SASKATOON -- A virtual reality (VR) video game produced in Saskatchewan has been nominated for an award at this year’s Canadian Game Awards.

Groove Gunner, developed by Regina-based BitCutter Studios, has been nominated for Best VR/AR game of the year.

It’s musical rhythm game with a premise similar to bigtime hits like Guitar Hero and Beat Sabre, but with a twist.

“When you play a song, targets come at you that you need to shoot on time. And bullets will come at you that are automatically timed, but you need to block them as well. So by shooting all the targets on time and blocking all the bullets you will be able to get the maximum score,” said co-founder Mike Berger.

Berger said the idea for the game began at a friend’s wedding where Taylor Eichhorst, also a founder of BitCutter, began chatting with friends about video games.

“Taylor was chatting with some friends and talking about how we started making video games. And him and a lot of his friends used to play in bands together, they’re musicians, and they thought it would be great to create a new VR rhythm game.

“And the conversation just kind of went through the night. And the next morning, Taylor woke up and started prototyping. Two days later we had a playable prototype.”

Mike Berger said it took another two years of development to produce the game they have now.

It’s been nominated alongside StarWars: Squadrons, produced by Electronic Arts; Transformers VR Battle Arena from Minority Media; Slugterra VR from Dark Slope Studios, and Vetrix, produced by Pixel Racers.

Berger says he was pleasantly surprised to be placed along side some household names in the industry.

“We don’t know who all the candidates were outside of the finalists. But it was pretty cool to see our name next too some of those other big titles.”

Groove Gunner is available on Steam. It gained attention when it was the 2020 Most Anticipated Game in the Canadian Game Dev's people's choice awards.

The 2021 Canadian Game Awards show is April 9 and can be seen on Twitch and GINX TV Canada.

Amazon Games development studio opens in Montreal

Amazon Games has announced it has opened a game development studio in Montreal.

The Montreal studio will focus on creating original AAA games, with a variety of roles expected to open as Amazon Games begins hiring to build the development team.

“Montreal’s rich vein of creative talent will be a valuable asset as we continue building our development and publishing teams,” said Christoph Hartmann, VP, Amazon Games, in a news release.

“The highly skilled and experienced team at our new Montreal studio shares our commitment to creating best-in-class online games, and brings with them a wealth of knowledge and passion for building deep, community-focused multiplayer experiences. I look forward to watching them invent on behalf of customers as they grow their team and develop their first project.”

It joins Amazon Games development studios in Seattle, Orange County and San Diego.

Amazon Games says one of the founding members of the studio is Romain Rimokh, who recently worked as the core team behind Rainbow Six Seige, a tactical shooter game with more than 70 million players since launch.

The company says the Montreal studio’s first project will be an online multiplayer title based on a new intellectual property.

Gamers mark the 20th birthday of Game Boy Advance

Many video game fans are celebrating the 20th birthday of Game Boy Advance.

The portable video game system was released by Nintendo on March 21, 2001.

It featured a 2.9-inch LCD color screen and a 32-bit processor - both of which are much smaller than what many smartphones have today.

Many took to social media to wish the system a happy birthday, posting photos and videos of the pocket-sized system in action.