The Three Stooges®, now as entertaining mobile games
Comedy nowadays has many forms but one particular type of comedy I’m truly fond of is old physical comedy. I like to think that it’s not due to my age (I’m like a medium wine), but classical comedians such as Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy or The Three Stooges still crack me up.
In my opinion the masters of physical farce and slapstick were Moe, Larry and Curly, the main characters in The Three Stooges®. They were active around mid-20th century and it’s almost impossible that you didn’t see at least one of their short films. If you didn’t, you must not have the legal age for drinking but no worries, you can fix this right now by watching this short one (“I can hardly wait”) – you’ll thank me for sure:
Fast-forward to our times, The Three Stooges made their appearance on mobiles as well. PolySlab Games is an official licensee of the original “The Three Stooges” brand for mobile gaming and they released not one but two games with Moe, Larry and Curly as protagonists: The Three Stooges: Zombie Defense and Match The Three Stooges.
The best part about these 2 games is not necessarily the gameplay (which btw is quite entertaining), but the way the dev managed to integrate so closely The Three Stooges audio clips, comedic dialogues and unique songs.
Match The Three Stooges
“Match The Three Stooges” is their second released title, with an easier gameplay than the first but even more linked to The Three Stooges brand as it features over 20 different tracks that make a big part of the game. Each new level will bring in a new track and trust me you’ll love those.
Back to the gameplay, “Match The Three Stooges” features a classic match-3 gameplay where almost all tiles are portraits of the beloved Stooges that need to be matched (3 or more) to increase your score and get closer to the level goal. The game beautifully combines the comedy behind The Three Stooges with modern themes, artistic renderings and music of epic proportions as you can briefly experience in this trailer:
Match 3 (or more) Gameplay. Swipe the tiles to match 3 or more photos of Larry, Moe, Curly and even Shemp.
Every successful match will clear that row of tiles and new ones will take their place. The main purpose in each level is to reach the goal stated at the beginning to advance. Luckily there are tiles with special powers that once destroyed clear even more tiles.
Hundreds (literally) of levels. The game has 5 classically themed worlds of epic Match 3 Stoogery each with 20 levels so that gets you up to 100 levels. This adds up to hours of fun play, especially since you listen to a different soundtrack every time a new level starts. Depending on how fast you reach the level goal you’ll be awarded a number of stars, so replay levels to achieve mastery.
Powerful effects. Match 4 or more tiles to unlock power-ups that clear an entire line/column, destroy a surrounding area & more. As you collect coins throughout the game you’ll be able to use those to buy weapons that will clear a level faster. Don’t waste those on the easy levels, as difficulty increases and those will be lifesavers later on.
The Three Stooges Universe. Get a taste of the original comedy with real audio clips & dialogues in the legendary style of The Three Stooges®. “Hear” each level unfolding as you listen to a new song actually performed by The Three Stooges®. There are currently 20+ songs, some classics, & others new!
Match the Three Stooges is quite easy to play through but addictive through its tight integration with the brand and that’s why I also recommend you play it. No matter if you are familiar or not with the original series, you’ll love the style. Just as the zombie one, you can play it for free with some minor ads:
The Three Stooges: Zombie Defense
“The Three Stooges: Zombie Defense” is a zombie apocalypse game where you must help Larry, Moe & Curly defend their red carpet premiere from hordes of brain-thirsty zombies. While things start slow, each new wave of zombies is more aggressive and powerful to the point where you are outnumbered if you don’t play your cards correctly.
There are walking zombies, running zombies, and even flying zombies that try to destroy the gala event. Spruced with Ladies in Red that give you extra-bonuses. You can watch this quick demo to get a taste of what the game’s like:
Tap’n’Shoot zombie killing gameplay. The controls are very simple, all you have to do is tap on the zombies to shoot them. Larry, Moe and Curly shoot with pies or seltzer bullets but not very accurate (in the beginning). That’s why you can use extra firepower such as dynamite, freezes or even nuclear bombs to stop the zombies from advancing too fast. Just tap precise and let our heroes unleash hell.
Dozens of missions. Help the Three Stooges defend their scene and lives over the course of 20 different levels. That takes longer than you’d think, as each level increases exponentially in difficulty. And with zombies the danger never stops, they keep on coming. If you’re a perfectionist you can replay a level as many times as needed to achieve the best score and coin bonus. This is also a good strategy to gain loot and upgrade your firepower to be more destructive.
Lots of upgrades and customizations. Each of the 3 defenders has a different type of gun and shoots in the direction you tap on, but with a different speed & accuracy. Using the collected coins you can upgrade guns to reload/shoot faster, increase their damage or even provoke temporary stun effects. The more you invest in upgrades, the more your chances of clearing a level increase.
A true Zombie encyclopedia. Each new level also unlocks new types of zombies. You’ll discover at least 15 types of miscreants and 1 boss. Balloon-flying zombies, dwarf zombies, armored zombies, running raging dogs and even zombie doctors (healing damaged zombies) will attack you at all costs. They attack in waves so try to conserve as many power-ups as you can until the end of a level.
Power-ups. Luckily there are also power-ups you can use to save the day when the screen is infested with zombies. 3 different power-ups, Dynamites, Freezes & Nuclear Bombs. Each upgradeable to unleash even more damage and last longer.
A special part in the game focuses on the comedic dialogues in the spirit of The Three Stooges. Coupled with real audio clips from the original shorts you’ll experience what I was talking before, the immersive world of the Three Stooges. Game is free on Google Play and I highly recommend it you give it a go (comes with non-intrusive ads):
I reached out to Polyslab Games with some questions regarding the games and I highly recommend you read through the interview to gain some insights what devs go through when releasing titles.
Q: How long it took from the initial idea behind The Three Stooges: Zombie Defense until the first public release?
We started working on mobile games when we were able to acquire the mobile license to The Three Stooges® brand in July of 2015. Before that, we were building up a full AAA console Stooges game which we are still in pursuit of. From July till now, we had been working with various mobile concepts and we ended up zoning in on the Tower Defense genre and Zombie Defense about the end of September, 2015. We worked tirelessly from that point through about a 3 month development cycle which we spent crafting our vision of getting the look and feel of Stooge brand into an exciting zombie apocalypse context. The sounds and visuals play heavily into how to make it feel like the Stooges. We utilized actual sound clips from the original Stooges shorts to help capture the magic. Using a functioning tower defense mobile game engine as our core and were able to deliver Zombie Defense just shy of Christmas, 2015.
Q: The Three Stooges is a brand with so much history, was it difficult to obtain the license to create a game using this brand?
The license for such an iconic IP is not easily obtained, but it does help if you are related to one of The Three Stooges! I am Larry’s Great Grandson so I have been entrenched in Stooge world my entire life. I will say this, Polyslab Games was not granted the license because of this familial bond, if anything it made it even more of a pressure situation to make sure we are going to handle it correctly. I did use the lifelong knowledge of being a Stooge to our advantage in that I understand the marketing landscape better than most. I was able to use my knowledge and passion to craft an agreement with C3 that makes this license a major jewel in our crown that fits perfectly. Outside of a few movie deals there has never been a need for creation of new content with the Stooges, most licenses are physical products. We partnered up with a lawyer who was able to put together a license that guarantees our rights and protections on a global basis….All the while granting us full creative control of our games and the content within. I will say there were many many drafts, hours, discussions, and cups of coffee that went into it, but the end result is spot on.
Q: How do you monetize your game? Do you think it’s difficult to make money as a developer?
I think the key to making money is to really try to deliver to the fans what they want. Gaming is all about the supporting the community, because without gamers who want to play, there’s no game to be made for that. Right now we have a minimum viable product with Zombie Defense, it’s a fun core game, it’s catchy, it’s funny, it feels like the stooges that we know and love, and it gives a sense of progression as you play. Great start. We are hoping to upgrade it in future updates.
We have already patched the game a few times and we will continue as much as we can, and we’re hopeful to see new weapons, a survival mode, leaderboards, more characters *cough cough*Shemp*cough, new music, new environments, new zombies… the works. That to me is the key to how to monetize a game and make money as a developer.
Sure, the advertisements will play and that helps us especially if anyone clicks through, and some bit of the community might buy some in-app currency as well, which is the most direct ways the game can make money, but really the key is to continue to support the game. In the old days, we would just replay the same game over and over, if anyone had maybe a Nintendo or a Super Nintendo, Atarai, or went to an arcade. With the demands of online gaming and especially mobile, people need more content. The better you support your game, the better experience you can deliver and the more people will play: and that’s how you get paid.
Q: With hundreds of thousands of games in the Google Play store, how do you make people aware of your games?
The biggest punch comes from social media. We have a built in FB following via The Three Stooges with a 1.1 million strong following. They also have over 30k followers on Twitter and Instagram. We use those outlets as our primary pool of players. We have our own strong Twitter presence with almost 3k followers of our own, they are mostly gamer and dev related so that is a nice platform. We also participate regularly on the social boards hosted by Google+, we get some nice traffic from those communities that host millions of like minded folks worldwide that we can engage. We have also been tapping into the YouTube influencer networks as often as possible.
There is also a small branch of executive outlets that we try to partner with; AppBrain and Ayzenberg Group being my favorite.
My personal favorite and the absolute richest in terms of knowledge, reach, and assistance has been AndroidB! Claude, allow me to thank you here and now!
Q: Android, iOS or Windows 8, which one you prefer from a development point of view and why?
From a development standpoint, Android seems to be the easiest to publish to initially and then you port the ship build over to iOS & other platforms or at least that’s how we are doing it currently, which is why we are able to soft launch there and work out the kinks while we go through the approval process for iOS.
Beyond that, I actually really like and am hoping to see Zombie Defense on all the available platforms. We’re out on Google Play and we’re just getting the final fixes in for iOS, and we’re hoping to be able to a port to Amazon for Android and Amazon Fire as well as Windows, Windows Phone, and WebGL, and we’re aiming to put our slated upcoming catalogue of games on all platforms as well.
Q: What are your favorite apps or games?
According to my phone usage log, Facebook is my favorite app. Outside of games I’ve worked on or am working on, I’ve really started enjoying actually Candy Crush & Angry birds, there was a little game called Stair Dismount I got into for a while, and also like Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes, and then there’s Youtube, which I use mostly to find random music while I work out.
Q: Have any tips/advices for other developers that want to start working on a game? Any tools that you consider to be a must?
Build up the means to deliver a good product. Your team and software are important. Not just your development team; your business end is just as important. Polyslab Games has a legal department, marketing, public relations, social media, etc. You don’t want to be a helpless artist sitting at the barrel end of the money gun.
Make smart decisions when you develop. Be quick to cut costly features that are failing. Embrace trends even though you are out to set them. Be prepared to spend lots of money, and keep your eye on the prize. Don’t celebrate your victories in advance, and don’t rely on speculation to see you through. Do your due diligence. Make something that works, and swing for the fences.
Your games will come out if you make them come out. There will be hurdles all the way most likely. Just handle them. Every day will bring new challenges. They say don’t give up, and that’s about the only way it’s going to happen.
I’m sure this is only the beginning for Polyslab Games in successfully merging The Three Stooges universe with mobile gaming, so you can follow their official site to see when other new titles are released.