Tag Archives: Scouse Gamer 88

Where’s Wally? (NES)

Developer(s) – Bethesda Softworks 

Publisher(s) – THQ

Designer(s) – Paul Coletta & Randy Linden

PEGI – Not rated (Suitable for children)

Released in 1991 late into the NES’s shelf life by Elder Scrolls developers Bethesda, Where’s Wally is a puzzle game based on the puzzle books written by Martin Handford whereby players must find or guide Wally across 8 different stages within varying time limits depending on the difficulty setting. Released to overwhelming critical vitriol, it’s most definitely one of the worst games on the system, as well as being one of the worst games I’ve played based on a pre-existing license. 

 

Graphics – 1/10

For a development company that would later go on to set new standards in visual quality with games like Skyrim and Oblivion, it’s shocking to see how much this game lacks in graphical quality, both on the technical and conceptual level. Especially considering this game was released after the Super NES, and there were developers pushing the boundaries of what the original NES could do at the time, this game perpetuates many of the limitations of the consoles in a way that many classic games released before this overcame those limits. The lackluster use of the NES’s color palette is the most visible flaw this game has. The only nice-looking part of the game is the ending, whereby Wally lands on the Moon. The moon’s surface is actually quite well-detailed, but that is literally the only positive thing it has going for it. To think that players have to beat the game in order to see one good example of 8-BIT visuals will seem like an insult. 

 

Gameplay – 1/10

Again, the game is a puzzle title that follows the mantra of the books; the player must find Wally on 6 different screens, which expand depending on difficulty. The time limit is 10 minutes on easy mode, 7 minutes on medium mode, and 5 minutes on hard mode. There are also 2 additional levels that mix up the gameplay a little,c but not to a great extent. But because of the poor graphical quality, it makes it almost impossible to identify Wally without the aid of a strategy guide. There have been worse games released throughout the years that have been inadvertently rendered unplayable due to either graphical errors or fatal glitches, but especially given how late into the console’s cycle this game came out, and how so many other developers were able to release classics on the system, there was no excuse for the developers at Bethesda to have screwed this up as much as they did. 

 

Controls – 4/10

The control scheme in its basic premise is simple enough, but it comes with many different issues; those being most evident on hard mode. In order to increase the difficulty, the developers made the cursor the player uses to pick out Wally smaller, but the problem is that the control’s sensitivity is quite high, so it creates an unnecessary complication for when the player ends up finding Wally on hard mode. 

 

Lifespan – 1/10

The game can be made to last a total of 10 minutes per playthrough; again depending on what difficulty setting it’s on. But to be honest, I’d be surprised if there would be many players willing to go through even one playthrough. There’s no further incentive for beating the game on the harder difficulty settings either, as the same thing happens at the end regardless of which. There would’ve been plenty of things the developers could’ve added to give players an incentive to do this, but because they offered players hardly anything, it certainly doesn’t warrant even one full playthrough, let alone three.

 

Storyline – 0/10

The game involves nothing but Wally being led across a series of areas in order to reach a launchpad to get to the Moon. The game’s story, as with many titles of that era, exists in its basic premise, but with many other classics, they at least offered whole mythologies for players to indulge in; but it’s even more surprising how little the developers paid attention to the source material, despite the fact that there was a fair bit of that at the point of this game’s development. 

 

Originality – 5/10

The game is original to an extent, in that there weren’t many video games like it at the time, but it seems more bland than unique given how little the developers did with it compared to what they could’ve potentially done with what was one of the most beloved children’s book series of that era. It’s a bad example of how to develop a licensed game, since not only is it poorly designed and not fun to play at all, but because it doesn’t celebrate the license in the same meaningful ways that games like Batman: Arkham Asylum or even Rugrats: Search for Reptar did.

 

Furiious

In summation, Where’s Wally is a game to be avoided at all costs. It’s a game with a number of flaws, is almost unplayable, and has since become a black mark on a development company that would later become one of the powerhouses of gaming. All I’ll say is that it just didn’t seem to get off to the greatest of starts at Bethesda with games like this. 

Score

11/60

1.5/10 (Painful)

Scouse Gamer 88 Pepsiman Header

Pepsiman (PlayStation)

Developer(s) – KID

Publisher(s) – KID 

Designer(s) – Nobuaki Umeda, Nozomi Takeguhi & Keisuke Itou

ESRB – T for Teen

 

Developed on a low budget and released exclusively in Japan after the development team failed to get the game published overseas, Pepsiman is an action game, which has silently become one of the most influential games in recent years, with it’s gameplay being the basis for a plethora of popular smartphone titles like Temple Run and Angry Gran. It’s one of those games that on paper would sound ridiculous, and in many respects it is, but regardless, it is a game worth playing.

 

Graphics – 6/10

The majority of the game is set in Pepsi City, where everything seems to revolve around Pepsi; there are billboards advertising it and Pepsi vans driving around everywhere; on some levels, there are even NPCs holding signs saying “I love Pepsi”. Other levels also break away from the modern-day city settings to levels set in science labs, sewers, and motorways. Conceptually, it stands out a lot more than what gamers would think it would after hearing about a game like this. In terms of the technical aspect, it just about meets industry standards set at the time, albeit including a number of 2D sprites all over the place, which back then were being fazed out gradually.

 

Gameplay – 7/10

The concept of the game is simple; guide Pepsiman through a series of on-rail levels, whilst collecting as many cans of Pepsi darted across each of the levels as possible. What isn’t easy is mastering the game, since there are a lot of obstacles and obstructions to overcome along the way. The natural flow is very cleverly disturbed at times, with Pepisman having to run into dustbins at certain points, which reverse the controls as long as his upper body is still in a dustbin for example. It provides much more of a stern challenge than what most people would think going into it; even for players who had previously played the games that were later inspired by it. At the time, a lot of critics were comparing the game to the original Crash Bandicoot games, which although I’m able to appreciate that that was the frame of reference at the time, Pepsiman is still a different type of game indeed. 

 

Controls – 10/10

The game’s control scheme also poses no issues; if the player fails, it’s solely on them. It’s also quite clever how the developers managed to implement changes to the controls based on Pepsiman’s given situation, such as for when he’s balancing on a barrel or riding a skateboard, or when the camera angle is reversed for when he must escape from objects moving behind him. 

 

Lifespan – 4/10

Disappointingly, one playthrough can only be made to last around half an hour, which for the amount of innovation perpetuated with this title, is nowhere near enough time for it to last; especially when drawing comparisons with other games like it, which can be made to last forever. There’s only a certain amount of replay value to be had in addition, with the only incentive being to unlock an alternative costume for Pepsiman, whereas again, there are several skins and characters that can be unlocked in future games that follow the same mantra. 

 

Storyline – 7/10

The story of Pepsiman is very reminiscent of that of an exploitation film in my opinion. It features Pepsiman traversing Pepsi City solving primarily Pepsi-related problems, such as stocking a particular vending machine with Pepsi, rehydrating a bunch of people stranded on a rooftop, and ultimately preventing a worldwide shortage of Pepsi and in turn, stopping a riot from continuing among those wanting Pepsi. It’s as ridiculous as it is flat-out hilarious. But it’s actually quite aware of how ridiculous it is, and the developers played on the fact heavily. It also features a lot of the slapstick violence that was synonymous with the character before the game was released, which further plays on the comedic aspect of the game throughout. 

 

Originality – 9/10

The amount of uniqueness attached to this game is staggering; especially compared to what perception the player will have going into it. It was a game that proved to be ahead of its time in terms of gameplay, given how many developers would go on to copy the model it set years later. Even the games that were perceived to have influenced it at the time are only very loosely related to it; it’s an action game by design, but in terms of its actual gameplay, it was genuinely in a genre of its own, as would later be proven.

 

Happii

Overall, Pepsiman is much better than what it seems on the surface. When stripped back away from all the Pepsi ads and the hilariously bad story, there’s a very enjoyable game to be played for the short time that it unfortunately lasts. 

Score

43/60

7/10 (Fair)

Scouse Gamer 88 Mario Golf Header

Mario Golf (Nintendo 64)

Developer(s) – Camelot Software Planning

Publisher(s) – Nintendo

Director(s) – Haruki Kodera (N64)

Producer(s) – Shinji Hatano, Hiroyuki Takahashi, Shugo Takahashi & Hidetoshi Endo

PEGI – 3

 

Released back in 1999, with a separate port finding its way onto the Game Boy Colour. Mario Golf was met with an overwhelmingly positive response on release and would then go on to spawn a whole new series in the Super Mario franchise, garnishing even more critical and commercial acclaim. A vast majority of spin-off Super Mario series’ historically start as well as what could be expected, such as Mario Kart, Luigi’s Mansion, and Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. There are some, however, that in my opinion, started off with evident flaws, but then later go on to have games developed that are far better than the original. Super Smash Bros. is probably the best example of this, but the way I see it, Mario Golf under Camelot started the same way as well.

 

Graphics – 6/10

The visuals of the game, as what any fan of the series would’ve come to expect at the time, fit in well with the tableau of the Super Mario mythos; the courses are extremely reminiscent of parts of the Mushroom Kingdom as seen in previous Mario titles, and the developers did relatively well to diversify each tournament’s settings in that respect. When comparing it on a technical level to previous Super Mario games ported to the Nintendo 64, players will find that the level of detail is also on par with many of them; arguably even better than some too. The biggest problem I had with this game, in terms of both graphics and gameplay, is the character roster. Of course, you have classic Mario characters, such as Mario himself, Luigi, Donkey Kong Peach, and Bowser among others, but as well as that, there are also a lot of generic characters included alongside them, like Plum, Harry, Sonny, and Charlie; the majority of which have never been seen in a Mario game again, and for good reason.

 

Gameplay – 6/10

The game has several different modes to choose from, such as playing 18-hole tournaments, speed golf, ring shot, and the head-to-head mode that pits you against other characters to unlock. The game has a lot to offer in terms of variety, but with the get-character mode, it’s a mixed bag due to how equally exciting and boring it can feel to unlock certain characters. It’s also not the most accessible game in terms of difficulty too. I remember playing this game when I was growing up, and even unlocking Luigi seemed like an endurance test; and I still find it to be the case now, even after playing other games in the series. 

 

Controls – 7/10

Probably the worst thing about this game, however, is its control scheme. The heads-up display is not self-explanatory like it is with future Mario golf games; the putting system is unnecessarily complicated, as it becomes almost impossible to determine how much power should be put behind the ball. There were many other 3D golf games even back then that had much better control schemes attached to them, and although this would be improved in later entries, it didn’t start out well in my opinion. 

 

Originality – 6/10

Although this is one of those games that was probably dreamt up by many Nintendo kids before it was even conceived, it does fairly well to keep things unique on its own merits with its diverse settings for different tournaments (again, something which would be improved on further. Again, the thing holding it back most in terms of originality is having so many unoriginal characters included in addition, which by Nintendo’s standards, were profound to me, even at the time. There were so many other characters they could’ve included at this point that it just baffled me to know that they chose to go with Camelot’s idea of including so many generic ones instead. 

 

Niiutral

Overall, Mario Golf is not the best entry in the series; not by a longshot. And later, a plethora of improvements would be made with the likes of Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour and Mario Golf: World Tour. The upcoming Mario Golf: Super Rush also seems set to break new ground with its story mode and additional challenges attached to it, but in terms of the Nintendo 64 game, the developers could’ve done better. 

Score

25/40

6/10 (Average)

Scouse Gamer 88 Dwarf Journey Header

Dwarf Journey (PC)

Developer(s) – Orube Studios 

Publisher(s) – Orube Studios 

PEGI – Not Rated (Non-graphic violence)

 

Released by Orube Studios as one of two titles in the works simultaneously, Dwarf Journey is a rogue-lite Metroidvania heavy on combat and character development imposed by both Norse mythology and high fantasy. Having been excited by the looks of this game for quite some time, I was eager to play it and see what Orube had to offer; especially following our Q&A;

https://scousegamer88.com/2021/02/12/qa-with-orube-game-studio/

After having played this game all the way through, I certainly wasn’t disappointed. 

 

Graphics – 9/10

This title featured wonderfully detailed 8 BIT visuals in a world inspired by Norse mythology and the works of fantasy novelists such as JJR Tolkien and Gary Gygax, featuring enemies such as goblins, dragons, and beholders; indeed the second boss fight is very reminiscent of Bilbo Baggins encounter with Smaug in The Hobbit. But besides which, there are also a lot of unique creatures included for good measure, particularly in this level. A lot of the monsters in that dungeon actually reminded me somewhat of the guardian in Legend of Zelda: Breath of the wild. The soundtrack accompanying the game is a very interesting mix of orchestral music and 80s synth-pop, which I never would’ve thought would work in a fantasy game, but to my surprise, it does work very well. 

 

Gameplay – 8/10

Heavy on combat, upgrading, and exploration, the game is a rogue-lite so every playthrough provides a different challenge each time. The player must traverse through four separate dungeons incorporating one of a great number of different play styles best suited to them, whilst along the way finding the resources to forge better equipment or upgrade the equipment they already have. Whilst not providing as much challenge as the average rogue-lite, or roguelike for that matter, it still provides an extremely satisfying gaming experience, and for me, serves as an ideal starting point for anyone looking to get into the genre and to move on to more difficult games made in the same vein like Rogue Legacy or Skul: The Hero Slayer

 

Controls – 10/10

A traditional 2D side scroller being easy to learn and only moderately difficult to master, Dwarf Journey no issues with its control scheme. It’s actually well thought out how agility and power can affect an individual’s style of play and how it can be afforded for players to strategize accordingly. The wall-jumping mechanics are also strangely satisfying, allowing for the opportunity to make certain enemy skills have a much more cinematic feel to them. 

 

Lifespan – 6/10

One playthrough of this game, depending on player skill, can take there around 5 hours. However, this is a game designed to be played a minimum of two times, since there are two different endings. But besides which, each playthrough offers a different experience, as I said before, so avid players can draw even more playtime out of it than that. It may become somewhat monotonous after a certain amount of playthrough, which would probably be down to a lack of content compared to other rogue-lites, but it can be made to last a significant amount of time regardless. 

 

Storyline – 6/10

The story of Dwarf Journey follows an elderly Dwarven warrior named Gallar, who after having achieved everything he ever wanted is suddenly drawn towards a mysterious place known as The Valley of Eternity, where within its depths lies an artifact of immeasurable power, which he resolves to recover for himself. The game’s story hearken back to the NES days when most games had only a basic premise as a story,m and not much besides. What separates this story from a lot of others, however, is the fact that it has multiple endings to attain, giving it that little bit more replay value in turn. The basic premise is interesting and the endings will do fairly well to surprise players after Gallar’s arduous journey through the depths. 

 

Originality – 7/10

The game’s level of uniqueness may not be overwhelmingly high, as it is in many other indie titles released in recent years but it is unique in the sense that it provides a much more laid back rogue-lites experience, which many players who may feel jaded by other games in the series they may consider to be too hard, will seem like a welcome breath of fresh air. If there are any players looking to get into this genre of gaming, I would personally recommend they start with this game, as it provides a decent introduction without it being overly easy at the same time. 

 

Happii

In summation, Dwarf Journey is a decent rogue-lite and a solid first developmental effort from Orube Studios. Their next game, Super Mombo Quest, looks to provide a very different experience to that of this title, but nevertheless, I recommend anyone looking to get into rogue-lites that they try this game since as well as being a decent jumping on point, also provides a very enjoyable gaming experience. 

Score

46/60

7.5/10 (Good)

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 Chris Totten

In my efforts to discover yet more indie titles in the making on crowdfunding platforms, I found another Kickstarter campaign for what is a very promising passion project based on a beloved comic book series. Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends is a 2D  non-linear sidescroller based on the works of the innovative US comic book artist and animator Winsor McCay. Having inspired famous animators and artists since, including Walt Disney himself, he left behind a legacy and a mythos in equal parts beautiful and surreal, and this all serves as the inspiration for this game. The player controls 4 different characters throughout, including Peony, a character added to the mythos exclusively for the game, to explore non-linear 2D sidescrolling levels whilst along the way collecting hidden items, engaging in different varieties of combat, and making each character stronger as time goes on. Similar to Mickey Mania, the levels are based on classic Little Nemo episodes and stay faithful to the art style that McCay perpetuated throughout his career.

Wanting to know more about this gorgeous-looking and ambitious title, I contacted the project lead Chris Totten, head of Pie for Breakfast Studio based in Kent, Ohio, to get a better idea of this game amidst its Kickstarter project, and a better idea of the varied team behind it ranging from a variety of different indie development studios who are also helping out on the project. Here’s what Chris Totten had to say about little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends:

 

Of course, the main influence behind the game was Winsor McCay’s classic comic book series of the same name. But what video games have been kept in mind most throughout development?

We’re really big retro gaming fans so when coming up with a game that involves a cast of characters like this, we take a lot of inspiration from games like Little Samson or Demon’s Crest (where the player character could change his form.) We’re asked about Little Nemo the Dream Master a lot as well and while we can’t remake that (it’s not public domain like the comics), we are going to make lots of nods to it.

 

What has the developmental process been like?

Our team is geographically distributed so that’s always a challenge, but one we’ve dealt with before. Making a game during a pandemic has been a bigger challenge, but it’s also provided something to keep us occupied. I’m mainly responsible for the art and animation so far (with bits of level design alongside Adrian Sandoval) so that’s been a lot of intense drawing – each character has dozens of frames so far and will probably need dozens more before release!

 

How close are we to seeing the finished product?

Our production schedule is mapped out as an 18-month project from the end of the Kickstarter, assuming we’re funded, of course.

 

What has been the most exciting aspect of development?

In my day job, I teach game development at a university and my research is on the intersections between games and older fiends of art, design, and animation. For me, this is an opportunity to use the process of making art to explore an important piece of comics and animation history.

 

What has been the most challenging aspect of development?

For me specifically, all that drawing! In general though, when you’re working on the first stages of a project trying to produce sample gameplay on nights and weekends, it can be very difficult to balance when you’re trying to put something out.

 

How well has the game been received so far?

Incredibly well! Folks seem to love the characters and the art style. Either they know the original comics and are excited to see someone use public domain stuff in that way OR they didn’t know about the comics at all and we’re educating them!

 

How did the collaboration with so many other indie developers come about?

These are all friends that I’ve made through years of going to conferences and conventions. We occupy a lot of the same spaces.

 

Do the additional developers share the same love for Little Nemo that you have?

Yes, the team is pretty passionate about Little Nemo. We all have our entry points: either renting the NES game or seeing the movie, but as everyone’s learned more, they’ve discovered a favorite character or comic.

 

What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?

If we reach our initial funding goal we’re going to launch on at least Windows and Mac, but we’ll consider other platforms depending on funding. We’d love to bring it to consoles!

 

Have you found many other fans of the comic book series have offered their feedback in regards to the game?

Yes! One of our main cheerleaders has been Zachary J.A. Rondinelli, a researcher doing a social media project called Welcome to Slumberland:

(https://zrondinelli.wixsite.com/welcometoslumberland).

Every day he posts a new Little Nemo strip and delivers really excellent commentary along with an audience of contributors. We’ve been able to boost one another’s projects and it’s been fun having a community like that.

 

How much fun has it been celebrating the license by adding new elements to the Little Nemo mythos?

This is the best part of working with the public domain, I think. You can add your own twist to things or address problematic parts of an original work. There are parts of McCay’s comics (from the early 20th century) that are pretty racist, so we worked with a BIPOC artist to create characters so that Slumberland can be for everyone.

 

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

We’re always reworking things. I don’t want to cite anything specifically but we’re always tweaking what characters can and can’t do. It’s a normal part of game development.

 

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

I’m a shameless Nintendo fanboy so anything Mario, Zelda, or Metroid would be in my wheelhouse. I’d love to do a hand-animated Mario game that looks like the original promotional art!

 

Out of the many varied things you’ve done throughout your career, would you say this project is what you’re most proud of?

So far this has been a high point, but one of the best parts of being a game design academic is that I also have a lot of freedom to work on self-directed projects. One of the best things I’ve done has been to write a book on level design. I’m also really proud of the tabletop game I released in 2019 based on Don Quixote (which was also a Kickstarter project!)

 

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

Learn the tools, but don’t think that’s the whole game development experience. Games are about the player experience, and you can make wonderful things no matter what tool it’s in. Make lots of little games, don’t just try to make something that looks like the big commercial games.

 

Where on the Internet can people find you?

My Twitter is @totter87 and my studio’s website is www.PFBStudios.com. Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends can be found at www.LittleNemoGame.com (redirects to the Kickstarter campaign)

 

Do you have anything else to add?

We hope you love Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends! Please support and share the campaign so we can make this the game of our dreams!

 

I’d like to close out by thanking Chris for taking the time out to talk to me about this wonderful-looking game, and to wish him the best of luck with Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends and its Kickstarter campaign. Little Nemo is clearly a labor of love, and if it sees its full release, I have every confidence that this will be a gaming experience loved by fans of McCay’s work, as well as fans of the 2D sidescrolling genre, and that it will be a fantastical journey that McCay himself would’ve been proud to see. In the meantime, you can check out the Kickstarter page of you would like to back the project via the link provided by Chris, but I hope you guys enjoyed reading this Q&A because I certainly had a fun time learning more about not only this game but also about the inspiration behind it.

 

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88.

Scouse Gamer 88 Mickey Mania Header

Mickey Mania/Mickey’s Wild Adventure (SNES, Mega Drive, Sega CD & PlayStation)

Developer(s) – Traveller’s Tales

Publisher(s) – Sony Imagesoft & Walt Disney Computer Software

Designer(s) – Jon Burton, Andy Ingram, Mike Glam & David Jaffe

ELSPA – 3+

 

Released across two generations on various consoles, and being the developmental debut of Twisted Metal creator and God of War alumni David Jaffe, Mickey Mania was originally envisioned to coincide with Mickey’s 65th anniversary. However, it was pulled back to allow for more development time. What followed was a critical and commercial success of a game, praised to extent that it was considered a must-have for any fourth-generation gamer at the time. I feel very much the same having played it profusely when it first came out, and for any fans of the 2D sides rolling genre, it has very much stood the test of time. 

 

Graphics – 8/10

The game is set across several classic Mickey Mouse cartoons from 1928’s Steamboat Willy to that character’s 1990 take on The Prince and the Pauper, and each level in the game captures the feel of the original features flawlessly. It’s one of those games that as one based on a preexisting license with a predetermined visual style, it stands the test of time in terms of graphics because of it. It was also one of the earliest instances I can remember whereby I was introduced to at least pseudo-3D Graphics on a console game, and I remember being blown away by it at the time. 

 

Gameplay – 8/10

The game is a traditional 2D side scroller quite typical of the fourth generation of gaming, and typical of what games were resulting from the Disney license at the time along with Duck Tales, Aladdin, Toy Story, and others. There’s is also a light puzzle-solving element in certain levels as well, but it mainly revolves around getting from A to B. There is also a couple of memorable boss fight, including that with The Mad Doctor and Pete’s Prince and the Pauper incarnation. The pseudo-3D gameplay sequences have the player running away from impending danger, which provides a welcome challenge to break up the traditional platforming sequences and keep players firmly on their toes. 

 

Controls – 10/10

As a standard sides roller perpetuating industry standards set at the time, there are no issues with the controls. The way the control scheme is implemented during the 2.5D sequences is handled quite well in addition, especially considering that the idea was relatively new at the time and would’ve taken a certain degree of innovative thinking to effectively manage it. 

 

Lifespan – 6/10

Just about meeting the standard of Lifespan set at the time, the game can be made to last a maximum of 2 hours. The definitive way to play this game, in every aspect in addition to lifespan, is through the PlayStation version entitled Mickey’s Wild Adventure. It contains every level designed for the game, as well as a few new added features, whereby the Super NES and Mega Drive versions were missing certain levels and sequences. 

 

Storyline – 7/10

The game’s story is simply a retelling of several classic Mickey Mouse cartoons in video game form. Throughout, each level perpetuates elements of what made the original cartoons captivating and portrays an early example of how video games can be capable of telling a story without the player having to consult the manual. Again, it’s another reason why Mickey’s Wild Adventure is the definitive way to play it since it also included voice acting

 

Originality – 8/10

In some respects, such as lifespan, the game just about met industry standards and failed to stand out as a result. But in many other respects, including graphic design and gameplay, it stands out among a plethora of 2D sidescrollers that were being released at the time. It almost served as a precursor to what would eventually be released by Sony with the advent of the PlayStation following the deal between them and Nintendo falling through. It seemed like a particularly historical game in that respect the more I’ve thought about it since, and it makes me wonder what the landscape of gaming may have been if history had gone another way. 

 

Happii

In summation, Mickey Mania was a quietly innovative game that has since stood the test of time with the enjoyable experience it provides. It’s a licensed game that surpassed expectations at the time, and I would still highly recommend it be played today. 

Score

49/60

8/10 (Very Good)

SG88 Rugrats: Search for Reptar Header

Rugrats: Search for Reptar (PlayStation)

Developer(s) – n-Space 

Publisher(s) – THQ

Director(s) – Seth Jacobsen & Don Nauert

Producer(s) – Symar Sambar, Leyland Mah & Jym Kelly 

ELSPA – 3

 

Released on the original PlayStation back in 1998 as part of a lucrative multi-million dollar deal between THQ and Nickelodeon, and boasting the second biggest video game marketing campaign of that year (second only to Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time) Rugrats: Search for Reptar is a good example of effective development of a game based on a pre-existing license before the standard would be even further elevated in the late 2000s. Back in the day and as a huge Rugrats fan growing up, I spent a ridiculous amount of time playing this game, and in all honesty, is still one that holds up to this day for a multitude of different reasons. 

 

Graphics – 8/10

The visuals are simple and cartoony to go along with the tableau of the show it’s based on. It’s a lot like a precursor to the concept of cel-shaded visuals perpetuated later by Jet Set Radio and a plethora of games developed afterward. It takes place in a hub world, which is the Pickles residence as well as across a number of locations presented in a variety of classic Rugrats episodes including Grandpa’s Teeth and The Mysterious Mr. Friend. It still holds up to this day because it was never meant to be a game with cutting-edge graphics; only to portray the visual style of the cartoon, which it does exceptionally well. 

 

Gameplay – 8/10

By design, the game is an action-adventure, but because it centers on several classic episodes of the series, it presents the player with a variety of different gameplay mechanics, such as golfing, riding a dog, and projectile combat. I almost forgot about how good this game is because it’s easy to forget and perpetuate a different idea of it after having not played it for a number of years. But after revisiting the game, I was able to appreciate the many different things it offered to gamers at the time and still does. 

 

Controls – 10/10

One of the major issues players and critics alike had with the game’s controls was the camera angle; mainly put down to the fact that this was developed during a time when 3D gaming was just coming out of its infancy. But none of that truly bothered me back in the day, and it still doesn’t now. The camera stays behind the player character and never moves beyond that. The controls are certainly nowhere near as much of a problem as they are in other 3D games released at around the same time, including Blasto and Croc: Legend of the Gobbos. Unlike in a lot of other early 3D games, the movement is also extremely fluent in addition, and the game flows naturally despite the number of play styles the player will have to adapt to throughout. 

 

Lifespan – 5/10

To me, the Lifespan was the most disappointing aspect of this title, as it can take less than 3 hours to complete, which fell below the established standard for 3D games even back in 1998. When considering that this game was advertised as much as what Ocarina of Time was, the difference in lifespan is eclipsing, as players can get through this game in a few hours and move on to Ocarina of Time, which takes far longer to complete to 100%.

 

Storyline – 7/10

The basic premise of the story is that Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, Lil, and Angelica are on a quest to recover the missing pieces of Tommy’s jigsaw puzzle modeled after his favorite cartoon character Reptar. The main story is simplistic, but it also takes place across several classic Rugrats episodes, which remain beloved by fans of the series everywhere, and to see them presented in the video game format was quite a unique thing at the time. As a fan of it growing up back in the day, it featured some of my favorite episodes of the series, so it worked particularly well for me back in the day. 

 

Originality – 7/10

Although 3D gaming was beginning to dominate the medium at this time and clones were cropping up all over the place on every home console, there was something quite unique about this game back in the day to give players this much variety in gameplay. It’s another example of developers not just using a pre-existing license, but also celebrating it in significant ways. The developers clearly had fun putting this game together and it really shows in more ways than one. 

 

Happii

Overall, Rugrats: Search for Reptar is an excellent example of a game based on a beloved license, and an experience that still holds up to this day. I’m glad that I not long revisited this title, because if I hadn’t, I will have undoubtedly forgotten about how good a game it truly is. 

Score

45/60

7.5/10 (Good)

Q&A With Jon Bookout

After once again scouting Kickstarter for more new video game prospects, I came across a title that is exceedingly different from any that I’ve yet to encounter this year. Lucid Soul, developed by a team of numerous artists, coders, and musicians, and fronted by indie developer Jon Bookout of Las Vegas, Nevada, is a JRPG blending horror and dark fantasy inspired by classics of the genre such as Chrono Trigger and the Lunar series; namely Eternal Blue and Silver Star. A turn-based RPG in basic design with a planned minimum of 30 hours hours of lifespan, it boasts a number of gameplay features new to the genre such as two-tier combat flow, the ability to play bosses, and a feature known as cinematic encounters, whereby certain battles take place across multiple screens. The game’s story revolves around the villains taking center-stage as opposed to the heroes, presenting a vast amount of wonderfully sadistic player characters to play as and develop over time. Wanting to know more about this fantastically brutal-looking JRPG experience, I contacted Jon, the game’s head programmer to answer questions I had about the game, and what the final product will possibly bring to players looking for a potential game-changing entry into the widely popular genre. Here’s what Jon Bookout had to say about Lucid Soul:

 

What were the influences behind your game?

I’ve been writing Lucid Soul since high school, but the game was written as a hero’s journey from Rubin’s perspective til about 5 years ago. I, like many others, got hooked on a little show called Game of Thrones. For those of us who love fantasy, it was the first to really embrace a true-to-life adult feeling to it. What WOULD happen if an evil prick ran the country? It wouldn’t be like Emperor Gestahl where the lust for power isn’t shown, it would be FELT. So that show and the fact that you recognize MILLIONS of people gravitated to raw, gritty, adult fantasy, caused a massive shift in my concept. It influenced the design from the ground up to not only do maturity but what about the next evolution of our nostalgic JRPGs and RPGs of old… what about the villain? Not a “SURPRISE! YOU WERE EVIL!” style game, but one you knew going in, you will be the ‘bad guy’ or ‘girl’. So Game of Thrones-inspired what Lucid Soul is today feeling the time was right, but the history of it is the great classics, Chrono Trigger, Lunar: Silver Star, and more importantly Eternal Blue, Final Fantasy (Specifically 6 or 3 in the U.S. and 4 or 2 in the U.S.), Final Fantasy Tactics, Shin Megami Tensei (Specifically Digital Devil Saga), and Silent Hill. Horror tends to be all modern-day, so it felt fresh to bring Horror into the world of fantasy. And we hope our influences shine through to all players.

 

What has the developmental process been like?

Once Sangrde, our character artist came on board, pretty smooth. The past is littered with reaching out to people, asking their expertise and thoughts, trying to have them understand the Horror and artistic styles we’re after, and feeling out who can best slip in. Once the team has been finalized development is smooth, and it’s a treat to be able to know there’s quality because no one would want this game with my talent at the helm for art and pixel work.

 

How close are we to seeing the finished product?

Depending on the final funding of the Kickstarter, I hope to speed our production up by hiring a Programmer, as that’s my task. The projected date is October of 2022 and we feel we can hit that mark, but if I could grab a professional that could drastically speed us into the Beta phase. But to try to be as professional as possible for all involved, 2022 October.

 

What has been the most exciting aspect of development?

Oh man, everything! Honest truth, it’s a learning experience ground up, so every time you catch a bug, or pull a Picard Facepalm, or see a wandering pixel and blurt out “Oh hai Mark!”, it’s fun, knowing you have improvements to make on yourself and a game. But the best part is meeting new people, talking about Lucid Soul never gets old for me personally, but it’s that look on a person’s face when you explain it for the first time and feel the response sinking in. That’s what I’m personally after with the players, so it’s great to see and feel it during development as a new person comes on board for acting or art.

 

What has been the most challenging aspect of development?

Translating concept to the actual controller in hand gameplay. I imagine this is what anyone who creates goes through, but learning it and experiencing it, that’s a challenge. Notebooks in the house are filled with mechanics and being an algorithm guy more than a coding guy, that’s the most challenging aspect.

 

How well has the game been received so far?

The backers we’ve managed to bring in are absolutely amazing to communicate with and get their feedback on the game’s subject matter, characters, and future plans. Through them I’d say those that put in the pledge to be able to talk, the reception is positive. In truth, the one thing I WISH as a creator I could say is that I can’t reach out to those who don’t pledge or move on. Those that click your title picture but leave. I truly wish I could hear from them as well, because we as creators can never stop learning, and failure I think is the key to success. I’d like to know where I could improve, or what failed to appeal. Praise makes you feel good, and it IS wonderful, but it’s the harsh truths and criticisms that make the end product a better experience, and I openly expect and respect it.

 

Do you and the development team see Lucid Soul as an attempt to subvert the traditional Japanese RPG?

Subvert isn’t the word I’d use completely, because you don’t want to break a wheel that we all know and love. But subverting the EXPECTATION of the JRPG fan, then yes. We want the player to enter Lucid Soul fully feeling comfortable in traditions, the menu, the map interface, the overworld feeling bigger than hubs, a home base to put your feet up, the adventure, the exploration, the artifact gathering, the growing in power. We FULLY want those to be expected and embraced. Much like Undertale’s revelation of what EXP meant to the player, we do hope that the same fun takeaway occurs with our changes. Our team couldn’t think of a mainstream JRPG in which the hero is the villain, and the villain is the protagonist, so how does that affect those traditional elements, is major on our priority and creativity list.

 

Which entries in the Final Fantasy series have you and the team had in mind most during development?

6 is the most influential to style, and a number of distinct personalities. 7 is the most influential for the villain’s journey alongside the heroes. Lastly, 10 plays a major part in influencing the idea of Cinematic Combat, or Combat that continues on multiple screens without actually leaving it, with dialogue and story, reinforcements and such playing a part to be more dynamic. 4 is, forever and always, my personal nostalgic favorite, but it’s also the only of those which kept far away from technology until the Blue Whale and the Babil Giant, keeping its roots very deep in fantasy. One of my favorite conversations with our tile artist starts something like “Ok, but if this were Final Fantasy, how would they make this ship fly. Ok now, how would we do it?”
I think Sephiroth is considered by most to be the single best remembered Villain, at least every gamer I’ve ever mentioned him too, can give me a response on how they feel about him or things they remember. The remake going mainstream of 7 really helps cement him too. So for our JRPG, it’s taking the impressions people have, and then asking the obvious follow up to us: “Would you play Final Fantasy 7, if he was the main character, and if so…” going from there. I LOVE the responses you get from that, and it’s how we adapt and add little pieces to those responses.

 

How instrumental has the involvement been of so many different musicians famous from all over YouTube?

Youtube is massive, and I dare say the single most important key to if we succeed. Through Alyssa Gerwig (SpectroliteAAA), and approaching her for our animated trailer idea, she introduced me to Diwa De Leon (String Player Gamer), and then the network kind of grew from there. I’m lucky, blessed, touched, and thrilled that the famous ones like these and the juggernaut Camila Cuevas staked their reputation to show us support and introduce us to friends and acquaintances of theirs for getting work done. Sound, animation, music, vocalists, all through their good graces. The only musician I can say I personally played a hand in, is Lauren Kinkade, of Laurenkinkademusic.com and if you went to Dodgers games she sang the anthem for many live performances. She’s a girl I luckily went to highschool with and is actually where the Goddess got her name when she agreed all those years ago to sing in the game.

 

What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?

PC and Mac are first, Steam and Itch are the approved distributors, and our first Platform stretch goal is the Switch. Beyond that we’ll happily do others, Stadia has reached out to me personally, it simply is a budget and programming issue, but we expect to have to gauge feedback on the game first to distribute to more.

 

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

Feeling out spriting budgets, so far the number of Bromides and Souls is the first to be affected, this is why we put those as Tier rewards in our Kickstarter hoping we could take a more personal approach to them also while allowing more in the game. In Lucid Soul, we want the main character Scythe to truly feel like an Everyman/Everywoman to the player, but unlike say Chrono who is played without speaking, you never get to change anything about the visual nature. So a female player may like his story and bond with the team, but feeling like “Chrono is Me” never lets him evolve beyond “I control him first”. How MUCH customization to our main character will directly relate to budget, and that’s the first thing I and the others had to talk about and tone down. Most, for now, have not had to be scrapped, and that’s the only (knock on wood) to need reworking.

 

Which characters have been among the most fun to design out of so many outlandish individual personalities?

That’s tough, lol. I mean even as the one who created them that’s tough. My goal’s always been, RPGs are for their characters, people remember Marle hugging Chrono 20+ years after the game’s out, people still have youtube reactions posted or recount that moment Aerith meets her fate. While I want each one to have a memory when it’s all said and done that makes you even recount some things about the ones you didn’t like, my personal favorite is Synella. I play Tanks mostly in MMOs, WoW, SWTOR, etc. so designing how a Tank could translate to the JRPG tactics style and feel like they had character, has been fun… challenging but fun. Since she speaks in groups of 3, one word for each month, trying to convey her stories and dialogue choices and emotion through ‘which’ 3 words she says, that’s by far the most fun. The other is Wick. She’s my son’s favorite and blew him away when I said she’s my second favorite, just because she’s a unique race design, so you don’t know if the slow-moving, long-eared, magical race that let their blood spill and congeal to make hair and Runes, and you never know if she’ll be liked for that alone. But for her, it’s the personality and making sure it’s presented and played properly. All are fun for different reasons but those 2 stand out for me.

 

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

Disney. It may shock a reader for that one, but because they have the biggest franchises and genres of fantasy that could be taken down different paths, and the money to be TRULY creative with it if they ever chose to. They shoot down Tim Burton for years, and the irony of ironies, bring him back to do a “his style” Alice in Wonderland. I would LOVE to have an hour just to hear what that experience is like. But I have to give credit where it’s due, the 1 game that I never played until the sequel came out, and truly impressed me and changed what video games are capable of, is Kingdom Hearts. When 2 companies with that much history come together and decide to let the storytellers do their thing… Just the ingenious culmination of that was mindblowing. But their franchise now I would love to see how they’d react on a creative team, is doing a Heist movie in the Star Wars universe, like call it Trick, and have this elaborate subverted movie as a husband leaves out his house without any explanation as the wife gets concerned and starts a “what’s going on moment”, all your typical tropes of breaking into vaults, holding up hostages, etc etc but at the end, the coveted Heist item is brought to a man in a robe that waves his hand in front of him and says “You’ve done all you need for the Jedi console… go home to your wife…” and it’s all a Jedi Mind trick.

 

On your Kickstarter page, you expressed the sincerity that to prove your intent to your backers, you will take accountability on a personal level. Although this indeed sounds like a personal passion project to you, how supportive have your team been throughout this entire process so far?

As supportive as anyone can be on the outside joining in, I think. I truly hope if you asked their opinions they’d say that this is as much THEIR game now as mine. The artists especially, from pixel to drawings, tile, and Alyssa’s animations, are just a blast to bounce ideas off of, that you sense they genuinely take an interest in improving things, and I hope I do a good job adapting THEIR creativity into everything also. But they’re an amazing group of people I’m fortunate enough to work with and have been in my life and this project as a result. I know for a fact I’d not be on Kickstarter without each and every one of them, from Augustinas to ZeitDieb.

 

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

Depending on when this article is published or when the person reading it says it… know this: you’re reading this from someone not proven to be a success story or even representing a product that will ever be considered a success. My influences to develop, are Dwarvenaut the movie, Indie Game: The Movie, the creator of Pokemon’s history, Sylvester Stalone’s rejection and aspiration to see Rocky be made, and Tim Burton’s career long before Batman but in the days at Disney when Pee Wee’s Big Adventure wasn’t yet in production. Follow your dreams, believe in yourself enough that people will one day WANT to be a part of whatever world you create, and hold to that. Never believe differently. Creativity is the key to us all playing games and experience things we didn’t know we wanted yesterday, yet today tell our friends we can’t live without, and tomorrow influence someone else’s creation.

 

Where on the Internet can people find you?

I can’t be the only one who reads this question wanting to channel my inner superhero nerd, and write “Where there is injustice… you will find me… where there is suffering… I’ll be there… You can find me using the Bookout signal!” But sadly nothing so dramatic, our website is the easiest, https://lucidsoulgame.com, and our Kickstarter at the moment, where I’ll happily answer any questions to the best of my ability.

 

Do you have anything else to add?

Just that it’s a true honor to have met you and be going through this experience. I cannot thank you enough for the opportunity to talk to others about Lucid Soul, myself, and my development team. We’re nothing without them. Thank you for the questions and your time!

 

I would also like to take the opportunity to thank Jon for taking the time out to talk to me about this promising-looking game, and to wish him and the various different musicians and artists working on it the very best of luck with its Kickstarter project and subsequent release. Lucid Soul is indeed set to be an incredibly unique take on the traditional JRPG and a standout title compared to many of the classic games in the genre, and I can’t wait to play the game when it comes out. In the meantime, if you wish to support the Kickstarter page, you can do so via the link below:

Lucid Soul Kickstarter

But in the meantime, I hope you guys enjoyed reading this article as much I and Jon did putting it together.

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88.