How Trombone Champ Has Gone From Inside Joke To Viral Hit – We Talked To Its Creator


It combines the dramatic story of Dark Souls (if it had baboons), the gameplay of Guitar Hero (if Guitar Hero was drunk and played with a single button), the card collecting of The Witcher 3 (if the cards were mostly from dead composers ), Y you could get a game similar to Trombone Champ. What started as a simple and fun idea from the husband-and-wife development team, Holy Wow Studios, has become the most hilarious game of 2022, created with a simple philosophy: “If it’s fun, get in.”

Trombone Champ is a rhythm game where players make their way through over 20 songs as they try to solve the mysteries of the Trombiverse, collecting Trombonero cards as they go. It’s ridiculous, and its creator, Dan Vecchitto, knows it..

My philosophy for this game was: if it’s a fun idea, go for it.“, Vecchitto tells IGN.”I didn’t let standard game design rules or common sense inhibit the comedy. I let the game gradually turn into one big bunch of jokes: lots of poop jokes, lots of unexplained references to baboons, and lots of parodies of other games.”

But where did the idea for a trombone-based rhythm game come from? Again, a joke. “I originally envisioned Trombone Champ as an arcade game, in which the player used a huge rubber knob for the trombone and desperately tried to play along with lines of scribbled notes.” says Vecchitto, however “At the time, it was just a funny mental image“.

It wasn’t until later that he imagined using a mouse to emulate the movement of playing a trombone, and from there Vecchitto created a prototype that was almost as fun as he imagined. “I decided it was a solid idea and worth developing into a full game.“, he says.

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Holy Wow I’ve done games before, but they were all smaller, browser-oriented titles. The Curse of the Chocolate Fountain is a side scrolling game about chronic diarrhea and birds. Icarus Proudbottom Teaches Typing is a typing game with fun facts like: “Typing was invented by Steve Jobs in January 1984.” World of Typing is an episodic sequel inspired by Twin Peaks, followed by Typing Party, a two-player local multiplayer spin-off.

“My philosophy for this game was: If it’s a fun idea, go for it. I didn’t let standard game design rules or common sense inhibit the comedy.”

However, Trombone Champ is the studio’s first game to be sold as a real product, even though Vecchitto expected it to be a relatively quick and easy game to make. “I thought the project could be completed in less than six months, but as is often the case, it turned out to be much more work than expected.“, he says.

Total, the development of the game lasted four years, with a few starts and stops along the way. Holy Wow is not a full-time game studio, rather the work is done on nights and weekends, outside of Vecchitto’s day job as a web designer.

Something that prolonged the development of Trombone Champ was the need for an additional hook that kept people playing beyond the few hours of songs. The first thing added was the Trombonist Card mechanic, where players can open packs and collect cards featuring famous trombonists like JJ Johnson, Al Gray, and others. It’s also a parody of loot box systems from other games like FIFA, as players unlock packs in various over-the-top ways.

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Also was inspired by other games. “The plot is a direct parody of the Dark Souls saga, which made me laugh because those games are intensely dark and serious, the complete opposite of a game of silly trombones.“, dijo Vecchitto.

Although Trombone Champ has now exploded (with overwhelmingly positive reviews on Steam), the game it only had a small group of followers during its development: Comedy fans of previous Holy Wow games. However, an open testing period a month before release caused the first stir of general interest, as Holy Wow received an unexpected and overwhelming 600 feedback forms. However, things took off at launch, which came as a complete surprise to Holy Wow.

I always thought the concept of the game was fundamentally sound, and I knew it would have some viral appeal.“, dijo Vecchitto.”But realistically, what I expected was that a handful of people would share funny videos and those videos would go viral.“.

I really didn’t expect the virality to lead to an explosion of interest in the game itself. It’s been nice, but it’s also overwhelming: it’s too much demand for us. We are currently trying to develop a strategy to deal with it“.

“The success has been nice, but also overwhelming – it’s too much demand for us. We are currently trying to come up with a strategy to deal with it.”

Although the future is still unclear, Holy Wow agrees to work at Trombone Champ for a while instead of moving on to other games. “I have a lot of game ideas, and my initial idea was to update Trombone Champ for a while and then move on.” Vecchito tells us, “But given the intense response, we’ll probably stick with Trombone Champ for a while.“.

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Also a console version may be released at some point. “I can’t guarantee that Trombone Champ will make it to consoles, but I can say we’ll start trying soon.“, he added. Holy Wow will also explore other ways to expand their audience, such as localizing Trombone Champ into different languages, but there are still many different things for the duo to work out.

Vecchito expresses it in terms worthy of the game itself: “The challenge for us will be to navigate this without losing our minds.“.