A.N.N.E. is a gorgeous upcoming 2D pixel side-scroller that mashes up elements of Contra, Castlevania and Blaster Master. It recently caught my attention from its Kickstarter campaign and after I watched the video I was hooked on its interesting gameplay and lush visuals. Currently A.N.N.E. is 7k shy of its backing goals and has 13 days left to achieve it. If this game strikes your fancy and you have a few bucks between stuck in your couch cushions I seriously recommend you consider backing this project.

I want to thank Travis and WhiteboySlim for tossing questions into the hat for this one.

jdodson: From the initial concept to now about how long have you been working on A.N.N.E.?

Mo: For about five months, but on a crazy schedule of 60 hours minimum per week sort of thing. I also wasted some time on a bunch of systems that I ended up getting rid of. Obviously trying things out is often the only way to be sure if it’s fun or not!

jdodson: When A.N.N.E. ships about how long will the game take to complete from start to finish?

Mo: I am hoping for a solid ten hours, potentially longer if you intend on doing all the side quests/challenge areas. But it`s something that is always hard to gauge. Once I get into some user testing I will see what needs to be added, if needed, to create a richer experience. I wouldn`t add stuff just for the sake of making the game longer if I feel that the experience is perfect “ 7 hours. But I am pretty sure that the optional challenge areas will keep you busy for a few more hours.

jdodson: Will A.N.N.E. ship sometime in 2013?

Mo: I was initially hoping to release the game at the end of the year but then I had to put a lot of time into Pax East, GDC Play and now Kickstarter. These things are literally full time projects so I had to push the game back a little. I am now targeting a March 2014 release, but it’s a soft target depending on the quality of the game once I get there. I want to make sure that the game is solid, so if it starts feeling like I would have to cut corners in order to make it in time I will let everyone know ahead of time and push it back. But in the event that I would have to push it back, I will make sure that I release something out to keep the backers happy. Something like the coop mini game or a demo of the game.

jdodson: A.N.N.E. has some really lush Kickstarter levels. The Super A.N.N.E. bundle looks incredible. What process did you take to design the SNES Cart and Controller and who prints that sort of thing?

Mo: A few people have access to factories that are somehow still making these. I believe some are in China and the one I am dealing with is based in Mexico. These aren’t cheap to make obviously and I do have to make a minimum of 500 SNEs box/cartridges in order for the price to be decent…

Travis: Will these promo items be on sale later for people who didn’t support the game via Kickstarter?

Mo: I will definitely have all the current items available post Kickstarter through my website. With the ability to pay using Paypal, Amazon or Google Wallet. I am working on setting these up at the moment.

jdodson: What's the coolest thing in A.N.N.E. you are most excited to have people experience for the first time?

Mo: Taking control of the ship. This is where people realize that it’s not just another platforming game. That exploring in the ship and on foot makes for a really refreshing and immersive experience.

WhiteboySlim: Choosing to have the energy crystals serve as both XP and the game currency is an interesting design choice. Was there a specific reason you decided to implement them this way?

Mo: I tried having gold coins and XP, then I felt like it was adding unnecessary complexity in managing currency in the game. I am a big Dark Souls fan and I think that their system was amazing. I wanted something similar that would be a little less punishing.

WhiteboySlim: Will we get to mess around inside our ship? Will we get to make upgrades to our ship?

Mo: Yes! You get to purchase new parts or upgrade these parts from a little terminal inside your ship. The parts are meant to be a way to customize your experience by letting you modify stats such as ship speed, defense power, attack power and also the kind of weapon that your ship has rangin from spread shots to auto lock on. Each of the different weapons coming with different rate of fire and attack power.

jdodson: From the A.N.N.E. reveal trailer, the game already looks quite far in the development process. What are you working on right now in the game development process and what big hurdles do you have to overcome?

Mo: I am still finishing a few of the main systems such as the map and the Inventory/upgrade system. Once that`s set I will be able to just create content for the game; all the game areas, enemies and epic bosses!

Travis: The stretch goals have some great additions in there like New Game+, multiple platforms, etc. Which of these would you most like to implement, taking the extra funding out of the equation?

Mo: I would love to get the game on Wii U, PSN etc… But my main focus being on making a great game on my existing tech (PC, Mac, linux) then I shouldn`t have to worry about all those platforms, they should come regardless. So although I would love to release on multiple consoles, the main focus has to be on making a great game.

jdodson: Fast forward to the future a bit and A.N.N.E. is Kickstarted and the game ships to critical acclaim. What's next for Games by Mo? A.N.N.E. expansions or a sequel?

Mo: I do have the sequel already planned in my head. lol But I also have a bunch of other games I would love to do. It`s hard to say at the moment! It will most likely materialize slowly as I get closer to finishing A.N.N.E. I always trust my guts feeling and excitement when jumping onto a new project, so it`s a little early to say for sure what my next project will be.

jdodson: I want to thank you for taking the time to answer my questions today and am VERY excited to see this game get funded and ship! Before we wrap things up, is there anything else you want to say?

Mo: Thank you for the Interview. I would also like to invite everyone to follow me on youtube, facebook or twitter and take a look at the trailer if they haven`t already. Also voting for the game on Steam Greenlight would definitely be appreciated! Cheers!