“It was a brawler game. Go to a bar, pick a fight, smash a bottle over someone’s head” – Former Heavy Iron Studios artist
Work began on the title in March 2010 at developer, Heavy Iron. In partnership with THQ, the company sought to create the first Saints Row game controlled entirely by motion; a ploy to capitalise on the rising industry trend at the time.
Two versions of the game were planned initially: an Xbox 360 game using Microsoft’s Kinect peripheral and a PS3 port with Playstation Move support. The Xbox 360 was the lead development platform for The Cooler, as the team’s creative focus was very much on Kinect.
A team of around 40 people were put on the project, while the rest of the studio was occupied with another Kinect-centric project for Disney called ‘E-Ticket’.
We were able to get in touch with several people, a mix of both former and current employees at the developer, who shared some details with us on the game’s lifecycle. According to these sources, the title was a brawler set in the Saint’s Row universe and was, in contrast with the rest of the series, not an open world game.
“It was a ton of fun to work on because we got to use the original Saint’s Row locales as concept art, basically, and give them a redesign and a highly upgraded art treatment (since Saint’s Row was open world and our game was not, we could afford to devote more time and engine resources to artwork)”
Kinect lap dancing
Despite it ditching the free roaming traditions of the previous games, The Cooler apparently offered a myriad of activities to experience. Its main premise was of motion-controlled fighting in various parts of the Saints Row universe, but players would have also been able to compete in poker tournaments and other miscellaneous mini-games.