- Hi-Fi Rush is a rhythm-based action game developed by Tango Gameworks.
- According to director John Johanas, Hi-Fi Rush was originally meant to be revealed during E3 2020.
- Hi-Fi Rush was directly inspired by Shaun of the Dead by director Edgar Wright.
It turns out 2020’s rhythmic surprise wasn’t meant to be as much of a surprise. Speaking to GamesRadar, Hi-Fi Rush director John Johanas confirmed that the game was originally meant to be revealed during E3 2020. According to Johanas, following the cancellation of E3 2020, the team kept looking for the right time to announce the game until the release window kept getting shorter and shorter.
We were looking at times to announce it so we wouldn’t get overshadowed by something. We wanted to hype it but not get people too excited, or give too much of a chance to jump on it. And then that period just got shorter and shorter.”
With the Xbox Developer Direct imminent, the idea of a shadow drop was suggested. Johanas talks about the anxiety that came with the idea. Fortunately, it was a resounding success. Hi-Fi Rush launched on January 25, 2023, for PC and Xbox and immediately became a massive hit. Both critics and players adored the game for its innovative rhythm-based action combat, fantastic music and it’s beautiful Saturday morning cartoon aesthetic.
In a time when AAA projects are so risky, shadow-dropping a massive game like Hi-Fi Rush seems like a recipe for disaster. But thanks to its remarkable quality, word of mouth, and the sheer surprise, it paid off wonderfully for Tango Gameworks. In an earlier interview with Dexerto, Johanas goes into more detail about the success of Hi-Fi Rush’s launch.
I do think it is an inherently risky venture. Just like I said, it could have gone wrong for us as well. But even though we stealth dropped it, we stealth dropped it in a major marketing beat for Microsoft, so it wasn’t like it appeared on Steam one day and no one knew what this thing was.”
Johanas also considers whether or not the reception for the game would’ve been different if it had been announced early. As a surprise launch, it’s not hard to imagine that most players went in expecting a shorter, lower-budget title, only to end up with what was essentially a full AAA product.
I mean, I was glad that people were enjoying it, you know? But it makes you think, could it have been different if we announced it earlier? I guess we’ll never know.”
Johanas also shed some light on the things that inspired him to come up with the idea for Hi-Fi Rush. Most notably it was a scene in a certain Edgar Wright film, and if — like any reasonable person — your mind went to Baby Driver, you would be wrong. Johanas refers to the “Don’t Stop Me Now” scene in Shaun of the Dead as the major inspiration behind the game
I found Hi-Fi Rush to be an incredible experience. A game that harkens back to Tango’s history as the now-defunct Clover Studios. A time machine to the mid-2000s when action games were at their peak with the likes of Devil May Cry, God of War, and Clover’s very own God Hand.
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