'Sayonara Wild Hearts' Creator on Replicating the "Awe" of Arcade Games

Sayonara Wild Hearts - Publicity - H 2019
Annapurna Interactive

Considering the game's inclusion in Apple Arcade, Simogo's Simon Flesser says, "It's hard to tell now what [the platform] will mean for the industry."

"Euphoria!" answers Simon Flesser, when asked about the experience he and Magnus 'Gordon' Gardebäck, who make up Swedish game studio Simogo, were looking to achieve with their latest game, Sayonara Wild Hearts.

"That weird feeling of being full of energy, but also melancholic," he continues. "So, exactly like a good pop song would make you feel."

The music-fueled, whimsical game launched this month on Nintendo Switch and Playstation 4, and is included in Apple Arcade's new subscription service that was unveiled this week. 

"We wanted to make a game that has the same traits of pop music; so it's both personal and also very universal," Flesser says of the story, which is based around a heartbroken character who embarks on a journey via motorcycle to collect hearts and restore harmony to the world.

Flesser and Gardebäck grew up with Amiga and NES consoles in their homes, but were ultimately "wowed" by arcade games. "We wanted to replicate that feeling of awe that you'd only find in arcades when we grew up," Flesser says. Some of the games they drew inspiration from were OutRunWario WareSpace Harrier and Ouendan.

Each of the short levels in Sayonara Wild Hearts offer a different musical track from composer Daniel Olsén, which Flesser explains were inspired by contemporary pop artists like Sia, CHVRCHES and Carly Rae Jepsen. 

The team also drew inspiration from "a lot of pop cultural things like Cafe Racer motorcycles, the Teddy Girls subculture and modern dance and ballet," Flesser says, in addition to Anime titles Sailor Moon and Akira.

Flesser sees the game's inclusion as a launch title on Apple Arcade as an exciting prospect. "It's hard to tell now what [the platform] will mean for the industry," He says. "It's an interesting time ahead, and I'm really eager to see how Arcade pans out, and what it will mean, especially in terms of financing games in the future, if subscription services become more of a norm as they have with other forms of media."