Trombone Champ is the new video game that gamers can’t put down, even if those around them want it.
Developed by Holy Wow Studios, the rhythm-based video game is similar to Guitar Hero – but swaps the guitar for the trombone. An avatar plays the trombone while the player moves their mouse up and down to synchronize with on-screen pitches. Mouse movements are reversed, adding another level of difficulty.
The game, which was released on September 15, went viral this week after people online – ranging from video game reviews to real trombone players – started posting recordings of themselves playing.
The result? Lots of chanting, to songs like the national anthem and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, and the ensuing laughter from netizens.
Dan Vecchitto, the game’s developer, said he didn’t expect it to become the internet’s new source of laughter. In fact, Vecchitto, whose full-time job is in web design, expected a much smaller group of enthusiasts.
“I’m obviously super happy and a bit relieved,” Vecchitto said with a laugh. “I wasn’t quite sure what the answer was going to be because…it almost always sounds wrong.”
Vecchitto, who said developing video games as a hobby, doesn’t even play the trombone.
Four years ago he came up with the idea for Trombone Champ, inspired by traditional arcade cabinets. Vecchitto said he envisioned a cabinet that, rather than a plastic light gun, had a rubber paperclip with a movable slider attached.
“I thought it would be funny to imagine someone trying to move the slide of a giant rubber paperclip in and out to kind of match those giant curvy lines that fly across the screen,” he said.
I wasn’t quite sure what the answer was going to be because… it almost always sounds wrong.
Dan Vecchitto, Trombone Champ Developer
Developing the game was a relatively smooth process, according to Vecchitto, who worked on it nights and weekends.
But the tricky part for Vecchitto was that he wanted to find songs that would be enjoyable for the player without having to pay royalties. Almost all of the music is classical and in the public domain.
The game features an original piece by a London-based artist Maximum tundracalled “Long-tailed Limbo”.
Initially, Vecchitto said he was afraid real trombone players would be insulted by the game. However, he said that most trombone players he heard of enjoyed it.
“A GAME WHERE YOU PLAY THE TROMBONE?!?!? I feel like Trombone Champ was literally made for me,” G4 host and trombonist Austin Creed tweeted.
YouTuber Trombone Timo, a professional trombonist with a huge following on social media, also enjoyed performing.
“Overall, this game is complete garbage – just kidding,” he said in his video review. “That’s wonderful.”
His only complaints? A trombonist doesn’t move his whole body to hit certain notes like the game’s avatar does, he said.
“Also, ‘trombone?’,” he added, referring to a player’s in-game name. “Let’s go… [it’s] trombonist!”
Many said the game made them laugh out loud.
“Trombone Champ is so funny because the sound of a fake trombone and a fart is almost exactly the same and therefore almost exactly as funny, especially with the repetition,” one person tweeted.
“Trombone Champ is amazing”, games author Joseph Yaden tweeted. “Funniest game I’ve ever played.”
“I saw the PC Gamer video…it made my stomach hurt from laughing…I bought the game in a heartbeat…I played it myself- even… now my index finger hurts and my stomach hurts even more,” wrote a reviewer on Steam, the video game distribution service platform.
Many tweeted song requests they hoped to see on “Trombone Champ” one day. Some suggested the game is an “instant” candidate for Game of the Year.
Vecchitto said that due to the overwhelming response, he will continue to update and refine 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 currently only available in English, but Vecchitto plans to add more languages.
“I always knew the concept was funny,” Vecchitto said. “But I’m still very surprised at how viral it has gone.”