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Exclusive: We chat with the producer of Yars' Revenge

As we first announced earlier today, publisher Atari is working with developer Killspace Entertainment on a remake-reimagining of the classic 1981 sci-fi action game Yars' Revenge that's due out in early 2011. You have seen the teaser trailer and now we have the first details on the game itself. The title's producer at Atari, Michael Fahrny, gave more details on how Killspace got the job, why the remake will have a Japanese anime art style, what story of weapons will be used, how the two player co-op mode will work and much more.

Editor's note: Atari has elected not to show any in-game screenshots of Yars' Revenge at this time.

First, Killspace is a developer that's been known for a while but this is the first big project that's been publicly known from the developer. Can you give us some background on Killspace's formation and history?


Killspace was founded in Los Angeles, in January 2009. They're an independent, 30 person studio comprised of former Obsidian, Pandemic, Red 5, and EALA developers. Their main focus so far has been on 1st and 3rd person action adventure games with an emphasis on the Sci-Fi and horror genres. While you haven't heard much about this team yet, keep your ears to the ground because there is definitely more to come for this talented group of young developers.

How did the developer get the gig from Atari to do a remake of Yars' Revenge?

We were definitely looking to do something new and exciting with Yars' Revenge and we felt the vision we had, fit best with the idea that Killspace brought to us for the remake.

How daunting is it to remake a game that's considered a true video game classic?

I honestly think it's a much more difficult task than creating something completely original because you have so many expectations to hold up to from the original. Especially with a title like Yars' Revenge that was such a prominent experience in a lot of people's youths. That being said, I think it's always important to make sure you're not just rehashing the same old thing and really trying to take a remake to the next level in a way that makes sense for today's gamers.

What can you tell us about the fictional backstory for Yars' Revenge and does it link at all with the storyline for the original game in any way?

In the modern version, we've taken the spirit of the original game and re-imagined the Yars' homeplanet as rendered by current gen technology. It is now a third person arcade shooter experience in which Yar flies through visually stunning Miyazaki-inspired landscapes while fighting a wide variety of memorable enemies. Whether hovering close to the ground in jungle-inspired environments, or flying high above futuristic cities, Yar is constantly under attack from her vicious Qotile captors as she attempts to save her people from extinction.

The new version has a Japanese anime art style. Why did Killspace and Atari decide to use this style for the look of the remake?


There were a couple reasons for this. One, it fits the universe well with it being a Sci-Fi style game, and two; it plays on the strengths of Killspace's art style. Evan Cagle, the man behind the current style you're seeing, has been largely influenced by anime and really wanted to give this iteration of Yars the look and feel he loves so much.

The original game had the player firing weapons through shields to get to the alien enemy. How much of that gameplay has been retained for the new version?

This version is a reimagining of the original, so there are elements that you will recognize but we also had to make sure the new version made sense to today's audience. The shield is a primary defensive weapon in this version as well.

What sort of weapons will the player get to use in this new version?

The player will have a robust arsenal at their fingertips, but I don't want to give too much away. Let's just say for now, that the infamous Zorlon Cannon will be making a triumphant return.

How will the aliens defend themselves with their weapons and items in the remake?


The AI will proactively attack the player and be able to use evasive maneuvers to avoid the player's attacks.

What can you tell us about the game's co-op features?

The game will feature Local Co-Op where the second player will be able to work in tandem with the 1st player. You will be able to control and fire weapons off of Yars' back while player 1 controls flight and their normal weapon arsenal.

What other gameplay features in Yars' Revenge do you think are important?

The most important element in Yars' is that we give the player a fast and frenetic gameplay experience. We try to take the gamer on a cinematic rollercoaster through a very dangerous world.

Are there any plans for a playable demo of the game?


Yes, there will be a demo available at launch on XBLA, PSN and Steam.

If this game is successful are there any plans for more Yars' Revenge in the future?


We look at all of our classic IP and think about the many different ways gamers can experience them, and by working very closely with independent developers and the development community – there will never be a shortage of great ideas. Our fans are very enthusiastic for Yars and as long as that love is there, Atari will continue to meet the demand with great games.

Finally is there anything else you wish to say about the upcoming Yars' Revenge remake?

Yars' Revenge is an interactive thrill ride; a tightly-scripted cinematic experience that combines the pleasure of fluid cinematography with the exhilaration of avoiding close calls and making precision shots. If you like games like Panzer Dragoon or Star Fox, then Yar's Revenge is right up your alley.

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