This is the English version of our original Q&A. The original in Russian can be found here.

The gaming industry of today is so big and prolific that finding a decent game can sometimes be a real ordeal. Forget Steam – even Switch’s eShop boasts about hundreds and hundreds of games of… mixed quality. But among the AAA titles and lazy ports there are real gems, and Yoku’s Island Express is one of them. We liked this game so much, we got in touch with its creators and asked them a few questions.

Today we speak with Linus Larsson, Level Designer & Writer on Yoku’s Island Express.

When did you first think about the unique concept of Yoku’s Island Express? What inspired you to create such a game?

Villa Gorilla was founded by AAA-industry veterans Jens Andersson and Mattias Snygg in 2013, with the goal of exploring game ideas that would never get made in big-studio environments. Yoku’s Island Express was inspired by works of painterly beauty like that of Studio Ghibli, where every screen seems to hide a hundred secrets to be uncovered!

What was the hardest thing about creating this game? What platform did you have in mind when creating Yoku’s Island Express?

The early game concept was much smaller than the final product and Jens had just released Colors! 3D for the 3DS, so it definitely had handheld in mind. The concept eventually outgrew that scope though so we felt it was more suitable to release it for other platforms instead!

Yoku’s Island Express plays wonderfully on Switch. Is this the ideal platform for it? The game certainly has this “Nintendo feel” in terms of polish and bright visuals. Do you think this game is ideal for a handheld?

The game certainly has some roots in that way of thinking and it plays great in portable mode but we think larger setups really show off our visuals too!

Now, Switch is the king of handhelds. What’s your favorite handheld of all time? Do you think it’s over for Vita or 3DS? Were there at some points ideas about porting Yoku’s Island Express to these less powerful platforms?

The game boy advance SP holds a special place for me, it was the first handheld system that really felt portable and it had such a great library of games, especially all the classic SNES ports. While we love handheld platforms, I don’t think we’ll see Yoku’s for either Vita or 3DS.

What do you play at studio? Any favorite games? Maybe something from Nintendo?

I love the games by Studio Pixel, both Cave Story & Kero Blaster are awesome platformers I find myself returning to over and over!

I feel that the market is over-saturated with platformers and such. Many games look and feel samey. That’s definitely not the case with Yoku’s Island Express. Do you feel confident that your game won’t get lost among many others? 

We worked hard on making Yoku’s Island Express a unique and relaxing experience and I think people can tell! The early reception from critics has been great, and we’re hopeful that Yoku’s journey to Mokumana Island is one that will stay with you long after you’ve finished playing!

Yoku’s Island Express is out for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Microsoft Windows.

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