“Trombone Champ,” from developer Holy Wow Studios, lets players “honk, blow, & toot” their virtual trombones to more than 20 songs, including Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and the US national anthem.
“I made a quick prototype, which people online thought was funny, and thus began work on a full game,” Dan Vecchitto, game designer and developer behind Holy Wow, told CNN Business. “I thought it would take around six months, but the entire start-to-finish process took four years (with lots of starts and stops).”
The game itself is remarkably straightforward: slide the mouse up and down to very quickly to adjust the pitch while holding down a button for the right length of time to play along with music. This is accompanied by visuals of cartoonish, meme-able characters playing along on trombones as well as a few jokes about the word “toot” and facts about trombones throughout history. (“Did you know that early trombones from the Renaissance and Baroque eras are sometimes called ‘sackbuts?'”)
The game was released last week on Steam for PC ($14.99), with a Mac version expected soon. But its comedic appeal appears to have already made it a viral success. PCGamer, a gaming publication, described it as “instantly” a contender for game of the year.
In the words of one reviewer on Steam: “Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t toot.”
Before launching the game, Vecchitto had some concerns about how people would respond.
“I wasn’t sure how people would react to the game since it’s nearly impossible to make the trombone sound ‘good,'” he said. “I was also concerned that real trombonists would complain about how unrealistic the trombone controls are — it plays more like a slide whistle than a trombone.”
Now, Holy Wow is dealing with a different issue: strong demand.
“it’s going to take us a few weeks to get our lives in order and deal with the huge demand this game generated!” the developer tweeted. “Please be patient.”
— CNN’s Samantha Kelly contributed to this report.