We are glad to be able to share a quick interview we did with Diego Bergia on this impressive project LEPOS: The Primary Invasion.
Graffiti has often been a back drop in video games from skateboarding to the Grand Theft Auto series. Every few years a game comes out that misses the mark in trying to capture the feel of graffiti. The most well known one would be Marc Eckos – Getting Up. The challenge is how to capture the essence of graffiti and make it into a favourable game that people enjoy and isn’t cheesy.
Since 2013 we have had sneak peaks and teasers on a project called LEPOS: The Primary Invasion. The video game concept has been a long work in progress. It has built up a lot of hype because of the fun look and certainly the graffiti legends attached to it, Revok, Ces, Bates and Giant.
The cool part is that a Canadian is behind it all and has been plugging away at the concept just under a decade. Diego Bergia the creator and visionary used to also go by Cear and was part of the legendary Canadian KWOTA crew. With his involvement in graffiti it has led him to create the character Lepos, which the game is built around. He was able to link up with worldwide graffiti gods to push the idea of the game and build quite the following. I am no gamer but the cartoonish 16 bit classic feel resonates with the older graffiti generation that started in the 90’s when Cear did. It reminds me a Metal Slug type feel but with the grimy street feel. LEPOS: The Primary Invasion seems to be a fun concept rather then trying too hard to be something it is not.
In 2018 he put out a 250 edition set of a game box and 68 page game booklet, which are still available at theprimaryinvasion.com .
Can you give a bit of history on the project? Can you talk about the character and how it started in your graffiti and where all you have taken it?
I never did characters when I started graffiti in 1993, my drawings were silly and cartoony, I was self conscious about them. I drew Lepos for a second year assignment at Sheridan’s classical animation program, first time I painted him was at Flexpo 1998.
In 2005 I saw all the wheat pasting that was going on- that’s when I started printing out large scale 3D versions of the character. I started postering in Toronto, and eventually NY, LA, SF, Vancouver, Stockholm, Berlin, Prague, Buenos Aires.
I was never inspired to make a short film with the character, but I always loved the aesthetic of 90’s arcade games. Annie from Koyama Press and I decided to publish a book documenting the street stuff mixed with artwork and the first level of a fictitious arcade game. The launch was at Magic Pony, I customized a Neo Geo cabinet and it played the level and title screen on loop. That was in 2010, since then I’ve kept at it.
How come Ces, Giant and Revok?
In 2013 I did a demo level in SF and Revok posted it on his blog, which was huge at the time. We got in touch and he offered to be involved in any way he could, which sparked the idea of having real writers as characters in the game. From there I got in touch with Ces and Giant, those three guys are Kings and have always been my favorite artists.
They’ve always been mad cool, they clearly grew up on arcade games and love the aesthetic. Whenever I need something, they hook it up, mostly artwork for reference, also those photos and quotes for the book.
What is your long term goal for the project?
Find a studio that aligns with the vision and create a full game.
I assume your professional work has been influenced by graffiti?
Depends on the job, but overall yeah. Always using the same sense of composition and balance, and then sneaking in styles wherever possible.
What role has graffiti played in video game development, any games stand out to you?
The two games that have directly influenced this project are Marc Ecko’s Getting Up and Metal Slug. The fact that Marc Ecko got his game made back in 2006 is crazy. Even though graffiti had become part of pop culture, there’s no way partnering with Atari and getting funding was easy. He did it right though, they hired a lot of dope artists, nobody had ever done that before. Metal Slug is inspiring for design and animation aesthetics. It’s cartoony and has the best sprite animation out of any pixel based game ever hands down.
How come do you think games that have been focused on graffiti have missed the mark?
Graffiti is street, if you don’t involve real writers it’ll be obvious, and you’ll miss the mark. Games will grab a tag font and try to sketch letters for the first time, and it’ll look wack as fuck.
Can you tell us the story behind the character Lepos
Lepos comes from a distant planet that was ravaged by a virus, and that virus was in the form of a new primary color. He escaped though, and crash landed on Earth. But soon realized the same evil army responsible for spreading the color on his planet followed him to earth. Now he has to warn our civilization that this new color will wipe us out, and he starts out by recruiting writers and bombing, writing warnings on streets in different cities.
The back of the box has this description:
A meteor carrying a brand-new Primary Color crashes into earth. At first, its
discovery is like the dawning of an era full of new and exciting possibilities. But that
is not the case.Mass paranoia, widespread panic and waves of violence erupt
across the globe. You begin your mission as LEPOS, survivor of a
distant planet ravaged by the same Primary Color. Recruiting real graffiti legends, you form a team to bomb the streets, freight hop across America and warn civilization of its imminent threat. But the battle has just begun.
Fly sky-writing jets over cities!
Infiltrate underground data bunkers!
Hack major corporations!
Complete a global media takeover!
As governments are brainwashed, you are targeted as enemies of the state. You’re wanted dead or alive. But human authority proves to be the least of your worries.