Last year, as we began reimagining our team vs. team capture point mode known as S.A.W. vs. Rebellion, we decided the mode’s reboot would be the perfect time to dramatize an escalation of the long simmering titular conflict into a full war on Super Animal Royale Tonight. Unfortunately, it ended up being far from the “perfect time” for that kind of episode.
In February, harrowing scenes of human suffering in Ukraine began to fill our screens alongside work-in-progress scenes of Super Animals mobilizing for war. The juxtaposition didn’t feel right. While we certainly didn’t have Ukraine in mind while developing the story months ago, because it depicts a buildup to war, it’s hard not to see parallels when viewing the show today. As a result, we decided not to release the episode.
We know that fans would have enjoyed the episode under different circumstances, but we also feel that the crisis in Ukraine casts a shadow so wide and so dark that it might be hard to enjoy right now. We’re sorry to disappoint those who were looking forward to it. All the great clips we received will remain in consideration for the next episode, and we’ll be reworking the script into an episode we hope will be even better than the one we had originally planned.
Pixile is committed to making Super Animal World a place of playful — if comically violent — escape from real world troubles, and this episode at this moment wasn’t serving that goal. While our storytelling approach does employ a lot of satire — skewering human behavior in all its excesses and absurdities — its targets are generally timeless rather than topical; more Monty Python than South Park. In this spirit, we try to avoid hot button current events.
Our most recent Super Fanart Contest was held and its winners were selected in January, before the conflict’s escalation in February. The winners won’t be announced on SAR Tonight, of course, but we are honoring them with a short standalone video and placement on our Super Fanart website. The work our fan artists created is phenomenal, and we decided not to hold it back, despite it also having a “war” theme. Though created before Ukraine was on all our minds, many of the winners contain poignant reflections on the costs of war that hit even harder now. While we hope to bring them to SMOMA (our in-game museum) in the future, they will not be displayed for now in order to preserve our escapist ethos. We are astounded, as always, by the creativity of our community, and while those particularly sensitive to war imagery at this time may wish to steer clear of this particular contest, we’re really proud of the work.
The S.A.W. vs. Rebellion reboot will be released as planned. While we’ve dialed back some of our supporting content, we have not altered the mode itself, which remains an intense, team-based spin on SAR. We think it’s a massive improvement over the original and we can’t wait to hear what you think.
Finally, and most importantly, our hearts go out to the people of Ukraine, and all those faced with the horrific violence and disruption of war. The scale of the crisis unfolding is truly difficult to comprehend. To support humanitarian efforts, Pixile Studios is donating to Doctors Without Borders, a medical relief organization on the ground helping war victims and refugees. We hope for a swift, just, and peaceful resolution, and look forward to a day when this kind of catastrophe is fully relegated to the safe confines of books, films, and video games.