The most ambitious project in the Peruvian video game industry is already sold internationally, and is available for PC and Nintendo Switch and Xbox consoles.
The Peruvian Amazon, its culture, stories, legends and diversity, have been a source of inspiration for literary works, films and all kinds of art. Thanks to our jungle, what is probably the most ambitious video game created in Peru has also been born: Tunche. After more than five years of hard work, the project developed by LEAP Games Studios reached the main gamer platforms and consoles on the planet at the beginning of November: Steam, Epic Game Stores, Nintendo Switch and Xbox.
Since then, in just one month, the reception has been unbeatable: positive reviews in the main digital media of the planet, downloads from all over the world and a growing interest in the Amazon world and Peruvian culture.
“When we were evaluating what our next project would be, we realized that when talking about Latin American stories or games, the most well-known cultures are the Incas, the Mayans or the Aztecs. There is very little, at least in the area of video games and other multimedia, about Amazonian folklore or the attractive mythology that exists in the jungle,” explains Jorge Garcia, co-director of the video game.
Once decided, the team began a process of immersion in the Amazon culture, which included travel, reading, audiovisual material and all kinds of experiences that would bring them closer to a better understanding of the eastern part of the country. It was at that moment that the interest in the legend of the Tunche was born.
The legend varies, but all versions agree that it is about a tormented man. After his death, his soul, still full of hatred, wanders in the darkness of the dense Amazon jungle. Those who have seen him say that Tunche announces himself even before he is visible, because he sends out a high-pitched whistle, which, according to them, foretells the death of those who hear it.
“We began to immerse ourselves in the mythology and customs of the Amazon. As we have progressed, we have fallen more and more in love with the legends, the history, the music, the art and each of the different representative aspects of the jungle. It has been a process of constant discovery throughout the entire creation process, that has allowed us to get to know Peru better,” adds Francisco Mora, co-director, chief programmer and music supervisor on Tunche.
The path was not easy, but we always had the support of the audience. In 2017, after being clear about what the project would be about, funding was obtained thanks to a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, the online platform that allows anyone to donate money to pay for a project. The Amazonian theme and 2D animation were fundamental to raise the USD 55,000 needed to make this idea a reality. The game follows the adventures of five characters, each with their own abilities and designs. However, the Peruvian Amazon is also the protagonist, and provides the perfect atmosphere of adventure and mystery. The care that the designers have taken in creating the scenarios, the story behind each character, and even the animations of their abilities, demonstrate an extraordinary level of detail and professionalism, especially for an independent videogame - not only in Peru but in the entire gamer world - and a true love for our country, the Amazon and our ancient culture.
“Our art team is very good and we were experimenting with the style, until we found one that matched the culture of the Amazonian peoples. We were inspired, above all, by their music, their looms and their handicrafts. We wanted to make all this known not only to Peruvians, but also to the world,” Jorge adds.
Tunche’s popularity continues to grow. Just check his social networks and find fans from all over the planet. “We see people from Brazil who have loved the game, people from the United States, players from Europe and Asia. The friendly art style is definitely an advantage, but it’s also due to the fascination that people from all over the world have for the Amazon,” Francisco finishes.
A GROWING INDUSTRY
For Phillip Chu Joy, the biggest media reference of the video game culture in Peru, the creation of Tunche was an adventure. He is a founding partner and lead game designer of LEAP Games Studio, the developer behind the Peruvian video game. Tunche has been a source of pride for him and the team, both for the final result and the great reception from the gamer community, as well as for the demonstration of what is possible to achieve with talent and dedication.
“Much of the story, the cities, the characters and the animals make reference to Peru and all that we have. There is a lot of potential, no doubt. But we didn’t decide to make the game based on the Peruvian Amazon just because we are Peruvian, but because we find it very interesting. We wanted to do something different, so we decided to explore the jungle: because it is ours and we are proud to put it in the game; and because it is fascinating to show the world, through a video game, everything there is in Peru,” Chu Joy said.
Tunche will forever be a milestone in the history of video games in Peru. “Anything on this sc
+ale has never been done before in our country. Neither for the duration, since it is a game that takes up to 20 hours to finish; nor for the frame-by-frame hand-drawn animation, in charge of very talented Peruvian artists. Every time the player presses a button, there is a series of frames drawn, and every movement of the characters and enemies has been done by hand. We are very proud to have achieved this,” Phillip concludes.