Adventure Game Hotspot


Footprints Games interview – Pizza Spy

Footprints Games interview – Pizza Spy
Jack Allin avatar image

The delightfully disturbed minds at Footprints Games view the world a little differently than everyone else. We think “film noir” and they think “farm fowl.” We think “espionage” and they think “edible.” And it’s precisely that tongue-in-cheek playfulness that makes their games so interesting. Following their successful 2018 debut with the comic-noir adventure Detective Gallo, now the indie Italian developer is back riffing on a whole new genre with the upcoming Pizza Spy. They’ve recently launched a playable demo on Steam as an appetizer, along with a Kickstarter campaign to complete the full course.

Those who know Detective Gallo have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Pizza Spy: stylish hand-drawn visuals with wacky characters, simple point-and-click mechanics but not-so-simple (occasionally even a little diabolical) puzzles to solve. The new game is even more ambitious than its predecessor, though, and like any good secret agent, Pizza Spy has a few surprises up its sleeve – literally, in the form of a special watch able to download “Pizza Gadgets” to help out in a pickle. (Sorry not sorry about any food puns; you’d best get used to them now as they’re ubiquitous in the game.)

Your choice of Pizza Gadgets feeds into another intriguing twist: the ability to approach puzzles as an Ethan Hunt-style operative in “Covert Mode” or as more of a Jason Bourne-ian, bull-in-a-china-shop “Overt Mode.” It’s just a little light roleplaying in an otherwise traditional adventure, but there are actual stats for each and the ability to tailor your methods to your preferences and/or circumstances is a nice touch that will allow for a little replayability. So too is an NPC attribute system that allows you to plan your dialogue strategy to best suit your counterpart. You’d be wise to mind your Ps and Qs when engaged with someone who’s bossy, touchy and distrustful, for example, or you’ll have your work cut out for you later. There’s also a bit of “action” to spice things up a bit, though if the explosive burrito-bombing sequence in the demo is any indication, these scenes are very forgiving, sprinkled in more for a cinematic change of pace and tone than posing any serious difficulty for the dexterity-challenged.

Like most vertical slices, the demo is still a work in progress in need of polish. (Note: unless you wish to play in another language, do not click “English” from the main menu – the demo defaults to English voice-overs and subtitles on its own and will permanently prevent you from doing so if you click it.) However, even with a few rough edges, it’s well worth checking out for its amusingly zany take on the genre. Here freshly minted special agent Ace Cook is sent on assignment to board the appropriately named Fry Train, where the nefarious Chili Spy is cooking up some dastardly surprises, and it’s up to you to dish out some just desserts if you’re able.

The demo sees you doing all the traditional adventurey things: interacting with hotspots (a handy highlighter is available to make sure you don’t overlook anything), picking up unusual items for your inventory, chatting (if you’re able) with other characters, and solving puzzles with offbeat solutions. Except you can only solve the puzzles that suit your choice of Pizza Gadget and spy mode. Going covert means employing a listening device for sounds the naked ear can’t hear, while boldly going overt involves a translating instrument that lets you converse with foreign passengers you wouldn’t otherwise understand. Whichever option you choose will open certain doors while closing others. You’ll also have your choice of deviating from the default walking speed, from sneakily tiptoeing past unsuspecting characters to brashly charging full speed ahead, each of which obviously favours one approach over the other.

Ace looks to be a fun character, easily excitable and full of piss and vinegar but eager to please his handlers, communicating with them with via watch radio. He’s confident but not arrogant, which is good because his inexperience means he’s still learning the ropes (allowing for a quick tutorial to help bring you up to speed). Currently only some of the dialogues in the demo are voiced, but already I wholeheartedly approve of the choice for Ace himself. A bit more cluing from Ace would not go amiss for some of the more outrageous puzzle solutions, but it’s still early days in development to get the balance right.

With their Kickstarter campaign needing a bit more juice to get it over the top, now seemed like the perfect time to chat with the creators of Pizza Spy and inquire about their recipe for a successful spy parody adventure. And with these guys, when you order one serving you get a second helping free, as the studio’s co-founding brothers Maurizio and Francesco De Angelis come as a package deal. To learn more about what’s on the menu from Footprints Games, read on for the full scoop!


Hi, Maurizio and Francesco. Welcome to the Hotspot, where we’re massive fans of both adventure games AND pizza, which your new game aims to fuse into one big tasty treat. 

Maurizio: Hi everybody. Thanks for giving us the chance to present you our latest project. Spoiler alert: we LOVE adventure games and pizza too! One of the beginning ideas we started from was … what kind of food can be mixed and matched with an adventure game aiming to parody the “spy story” genre? Pizza, of course! 😊

Before we get more into your game, let’s establish your bona fides for talking ’zas...

Pineapple on pizza: Barely tolerable, or utterly unconscionable? 

Francesco: We don’t like it … but this doesn’t mean that it cannot be eaten or appreciated by many other people. We can assure you that pineapple agents won’t be the enemies of the Pizza Spy team!

Very diplomatic answer. Seriously, though, I suspect that pizza worldwide has morphed into something much different than its origins in Italy, where you guys are from. What does pizza mean to you? 

Maurizio: We are proud of being Italian for many reasons … but especially for pizza! Pizza is not only a national food in Italy, but it is easily the most popular (and maybe the most appreciated) food in the world! Each country has its own version of pizza, because it is very flexible and adaptable according to everyone’s tastes. In fact, there are so many variants all around the world and for all tastes. PERSONALLY I prefer the classical, traditional MARGHERITA pizza with crunchy crust, tasty tomato sauce and mozzarella! It is sooo nice!

All right, now I’m feeling hungry, so let’s get off the topic of food and talk about your team. At least two of you have known each other your entire lifetimes, but who are the men behind the madness at Footprints Games? 

Francesco: Maurizio and I are the De Angelis Bros, the core team of Footprints Games, so yes, we know each other pretty well. 😊 Speaking of the rest of the team, we are happy to say that Carlo De Rensis for years has been supporting us in terms of localization and dubbing supervision, while Cristiano Caliendo has been helping us in making our comedy lines more and more entertaining. Mauro Sorghienti and Mattia Simone have been giving the backgrounds their color touch, while Giacomo Rita has been expressing his talent in composing orchestral movie-style soundtracks. Each collaborator has been great at contributing to the improvement of every single aspect of the game, while Francesco and I have directed the whole team, making every element consistent with the others. That is as challenging as it is fun! 

What is it about adventure games that made you want to make those? 

Maurizio: Day of the Tentacle was the first adventure game I played and it literally bewitched me with its hilarious sense of humor and funny puzzles. After that, Grim Fandango: I consider it one of the best adventure games ever for its memorable story, characters and ending.

Francesco: Sam & Max Hit the Road is the first game I instantly fell in love with for its humor, extraordinary situations and memorable characters, as well as Day of the Tentacle, of course!

You certainly picked an unusual protagonist for your first game. Why a ROOSTER for Detective Gallo? 

Francesco: Since Maurizio and I love detective stories, we wanted to create an adventure game based on an investigation. But we wanted to make it in a bizarre way, and we started to laugh as soon as we thought about a cynical rooster as private eye. 😊 From that idea we started to create the world of Detective Gallo, full of hens and chicks!

Great, now I’m thinking about chicken. But bird or no, Gallo is very much fashioned after the classic film noir private eyes: world-weary, short-tempered, quick with a quip and even quicker on the trigger. Where did your love of the classic detective genre come from?  

Maurizio: It is a literature/movie genre that fits adventure game mechanics very well. We are also intrigued by stories where you have to solve a mystery and you can do it by using logic. Inspirations for Detective Gallo were detective (and comical) videogames like the Tex Murphy saga and Sam & Max. We also love great characters like Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot because, even if they are generally serious, they have a sparkle of (British!) humor too.

On one hand Detective Gallo feels like a loving homage to film noir, but on the other it’s very much a parody of it. Why go for comedy when so many hard-boiled mysteries play it straight?

Detective Gallo

Francesco: We wanted to propose a weird and unexpected mystery in order to explore other ways of telling the traditional hard-boiled story. That’s why we conceived our game with a cartoonish style and over-the-top characters. In fact, even the case itself is a parody of the mystery-noir genre: Gallo has to investigate a series of plants that have been assassinated!

Are you happy with Detective Gallo’s reception? 

Maurizio: We are very happy with it: passionate players of adventure games appreciated the old-school approach of the game, while many other players appreciated the graphics and story. We are also proud that Detective Gallo was awarded with the “Best Writing – Comedy” Aggie Award from the Adventure Games website: that means that the humor was also well-received by professional reviewers.

Yes indeed! I remember that vote well. But of course it couldn't have all been flowers and awards. What did you learn – about the industry, the production process, or even yourselves – from that experience that you can apply to the new project?

Francesco: It is very important to have a clear idea in mind, but it is also fundamental to be flexible and open to every kind of input from players. When you define a concept, you have to be resolute to carry it out, trying to make every detail be consistent until the final result. But along the (very long) way there are so many opportunities to get feedback: it is very important to understand what people think, so you can’t be jealous or stubborn about your creation. It is also hard to discern which suggestions could be useful. It is a very delicate balance: the real difficulty is to select the best advice to really improve the product without betraying the original idea. 

The art style of both Detective Gallo and Pizza Spy is gorgeous. Have there been any particular artists that inspired you in developing your own style? 

Maurizio: Thank you very much! Visual inspirations for Detective Gallo were Lucasarts’s Sam & Max Hit the Road and The Curse of Monkey Island, and Disney’s Duck Tales animated series. For Pizza Spy we have drawn inspiration from Bruce Timm’s Batman animated series.

Great series, and such a stylish look. Okay, now that my stomach has stopped growling, tell us more about Pizza Spy

Francesco: Pizza Spy is an action-comedy adventure game starring a secret agent who uses biodegradable devices based on pizza in order to stop a global culinary threat created by a food terrorist. 

We’re dealing with humans this time, but not just your everyday average human in the lead role. Who is Ace Cook? 

Maurizio: Ace Cook is the protagonist of Pizza Spy: he has to face the culinary menace by learning the importance of recipes to overcome difficulties, to defeat enemy spies and to restore the global food balance. Ace is a rookie agent who will show everyone that he is naturally able to be a Pizza Spy! He loves to improvise and this is his greatest ability: understanding what is best to do at all times by choosing what to say or which Pizza Gadget to use. This skill is deeply related to the videogame main feature, which is based on the kind of approach that the player can choose in several situations to solve problems in different ways.

Here you’re lovingly poking fun at the spy genre. What is it about the world of high-stakes espionage that convinced you it was ripe for spoofing?

Francesco: The protagonists. Agents who are ready to do anything to achieve their own goals. These kinds of characters are deeply heroic, epic figures who can also become very funny ones if the story angle changes a bit.

Great idea to allow two different approaches to progress in this game. Can you share more about the differences between “Covert” and “Overt” game modes?  

Maurizio: This choice has been implemented on two levels: movement and resolution. First of all, the player can control Ace in more ways: Ace can walk casually, run (Overt Mode) or sneak (Covert Mode). This affects the gameplay because in several situations the other characters will react differently according to Ace’s style of movement. Moreover, many puzzles can be solved either head on, facing situations directly and persuading people (Overt Mode) or bypassing problems by acting in the shadows, without being seen (Covert Mode). According to the player’s choices, the game unlocks specific playable sequences.

You’re promoting a little more “action” in Pizza Spy, which is probably already making some people nervous. Can you clarify what kind of action you’re referring to? Do you mean in more of a cinematic sense, or are there quick-twitch sequences that will challenge people’s reflexes? 

Francesco: There are both quick time event sequences (where the player has to react quickly) and stealth sequences (where the player has to learn the obstacles path/routine to succeed). We wanted to vary the game experience by making cinematics playable and entertaining, giving the story a good pace. However, these special sequences rarely lead to a game over; failure or success still leads to an outcome that allows the game to go on.

James Bond had Q supplying him with lots of fancy toys, and Ace similarly gets to use “Pizza Gadgets.” The only pizza gadget I know of is the slice cutter, but I’m guessing that’s not the kind of instrument a secret agent like Ace uses. 

Maurizio: To help Ace Cook along the way there are two mentors, one of whom is the Pizza Gadget inventor. Ace will use these kinds of hi-tech devices by downloading them from his Pizza Watch (yes, to be consistent!). Players can gain Overt Points and Covert Points according to the way they accomplish the missions, and can then spend them to acquire specific Pizza Gadgets. There are Overt and Covert ones, and the effects are various: even in the demo the player can select the Pizza Radar (to perceive all noises and smells) and the Pizza Decoder (to communicate with characters who speak foreign languages). 

What else makes Pizza Spy really stand out from the increasingly crowded adventure game market? 

Francesco: Replayability. We have implemented many levels of choice in the game (character movement, different paths to solve puzzles, action and stealth sequences, moral dilemmas, Covert and Overt Points to get Pizza Gadgets, multiple endings) to make the overall experience as entertaining and customizable as possible. In short: no two runs will ever be the same.

As with Detective Gallo, you’re doing some crowdfunding to finish financing Pizza Spy. Besides helping get the game made, which is obviously priority #1, what are some of the benefits available for those who support the game? 

Maurizio: Every backer of Pizza Spy will get a Detective Gallo digital copy for free. This is a chance to play (or replay) our first videogame right after the end of Kickstarter campaign. We have defined many pledges and add-ons (for all tastes!) and interesting stretch goals like implementing an exotic food-spy group in the game, adding a brand new mission, letting live performers make the soundtrack even more fascinating, and developing a unique graphic novel set in the same game world.

Where are you at in the development process now, and if all goes well, how soon might we be able to get our hands on Pizza Spy

Francesco: The campaign will end at the beginning of March. If everything goes like we think and hope, in April 2025 we will be releasing the digital version of the game both for PC (Steam and GOG) and Nintendo Switch. Then we will start shipping all the physical pledges to our backers.

Well, the demo on Steam is a fun start that certainly bodes well for the rest of the game. I encourage everyone to check that out, then pop over the Kickstarter campaign for a look at all the goodies available.

Gentlemen, I thank you for taking time out to chat with us at a very busy time. I wish you all success in your fundraising, and I can’t wait to see more of Pizza Spy in the coming months! In the meantime, I know what I’m having for dinner.

Maurizio: Let me guess… pizza (pineapple included)? Jokes aside, thanks for this great chance to speak about us and our projects! And greetings to everybody who is hungry for adventure games and pizza, just like us: visit our page if you are curious about Pizza Spyplay the demo and give us your feedback!


Disclaimer: Jack provided the English language script editing on Footprints’ first game, Detective Gallo

1 Comment

Want to join the discussion? Leave a comment as guest, sign in or register.

  1. So many PnC devs and games come from Italy. Is it the new PnC capital? In addition to Footprints Games we have: Wardrobe - C.I.N.I.C. Games Hand of Glory and the upcoming sequel - Madit Entertainment The Will of Arther Flabbington and Kill yourself- Gugames


Leave a comment