Battlesloths 2025: The Great Pizza Wars is a competitive multiplayer, twin-stick shooter that features hoverboard riding, gun-toting sloths who love pizza and crazy hats. It is the brainchild of Phillip Johnson, who owns the indie game company Invisible Collective, and was published by Rooster Teeth Games in May 2017 for Steam.
This year, Battlesloths 2025: The Great Pizza Wars won the SXSW Gamer’s Voice Award in the Video Game category at the SXSW Gaming Expo. I caught up with Phillip following the award ceremony and talked a bit about what this means for him and what’s in store for the game.
Horror Geek Life: Huge congrats on winning the 2018 SXSW Gamer’s Voice Award! There were so many great games nominated; how did it feel when you heard your game announced?
Phillip Johnson: I felt a bit scared, but ready. Hell, I have never won an award before…certainly nothing like this. But spending the past year or so doing improv at the The Hideout Theatre in Austin helped make me feel a bit more comfortable on stage. What had mostly run through my head was to make sure I honor the amazing team we had working on the game, and the folks that are still working on Battlesloths 2025 with us. Earlier that day, I felt like we had done a pretty good job hyping the booth and encouraging SXSW attendees to vote for us. In the spirit of preparation, I logged into the Invisible Collective chat and wrote down all the team members on a torn up piece of paper just in case. Heard our game get announced, went up, said a few words and got my picture taken in the hall. I went back into the show, handed Randy (Greenback) the statue then sat back in my chair and cried a bit. It’s been a long road to say the least.
Horror Geek Life: I’m sure it has been. You’re soon coming up on the one year anniversary of Battlesloths 2025: The Great Pizza Wars getting published by Rooster Teeth Games. Have there been many updates to the game since the launch?
Phillip Johnson: Since our launch, we’ve added the Mayan Sewers biome where sloths have to dodge rushing water, single-player bot challenges, some match options, and our ridiculous hat count is up to 1100. Hats seem to keep coming! You’d think we’d have run out of ideas by now, but they just can’t be stopped. We’re hoping to hear that players have unlocked every hat before we add more.
Horror Geek Life: Let’s talk about the music a bit! There are some talented musicians who have made songs specifically for Battlesloths 2025. Can you talk about them a bit?
Phillip Johnson: We’re such huge music geeks. Randy Greenback had introduced me to Mikal kHill about two years ago. I was unfamiliar with his work and he was a bit unassuming, dressed in what I’d call a “nerd outfit,” with the name “kHill” on his name tag. I asked what he did and he said, “I do IT…and I rap.” Later that night, I texted Randy asking for Mikal’s Bandcamp out of sheer curiosity and was pretty blown away by his material. I joked that he should do a song for Battlesloths 2025 and before you know it, we had a killer track with Mikal kHill, Sulfur, Adam WarRock, Ceschi, Jesse Dangerously, and Mega Ran. We sort of gave them artistic license to let the game inspire them and didn’t box them in as far as content goes, which is why there is so much controversial material and “bad language” in “Middle Claws Up.”
We were all just trying to entertain ourselves really, with no consideration for marketability. In a big way, our rap friends helped us set the mood and aesthetic of the game. What I particularly liked about Mikal’s music is that it had such a defined dark streak in it. What I learned soon after meeting him is how diverse the nerdcore genre is these days. For our launch, we got another killer song from Mikal, Sulfur, Dual Core, and Tribe One called “Protect Your Neck.” It has this great murky John Carpenter-esque opening and tons of tough stone-faced delivery from the perspective of sloths fighting over the pizza in the apocalypse. It’s just so energetic, tough, absurd, and fun.
On a more personal note, the first track was done during a time during my life where I was a bit beaten and broken, unemployed and working out a friend’s remote farmhouse in Hillsborough, NC. I had every reason in the world to throw in the towel and forget about doing this game when lots of talented artists came together to make a super amazing track for us. For that I’ll be eternally grateful. These artists always treat Randy and I like rock stars whenever we come out to their shows. So much love for all of them!
Horror Geek Life: I was actually introduced to the nerdcore scene through your game and now I’m a huge fan. Moving forward, what can fans expect to see next?
Phillip Johnson: We are currently hard at work on the most requested feature from our players, which is more single-player content. We previewed a mode at SXSW that is a bit like Robotron/Smash TV- arcadey and fun. For the new content, we’re developing entirely new AI enemies. Our artist, Adrian Lienard, has been previewing some of that art on his Twitter account. We’d love for this game get ported, so hopefully we’ll see something in that regard soon.
Hats are always being put in and the overall count rises higher and higher with every update. And as far as hats go, we honored the nerdcore scene with artist-inspired hats that we’ll put in soon.
We’d like to also continue making awesome songs for our game with those artists, as well as try to change it up a bit with some other styles of music. I know I’m particularly excited to see if we could do something with the pop duo Crunk Witch, but only time will tell. We got a list of artists like a mile long we’d love to do stuff with. I guess we have this naive fantasy that Battlesloths could be a nexus for great music discovery!
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