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June 13, 2012
August 7, 2012
Babel Rising is a video game developed by Mando Productions and produced by Michel Bams and Olivier Fontenay. An arcade game with short levels, the 2D version of the game was first published in 2009 and in 3D in 2012. Babel Rising 3D was published with Xbox achievements for Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 in October 2013.
The storyline is based on the legend of the Tower of Babel, where God unleashes his wrath and powers against pagans who endeavor to build a tower to reach him. The goal is to stop them from ever reaching the skies. The player impersonates God and uses her/his powers to destroy the workers or the tower they are trying to build.
Often praised by reviewers for its high quality graphics, Babel Rising rapidly meets its audience and, as of now, has brought together a community of close to four million players. Improvements are regularly put forth and a spinoff, Babel Running, was released in 2012.
The game is a fanciful adaptation of a biblical context. At the time of the construction of the city of Babylon, the humans erect a tower meant to reach the skies and they show such arrogance as to supposedly irritate God-the player.
The action takes place in an imaginary Babylon and uses various monuments and places associated to this civilization. The game does not take itself seriously and, as such, disregards historical facts. Workers can thus build the Tower of Babel, the Ishtar Gate, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, but also more fanciful buildings such as a giant statue.
The characters in the game are the workers that the player must incessantly destroy whilst they carry on with the construction of the tower. Such as Lemmings, the workers do not seem to notice what goes on around them and strive to complete their mission at all costs, even if this includes crossing a wall of fire.
Depending on the version, the player may also face protector priests who will fend off her/his powers, or siege towers that the workers will have placed next to the tower.
The only named character in the series is King Nabu, and is a reference to Nebuchadnezzar II, famous for his building of Babylon. Nabu is portrayed as a secret tyrant, the most arrogant of all human beings, the man who issues the construction orders that anger the player. He is mentioned but never actually represented during the game, and the player never has the opportunity to eradicate him in person.
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Goal of the game
The concept of Babel Rising is to stop the construction of the tower. Hence the goal is to survive as long as possible. The game also offers various missions with required conditions for victory, such as to eliminate a given amount of adversaries.
The gameplay of Babel Rising mixes action and management of resources: the divine powers. The player has an array of powers that she/he may send at a chosen location, the only limitation being the recharging time for each power. The more the powers recharge, the more powerful they become; this generates tactical choices and forces players to take risks for maximum earnings.
If at first, it seems easy to destroy all the workers as they come closer, as the player progresses in the game, choosing the right moment to send each power becomes increasingly difficult. Sooner or later, the player will quite often be overwhelmed and the tower will rise slowly to Game Over.
Babel Rising uses a combo system to accrue higher scores. This allows for a longer game lifespan, by creating competition for first place. All the versions have online rankings, so as to compare scores with other players throughout the world.
Only six powers can be used during a game. There are more, but the player must choose before launching the game.
Depending on the version, various powers, a crossover of cartoons and biblical tales, are available.
Babel Rising 2D version
- Finger of God
- Infernal Lightning
- Burning bush
- Eye of God
Babel Rising is originally a co-production of White Birds Productions studio and Exequo. White Birds Productions ceased to exist in December 2010 and Exequo carried through with the development of the game and of its sequels, in partnership with Mando Productions, who is now in charge of creating and producing all the new versions of the game.
In 2009, White Birds productions team conceived of a game in which the player would impersonate God. It was clear right from the start that the game would be developed for smartphones and in particular for the iPhone. The project leaders wanted a game that would follow quick logic mechanics, unlike for the adventure games that they had developed up to that time.
They quickly decided on the principle of Tower Defense with limited-intelligence assailants, albeit tenacious and in great quantities. The reference to Lemmings came about quite naturally. They chose a subject that they willed to be original: the adventures of God. The idea was to produce a series of games that would have one thing in common: the fact that the player would impersonate God. The compilation of the three following elements: divinity, tower defense and Lemmings, led directly to the biblical passage of the Tower of Babel.
The first version of the game, in 2D and developed only for the iPhone, was designed by the internal teams at White Birds studios and released in December 2009 in the Appstore.
When White Birds ceased to exist, the idea was taken over and developed by Mando Productions, in particular the 3D version. The game is now available in 15 versions and 4 or 5 variants (2D, 3D, Babel Running, Babel Cataclysm...) thanks to the work of an accrued team of over 40 people.
Babel Rising draws historical inspiration from the Tower of Babel, even if the studio did envisage at one point trying their hand at other Bible inspired leads to develop the Tower Defense game in question.
According to biblical texts, the tower of Babel was built by the descendants of Noah. It was to be a tower so high as to touch the sky, to show God disapproval for the Flood he released upon Earth. In Babel Rising, workers build the tower and, little by little, get closer to the sky where the player/ God is situated and must stop them from reaching him by using his divine powers.
Graphically, the initial inspiration was taken from the very famous painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, whose representation of the tower of Babel is part of modern imagery. The creators of the game chose to refer to tangible historical elements that would withstand their game concept with a strong graphic basis. The design of the various towers under construction shows references to various artists who have portrayed the tower of Babel.
The initial version of Babel Rising iPhone was developed using tools internal to the development team at White Birds, some of which were specifically designed for the game itself. The ensuing versions were progressively centralized in a unique middleware, Shiva, developed by the firm Stonetrip. All developments are carried out by internal teams at Mando Productions and a few collaborators from the outside, using Shiva as the main engine.
Babel Rising 3D was also developed with Shiva, and produced in eight versions in parallel: XBLA, PSN, PC, Mac, IOS (iPhone and iPad), Androïd, Windows Phone 7 and Blackberry [BB, where? It's not available at/through App World]. The 2D version is available for 4 platforms: iPhone, Androïd, PC and WiiWare.
The original soundtrack was composed by Philippe Saisse and has been used ever since for all Babel Rising versions. The game designers consider it an essential and indispensable element of the game and part of its universe. 'Philippe has incredible talent for creating a unique atmosphere, says Olivier Fontenay, and to us, his music is a strong signature of the universe of Babel Rising: that’s why it is and always will be part of the game’s universe and of its sequels.'
Publishing and distribution
The game is published and distributed by different companies depending on the version:
- 3D mobile version (Windows Phone, Windows 8, Windows RT, XBLA, IOS, PSN, Mac, …): Ubisoft
- 3D mobile version (Android): AMA
- 2D mobile version (IOS Android): Bulkypix
Overall, the game generates similar reviews from the specialized press and players alike: high quality scenario and graphics being the game’s main cause for success. Its appeal would also come from the fact that it is an affordable and addictive game (simple but absorbing). Babel Rising 3D has been awarded 4/5 stars on the Apple Store and 4.6/5 on Google Play, its main downloading platforms.
The game has also been criticized on several counts. The main reproach is the repetitive aspect of the game, but criticism also points at technical inaccuracies in the console version of Babel Rising 3D (Kinect and PS Move).
In July 2012, the Babel Rising license reaches 2.5 million downloads, for all the versions of the game. In August 2012, in the space of two weeks, Babel Rising 3D version reaps an additional million downloads, thanks to game’s transition to Free-to-play on Google Play, bringing the total to over 3.5 million downloads.
The game Babel Rising was number one (free or paying version) in over 25 countries.