Trombone Champ, the Musical computer gamehas received more than 20,000 downloads since its release last week, and gameplay videos of favorite songs ruined by terrible trombone playing have made waves on social media.

The game is like Guitar Hero, but the mouse acts as a trombone. Move it up and down to simulate a slide and click to sound the horn. Your goal is to play along to trombone classics like Beethoven’s Fifth, Hava Nagila, and Take Me Out to the Ballgame.

The game is very much about the joke — in fact, “the first is the joke, the second is the game,” says its creator, Dan Vecchitto, who is “surprised and happy” at the flurry of enthusiasm. “I don’t know why there isn’t more comedy in games, because games can be so funny.”

It’s also very difficult. Aligning your cursor with a note flying across the screen is harder than it looks, especially since you can’t hold down the mouse button indefinitely—it’ll cause your character to huff and puff. The game rates you on an AF scale and I couldn’t handle it better than a C. My virtual trombone playing was reminiscent of listening to a third grader practice for a recital, all the squeals and squeals and solemn sounds ruining the otherwise flawless support. trace The whole joy of the game is in how silly it sounds.

It’s all framed by a Zelda-style storyline: when you start, you’re warned by an important voice: “One day you’ll tear the fabric that binds this land together… but until that day comes, you must throw. . Play the trombone, brave soul, and you may yet be Trombone Champion.” There’s also a mysterious “baboon” mode that rewards deeper investment in the game — baboon is “inherently a funny word,” Vecchitto says — and “demon” legends which players can summon.

Vecchitto, 38, is a musician, but not a trombonist himself. Instead, the idea for the game came after being struck by a mental image of an arcade-game cabinet with a rubber trombone that “always sounded bad” where people tried to make music. He then decided to imitate the movements of the trombone with a mouse.

He made the game mostly by himself, with his wife Jackie Vecchitto contributing the art and one of his favorite musicians. Max Tundra, adding a music track (most music is public domain material). He thought the project would take six months; Instead, it took four years – although that included working around her day job as a UX/UI web designer, “and then of course Covid slowed that down as well. Half of 2020 was a wash.”

As she worked, she said, “I was kind of worried that other people wouldn’t get it.” It seemed to him that “it would be kind of hard to sell a game if the concept is: you’re not good at it.”

He “didn’t necessarily expect a breakthrough” success. Before Trombone Champ, Vecchittos’ Holy Wow Studios had made several games shared by amateur gamers, but the scale was “definitely small,” he says. It was “really very unexpected to come out of that little nest.”

“I’m glad the game is making people laugh and happy.”

He hopes that success will allow him to devote more time to game development. He would like to create an arcade version of the game in line with his original vision; others suggested it would work well in VR. He also plans to add more songs and create a Mac version of the game, which is currently only playable on PC.

Vecchitto was initially worried about how the performance would go with the trombonists. Turns out he had no reason to be afraid: they loved it. “I didn’t realize there was a live trombone streaming culture. “I was approached by three different people who were great trombone players, so I didn’t know it was a thing.”

Indeed, says Colleen Wheeler of the International Trombone Association (ITA), a trombonist community of 4,000 members from 74 countries: “It’s clearly the best game ever made.” According to CEO Magnus Nilsson, the game is “perfectly timed” for the ITA’s 50th anniversary, he notes.

Asked by email how similar the game actually is to playing the trombone, Wheeler wrote, “If the time of your life matters, it’s one and the same.

“I recommend everyone on the planet to buy the game and start practicing right away. We hope you won’t be able to resist the siren call – and find yourself securing the physical trombone. Your best days will be spent making music,” he added.

“If this game brings you joy – and it will – why not add a trombone to your life?”

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