Tag Archives: Dragon Bros

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Dragon Bros (PC & Xbox One)

Developer – Space Lizard Studio

Publisher – Space Lizard Studio

PEGI – 7

 

Developed by Liverpool-based indie outfit Space Lizard Studio, Dragon Bros is a run and gun side scroller drawing influence from many old-school NES classics such as Contra and Blaster Master, offering new generation gamers an insight into the tropes of the generation, whilst also offering older gamer’s with an appreciation for their routes a great sense of nostalgia; also catering to players of all skill levels with varying degrees of challenge. Though I had some issues with this title, I was pretty impressed with it, as it had a lot to offer that I could appreciate in terms of nostalgia value and the future of the indie scene.

 

Graphics – 9/10

Rendered in wonderfully detailed 8-BIT graphics, the game’s scenery and characters are overwhelmingly diverse without becoming too repetitive over the course of the game. There are four worlds each with its own themes, and new enemies introduced to keep things fresh on a conceptual level. The game’s soundtrack is also stellar. Composed by Gabriel Caruso, it blends 8-BIT music with rock and roll, complementing the feel of the game brilliantly; in particular, I was blown away by the game’s main theme, which is used in the first two boss fights.

 

Gameplay – 7.5/10

There are no unnecessary complications with the game’s control scheme, which was always going to be important in a game that can demand as much as it does of players in the higher difficulty settings. Some of the mechanics involved with controlling certain weapons also add to that challenge in an unprecedented way. The laser cannon is probably the best example of which, as it causes the enemy to gradually recoil over time, so they must, therefore, be careful to make sure not to fall off any platforms as a result of not paying attention.

 

Lifespan – 2/10

Where I had the biggest issue with this game is how criminally short the main story is; even taking into account the mini-games as well as the main levels. In total, the game can take there around 2 to 3 hours to complete to 100%. Whilst more intrepid players will get more than that out of it replaying it on the higher difficulty settings, many other players will most likely be left wanting more. But to me, even with bearing this in mind in addition, I was still left wanting more. That’s why I think a possible sequel would work well as a Metroidvania game, with elements like leveling up, or an even bigger arsenal of weapons to choose from.

 

Storyline – 5/10

The game’s story is also only vaguely touched upon, being portrayed through two cutscenes; one at the start, and the other after finishing it. It follows four infant dragons looking to save their home planet from the invading Mechaliches, whilst also trying to rescue their mother from their leader. While it may be reminiscent of the old way of telling stories within games, like what was done with NES games telling the story mostly through the game’s manual (the same effect of which perhaps intended by the developers), very little of that is actually told within the game, so if players want the details of the plot, they need to read the game’s Steam page. But regardless, the story does retain a slight feel of uniqueness about it, so I can appreciate it for that to an extent.

 

Originality – 6/10

By far the most unique thing about Dragon Bros is its conceptual design; very few indie games have stunned me in this respect as much as this game has, and it shows the vast amount of effort the developers put into making it. It also works well for me in particular because I’ve loved dragons ever since I was a kid, but bias aside, the 8-BIT renderings are as fantastically detailed as the likes of Rogue Legacy or Titan Souls. The one gripe I have in terms of uniqueness is that it arguably follows the tropes of its influences too much and that I think even more could’ve been added to make the gameplay to make it stand out among others.

 

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However, criticisms aside, Dragon Bros is quite an enjoyable game, and it comes recommended from me for any fans of old-school games out there, and players looking to experience these styles of play for the first time. It’s entertaining throughout for how long it lasts, and players looking for a challenge will certainly not be disappointed.

Score

39.5/60

6.5/10 (Above Average)

Q&A With Space Lizard Studio

In my ongoing bid to discover and bring to light up and coming independent developers and exciting titles for the future, a studio I came across at Play Manchester last year was Liverpool-based Space Lizard Studio who were showcasing their 2D side scrolling shoot ’em up title Dragon Bros. A love letter to third and fourth generation classics such as Contra and Metal Slug, it features wonderfully crafted 8-BIT visuals, as well as intense and challenging gameplay. After playing it in Manchester, I was eager to find out more about the game and the people who developed it, so I contacted Space Lizard’s Gabriele Caruso and agreed to answer a few question I had about Space Lizard Studios and Dragon Bros. These were his answers:

What were the influences behind your game?
Given that the 4 of us were all born in the 80s, I guess pixel art games and retro action shooters are continuously haunting our thoughts. I am a big fan of Turrican as well as Contra, Metal Slug or the epic Midnight Resistance (I loved the aiming on that one). We wanted to create something similar to what we used to play as kids, with PROPER difficulty and a “plug and play” approach, but we have also considered the modern twist and took inspiration from extremely cool games like Bro Force, Super Time Force and Mercenary King (ah, and the roll system in Dark Souls too).

What has the developmental process been like?
This is our first game in Pixel Art and for our artist, well, it was the first time for him to draw at super low resolution. He did great in the end. We had hundreds of ideas during the development cycle on possible extra features to implement in Dragon Bros. A team could potentially spend unlimited time on improving a game. The hard part was actually to keep the focus on our goal and stick to our original vision.

How close are we to seeing the finished product?
The game will be released this Spring, we are just fixing few minor bugs and getting some paperwork done.

What has been the most exciting aspect of development?
People involvement in the project. We’ve been exhibiting in several game conventions and the most exciting part is when people try your game for the first time and have fun. The way how others experience the game is fascinating and listening to the feedback helped us making the final game more accessible and fun in general. Sometimes you just need to see things from a different point of view.

What has been the most challenging aspect of development?
Being self funded is hard, what gives you strength is people’s appreciation. Besides that, one of the biggest challenges we have experienced was the development of the Adaptive Music levels. We had to design and implement a custom system to handle the synchronization between the music and the in-game events. Some traps and enemies move in sync with the soundtrack and that took some time to get it right (especially when the Audio guy is extremely picky :D). We are so proud of how it came out that now we are willing to make plenty of new rhythm games…maybe.

What do you think of the current state of video games development in Liverpool?
There is a lot of indies in Liverpool and in the UK in general. I think it’s a growing community and an amazing environment. I am sure some good stuff will rise and shine all over the world.

How well has the game been received so far?
I’d say not so bad! People love it, especially kids. Plenty of youtubers have reviewed the game so far, gave us good feedback during the Steam Early Access and they still do right now.

What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?
Xbox One for sure, but we don’t exclude porting the game to PS4, mobile or even Switch. It all depends on how it goes after the spring release.

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?
Be creative, always. Team up with others and start creating stuff, no matter what. As long as you enjoy what you do and have a strong passion for games you are capable of great things.

Where about on the Internet can people find you?
People can find us on either our Steam page: http://store.steampowered.com/app/506150/ or web page: http://spacelizardstudio.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/spacelizardstudio/
Twitter: @SpaceLizardSt
If you feel like you want to drop us an e-mail: spacelizardstudio@gmail.com

Do you have anything else to add?
Yes, in your opinion, who would win in a fight between a grilled Bacon & Eggs Sandwich and a Hot Dog with Mustard?

I would like to take the opportunity to thank Gabriele and Space Lizard Studio for taking the time to answer what questions I had and to wish the best of luck with Dragon bros upon it’s release in spring. And in answer to Garbiele’s question, there’s no doubt I’ve gotta go with bacon & egg sandwich

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88