The Story of SkateCat
Some of you may remember a while back when Limited Run published a physical NES cartridge called Kubo 3… the story of a gunslinging turtle designed and developed by a seven year old. SJ Games, as the young man is known, and Dale Coop, his father, collaborated together to create a full-featured new title for the Nintendo Entertainment system. You can read that whole story here.
SJ Games is back with a broader, brighter, and more ambitious new NES game: the adorable Skate Cat, on sale now at Limited Run Games. I mean look at this cat. It’s ridiculously cute.
A kid made this. He’s accomplished more in 11 years than I have in 44.
Anyway, we caught up with SJ and Dale to ask some questions about their latest retro-inspired creation. If you wanna buy this fantastic new NES cartridge (complete with box), you’ve only got until Sunday night, so don’t hesitate.
You're back! It's been a while since Kubo... how old is SJ GAMES now?
SJ: I'm now 11 years old.
DC: It's been a little over 3 years since KUBO 3, the previous game from SJ Games, was released. Seiji has grown a lot since then. He's a pre-teen who isn't afraid to express his ideas and is always curious.
So... why Skate Cat? What was the genesis of this design?
SJ: We adopted a cat last year. Her name is Soja. Also, I'm really into skateboarding; I've been taking skateboarding lessons since last year. So, I wanted to create a video game combining these two passions, a cat on a skateboard.
DC: After the release of Kubo 3, Seiji received many congratulations and encouragement messages. On my end, I continue working on NES projects. Seiji was more motivated than ever to create a new NES game.
You're a seasoned NES developer now. What lessons did developing Skate Cat teach you about designing games for the Nintendo?
SJ: I've learned a lot working on my games: how NESmaker software works, the limitations of the NES, such as using only 3 colors per sprite for characters and not being able to display more than 8 sprites on the same line on the screen. So, I have to think about how to design my characters and where to place them on the screens. On Skate Cat, it was a bit more challenging to create the levels because I wanted to make levels quite different, and it was difficult to come up with new ideas.
DC: For Skate Cat, I implemented numerous features, whether for the general game physics, certain levels, or optimizing the code to overcome space limitations and the slowness of the game engine. Not to mention the hours spent fixing bugs found during testing phases. But it was genuinely interesting and exciting. With each project, collaborating with SJ (or Raftronaut, who composed the entire soundtrack of the game) is my favorite part—exchanging, sharing, and progressing all in the same direction. It's a very enriching adventure for SJ.
What makes Skate Cat fun? What are you proud of about this game?
SJ: Firstly, I'm proud of my graphics. And then, of completing this project. I worked for over a year on creating Skate Cat. Skate is unique because it's a cat on a skateboard in a platform game... the physics are different and more slippery. And it's cute.
DC: Personally, I'm really proud to see the final product, the physical edition release, and the reception from players. The game receives a lot of positive feedback when we showcase it at conventions.
What's next on the horizon?
SJ: Perhaps a new game with a new animal, but I won't say more because it hasn't started yet.
DC: It's still too early to talk about it. Many things are changing in Seiji's life; he's growing up and starting to show interest in other platforms... so we'll see what his new project will be. I hope to still be part of it. In the meantime, we continue to share our activity at conventions, discuss NES game creation... and we hope to participate in conventions in the USA in 2024 (maybe Midwest Gaming Classic?).
Thanks again to all supporters of SJ Games projects, as well as the entire Limited Run Games team for their trust, their amazing work and support, and Jared for this opportunity to share our experience.
Hope to see you very soon!
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Limited Run Games:
is a subsidiary of “Freemode”, an operative group comprised of gaming and entertainment companies owned by Embracer. Limited Run Games is the industry leader in the production and distribution of premium physical video games. Limited Run seeks to celebrate the legacy of gaming through its award-winning collector’s editions. Founded in 2015, they have published over 1,000 physical games, exclusive merch, and collectables. Limited Run is the gold standard in bringing digital games to physical form and now re-releasing retro titles on modern platforms via their proprietary Carbon Engine. Visit limitedrungames.com for the latest offerings and to learn more about Carbon Engine development. Follow the brand on your social media platform of choice for all LRG-related updates:@limitedrungames.