Let's party like it's 1995 again! Well if you were a gamer in the 90's then you'll be familiar with the 16bit console wars between the Super Nintendo and Sega Mega Drive (Sega Genesis in North America). What an era! With classics like the Streets of Rage franchise, Sonic, Final Fight, Turtles in Time; we had it all on the SNES and Sega Mega Drive. Now even though the 90's is long gone we were graced with the release of Starfox 2 in 2017 with the launch of the SNES Mini Classic. Who'd have thought that in 2017 we would be seeing a brand new SNES game release?
Now in 2018 it would appear that 16bit game development is in full force on the Sega Mega Drive. I reached out to the developer; Matt of Big Evil Corporation to talk to him about his new Sega Genesis game: Tanglewood. A brand new side scrolling adventure game whereby we take the role of Nymn, a young fox like creature whom is scrambling to get back to his pack:
Set in a fictional world, the game follows a young creature, Nymn, who is separated from the family pack after the sun sets. Unable to get back to the safety of the underground home, Nymn must find a way to survive the night terrors and get to morning. TANGLEWOOD’s world is a dangerous one after dark, and Nymn must use skills of evasion, special abilities, traps and trickery to defeat predators.
I reached out to Matt in order to get more juicy details about the upcoming Tanglewood game for the Sega Mega Drive. Here is what he had to say:
1/ Tell us a bit about the video games you grew up with? What were your personal favourite games?
My first system was a Commodore 64, so my early gaming days consisted of Buggy Boy, Ghostbusters, Ghosts n' Goblins, and a whole array of copied tapes from markets. Buggy Boy is a particular favourite from the era, I must have completed it around 20 times. I shrieked when I saw an arcade version on a camping trip! My next machine was a Game Boy, and damn did I LOVE my Game Boy! Some favourites were Mario 2: 6 Golden Coins, Tetris, Taz Mania, and Kirby's Pinball Land.
I got a Mega Drive a little later in its life, probably around 1993, but my favourite was pretty much a given: Sonic the Hedgehog. I played it to death (literally, the cartridge stopped working) and has remained such a favourite throughout my life I now have a whole sleeve of Sonic tattoos. Some others I loved on the system were The Terminator, Flashback, The Lion King, and the Toejam & Earl spin-off for the Menacer gun - Ready, Aim, Tomatoes!
2/ Tell us about yourself and your main inspirations to create Tanglewood
The main inspirations are probably obvious after a few minutes playing - the game is a mix between The Lion King and Another World - but some of the original designs stemmed from Playdead's LIMBO, and the night time scenes from Abe's Oddysee. The reasoning behind this was I never expected the game to become popular enough to be able to seek out artists, so I went with a black silhouetted art style that I could have drawn myself. Thankfully the idea took off, and I got some help giving Tanglewood its very own art style.
3/ How long has Tanglewood been in development?
On and off, around 5 years. After the Kickstarter I was able to quit my job and work on it full time, so the majority of the work has only been done in the last year or so. A lot was redesigned and rewritten, too, both because I was getting much better at coding for the machine and I had some money to get more mechanics, levels and enemies drawn.
4/ If you were to describe Tanglewood to a non-gamer how would you describe it?
Tanglewood is a fantasy platforming game staring Nymn, a small creature who is lost from home. Nymn must try to survive each dangerous night alone in Tanglewood, by using his skills of evasion and trickery to escape the monsters that lurk in the dark.
It's a 2D platform game designed for a console from the '90s, using equipment, processes and methodologies from the '90s.
5/ Are there any Easter Eggs planted within the Tanglewood World? No spoilers of course
Yes, but nothing too elaborate, memory is quite tight and I need all I can get for the main game! The game does have one rather significant mechanic I haven't - and won't - show until release, though ;)
6/ If you could go on a date with a video game character who would it be?
Ooh, a difficult one. As a kid I was fond of Rinoa from Final Fantasy VIII but the older I get the less she appeals. Perhaps someone with a lot of stories of adventure to tell, like Chloe from Uncharted. Actually she might take my wallet...
7/ What are the best and worst parts about game development?
The best parts are the rewarding parts - getting a feature finally working after a long slog of coding, fixing a particularly troublesome bug, or hearing what people say about it after you finally let it into the public for playtests. The worst part is having a game poorly reviewed. Thankfully I've had a good track record so far - 13 of the 14 games I've worked on were very highly rated - but the one that slipped through the net really burned deep. It was ripped apart by players and reviewers, after putting your heart and soul into a game for 3 years it's not a nice feeling.
8/ Nymn the protagonist of Tanglewood is a fox right? How did you manifest the ideas surrounding Nymn; including the background of the character?
Well, he's fox-like, we call him a Djunn. The characters were designed as otherworldly, but fox and meerkat were the two main inspirations for Nymn. I wanted something that looked terrified, but was nimble and quick to escape danger. We experimented with many facial expressions and head shapes to get that scared and cautious look. The lore of the world involves another extinct race, that used to hunt down the Djunn for food whilst riding some of the monsters in game, but since they all passed away Nymn and his kind were able to live in relative peace - as long as they disappeared underground at night.
9/ What other games have you developed?
A whole host of LEGO games - everything from LEGO Indiana Jones II up to LEGO The Hobbit. They were super fun to work on, so many different licenses from Harry Potter to Marvel, Pirates of the Caribbean to Lord of the Rings, and all with that childhood charm. After that, I worked on Homefront: The Revolution, as well as its in-game TimeSplitters 2 arcade easter egg. Recently, I also lent a hand with Songbringer.
10/ How many developers are working on Tanglewood? Is Big Evil Corporation a one man team or a few skilled game developers?
It's been mostly a one-man team, but last year I contracted a few artists, a composer, and some QA as needed, all working remotely. They've all been exceptional, and I really hope to bring them together as a team for future projects.
11/ What is your desert island video game?
It would need to be something very long, with a lot of collectibles. Possibly The Last of Us, I don't think I could ever get bored of that. If the island had an Internet connection, then Overwatch! I know you're looking for 16-bit answers, but the games were short, and I'd slowly go insane!
12/ If you could change one thing about the Sega Mega Drive what would that thing be?
I would absolutely add one more bit to the colour format, that 9-bit colour palette is the Mega Drive's Achilles heal. The palette is just rich enough to create some amazing looking games, but it's really not easy to achieve.
13/ Tell the readers where they can find more information about pre-orders and about you
We have a website at www.tanglewoodgame.com where you can sign up to receive pre-order info, and watch a few gameplay videos. As for myself, I'm @big_evil_corp on Twitter, and I'm always available for a chat!
Thanks to Matt for the answers. I'll be buying a copy of Tanglewood on release. I hope you guys can enjoy it too.
Blog post by Gemma @ Juicy Game Reviews / TheGebs24
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