'Owlboy' Creator Explains 'Zelda' Influence and Move to Nintendo Switch

The 16-bit platformer first debuted on Steam and is now available for Nintendo's best-selling console.
Courtesy of D-Pad Studio

Indie video game hit Owlboy is now available for the Nintendo Switch, offering a new, broader group of players a chance to soar in D-Pad Studio's beautiful, 16-bit platformer. 

Owlboy creator and D-Pad art director Simon Stafsnes Andersen joined the Donkey Con Artists podcast, hosted by The Hollywood Reporter's Patrick Shanley, to talk about the game's jump from Steam to the Switch.

“We all grew up with Nintendo as kids," Andersen said. "We thought this will fit pretty well. We looked at all the different consoles, because we wanted everyone to play it… but the Switch just seemed like a natural fit for us.”

The game, beautifully rendered in a classic 16-bit style, follows the adventures of Otus, the titular owlboy, as he soars through the air and hunts down bandits — while also dealing with his own cruel bullies.

"We wanted to make a protagonist who’s not really the standard hero," Andersen said of Otus. "The idea is that you’re not really that special and that sort of permeates everything that goes through the rest of the story. If you’ve played any video game, you know how difficult it is to get players to care about the characters.”

As for the game's unique art style, which has earned praise for its level of detail, Andersen said he drew inspiration from classic Nintendo games: “I’ve always been a massive fan of Zelda and Mega Man. I think Link’s Awakening was the first game I ever bought with my own money and you can see a lot of that in there."

It wasn't just old-school Nintendo titles from which Andersen drew inspiration, however. "Wind Waker taught me that the most important thing is to have very recognizable shapes for people, so I definitely took inspiration from that," he said. "And the environment, just to make sure it feels alive and you can interact with everything in it.”

With today's high-powered game engines and cutting-edge graphs, Andersen stressed that there will always be room for more of a retro style in gaming. “You have to remember with all art, its really just a medium," he said. "There’s no such thing as things becoming obsolete. With pixel art, its really about getting as much detail as possible and having a lot of skill in doing that.”

Listen to the interview in full at the 25:14 mark below.