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JenniferDowding


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Banana Samurai

Clients: Microsoft and Fearless Frog Innovations

Microsoft - Banana Samurai

My Role

Project Manager/ Lead Designer

  Also: Writing and Sound Editing 

Description

"An Action-Packed New Game for the Web!
Save the villagers from Fast Food Foes!  Defend Food’s Honour!"

Banana Samurai is the story of young Akira Banana, a Samurai-in-training who finds out that his village has been overrun by junk food foes, leaving the villagers overweight and weak. In this web-based sidescroller, Akira can run, jump, throw food and swipe his banana sword to defeat enemies. He will have to face the Vending Menace, the Fry Guys and the Burgernator in order to save his village. He must maintain his health by eating healthy food and avoiding the bad. If he fails, he will succumb to unhealthy food choices.

The Project

Fearless Frog Innovations and Glenn Berg from Microsoft came to us with a clear issue, childhood obesity and a question, "Can a game be made that targets a problem while still being fun and attractive to kids?" Our answer was Banana Samurai, a mario style game where you collect healthy food (like bananas in Donkey Kong) while saving the townspeople against Fast Food Villains. It is a simple message, delivered through fun. We delivered two levels and two story animatics, all from our own original concept, while creating and delivering our mobile game, Nom Nom Rider in the middle of the project. This team really worked hard, the results show.

My Team: Team Yummy Cloud

Environmental Artist: Azhar Boumarah Technical Artist: Mohammed El Eryan
Character Artist: Milim Kim Software Engineer: Anshul Goyal

Experience Banana Samurai

Gameplay Video

Banana Samurai from Jennifer Dowding on Vimeo.

We premiered the first level at the BC Health and Science Expo. It was a real hit with the kids, but more importantly they were pointing out many of the health/food related themes. (While they played, we spoke with their Moms, who were thrilled to find out that they were playing a game with an important message.

Playtesting Banana Samurai from Jennifer Dowding on Vimeo.

What I learned

What I learned was that if you really care about your market and your subject matter and you do impassioned detailed work, the rewards will eventually present themselves. The greatest reward was testing it with local students who played our first completed level over and over again. Without any prompting about the game's message, the kids instantly understood the visual language and got the themes. Many asked us to "please" send them the game when it came out, and parents and teachers approved. This project was a difficult journey, two simultaneous games, client/team communication issues and very high level expectations all causing general team fatigue. I learned that if you can keep motivated through the rough times you have to believe in what you are creating. Testing the product with its target, if you've done your homework can make a lot of it really worthwhile.

Banana Samurai Photos

Click for full size
First Jump Introductory Animatic My Dream Realized Successful Solders Team Kobiyashi Maru on Presentation Day Testing the Circuits Testing the Circuits Testing the Circuits

 

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Website content by Jen Dowding 2010; Design by M Emily M 2010.