Mobile Mavens

The games that inspire our Indie Mavens


The games that inspire our Indie Mavens

We seem to have hit a threshold year with the likes of SEGA, EA, Konami, and Disney retiring their older mobile games throughout 2015 in order to focus on producing newer and more engaging games. 

With it comes the loss of part of mobile gaming history and the designs that some of these older games established.

Vlambeer's Rami Ismail remarked upon the importance of Flight Control as EA removed it from sale.

Ismail assigns the game with the status of helping designers to work out what kinds of control schemes worked on touchscreens. It presumably helped Vlambeer in this way.

With this in mind, we wondered what titles from the past influenced their own mobile games. And so we asked them the following question:

"What games have influenced the design of your mobile games, and how?"


Heikki Repo Co-Founder and Creative Director Cornfox & Bros.

Heikki Repo is a Co-Founder and Creative Director of the game company Cornfox & Brothers Ltd. The company established in 2010 is best known for their adventure game Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas (2013) and the Death Rally (2011, 2012).
Heikki enjoys plotting stories and making videogame art. He is a huge fan of storytelling and believes that every element of a videogame can be used to evoke emotions and deliver drama. Because of his non-stop creative nature, he works in many roles in game development.

Games that I used to play as a kid!

When I am designing a game I might remember some element in one of the classics and recall the emotional effect it had on me.

I take that feeling and go from there!


Kepa Auwae Business / Design RocketCat Games

Wayward Souls and Mage Gauntlet were both inspired a lot by the old Super Nintendo game, Secret of Mana. I wanted to do a much faster paced take on that game's combat, mixed in with some from beat-em-ups and fighting games.

Secret of Mana - an inspirational RPG

The original Spelunky has been really inspiring as a basis for figuring out how to do randomly generated rooms in Wayward Souls.

I really like games that have more streamlined takes on commonly used systems.
Kepa Auwae

Then there's some looser inspirations for our games. The idea of making Hook Champ be about grappling hooks probably mostly came from Mark Essen's (he made Nidhogg) game, You Found the Grappling Hook.

Punch Quest's enemy juggling combo mechanic is inspired by a flash game that was on Something Awful about keeping a bouncing ball in the air by punching it. Dad By The Sword is mostly based on terrible dad jokes.

I also really like games that have more streamlined takes on commonly used systems, like games that get rid of experience points for a mechanic that fills the same role - any game that tries to reduce filler while keeping the interesting parts of it.

A few of these off the top of my head that are fairly recent are 868-Hack, Hoplite, Catacomb Kidz.

If the above answer isn't cool enough please pretend I said that I'm inspired by 19th century poetry and the purity of nature and shit. Or uh, arty things.

New quote: All my games are inspired by the works of Duchamp.

Constantin Graf Designer Rebus Mind

Most of my games, but SwapQuest in particular, were inspired by games from my childhood, like (again) Secret of Mana, Dragon Quest, or Lufia. They often had a good balance between pick-up-and-play gameplay and depth in terms of character customization.

Lufia - a JRPG that inspires

Those are traits that I really value, because they give you a lot of freedom in how you approach the game. You can decide, if you want to grind to become a total berserk or concentrate more on the story and accept the challenge.

I tried to create a similar feeling in SwapQuest, where you always have the choice to repeat a level to grind, invest your jewels in different upgrades or just progress with the game and explore its world.

Dan Menard CEO Double Stallion

Big Action Mega Fight was particularly inspired by classic brawlers like Streets of Rage and Final Fight.

It's not usually good enough to reproduce a something you like, because the industry is always moving forward.
Dan Menard

It started mainly as an aesthetic influence that eventually had an impact on the overall game design. Streets of Rage, for example, has very simple gameplay on the surface, but each level introduces new twists and enemies that make it enjoyable to play even if you are pretty much only fighting throughout the adventure.

This kind of variety is something we wanted to reproduce in BAMF and something we are working hard on to create in the successor games we are building.

Speaking more generally, the games that we take inspiration from are games that have impacted us in some way. Some of these games are older (like 2D Zeldas) or sometimes more modern.

One thing I find is difficult is taking a positive experience from a game you enjoyed and then pushing it even further. It's not usually good enough to reproduce a something you like, because the industry is always moving forward.

Streets of Rage - a classic beat-'em up

We like to do design tear downs on games and try to understand what these master designers were thinking when they created the game.

We then try to seek what they sought and improve it. We are very much standing on the shoulders of giants when we design games.

Nathan Fouts Founder Mommy's Best Games

In Finger Derpy, the single-player level structure was influenced by Jetpack Joyride. I really enjoy the feeling of the world changing slightly each time you play it. It's not totally random like a rogue-like, but there are slight changes.

In Finger Derpy, the player is basically, silently unlocking more world content (more possible changes to the world) each time you play. This keeps things interesting, and always slightly unknown.

Jetpack Joyride - Halfbrick's modern classic

Finger Derpy's crazy two-finger tap design was mainly influenced by Track and Field. I wasn't consciously thinking of QWOP, but I'm sure some of that got to me somehow.

And the Party mode in Finger Derpy for the 4-players-on-one-screen was influenced by Ring Fling, and Fingle in terms of fitting all the fingers onto one screen.

Justin Smith Developer Justin Smith

My games are influenced by the classics of 2D physics:

  • Sexy Hiking for showing how deep of an interaction can be had with one rotation joint.
  • QWOP for its frustrating controls and its straight faced hilarity.
  • Angry Birds for inventing the slickest mobile control scheme in existence.

Also, Llamasoft games are a big influence for exhibiting so much character with janky pixel art and frivolous thematics.

With an affinity for eccentricity, as well as anything macabre or just plain weird, Chris searches for the games that fly under the radar. If you ask him, anything can be a game. Oh, and a game can be about anything, if you put enough thought into it. So, there.