Trombone Champ is the latest video game that players can’t put down – even if the people around them wished it could.
Developed by Holy Wow Studios, the rhythm-based video game is similar to Guitar Hero – but swaps out the guitar for the trombone. An avatar plays the trombone while the player moves their mouse up and down to sync with the on-screen pitches. The mouse movements are inverted, which adds another level of difficulty.
The game, which released on September 15, went viral this week after people tuned in online – from video game reviewers to actual ones Trombonists – began posting recordings of themselves playing it.
The result? Lots of tooting, to songs like the national anthem and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, followed by laughter from people on the internet.
Dan Vecchitto, the game’s developer, said he never expected it to become the internet’s newfound source of laughter. In fact, Vecchitto, who works full-time in web design, expected a much smaller group of enthusiasts.
“Of course I’m super happy about it and also a bit relieved,” said Vecchitto with a laugh. “I wasn’t quite sure what the answer would be because … it almost always sounds bad.”
Vecchitto, who claims to develop video games as a hobby, doesn’t even play the trombone.
He came up with the idea for Trombone Champ four years ago, inspired by traditional arcade cabinets. Vecchitto said he envisioned a cabinet that, instead of a lightweight plastic gun, had a rubber trombone with a moving slide attached to it.
“I thought it would be funny to imagine someone trying to move the slide of a giant rubber trombone in and out to kind of match those giant squiggly lines flying around on the screen,” he said.
I wasn’t quite sure what the answer would be because… it almost always sounds bad.
Dan Vecchitto, developer of Trombone Champs
According to Vecchitto, who worked on it nights and weekends, the game’s development was a relatively smooth process.
But the tricky part for Vecchitto was that he wanted to find songs that the player would enjoy without having to pay royalties. Almost all music is classical and in the public domain.
The game features an original work by a London-based artist Max Tundracalled “Long Tail Limbus”.
At first, Vecchitto said he was afraid real trombonists might be offended by the game. However, he said most trombonists he heard from enjoyed it.
“A GAME WHERE YOU PLAY THE TROMBONE?!?!? It feels like Trombone Champ was literally made for me,” G4 host and trombonist Austin Creed tweeted.
YouTuber Trombone Timo, a professional trombonist with a large following on social media, also enjoyed playing.
“Overall this game is complete rubbish – just kidding,” he said in his video review. “It is wonderful.”
His only complaints? A trombonist doesn’t move their whole body to reach certain notes like the game’s avatar does, he said.
“Also ‘Trumpet’?” he added, referring to a player’s in-game designation. “Come on … [it’s] trombonist!”
Many said the game made them laugh out loud.
“Trombone Champ is so funny because the sound of an out-of-tune trombone and a fart are almost exactly the same and therefore almost as funny, especially on repeats,” said one person tweeted.
“Trombone Champ is amazing”, Game Designer Joseph Yaden tweeted. “The funnest game I’ve ever played.”
“I saw the video from a PC player, the video game distribution platform.
Many tweeted song requests they hoped to see on “Trombone Champ” one day. Some recommended The game is an “instant” contender for Game of the Year.
Based on the overwhelming response, Vecchitto said he will continue to update and tweak what he believes to be the first-ever trombone-centric game.
The game, which costs $14.99, is available on PC via Steam. Vecchitto said he plans to release a Mac version and eventually a console version. The game is also currently only available in English, but Vecchitto plans to add more languages.
“I always knew the concept was fun,” Vecchitto said. “But I’m still very surprised at how viral it’s gone.”