Tag Archives: Nintendo Switch

Blu Cover Art

Q&A With Damien Robinett

At the time as when I scouted Astral Ascent on Kickstarter, I also came across yet another French indie title made in a somewhat similar vein, but with a completely different, yet just as exciting, premise. Blu, under development at MyOwnGames based in Paris, is a Metroidvania centering around the titular ninja character set in a world reminiscent of Feudal Japan, but with a lot of twists in terms of conceptual design. Influenced by the likes of Super Smash Bros, The Legend of Zelda, and the modern indie classic Dead Cells, it perpetuates many of the same awesome qualities associated with any classic Metroidvania game; exploration, intense combat, and epic boss fights. It also features a particularly catchy soundtrack composed by award-winning German composer Lukas Piel. Again, wanting to know even more about this compelling-looking Metroidvania, I contacted the game’s lead programmer Damian Robinett to see where the project is in it#s current state, when players can expect to see the finished product, and to learn more about the game’s upcoming Kickstarter campaign, due to begin on April 6th:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/-myowngames-/blu-vs-the-world

Here’s what Damian Robinett had to say about Blu:

 

Blu 1

What were the influences behind Blu?
Several indie games that have come out in recent years, Dead Cells and Hollow Knight in the lead. But also a lot the manga universe. Naruto for example for certain attacks and designs, or to a lesser extent One Piece where I draw on the richness and diversity of its environments.

 

What has the developmental process been like?
Although working alone, I try to manage the development of Blu like any midsize organization. It begins with a reflection phase that lasts several months. Followed by a design phase where I design my game (which often looks like a AAA production on paper). An analysis phase where, depending on the resources available, I extract the fundamental concepts from my game design document in order to reduce them and strengthen the consistency. And it is only then that I start the production phase. At this point, I am moving forward a little on all aspects at the same time, on the one hand, to keep the motivation, on the other hand, because it allows keeping the game balanced and to anticipate the problems in advance. I also devote a couple of hours a day to promoting the game and to discussing with my community.

 

How close are we to seeing the finished product?
The vast majority of the game mechanics have been implemented. Most of the Level design remains to be done, and as in all Metroidvanias, it will take a lot of time, in the end, to balance the game so that all players can enjoy a nice progression curve.

 

Blu 2

What has been the most exciting aspect of development?
Discover and test new things. I love to experiment, and being alone on a project means you have to diversify your activities and gain a lot of experience. Both at a practical level and in the organization of the work. Creating new relationships has also been extraordinary, the support in the game developer community is truly amazing, with great empathy and support.

 

What has been the most challenging aspect of development?
Combat mechanics. Starting from nothing, it’s very quick to get something playable, and you progress quickly. But when you have to streamline the gameplay in order to get something really satisfying for the player, it quickly becomes hundreds of hours of testing and tuning to get the character to behave perfectly as the player expects. A good feeling of combat results from the meeting of all the components of a game: animations, visuals/sound effects, physics, code … It’s very hard to obtain.

 

How well has the game been received so far?
Very good. The community of players is extremely benevolent and knows how to judge a game according to its maturity. When I see the enthusiasm that Blu causes I am often afraid to disappoint the players, but although often bugged, the different releases always more or less look like what players expect.

 

Blu 3

How instrumental has fan feedback been across platforms like Discord and Twitter been in shaping the development of the game?
A lot! My community shapes the game in its own way. I take into account all user feedback. I can count on talented game devs, as well as seasoned users who see the game with a fresher eye than mine. All the people who come to give feedback do so in a constructive way. And as is often done in public chats, it allows you to quickly gauge the interest in a new feature. When the change is quick, I often try to make it within the hour rather than writing it down.

 

What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?
My goal is to make a simultaneous release on PC, Nintendo Switch, and PS4 before the end of 2022. The console version may be postponed to the first semester of 2023 depending on the scope of the work to be done to port the game. An Alpha, Beta, and several test builds will be released before that.

 

How has having Lukas Piel on board with the project helped to bring the game to life so far?

Lukas brings poetry to the game that I hadn’t envisioned when I first started developing Blu. He weaves a musical universe over the levels that turns a fighting game into a heroic adventure. If there’s one thing I’m sure it’s that the soundtrack will be magnificent. Working with him is a pleasure, I hope I can count on him for all my productions in the future.

 

Have there been any ideas at this stage of development that has since been scrapped or reworked?
Verry much! I write down all the ideas that come to mind. Half go by the wayside after a second reading. The second phase is longer, I let it ripen for a while to determine if these ideas really bring something coherent to my game. When you’re a developer, you often tend to program certain features because you CAN do it. But most of the time, the player doesn’t even notice it’s details. You have to know how to bring a little magic, but time is our enemy and you have to know how to do it with relevance.
Then the third phase will come, the one where I will no longer have time to do everything that I have stacked in my to-do list and that it will be necessary to reorganize in order of priority what it is imperative to include in the game and what is optional. We always keep them in a corner for later but even after the release the list of tasks often grows longer.

 

Will there be many stretch goals for the Kickstarter campaign when it’s launched?
Yes, it will mainly be stretch goals aimed at lengthening the playing time with new modes and offering exclusive in-game content to my backers. At each level, the game will also be translated into new languages. I decided to focus my stretch goals and rewards on the game itself and not to diversify into derivative products.

 

Since Blu is heavily influenced by Smash, how exhilarating would it be to see Blu join the roster? What would her final smash move be?
I will quickly imagine that this is not reality and would definitely go crazy if it really was. But I guess it would be like having a part of myself fighting in the arena. I have spent more time with Blu than with any human being for the past two years and I regard her as my own daughter. I don’t think she would match the big names of Nintendo, but for her final attack, I would say a heavy diving attack, Ganondorf-like. She’s a ninja, but she’s not in the delicacy.

 

If you had the opportunity to develop a game with any company or for any franchise, which would it be, and why?
We have some really cool development studios in France so I will probably stay here. I would say Motion Twin for its cooperative legal form, which encourages developers to believe in and get involved in the projects they develop.

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?
Don’t go for it with your head down. You could miss beautiful things. If you are working on a title that is close to your heart, take your time to lay your project down, learn about best practices. Don’t take the easy road, experiment with new things, learn XP before finishing your quests, make friends on Twitter, make a Game Jam with them and meet them in real life if you can. Promotion is hard at first until the day you don’t call it “Promo” anymore, but just a productive break you enjoy. And persevere. Over time, it always pays off.

 

Where on the Internet can people find you?
Mainly on Twitter and Discord. I work alone at home so I often go there to chat a little:

Twitter – @blu_vs

Discord – https://discord.com/channels/722365912354652231/730153875901775903

 

Do you have anything else to add?
Yes, there are some friends of mine from Angouleme who are currently live on Kickstarter with their project Astral Ascent, and you should also take a look at it!

 

Indeed, if anyone is interested in checking out Astral Ascent, you can do so via their own Kickstarter page; a link to which can be found in my recent Q&A with the lead programmer at Hibernian Workshop Louis Denizet:

https://scousegamer88.com/2021/03/31/astral-ascent-hibernian-workshop

But for now, I’d like to thank Damian for sharing what information he could about Blu and to wish him the best of luck with the Kickstarter campaign launching April 6th. Blu, like most Metroidvanias released throughout the eighth generation, looks like a particularly engrossing and addictive game, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it when it’s finally released. In the meantime, I hope you guys check out Damian’s Kickstarter, and that I hope you enjoyed learning more about this awesome-looking game.

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88

Guest Article: The Full Sync Network

For today’s article, and for the first time in a long time, I have a guest blogger on to express his opinions on the current landscape of gaming and his predictions on where it may go amidst the newly ushered in ninth generation of the medium. Josh Maddox of the FULL SYNC Network and I had recently been in contact in regards to the subject and offered to have his say on the blog on the new generation of gaming as well on the most recent releases, including Monster Hunter Rise, Resident Evil: The Village and others. established in 2016, the FULL SYNC Network is a collaboration of gamers around the world specializing in news, reviews, and previews of upcoming games, as well as streaming on their YouTube and Twitch channels of games, hardware reviews, and instruction videos. So without further ado, here’s what Josh Maddox had to say about the future of gaming and the ninth generation:

 

Despite the latest generation of consoles and graphics cards launching last year, many people are still playing on old hardware due to stock issues. We all thought that may ease up as we entered 2021 but the scalping game is still strong and thousands continue to struggle to get anything. Some have succeeded, myself included with my PS5. But others still check Discord for stock alerts every day then rush over to get into queues for the stock they keep missing out on.

But let’s not dwell on it too much, easy to say since I got what I wanted, and let’s take a look at the future of gaming instead.

 

Consoles

Less than six months after the PS5 launched, Sony is already looking at upgrading the storage on their consoles and making it more accessible for those that already bagged one to do it as well. I mean, I love my PS5 but there is nowhere near enough storage on it, with less than a terabyte to spare and a chunk of that is for the firmware. But I think this is a record of how quickly a manufacturer has decided to upgrade their console following release.

Xbox hasn’t announced plans yet, but don’t be surprised to see the usual slimline versions coming out in a few year’s time. Hopefully, by then they’ll actually have stock.

I guess, the console everyone is hoping for though is an upgraded Nintendo Switch. Whilst we all love the Switch, it is extremely underutilized. I mean Nintendo is great for innovation and creativity, and they have excellent first-party titles. But what they ooze in that, they lack in a common-sense almost, never truly fulfilling potential. I mean, look at the Switch, so versatile. Can be played docked and handheld. It’s a purpose-built gaming tablet essentially, that is able to be docked and played on the TV.

However, you can’t get Netflix, no internet browser, low internal storage too. I mean, it has the technology in there of an old SmartPhone, newer ones are arguably more powerful than it. And smartphones do everything in life. So the potential is there for the Switch to do the same. Yet Nintendo seems insistent on just doing what they want to do. Which is admirable, but also incredibly stupid. Question is, would an improved Switch have better functionality? Who knows.

 

PC

When it comes to PC, the future is a strange one. VR was supposed to be the future of PC gaming, but it still hasn’t hit the heights it was expected to. But sales figures for the Oculus Quest 2 look good, and with it being wireless and suitable for smaller spaces, it is likely we may soon see the rise so many predicted. 

In terms of hardware, the newest graphics cards are all released, but as with the latest PlayStation and Xbox releases, there is hardly any stock. Scalpers have been buying it all up, and many who have got the latest GPUs have been using them for mining cryptocurrencies since Bitcoin decided to explode to over $50,000 earlier this year. Which leaves many gamers in a tough position.

Now, they could upgrade to the last-gen cards, because they’re still capable of things like 4K and decent frame rates in games. But the problem is, with the shortage, the costs of older models have skyrocketed. I bought my RX 570 4GB for £80 over a year ago, and I’ve seen the same model going for £140 nearly double what I paid. And now many of the last generation cards are even selling at higher than the retail price of new cards. But, because no one can get them, people are paying stupid money. We don’t actually know when this madness will end.

 

Games

Who doesn’t love games right? But there are always so many titles to choose from, it can be tough to decide on what to get if you’re on a budget. And with so many games coming out this year, I thought I’d just write a quick list about some upcoming titles we’re excited to see.

  • Outriders – Developed by People Can Fly and published by Square Enix, Outriders is a third-person RPG adventure due to release April 2021.
  • Guilty Gear – A fighting game from Bandai Namco that is very anime-based in style. This was also due out in April 2021 but has since been pushed back to solve issues that cropped up in the latest beta tests.
  • Resident Evil Village – Due out in May, the latest installment to the Resident Evil series looks to be one of the most intriguing and detailed yet. A must-have for horror game fans.
  • Monster Hunter Rise – Following the release of the Monster Hunter movie, the newest addition to the popular game series launches later this month.
  • Back 4 Blood – Back 4 Blood is an upcoming multiplayer survival horror game developed by Turtle Rock Studios and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. It has major Left4Dead feels to it, and had incredible feedback after the latest beta tests. This one is due out a little later this year in June.

But it’s not entirely new games that are coming out. There are a whole bunch of remakes and remasters too. Two of the most popular people are looking forward to our Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, and Oddworld: Soulstorm, which is a reimagining of the classic Oddworld: Abe’s Exodus. Still, I seem to be waiting on a remake of my beloved childhood title Croc. I was hoping with the reintroduction of Crash Bandicoot and Spyro that this would follow behind shortly after, but alas, nothing so far.

 

What are your thoughts?

There you have it, our thoughts on the future of gaming this year. But what do you guys think? Will we see a “Switch Pro” in 2021? Will stock of new consoles and graphics cards ever become more accessible? Is there a game you think we should be checking out not on our list? Or maybe you agree we need a Croc remake and want to start a petition with us? Whatever your thoughts, let us know what you think in the comments below or over on our social media channels.

 

I’d like to take the opportunity to thank Josh for taking the time out to contribute to the blog in what is truly a fascinating read about the possibilities and the limitations that very well come with the advent of the ninth generation of gaming. If you’d like the check out the various different platforms FULL SYNC operates out of, all links are below:

Main Site – https://fullsync.co.uk/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/fullsyncnetwork

Twitch – https://www.twitch.tv/fullsyncgaming

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvrGKhe7y4gTmgD2pxxBsAA

Twitter – https://twitter.com/fullsyncnetwork

Gamer’s Apparel – https://gamersapparel.co.uk/store/fullsync

Be sure to check out their stuff, but in the meantime, I hope you guys enjoyed reading what Josh had to say, and if the opportunity comes about for me to work with FULL SYNC again, it will be up on my social media pages too.

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88

Q&A With Greg Lobanov Volume 2

Back in 2016, one of the games I came across on Kickstarter as part of my ongoing efforts to discover new and exciting gaming experiences and bring them even further attention, was Wandersong. Before it was funded, I reached out to the creator, Greg Lobanov, for an interview to ascertain more information about what looked like a truly promising title in the making:

https://scousegamer88.com/2016/07/09/qa-with-greg-lobanov/

And in the end, I was proven right. Ever since the release of the game, it has garnished universal acclaim from a great number of gamers and critics throughout the industry, including yours truly.

https://scousegamer88.com/2021/01/24/wandersong-pc/

The game has intricate puzzle-solving, an extremely unique approach to combat and progression, and one of the most beautifully composed soundtrack to come out of the indie development community complete with a rollercoaster of a story chocked full of emotional moments of discovery, comedy, and drama. Eager to discover how the experience panned out for the development team on a personal level and what’s next for the people involved in the project, I got back in touch with Greg to find out more information about what more can be expected of this promising young developer and his team in the future, and exactly how the experience of developing this game impacted on their lives and his. Here’s what Greg Lobanov had to say about Wandersong, his new upcoming game Chicory: A Colourful Tale, and his experiences as a developer thus far:

 

How satisfied have you and the team been on a personal level to see Wandersong receive the overwhelmingly positive response it has done since its release?

It’s been very satisfying. 🙂 I always said at the outset that all I really wanted was for at least one person to really, really love the game a lot and we had that happen many times over. It’s very warm to put so much heart into something and see it resonate with people. I’ll be grateful forever that I got to have this experience.

 

How satisfied have Em and Gordon been with the positive response the game’s soundtrack has received?

Very happy, for sure. Gord uploaded all 100+ tracks to youtube and he still sees exuberant youtube comments come in every day and it warms his heart. 

 

You came up with the idea for Wanderson following a cross-country biking trip you took across the US. Were there any particular locations you passed through or people you met that stand out as being more influential than the other?

There were a LOT of tiny pieces borrowed from a lot of places to patch together the diverse cast and world in Wandersong. I’ll mention that I named the first town, Langtree, after a tiny town in Texas called Langtry that only has a dozen people in it in the middle of the desert. I stayed there for a couple of nights through a hailstorm.

 

Of course, Gordon and Em had composed for video games before this. Were there any games that they had worked on that they kept in mind when composing the soundtrack for Wandersong?

Actually, Wandersong was Em’s first game project when she started out, although by the time it came out she had also started and finished working on Night in the Woods ;p In general I don’t think games were a key inspiration, instead we were looking at different musicians and bands and genres and instruments to get inspiration for the musical and audio touches.

 

The last time we spoke, you mentioned the most exciting and challenging aspects of developing the game were the color design and missing audio respectively. But did any of what the most exciting and challenging aspects of development were change later on throughout the process?

Oh, yes… I think at the time I was fixated on the immediate concerns, but once I had Em and Gord audio wasn’t a stress. I think ultimately the biggest challenge was telling a meaningful story. We really wanted the game and everything in it to matter, so we took great care in how we presented things. It’s a lot of careful, thoughtful work to do right.

 

Nintendo titles made up a great deal of the influence behind the game, such as Ocarina of Time and Kirby’s Epic Yarn. If you, Em, and Gordon were given the opportunity to work for Nintendo on one of their series of your choice, which one would it be, and why?

I don’t know about Em and Gord, who aren’t especially big Nintendo fans. But I would really like to work on a Pokemon game. I think it’s a really rich world and game concept that could be explored a lot of ways that haven’t been touched yet. And I just really love Pokemon.

 

Apparently, Steven Universe was a major inspiration for the game’s visual style. From one fan of the series to another, what is your favorite Steven Universe song, and why?

“Love Like You” is a pretty special song. I think I’d have to pick that one.

 

Were there any ideas at this stage of development that had been scrapped or reworked throughout?

A lot of small ideas came and went. I had in my notes for a long time that it would be cool to do a punk show/punk-themed section, and I was curious if there was a way to do something with rap/RnB as well. Neither of those ever found the right spot in the story, though.

 

You abandoned the initial idea early on of making a game about biking when it came to Wandersong. Is that a concept you think you would like to revisit at some point?

Maybe??? There would have to be something more to it for the idea to be interesting to me. There was a new game called “Season” announced recently which looks kind of like the game I would have made, probably.

 

If you could choose any video game character to make a cameo appearance in Wandersong, which one would it be, and why?

Well, we put Mr. Oshiro from Celeste and Ima from Ikenfell into Wandersong; those were my friends’ characters, and we started all our games together when we were roommates so I thought it would be fun to pay them an homage like that.

 

What lessons were learned by yourselves as developers throughout the entire process?

I think I refined my game writing skills a lot by sheer force of effort. Em was extremely maximalist and detailed with the sound design, but in her following projects, she learned to tone it down a bit and focus her effort in the most important places. And this game definitely took Gord on a crazy creative adventure, composing so many songs in so many styles and genres; I think it helped him find the confidence to be creative and try new things at a time when he was starting to feel like he was falling into a rut.

 

What’s next for Greg, Em & Gordon?

Em and I are finishing our next project, Chicory: A Colorful Tale. Em also released work on a lot of really cool indie titles since Wandersong came out a couple of years ago, including Untitled Goose Game and Ikenfell. Gord’s released some OSTs as well, including one for a game called Stela he’s quite proud of, but right now he’s working on his first solo album in many years and having a great time with it–watch for that in 2021.

 

Have there been any ideas contemplated to develop a sequel to Wandersong?

Maybe some passing thoughts, but there’s a lot of other things I want to do and I think the story of Wandersong is complete on its own.

 

What genre of gaming would you like to undertake that you haven’t tried?

That I haven’t tried? Hmm… I’ve tried so many, haha. I’m most interested in taking  ‘creativity’ mechanics and combining those with other genres the way we did with platforming in Wandersong. I also have some other ideas for things I can’t talk about yet.

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this? 

Try finishing something small so you can get into the practice of finishing things. 🙂 Find your peers and work together and learn from them, not from people like me.

 

Do you have anything else to add?

Video games are cool.

 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Greg for taking the time out to talk to me again about Wandersong and his own developmental experiences. Wandersong turned out to be every bit as wonderful, enjoyable, and innovative as I suspected it would be thanks to the successful Kickstarter project, the involvement of Humble Bundle, and of course, the love and attention that went into crafting this truly immersive and intricate title, and I on a personal level, also feel proud to have helped in my small part to bring this game to a wider audience earlier on throughout its development. In addition, I’m also very much looking forward to playing Chicory: A Colourful Tale, and I sincerely hope to work with Greg again in the future.

In the meantime, you can check out Greg’s website via the link below to keep up with the development of Chicory as well as any more new gaming ventures of his:

http://greg.style/

And if anyone hasn’t tried Wandersong, I highly recommend that you give this game a go; It’s available to download on a number of platforms, including Steam, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. I also sincerely hope you guys enjoyed reading these articles with me and Greg and for those of you who played Wandersong, that you enjoyed playing it as much as I did.

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88

Q&A With Parhelion Rift

Once again on the lookout for new upcoming games, I came across yet another awesome-looking indie Metroidvania title currently under development. Twofold Tales, developed by indie outfit Parhelion rift based in Vienna, Austria, is a Metroidvania heavy on combat and exploration, as well as incorporating a strong RPG element in the form of character building and learning new abilities along the way. The story involves the main character named Pars, as she embarks on a journey across an entity known as the Iceberg in order to uncover the mysteries that are buried within. With a desire to learn more about the game, I got in touch with Michael and Evelyn, the couple currently working on the game, to ask a few questions I had about it in this early stage of development, to learn more about what can be expected from the finished title. Here’s what Michael and Evelyn had to say about Twofold Tales:

 

What were the influences behind Twofold Tales?

Michael: It probably all started when I played The Battle Of Olympus on the NES in 1991. From a gameplay perspective, we were mostly influenced by classic 2D Metroid games and Axiom Verge. One of our game-defining skills was inspired by an episode of Rick and Morty, called A Rickle in Time.

Evelyn: Aesthetically it’s difficult to pinpoint a single source of influence. We love hand-drawn animations like the movies The Secret of Kells, Song Of the Sea, Ghibli movies, but are also very fond of the Art Nouveau art style like Alphonse Mucha, I think it’s kind of a marriage between both meeting on an arctic island.

 

What has the developmental process been like?

Evelyn: It has been an interesting and challenging learning process so far, as developers and as a couple. In the beginning, we were only able to work on our game in the evenings after our day jobs. Also, it’s a learning process in itself how to work together with your partner, especially when you’re living together and the line between private life and job is blurring. It can be quite daunting sometimes, I have to admit, but on the other hand, it’s the most fantastic thing in the world to be so lucky to create something together with an excellent partner who understands you so well like no one else.

Michael: Currently, we’re fortunate to have personal savings to sustain ourselves for the near future and to channel our whole energy into developing Twofold Tales and raising our baby daughter who was born during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even when there are sometimes tough stretches, we love how liberating it is to have total creative freedom in designing the game we want to make and to be in the driver’s seat.

 

How close are we to seeing the finished product?

Michael: We’re still in the middle of the development process, with no fixed date for the final release. A public alpha demo that includes the entire first area is planned for summer 2021 together with a Kickstarter campaign and we’re really excited to be able to get some additional gameplay feedback, to be able to further improve Twofold Tales.

Evelyn: Most of the underlying systems for the game are finished, the game mechanics are set, the whole world is playable in development mode. What remains is creating a lot of artwork.

 

What has been the most exciting aspect of development?

Michael: As with most Metroidvanias, certain parts of the world will be ability-gated. It was exciting to create branching exploration points where depending on what you discover, different areas open up to you first and you often can decide where you want to go next. For most of the game, we want to offer a very non-linear experience where players can explore the world very openly and arrive at different points of the game via a different route and with a different set of main upgrades. All areas had to be balanced around which abilities you might or might not have at that point.

 

What has been the most challenging aspect of development?

Michael: While Unity generally was good to prototype and develop in, we were quite unhappy with the physics system for certain aspects of the game, for example for player and enemy movement – especially with high-speed projectiles. We replaced that with a raycasting solution to make this aspect of the game feel more responsive and accurate. The same goes for rope physics, where the hinge- and distance-joints just didn’t look satisfying, so we switched over to Verlet integration.

Evelyn: Also as we’re only a two-person and three-cats team, there is quite a big workload we have to handle ourselves. Developing, creating graphics and audio, writing updates for social media. It sometimes feels a bit overwhelming, but it’s also very exciting and we’ve learned a lot along the way.

 

How well has the game been received so far?

Evelyn: We have only started to release information about the game last month and so far we have received very positive reactions to the aesthetics of our game. It’s exciting and encouraging to see what people think of it. Also mostly you’re living inside your head when you’re developing a game and to correct that possible tunnel view, it’s very helpful to get feedback.

 

What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?

Evelyn: Our launch platform will be PC, followed by Linux and probably Mac. We would love to port it for the Nintendo Switch. We actually got quite fond of the Switch mockup screens we made for ourselves.

 

What were the team’s prior developmental experiences before the formation of Parhelion Rift?

Michael: We both studied media informatics and in fact, this was also when we first met each other. Afterward, we both worked as full-time developers in medium-sized companies, creating desktop and mobile applications for telecommunication- and internet-service-providers.

 

Have there been any lessons brought into the development of Two Tales taken from the development of Cats Who Stare At Ghosts?

Evelyn: When we developed Cats Who Stare At Ghosts, we used the libGDX framework for development. It’s fine to do as much as possible yourself, but once you meet a comfortable game engine like Unity that takes over a lot of tasks, you never want to go back.

 

As a cat lover myself, I have to ask will there be cats in Twofold Tales as well?

Michael: There are a lot of secrets hidden in our iceberg, some of them fluffy 😉

 

Have there been any ideas at this stage of development that has since been scrapped or reworked?

Michael: As we’re more gamers and programmers than artists ourselves, we’ve re-iterated over certain parts of the graphics and animations several times already and will continue to do so.

 

If you had the opportunity to develop a game with any company or any franchise, which would it be, and why?

Michael: At the moment, I actually like the freedom of not having to work for another company or being limited by an existing franchise.

Evelyn: I would so love to work on a Zelda title, especially if it follows in the footsteps of Ocarina of Time.

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?

Michael: Do what you really want to do, not what others deem good or what society thinks you should do. This does not mean that you should ignore feedback, feedback is extremely important and vital during the entire development process and other people spot flaws way better than you ever could. However, in the end, make it your game, the game that you would love to play, but hasn’t been invented yet – make it for yourself.

Evelyn: Start today! Don’t wait for that big idea, but start with something small and just keep learning.

 

Where on the Internet can people find you?

You can follow us on social media, we love to share the progress of our game and chat.

Instagram: www.instagram.com/parhelionrift

Twitter: www.twitter.com/parhelionrift

Facebook: www.facebook.com/parhelionrift

And there is also our website www.parhelionrift.com

Feel free to get in touch with us! 🙂

 

Do you have anything else to add?

Thank you very much ScouseGamer for the opportunity to give others insights into our game and a huge thank you to everyone interested in Twofold Tales. Your kind words of encouragement and comments mean the world to us and keep us going.

 

I’d also like to thank Michael and Evelyn for their unique insight into what players can expect to see from their game upon release, and also to congratulate the couple on the birth of their baby girl. Twofold Tales holds promise as an extremely standout Metroidvania title with a new and wonderfully cohesive concept, and I’m very much looking forward to what the final game has to offer. In the meantime, anyone wanting to keep up with Michael and Evelyn as development unfolds can do so by following their various social media pages and visiting their website, but I hope you guys enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed working with Michael and Evelyn.

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88

Q&A With Orube Game Studio

Pursuing a new upcoming video game experience currently under development, another two games that I have had my eye on for a long time is Super Mombo Quest and Dwarf Journey.  Both developed by Orube Game Studio based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Super Mombo Quest, in development since 2018, is a colouful Metroidvania inspired by the like of Super Meat Boy heavy on combat that requires players to string together combos reminiscent of classic arcade fighting games, similar to Guacamelee or Dust: An Elysian Tail. Dwarf Journey, on the other hand, is an action-adventure Roguelite inspired by Norse mytholgoy and that incorporates heavy RPG elements, such as levelling up the player character and collecting materials in order to forge stronger equipment. With both games set for release in the early part of 2021, I was curious to find out more about these two great-looking games, I got in touch with Orube Studio and their founder Pedro Savino to pose a few questions about the games and what players can come to expect from the final builds. Here’s what Pedro Savino had to say about Super Mombo Quest and Dwarf Journey.

 

What were the influences behind your games?
Our biggest inspiration is to keep in mind that we can bring the playful spirit of games to any type of person, through simple, affordable, and super fun products. As ours are platform games, we have to mention our biggest influences: Super Mario World, Super Meat Boy, Celeste, and Kirby. All of these have incredible mechanics and game feel that were certainly inspiring for our games.

 

What has the developmental process been like?
It’s been great! We are a team of eight people who work remotely and we are all passionate about what we do. Always seeking to learn more and grow together.

 

How close are we to seeing the finished products?
Both games are almost ready to be released. Only a few artistic details are missing. We are already testing the final versions with people from our Discord server to make everything with the best experience possible.

 

What has been the most exciting aspect of developing both games?
The most exciting part is seeing the number of people that we are captivating with our games that haven’t even been released yet. There are people who have been accompanying us for a long time, giving feedback and supporting our work. It is very gratifying to receive this support.

 

What has been the most challenging aspect of developing both games?
The biggest challenge, I believe, is to manage everything so that all we’ve planned for comes out in the best way possible. The challenge in Super Mombo Quest, for example, is making this huge game a reality. The final version will have approximately two hundred and fifty levels. We are producing the biggest game ever made by the company!

 

How well have both games been received so far?
We were surprised by the number of people who were captivated by our games. At TikTok, for example, we were able to build a community of more than 30k people, and we brought over 1,5k to our Discord server. They are always supporting the development, giving feedback, and testing versions so that everything is fine.

 

What platforms are you looking to bring the games to?
We are looking to bring them to computers (at Steam), Mobiles (Android and iOS), and consoles (such as Nintendo Switch, Xbox, and PlayStation).

 

Have there been any ideas at this stage of development that have since been scrapped or reworked where both games are concerned?
Throughout the development process, there were things that didn’t work and that needed to be redone. In Super Mombo Quest, for example, we changed the main currency of the game and the mechanics related to it in the middle of development.

 

Has the studio been mindful of the influx of Metroidvania and rogue-lite titles within the indie scene in order to make this game stand out among the many others?

We produce games that we have had in mind for a long time. The character Mombo, for example, appeared in my graduation work. We developed and learned more about platformers, which today is one of our specialties. But we are always attentive to trends and trying to predict what will be best received by the public.

 

If you had the opportunity to develop a game with any company or any franchise, which would it be, and why?
Aiming high, I believe with Nintendo. It is a company with young spirited games that inspired me a lot and were part of my youth.

 

What’s next for Orube Game Studios following the release of Dwarf Journey and Super Mombo Quest?
We still don’t know for sure how the next project will be, but we intend it to be one of the big ones. You will have to follow us on social media to find out!

 

Are there any other genres of gaming that Orube Game Studios have thought of working on in the future?
We are planning to make a multiplayer RPG. There is nothing right yet, but it’s a wish that we have for the near future.

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?
Currently, Super Mombo Quest has more than two hundred levels, which we consider to be a large scope. However, before producing it, we released several smaller games. The main tip for those who are starting is: make small and simple games. Understand the process and be very aware of how long it takes to produce a game. A game of scope or complexity greater than the team’s capacity can take a long time to produce, increasing its cost and reducing the chances of profit. Sometimes it even happens that the project is not launched because there is no budget to complete, or even that the producers give up on development.

 

Where on the Internet can people find you?
You can find us on Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram @OrubeGameStudio! You can join our Discord server too. Here is our Linktree so you can find us everywhere https://linktr.ee/orubegamestudio.

 

Do you have anything else to add?
I think that for those who are looking to live from games, it’s important to know that it’s a very competitive market. Currently, it’s difficult to undertake in the area without having accumulated prior knowledge, much because of the lack of incentives in the sector in some countries. On the other hand, we have an industry under construction and with a lot of potential. More and more companies are consolidating and creating job opportunities for those looking to work in the environment. The game market is growing and will grow for many years to come. With intelligence, dedication, and a little creativity, it is possible to live from games!

 

I’d like to thank Pedro for taking the time out to answer what questions I have as well as providing a very unique insight into the competition that comes with taking the plunge into indie development. It has indeed become an extremely competitive market over the last few gaming generations, as I have witnessed firsthand, but both Super Mombo Quest and Dwarf Journey look to be strong competitors in the plethora of indie games in their genres and I wish them the best of luck with them both, and I hope you guys enjoyed learning more about these two potentially game-changing titles.

 

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88

Scouse Gamer 88 Goldeneye 007 Header

Goldeneye 007 (Nintendo 64)

Developer(s) – Rare

Publisher(s) – Nintendo

Director(s) – Martin Hollis

Producer(s) – Martin Hollis

ELSPA – 15+

 

Developed by Rare to coincide with the Bond film of the same name starring Pierce Brosnan, and created by a core team of nine people, Goldeneye 007 was received as being on the best games on the system, helping to establish a lot of the standards associated with 3D first-person shooters along with the likes of Quake and Duke Nukem 3D. Although I personally prefer Rare’s spiritual successor Perfect Dark for a number of reasons, there’s no denying that the original Goldeneye is and forever will be a Nintendo 64 classic; certainly one of the best games on the system and probably one of the best first-person shooters of all time. 

 

Graphics – 8.5/10

The game is set across the same locations the film is set in, albeit with a few unique ones added in for good measure, as well as the multiplayer arenas. The graphics for Goldeneye, namely facial textures, have become a meme over the Internet in comparison to today’s graphics, but the fact of the matter is that these visuals were revolutionary at the time, with intricately designed levels that keep faithful to the original film as well as branch out to give players an entirely unique experience at the same time. 

 

Gameplay – 9/10

A traditional 3D first-person shooter, the player is reliant on a range of firearms in order to shoot through hordes of enemies to progress, but it is also objection-based with players having to carry out specific tasks to complete each scenario, which was relatively unique for a game of its kind back then. Doom had features similar to this, but not the same scale. The multiplayer mode has also become insanely popular with gamers over the years with the facility to choose from a range of different Bonds and Bond villains from other Bond films as well as Goldeneye; indeed the character of Oddjob had become synonymous with gaming in general since. It’s a licensed game that not only uses the license but celebrates it in wonderfully extravagant ways. 

 

Controls – 7/10

The biggest problem I had with the game was the controls. Players must rely on the c buttons in order to move the character as opposed to the analog stick, which caused confusion for me at the time and can potentially cause confusion for players looking to try it out for the first time, as FPS games have evolved greatly since the release of this game. It’s an even bigger problem for me, especially when comparing it to Perfect Dark, which posthumously solved this problem by having the analog stick be the means to move around, but that being said, it doesn’t make the game unplayable by any stretch of the imagination. 

 

Lifespan – 7/10

To complete Goldeneye 007 to 100% will take around 20 hours, which for a linear FPS is excellent, especially when comparing it to other games of the genre that would go on to last considerably less time like Halo 4. But beyond that, the multilayer model has provided unlimited playtime to many, many fans of the game over almost 25 years so players looking for a long time will want for nothing where this title is concerned. 

 

Storyline – 8/10

The game simply retells the events of the film, whereby James Bond is tasked with stopping a Russian crime syndicate from recovering and using the secret Goldeneye weapons program. In terms of storytelling in video games, the plot of the film is as well relayed as what could’ve been expected at the time, with much of the film’s dialogue being used and all of the main character’s purposes and personalities intact. In the unique campaign levels, there are certain moments that also add to the overall story in addition, so things are kept relatively fresh in this respect to help it.

 

Originality – 9/10

Speaking of uniqueness, at the time this game was like a breath of fresh air for gamers playing on the Nintendo 64, who at this point would’ve been more used to 3D platforming adventures and quirky racing games. Goldeneye, along with many other future releases on the system like Turok, Jet Force Gemini, or Mortal Kombat 4, would provide players with a multitude of different Gameplay experiences on the system that deviated away from the kind of game that Nintendo would develop internally. The game itself would also go on to become of the most influential games in the genre in addition, with many developers citing it as a major influence on future games. 

 

Happii

Overall, Goldeneye 007 is definitely one of the best first-person shooting games of all time; it’s enjoyable to play, still stands out from many other FPS titles, and as fans patiently wait for the remaster that this game deserves, revisiting this classic still holds up. To this day regardless. 

Score

48.5/60

8/10 (Very Good)

Q&A With Gaterooze Ink

Whilst scouting out for new indie developers over the past few weeks, there’s been one developer working on a particular title in particular that I’d had my eye on for quite some time. Ampersat, developed by Gaterooze Ink operating from Australia, is a rogue-lite bullet hell RPG, whereby players must guide an anthropomorphic ampersat across a wide array from different environments, along the way solving various puzzles and contending with hordes of enemies in order to progress. The RPG element exists in the ability to upgrade the player’s stats for things such as attack, defense, and critical hit rates to make the player character stronger over time. The game was heavily inspired by the likes of old-school Legend of Zelda and arcade classics such as Smash TV.

Wanting to find out even more about this game, I contacted the lead developer, known across the indie community as The Pale Gibbon, and asked him a series of questions relating to the game and what players can expect to see upon the release past the initial Steam demo. Here’s what The Pale Gibbon of Gaterooze Ink. had to say about Ampersat:

 

Where exactly did the idea to use an ampersat as the game’s main character come from?

I was a huge fan of the original Rogue games – Nethack, Moria, TOME, and especially Angband – which all used an ampersat for your hero (out of necessity in those days). The original spark of an idea for Ampersat was combining ASCII characters for your avatar and enemies with colorful pixelesque environments in “proper” 3D top-down. I thought the mix would be interesting, and it turned out exactly how I imagined so I’m extremely pleased with that.

 

What has the developmental process been like?

Incredibly fun! I’m lucky enough to be able to develop full-time, so every day (and I mean EVERY day, for 12-16 hours) I just sat down and worked through the massive list of things in the dev plan. Broke it into workable chunks so that every day I achieved something, then overnight I “dream coded” so that I could hit the ground running the next morning with a bunch of code already written in my head. I have to say, nearly all of the actual development was an absolute joy, I loved creating something every day.

 

How close are we to seeing the finished product?

It’s done! Well, barring anything else coming out of the console QA (like the gamepad UI handling improvements from the first round) – and there is always the temptation to keep tweaking the balance, like armor stats or perk attributes. The idea was to have the Steam and console releases be in the same week or so if possible, so Steam has been pushed back a bit to accommodate. The demo on Steam now is essentially the final game but with only 2 (of 50) levels accessible, and the village Well (procedurally generated levels) can’t be unlocked.

 

What has been the most exciting aspect of development?

I wanted to make every element from scratch – coding, art, music, etc, and I have to say coding was by far the most enjoyable aspect. It combines my “past life” of long-form writing (in the sense of macrostructure and micro succinctness, though coding is far more creative than it seems) with a love of problem solving and puzzles. I found it very addictive!

What has been the most challenging aspect of development?

It’s all the little things that add up. It’s great when you want to make over 200 unique items but for each one you need to make a 3D model, pixel art, descriptions, animations, sound effects, particle effects, etc, so the effort just multiplies and can become overwhelming if you don’t compartmentalize.

The UI was also very troublesome as I didn’t architect it properly from the start, didn’t consider gamepad control fully, didn’t include hooks for localization, didn’t leave enough space for languages that use more words, didn’t accommodate different language fonts, etc, etc. I really should have just scrapped it and started again at some point! It worked out in the end, but it was really much harder than it would have been if I’d done it right from the start.

The most challenging aspect of the project, though, is everything that comes after development. Ugh. Marketing and PR – no thanks. My wife (partner in Gaterooze, Ink) had been handling that, but we were very happy to sign with a publisher ( @GrabTheGames ) to take over!

 

How well has the game been received so far?

The response has been fantastic so far for such a niche title. Aside from the amazing playtesters we’ve had a bunch of early players who have really “gotten” the game. It’s unabashedly old-school and you start off with weak-ass weapons so it can be disconcerting at first, but people can really get sucked into it – a couple has even played for around 40 hours to find everything in the game (though a normal playthrough would be 6-12 hours depending on skill).

I think the other challenge for people coming new to the game is that it’s marketed as appealing to fans of Roguelites, but it isn’t actually a Roguelite. The main 50 levels are all handcrafted/designed, with only The Well being procedural, and it’s not about multiple “runs”, it’s a single quest that you gradually make your way through, building up your character – though you can approach areas in any order and after death, start from any place you’d been before. Once you have that realization, everything “clicks”.

I’ve also been really pleased with tons of positive comments on the art style, appreciating that blend of ASCII and a more defined world. Oh, and similar comments for the Commodore 64 SID chip sound effects mixed with the more real-world music in parts – I wanted to use that same ethos from the graphics in the sonics and I think that worked too.

 

What had been your prior developmental experiences before founding Gaterooze, Ink?

Before starting development on Ampersat, I’d never actually done any development at all. So I took some crash courses in C# coding in Unity and learned the rest (voxel models, pixel art, music production, etc) along the way.

Prior to that, we had made design documentation for a studio physically-released Xbox 360/PC game, and I’d “managed” some amazing AAA developers on a large, multi-year project so we were at least familiar with the concepts. That helped, as did being a hardcore gamer since the Atari 2600.

 

What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?

On Steam, Ampersat has PC, Linux, and Mac versions, and GrabTheGames is porting it to Switch, Playstation, and Xbox platforms. I saw it running on the Switch handheld the other day – what a thrill!

 

Has the idea been considered to use other textual characters as a recurring theme in other games you develop in the future?

There’s a sequel in mind for Ampersat that will definitely use ASCII enemies again, though with another new custom font that will change things up again with some new themes.

 

Have there been any ideas at this stage of development that has since been scrapped or reworked?

I’m glad to say the end result has matched the original design documentation very closely! The only element that was scrapped entirely was random weather in the village – with the top-down view it just didn’t work well and had no actual impact anyway.

I think the main plan that had to be reworked was the music. I was far too ambitious there for someone who’d never played an instrument or written/studied any music before. My original plan was for a completely different musical track for every single level (yeah, 50) but it was just taking so long it wasn’t feasible. So instead, on top of the intro/epilogue/main menu and such, I focused on a handful of main tunes (village, dungeon, tower, boss) and then switched up the instrumentation to suit the different regions. So the “fire dungeon” uses the same underlying tune as the “ice dungeon”, but instead of icy pianos, bells, violins, and spooky synths, it has a growling organ, power chord guitars, and sharp horns.

That approach worked surprisingly well and the resulting tunes sound quite different. I also realized the actual level music should be more background/atmospheric anyway, so it all suits.

 

What do you feel would be next for Gaterooze, Ink following Ampersat’s release?

I mentioned the sequel earlier, but we also have other games planned, all with a retro/old school bent but in different genres. Got to keep things interesting! While Ampersat is the first game we’ve done, Gaterooze has been our (my wife and me) creative partnership for twenty years with projects in various mediums as well as lots of contract work for third parties. We’re able to focus on our own stuff now though, for example aside from Ampersat we recently released a great photography zine (https://bit.ly/3jkn9LY). Some future games may actually be combined with books, graphic novels, etc to compliment them!

 

If you had the opportunity to develop a game with any company or any franchise, which would it be, and why?

Honestly, that doesn’t sound appealing at all. We wouldn’t want to deal with restrictions, external pressure, etc. Life’s too short. Sure, in my fantasies I’d love to work with Elder Scrolls or Zelda, but I know the reality would not match the fantasy. Don’t get me wrong, if I was young and starting a career I would be honored to get a job at Bethesda or Nintendo, but we’re very happy having the freedom to do whatever the heck we feel like now 🙂

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?

Jump in and get cracking! Seriously, just start fiddling around, experimenting, and learning everything you can. There’s nothing holding you back – start with something like Unity or Godot, some free tutorials, and just have fun. Find what you enjoy and what to focus on.

Probably the biggest advice, though, is if you’re taking the indie route make sure you’re doing it out of passion, not as a way to make money. Because on average you will make less than flipping burgers, possibly a lot less. Long-term sustainability is hard and rarer than you think, and financially life-changing hits are far rarer. But if you are developing out of the pure love of it, nothing else matters.

 

Where on the Internet can people find you?

www.gaterooze.com, however, the best place is probably on Twitter: @gaterooze

 

Do you have anything else to add?

Thanks for the support, it’s really appreciated! Ampersat is the game I always wanted to play – the action of Gauntlet and Smash TV (in the Tower levels) with RPG depth and real progression – so we’d love to make like-minded people aware that it’s (soon to be) out there.

 

I’d like to thank Gaterooze and The Pale Gibbon for taking the time out to talk more about this game and to wish the team the best of luck with it upon release. Ampersat is one of the most wonderfully outlandish titles I’ve seen for some time, and from what I’ve seen of gameplay, it holds a lot of promise in my opinion. If anyone is interested, you can play the demo on Steam via the link below:

https://store.steampowered.com/app/1356040/Ampersat/

In the meantime, I hope you guys enjoyed this article because I particularly enjoyed putting it together.

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88

Resident Evil 2 (PC, PlayStation, Nintendo 64, Dreamcast & GameCube)

Developer(s) – Capcom

Publisher(s) – Capcom

Director(s) – Hideki Kamiya

Producer(s) – Shinji Mikami

PEGI – 18

Released in 1998 has generated more revenue than most Hollywood movies at the time, Resident Evil 2 is a continuation of the story of the original with new characters, new setting, and new dangers to overcome besides the zombies littering the mansion on the borders of Raccoon City. For various different reasons, I found the second game, whilst suffering from a few of the same problems as the first, to be a decisive improvement on its predecessor in a number of respects. 

 

Graphics – 9/10

The most notable improvement of which, in my opinion, is in terms of its visual quality, with the player no longer being confined to a single mansion on the outskirts of Raccoon City, but rather in the heart of Raccoon City itself. Locations range from the ruins of Raccoon City streets to the Raccoon Police Department to research facilities and it was a welcome change of scenery at the time that made the franchise a lot more diverse. The quality of the zombie sprites was also a lot more varied than in the original game with different outfits for zombies, zombie policemen, and even female zombies too. There were visible improvements in both the technical and conceptual aspects of the game, which were pleasant to see. 

 

Gameplay – 8/10

In terms of gameplay, it plays out pretty much like an extension to the first game with a couple of added mechanics thrown in for good measure. Like in the first game, there are two scenarios to play through with two different characters, so it almost felt like two different games at the time, especially as it came on two discs.  It also presents more of a challenge in the respect that it has new kinds of puzzles and new enemies to fight that require different strategies to take down, as well as a greater number of boss fights, which would later become a staple of the series. 

 

Controls – 7/10

The game’s control scheme, as such, is also the same as it was in the first game, and therefore, it suffers from very much the same issues as it did in the first game, with movement feeling very stiff and clunky, seemingly needlessly when compared to other games on the system. There had been some minor adjustments made, but enough for the game to deviate away further enough from the problems that came with the first game. The whole formula would go on to be improved with games like Onimusha, but overall, it didn’t make the game unplayable. 

 

Lifespan – 7/10

The game can be made to last the same amount of time as the first game; 15 hours give or take. That’s to play through both scenarios on both discs. There are a few more side quests in comparison to the original game, but overall, it lasts as long as Resident Evil. As a fan of the Onimusha series, I can’t help but think what the game would’ve been like if Capcom had implemented the same kind of ideas they with Onimusha 2 in comparison with the original Onimusha; how even more varied gameplay would’ve been and what different kinds of events could have been made to happen as a result. 

 

Storyline – 7/10

The story takes place around 2 months after the events of the original Resident Evil. It follows the journeys of Leon Kennedy, a STARS officer on his day with the department, and Claire Redfield, the brother of the previous games’ main protagonist Chris Redfield, whom she has come to Raccoon City to try and track down. The two soon become embroiled in a zombie outbreak across Raccoon City and they set out on a journey to discover the source of the outbreak. The quality of the story is much better than in the original game, with a better script and even better voice acting to a certain extent. It still comes across as somewhat corny and cliche at times, but it was certainly an improvement on the quality of writing that the first game had to offer. I’ve yet to come across many bigger memes in gaming than the whole Jill Sandwich thing; thankfully there’s nothing quite as laughable in this game as that. 

 

Originality – 7/10

A common problem I encounter with survival horror sequels is that when the same threat is included as in the original game, it seems far less scary when the player knows what they’re up against. But in Resident Evil 2, there is a new threat added to keep things diverse, which has become another staple within the series. The second game introduces players to the Lickers and other eldritch abominations that spawn from the new G-virus that acts as the main threat of the game, which at the time did relatively well to keep things fresh in comparison to the first game. The zombies didn’t seem as scary anymore, even at the time, but encountering a Licker for the first time most definitely instilled fear in me back in the day. 

 

Happii

Overall, Resident Evil 2 made some very definitive improvements over the original game in almost every respect. I recommend it far more than I do than the first game as even taking the recent remaster into account, the original experience still holds up to this day. 

Score

46/60

7.5/10 (Good)

Wandersong (PC, PlayStation 4, Switch & Xbox One)

Developer(s) – Greg Lobanov

Publisher(s) – Humble Bundle

PEGI – 7

Released in 2019 to an overwhelmingly positive reaction from gamers and critics alike, Wanderson is a 2D platformer centering around music; puzzles are solved with music, new areas are uncovered with music, and abilities within the game are taken advantage of through music. Developed by Greg Lobanov with the music and sound put together by Em Halberstadt and Gordon McGladdery, it’s one of those games that is a true labor of love and is evident within every aspect of it. I interviewed Greg Lobanov sometime before the initial Kickstarter program was successfully funded:

https://scousegamer88.com/2016/07/09/qa-with-greg-lobanov/

And I’m glad I did; looking back, I’m thrilled that this game has since garnished the critical and commercial acclaim that I felt it deserved before release, and the game did not disappoint by any means. 

 

Graphics – 8/10

Firstly, the conceptual design of the game is nothing short of beautiful. Each area is vibrantly colorful and a pleasure to beyond, be that whether the game takes the player into dark caves, skyward temples, and peaceful towns. Each area has a different main color palette, similar to the original Yoshi’s Island, and works flawlessly to distinguish each area as the player visits them. Influence from several cultures and periods in human history is also evident in the architecture of the game, such as Indian culture and even modern-day culture, and overall simply adds to its visual diversity. 

 

Gameplay – 8/10

As I alluded to, the gameplay involves the player taking control of a young bard and must progress through the game by singing. Singing is at the core of the gameplay; the player sings to move platforms for jumping across, to manipulate wind traps to move ahead, to advance the story, and to solve puzzles among many other things. It’s definitely one of the most interesting and innovative platformers to have been developed in recent times, and to me, even outstripping many other indie titles in terms of gameplay, including Journey and Flower. There’s much more to play for in this game than in many indie titles to have been developed throughout the eighth generation; players will not be disappointed going into it. 

 

Controls – 10/10

The control scheme has been handled as well as any other platformer; in that respect, there are no negative issues to be addressed. I’m actually quite impressed with just how singing and dancing are incorporated into the game’s control scheme very effectively to allow for a lot of things the player must do in order to progress through each area of the game. There have been indie games released, such as The Swapper and Contrast, that have had innovative gameplay mechanics but have arguably not been used to their full potential to provide as great an experience as what could have been; but Wandersong delivers on that spectacularly. 

 

Lifespan – 7/10

What the game also delivers in a big way, compared to many other indie games, is lifespan. Taking around 12 hours to complete fully, it’s definitely one of the longest linear 2D side scrollers I’ve played in a long time. Side scrollers that long don’t normally get released unless it’s by a mainstream development company. It could be argued that it was to be expected given the somewhat lengthy development cycle this game had, but it still excels compared to many other indie games that have taken just as long to develop, if not longer.

 

Storyline – 7/10

The story follows the young bard, named by the player in-game, who embarks on an adventure to learn what is known as the Earthsong, which according to prophecy, is the only way to prevent the upcoming end of the world. Along the way, the players will meet a massive cast of characters, each with their own stories and situations to be resolved, which all add so much depth to the story. A lot of the different situations in this world can be seen as very true to life and it does incredibly well to connect with gamers. This game actually has a better story than a lot of other indie games that focus on story sacrificing gameplay in the process. With Wandersong, there is a clear equilibrium between the two. 

 

Originality – 10/10

Simply put, there is no other game like Wandersong. I’ve never played a game whereby music and singing are so integral to how the player must progress through it, and enjoyed it as much as this. Games like Parappa the Rapper and Guitar Hero are obviously titles that make use of music within the gameplay, but Wandersong does even better to integrate it into gameplay, making for, as far as I’m concerned, better titles than the two formers. Platformers have been coming and going since the 80s, but never handled in the way as what it is in this game. 

In summation, Wandersong is an excellent game from start to finish. Any platforming fan needs to give this game a try; it’s innovative, enjoyable to play, beautiful to behold with a wonderful soundtrack to listen to along the way, and again, I’m happy for Greg Lobanov and the team to have gotten the recognition they deserved for it.

 

Happii

Score

50/60

8/10 (Very Good)

Q&A With Zero Uno Games

In my search for more promising games seeking crowdfunding, I came across an upcoming title that caught my eye as an avid Brutal Legend Fan; Metal Tales: Overkill. Developed by indie outfit from Span, Zero Uno Games, Metal Tales: Overkill is a top-down action-adventure rogue-lite heavy on combat and heavy on metal. Players customize weapons by finding new guitar parts and modifying them to take advantage of new abilities and increased attack power, giving the game a plethora of variety. The game boasts 4 playable characters, 6 stages, 8 boss fights, local multiplayer, and a soundtrack consisting of various international heavy metal bands. Eager to find out more, I contacted Zero Uno Games and arrnaged a Q&A with co-founder Juan Cañete for more information on this exhilarating-looking new title. Here’s what Juan and the game’s puiblisher had to say about Metal Tales: Overkill:

What were the influences behind your game?

Brutal Legend, Binding of Isaac & Furi.

 

What has the developmental process been like?

It took over 15 months to have the game finished, and it’s taking like 6 months to do the ports, so it’s been complicated.

 

How close are we to seeing the finished product?

We need to finish the ports to consoles, but the game is already done and working.

 

What has been the most exciting aspect of development?

Being able to have real bands music and doing a rogue-lite game.

 

What has been the most challenging aspect of development?

The music part has been quite challenging, but it was worth it.

 

How well has the game been received so far?

Publisher: We think it has had a good reception. It got financed on Kickstarter in only 8 hours… and we are now on Indiegogo. We have to work hard to let the world know we are here.

 

What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?

PC, PS4 & Switch.

 

Which heavy metal band’s songs have been included in the soundtrack?

Publisher: We have talked with Eclipse Records to add some interesting songs. Here’s a poster with the bands:

 

Have there been any ideas at this stage of development that has since been scrapped or reworked?

Yeah! a lot, starting with some bosses (we had designed a boss compounded by Twins) and some items. At the start, there was a more Guitar Hero-like approach to boss fights but it did fall through quickly.

 

As one heavy metal fan to a group of others, what are the team’s favorite metal bands and how did their music help to shape the game specifically?

Basically, in the team we had a metalhead which was the designer, He is more into death metal: Carcass, Entombed, Wormed, Avulsed. The lead programmer was more into power and progressive metal and also we had some people with other influences outside the metal world.

 

How have the company’s prior developing experiences helped to shape Metal Tales: Overkill?

We started with mobile games, and then we jumped into Metal Tales. Our prior experiences helped up working together as a team.

 

If you had the opportunity to develop a game with any company or any franchise, which would it be, and why?

We’d love to make a game for the band Ghost.

  

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?

Play games and make games. Participate in gamejams to improve gameplay concepts and to challenge yourself trying to finish them.

 

Where on the Internet can people find you?

Zero Uno Games’ social media and Web Page, also on Kickstarter and Indiegogo:

Zero Uno Home Page

Kickstarter

IndieGoGo

Do you have anything else to add?

Thanks for the interview!

Massive thank you to Juan and Zero Uno Games for taking the time out to talk to me about this awesome-looking game. Personally, I’ve been waiting for a long time to play a new game inspired by Brutal Legend, as it one of my favourite games, as well as my favourite Tim Schafer title overall. Metal Tales Overkill looks to have taken the overall feel of Brutal Legend to bring gamers an entirely new gaming experience, and I can’t wait to get stuck into this game.

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88