Developer Holy Wow Studios’ Trombone Champ lets players honk, blow and tune their virtual trombones to more than 20 songs, including Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and the US National Anthem.
“I made a quick prototype that people found funny online, so I started working on a full game,” Dan Vecchitto, game designer and developer behind Holy Wow, told CNN Business. “I thought it would take about six months, but the whole process from start to finish took four years (with a lot of starts and stops).”
The gameplay itself is remarkably simple: move the mouse up and down very quickly to adjust the pitch, while holding down a key for the right amount of time to play along with the music. This is accompanied by images of memorable cartoon characters playing along on trumpets, along with a few jokes about the word “Tut” and facts about trumpets throughout history. (“Did you know that early Renaissance and Baroque trombones are sometimes referred to as “sackbutts”?”)
The game was released on Steam for PC ($14.99) last week, with a Mac version expected soon. But its comedic appeal already seems to have made it a viral hit. PCGamer, a gaming publication, described it as an “instant” contender for Game of the Year.
In the words of one reviewer on Steam, “Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t toot.”
Before launching the game, Vecchitto had some concerns about how people would react.
“I wasn’t sure how people would react to playing the game because it’s almost impossible to make 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 sliding whistle than a trombone.”
Now Holy Wow is dealing with another problem: strong demand.
“It will take us a few weeks to get our lives in order and deal with the huge demand this game has generated!” The developer tweeted. “Please be patient.”
– CNN’s Samantha Kelly contributed to this report.