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Onteca on top Down Under as monsters storm charts.

Byline: Alistair Houghton

ASTRO-MAGGOTS and stomping orange monsters have helped a game developed in Liverpool reach the top of the charts in New Zealand.

Toxteth-based Onteca released Monsteca Corral: Monsters vs Robots last month, via the WiiWare shop on the Nintendo Wii console.

The game - which Onteca director Jon Wetherall calls "one of the weirdest ever made" - is number one on the Wii Shop download chart in New Zealand, and has been a hit around the world.

The team at Onteca has been working on the game for two years and director Jon Wetherall said he was thrilled at its success.

He said: "It's number 15 in the UK, number 10 in France, number 10 in Australia, and number one in New Zealand.

"You herd a group of orange monsters called Stompies and help them avoid the robots and fly away in the back of a giant astro-maggot.

"It has been described to me as the weirdest game ever made.

"It's both a kids' game, because of the monsters and the giant astro-maggot, but it's also a deep strategy game underneath. You have to think quite carefully about what you're doing.

"The Wii is a more accessible type of gaming machine, and we like that fact.

"Nintendo is famous for its brightly-coloured games, such as Mario Bros and Pikmin. We've been inspired by that."

Mr Wetherall, who worked at Sony's Liverpool studio and at Liverpool John Moores University setting up its MA course in digital gaming, founded Onteca nine years ago.

Onteca produced a series of 10 Brainbox Challenge games for the BBC website.

It has also developed a number of interactive television games including ones for smash hit children's series, In The Night Garden, that are accessible by pushing the red button.

Onteca has worked on a number of quiz games, including the Big Pub Quiz for the iPhone.

Onteca is also working with the BBC and creative industries support agency Vision + Media on the Internet Protocol Television Platform (IPTV) scheme, which has the working title Project Canvas. It is helping to develop technology that can deliver internet content direct to television screens.

Another Onteca project is Air Horn Piano, an iPad game where people can play air horns using an onscreen piano keyboard.

Mr Wetherall said: "We're ploughing our own furrow with strange bits of software.

"The most important thing for us is that things should be fun. Every game we've done has been really good fun.

"We're trying do something new. There are a lot of 'me too' games out there. We're very proud of Monsteca Corral because it's a new game that's not like anything we've seen before."

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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 3, 2010
Words:453
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