Missing your favorite childhood Pinoy street games like tumbang preso, sipa, and dodgeball? You can play versions of these online in a charming pixel-retro PC video game.
One Last Game is a 2D video game developed by Paulo Arnante, a student currently taking up B.S. Digital Illustration and Animation Major in Game Development in Ateneo de Naga University.
The game made the buzz online for its cute graphics, retro aesthetics, homage to Pinoy culture, and nostalgic vibe. The relaxing single-player game follows a kid named Danny whose family is about to move the city. He plays a few simple street games with friends before the big move.
In an interview, the 23-year-old game developer said that One Last Game was the product of a Senior Project requirement where students needed to draw inspiration from Philippine culture.
“After considering a few ideas, I settled for Laro ng Lahi games and added a little bit of my experiences as the main concept and story for the game,” Arnante told PhilSTAR L!fe.
Because of time constraints, he had to narrow his focus to three games that were the “easiest to translate into a video game format,” so he settled on Tumbang Preso, Sipa, and Dodgeball.
“I was originally going to make five games, but I had to exclude Teks and Jolens because our time was really short,” Arnante said.
Tumbang Preso is a Pinoy game usually played in backyards and streets. It involves throwing a slipper at a can or bottle. In the video game version, the player has to try and knock over a tin can inside a circle being guarded by enemy player Greg. Mechanics involve finding the right angle and force to hit the can, and avoiding being caught when retrieving the slipper.
In Dodgeball (known locally as Tamaang Tao), players need to avoid getting hit by balls thrown by twin enemies from either side of a court, by dashing around frequently within the time period. This one is surprisingly more challenging than it looks.
In Sipa, inspired by the Philippine native sport similar to Sepak Takraw, players need to kick and catch the shuttlecock before it falls to the ground, and beat a friend’s high score. The gameplay here is a bit similar to Pong or the Atari game Breakout, where you run back and forth, while the screen becomes wider.
The game's storyline is pretty short, but the vibrant animation, art style, and fun gameplay have drawn praise from reviewers.
According to Arnante, it took him about three months to develop the game, which was shorter than what he had planned, but he had to work realistically on what he could achieve within that time period for school requirements.
“The most challenging part was we did not really have a solid background in the game’s programming language. We only had one coding subject prior to the development of our game and it was a totally different language so we basically had to learn how to code from the bottom during the development process,” he shared.
After Arnante defended the game to a panel for his senior project, screenshots were widely shared on social media.
“I mostly got a lot of praise and positive feedback for my game. It was really overwhelming and encouraging that a lot of people appreciated something that I made that I was not originally proud of. It was also really nice that a lot of people got the vibe and atmosphere that I was going for in the game, which was nostalgic and warm. I was really glad that it resonated with people,” Arnante said.
“There are a lot of enthusiastic gamers and aspiring local developers. I am really looking forward to more projects that highlight our culture,” he added.
Arnante is currently working as a character designer and 2D artist for Sinag, a new mobile fighting game that highlights Philippine culture being developed by studio Ranida Games.
Sinag was one of the winners of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) inaugural content creation grants program given to individuals to develop computer games, animation, and comics launched earlier this year.
While he can’t say much about the project yet, since it's still in early development, he says to expect the game’s release by the end of the year.
After graduating next year, Arnante hopes to gain experience both in the country and abroad in bigger studios to widen his horizons and hopefully develop more games rooted in Pinoy culture and mythology.
“I still have this dream of developing an RPG game that is heavily inspired by our own mythologies and traditions, but we’ll see where this goes. I also hope to see more local developers get the support they need to make games and eventually make our country noticeable in the bigger game industry," he said.