At first glance, Ra Ra Boom looks like an energetic brawler with a badass cast of women unleashing fists, kicks, and bullets on waves of robot baddies, each hit punctuated with rainbow-colored explosions as metal body parts sail across the screen. It is absolutely what it looks like: vibrant, energetic, and full of character. But look a little closer, and right alongside the Lisa Frank color palette and the Saturday-morning-cartoon aesthetic, you’ll find a story about a group of young women not just battling robots, but overcoming their own grief and internal struggles in the process.
During my hands-off preview, I got a little insight into this part beat-’em-up, part run-and-gun game, and the tricky balance studio Gylee Games has had to strike in telling an intimate story of loss and personal growth within a genre that rarely leaves room for emotional resonance. “It’s a constant balancing act,” CEO and writer Chris Bergman told me. During one of the opening levels I had seen, the charismatic characters would banter back and forth in the midst of battling robots that were exploding into nuts and bolts. “We probably cut 40 minutes of cutscenes and dialogue from the first level so we could keep the pacing up, but [kept] just enough to give the player an idea of who these girls are.”
In Ra Ra Boom, the people of Earth have solved climate change with the aid of artificial intelligence. So how did AI solve global warming? Well, by eliminating its most predominant cause: mankind. In an attempt to save the world, humans created an AI that, in turn, created an army of robots that began to wipe out the human race. So in an attempt to survive, humans fled the planet and began to colonize on spaceships. Despite the growing trend of AI tools making constant headlines in our reality of 2023, Bergman assured me that it was purely coincidental, as production began years prior, in 2020. But not all themes were unintentional, specifically grief and personal growth.
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