Nacho Pintos: Frugal Games

Frugal Games logo
Frugal Games logo

Name: Nacho Pintos

Company: Frugal Games

Profession: Game Designer / Developer

Favorite Classic Game: Pac-man

Quote: I’m not a person with ‘favorites’. It’s always hard for me to say which books, films, songs or people I like most, or have been the most influential, because their memory and my perception of them varies wildly over time.

However, I re-play Pac-Man every time I stumble upon a new version/clone/homage/reworking of it. I can’t help it, it’s so perfect, so seminal. All ‘collect-everything’ games started here. The setting is absurd: colored ghosts, yellow dots, a pizza-like avatar… That’s what I miss most in current games, and what keeps me going back to classics: no ‘realism’, just a different, weird gameworld, with different rules, set up with very scarce resources, and yet it works and is addictive, balanced, brilliant. Unique.


Bio: Frugal Games is me, doing design and programming, and Pedro Pacheco (http://unosetenta.com) doing all-things-visual. So with just two persons, we had but to turn resource scarcity into a virtue. Our mission is making small games filled with great ideas (a 120 hour epic FRPG in 4 DVDs wouldn’t be frugal, would it?) We both love how simple, small games from the past felt so big and vivid in our minds, and we want to recreate that feeling. It’s not about nostalgia or love for retro-things, but to bring back the imagination of the player into the equation of gaming.

Project: Flee, for Android devices

Project Info: Flee is an obsessive recreation of the LCD handhelds that were so popular in the 80’s, like the Game&Watch series from Nintendo: one game in one machine, in your hands. We’re both in our early thirties, so these devices were our first contact with portable digital videogames. That’s where our player days started, and that’s where our videogame-maker days begin.

For me the most crucial design target was to make the player feel that he’s holding in his hands one of those devices, forgetting that it is actually a state-of-the-art smartphone. This led to the two most-highlighted (by the press) features of the game: the device gets dirtier the more you play (you can clean it if you want), and the effect when pressing the screen (to reveal the hidden graphics behind) – I would like to develop on the concept of aging user interfaces in the future. But Flee is not just these two gimmicks, there’s actual gameplay inside.

On Mode A (most LCD handhelds had two game modes) you control the main car and have to avoid the obstacles, along 30 levels of devilish difficulty: cars that move at different speeds, rabbits that weave from lane to lane, almost impossible car-labyrinths… We wanted the game to be very, very difficult and fast. On Mode B, the player controls the hordes of rabbits that approach the main car, which now moves on its own, through 18 levels; there were many ideas for more game modes but these turned to be the most meaningful. Furthermore, you can play both modes at normal or Turbo speed. There’s also a game manual that meticulously mimics those of the 80’s.

We added features unseen in old LCDs: a game ending (on mode A, level 30) with a misteryous hidden message, a 20-song soundtrack that emulates the car’s radio (after finishing a level, you hear the radio tuning to a new station while a new song fades in) and a global Scoreboard using the Scoreloop service for Android.

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J.A. Laraque

J.A. Laraque is a freelance writer and novelist. His passion for writing mixed with a comedic style and intelligent commentary has brought him success in his various endeavors. Whatever the subject, J.A. has an opinion on it and will present it in writing with an insight and flair that is both refreshing and informative.