What do you get when an experienced indie developer known for distinctly original games teams up with a unique filmmaker with a cult following? It might look something like Tux and Fanny, which launched on Nintendo Switch and PC on September 9th, 2021.

developer Gabriel Koenig, (Jettomero: Hero of the Universe, Test Tube Titans), happened to reach out to director Albert Birney (Sylvio, Strawberry Mansion) after Birney posted a casual tweet about how fun it would be to bring his animated feature Tux and Fanny into a video game format. That was all it took to ignite the spark that quickly developed into a magical collaboration between these two creative powerhouses.

Despite the fact that Birney was still putting the finishing touches on his latest film, Strawberry Mansion, which premiered at Sundance earlier this year, the team of two blazed ahead crafting a game of pure imagination and wonder, and within 16 months produced a magnificent game experience conjuring a love for the games Birney and Koenig grew up playing but pushing beyond tribute into something far stranger and more beautiful than anything that has come before it.

Koenig, on developing the game says, “I think it’s fair to say that making Tux and Fanny was what saved my interest in making games, not to mention what preserved my mental health during the global pandemic. Working with Albert, as a complete outsider to game development, injected so much life into everything we built. And I don’t think I ever said ‘no’ to any of his ideas. He pitched a lot of bizarre ideas to me, and I loved them all and would figure out how to make them happen. And in turn, I would be inspired to push my own boundaries for game design, adding many interactions I never would have thought of otherwise. It completely reinvigorated my passion for creating games.”

The entire project was assembled remotely with Koenig in Vancouver, Canada, and Birney based in Baltimore. Amazingly, the two communicated almost exclusively through a Twitter DM for the whole time – a tribute to the seamless nature of their collaboration.

As anyone who plays the game can attest, it’s an exceedingly difficult game to define with words alone because of how deep and unusual the experience goes. The game at its core is a retro-point-and-click-inspired adventure, with small puzzles at every turn, but the world is populated full of thoughtful and imaginative observations that help slow downtime and offer a meditative experience in simply exploring the world. And then there are the countless mini-games hidden throughout the game, which offer a fantastic range of activities in just as many different styles. 

This is a one-of-a-kind game experience, building on the wonderful weirdness of Birney’s original film, and creating an interactive experience that most players are likely not to forget any time soon.

Tux and Fanny is a single-player game, ideally played with a friend by your side. The game takes roughly 5-hours to complete the main story, and another 5-hours to find every last secret. The game is available now for $10 USD on the Nintendo eShop and itch.io.

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