nice power-up!
Old School Gamer Magazine: What were the major lessons learned?
Snape: The major lessons learned were to ask for help when you need it. There’s some really great programmers out there who are willing to help out. Don’t compromise on your vision. If you have a message to put across, don’t compromise it. Just express yourself honestly, like Bruce Lee always said. If you have the will to do something you will do it. I’ve heard lots of developers talking about how they ran out of steam while making their game and abandoned the project – but I found that if you have enough passion, you will finish it no matter what.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Do you think preserving older gameplay mechanics in new games is important?
Snape: If the older mechanics are good, yes. Some of the old games are really fun to play, but they can be improved in a way. The old gameplay experiences were awesome most of the time, for sure. Streets of Rage was fun to play, but there was basically no story. If there was an in-depth story, the game would have been a LOT better, in my opinion! More so, some of the more recent gameplay mechanics are not that fun – like EA’s Fight Night. The fighting is terribly boring and slow. I think a lot of people are trying to be super realistic; it’s just not as fun. Who wants a slow character that doesn’t react as fast as the ones in older games?
Old School Gamer Magazine: The marketplace is crowded. How do you think Kung Fu Jesus stands out?
Snape: The soundtrack makes it stand out, the story makes it stand out, the insanity makes it stand out, the dark thoughts of Kung Fu Jesus makes it stand out, the conspiracy TV makes it stand out, the message makes it stand out, the truth in the game about global affairs makes it stand out, the story choices you make makes it stand out, the “psychedelic-ness” of it makes it stand out. It’s a very unique experience!
Old School Gamer Magazine: How do you want Kung Fu Jesus to ultimately be remembered?
Snape: I want it to be remembered as the craziest game ever made that never compromised in anything it said and still has the best soundtrack out there.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What’s next?
Snape: I’m actually writing a book about all my psychedelic experiences at the moment. Once that’s out, I’ve been asked to make a Guitar Hero-type game for a Dutch record company. I might do one for my own music as well.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Anything else you’d like to add?
Snape: As the great Bruce Lee said, “Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself. Do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate him.” And I would like to add: Speak your truth, and don’t let anybody tell you you’re not good enough. There’s always going to be haters: Those people are only like that because they hate themselves.