“Trombone Champ,” from developer Holy Wow Studios, allows players to “honk, blow and play” 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 fun, and 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 lots of starts and stops).”
The game itself is remarkably simple: slide your mouse up and down very quickly to adjust the pitch while holding down a button for just the right amount of time to play along with the music. This is accompanied by images of caricatured and memorable characters playing trombones, as well as some jokes about the word “toot” and facts about trombones throughout the story. (“Did you know that early trombones from the Renaissance and Baroque eras are sometimes called ‘sacabuches’?”)
The game launched last week on Steam for PC ($14.99), with a Mac version expected soon. But his comedic appeal seems to have already made him 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 play.”
Before releasing 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 almost impossible to make the trombone sound ‘right,'” he said. “I was also concerned that real trombonists would complain about how unrealistic the trombone controls are – it sounds more like a slide whistle than a trombone.”
Now, Holy Wow is dealing with a different problem: strong demand.
“It will take us a few weeks to get our lives in order and cope with the huge demand this game generated!” the developer tweeted. “Please, be patient.”
— CNN’s Samantha Kelly contributed to this report.