We’re a sucker for retro-inspired indiedev. We’re even more suckers for retro-dungeon-random-maze-inspired indiedev (is that its own subcategory now???) so when I came upon the excellent Dungeon of Gravestone I had to share it with all you good people. Pixel art, tick. Involving gameplay, tick. I’ll let Wonderland Kazkiri supremo Honda Kiyoshi explain the rest!
Dungeon puzzlers are a favourite with retro gamers – can you tell us a bit about the game and what inspired it?
First ideas were born in elementary school, where I would make small books full of dungeons, hidden treasures, keys and monsters. One would move with their fingers across maze. I wanted to turn those ideas and those fun images into computer games.
Creating Dungeon of Gravestone I wanted to incorporate those childhood dreams and games that influenced me across years.
During the Tokyo Game Show 2016 where we exhibited, the most meaningful moments were where children would gather at our booth with glimmering gazes and I knew that my childhood feelings had gotten across.
What makes the game different compared to other dungeon puzzle games?
Saying that it is a roguelike system is one thing but Dungeon of Gravestone really fixates on the puzzle element. Our first project Block Quest was more of an RPG, so we wanted to enhance our next game with mystery elements like in Zelda. With a new algorithm for automatically generated dungeons and extremely difficult mazes created by our staff, there are details that every player can enjoy. For example the Boss Battles which will make retro gamers smile because it creates a sense of nostalgia. Also, as with old style games, when dying, one loses progress and starts all over again. Rather than making your hero stronger you have to polish your own skills. Weren’t retro games like this? With all the difficult elements one had to re-try over and over again (this is true – Ed). Like in Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, taking turns with your friends and trying many times to move on.
The game is currently available to play on iOS and Google – do you think there’s scope to make a version for PC and Mac and how well would it work?
To tell the truth, the game’s concept was for computers and consoles where the player would use a controller to play.
Why did we make a smartphone version? Right now, mobile games tend to fall into boring patterns. Wouldn’t it be nice to bring back the real gaming experience for your smartphone? (yes please! – Ed) Also it is easier to enter the market (this way) and we wanted to explore all options, to challenge ourselves on different platforms.
How many of you are there at Wonderland Kazakiri and who does what?
There are five people at our company in Tokyo, Akihabara. We are a small web design firm and our main field is creating internet content, primarily official sites for Japanese movies.
Amongst our staff members we have a designer, a system developer, markup engineer, but the game development is mainly done by myself. Others help in their spare time and create level designs or beta test the game.
What was your first console/computer growing up and favourite game to play on it?
My first console was Cassette Vision (we would love to have a go on one of those btw! – Ed). At that time, the only thing you could play was arcade games and for me it was Space Invaders. We would take turns with my dad and aim for the highest score. It was two years before Famicom (NES) hit the market. When that happened, the Cassette Vision era ended and as I wasn’t able to get my own NES so I would spend a lot of time playing games at friends’ houses. My parents did not know the difference between game consoles and they would get annoyed with me because I had one already!
After six years, I was able to get my hands on MSX and would play games written in BASIC, that came with genre magazines and one would use Space Bar to avoid all kinds of obstacles.
Oh, and I liked Snake and Sokoban.
When you think about it, Dungeon of Gravestone is this kind of puzzle game. If one knows the newest programming languages, he can create Sokoban clones all by himself.
I’m a CG designer but was able to create one with 3DS MAX – another application for computer graphics. Playing in the editor, one can even render the movie.
If you could go for a drink with any video game character, who would you choose and why?
That’s a difficult one. When you’re in the game world you somewhat become a kid, so you don’t drink (er, good point Honda – Ed). But if I was to choose one I would give vodka to white dot and watch it turn into red one, as simple as that 😛
To really answer your question it would be Sir Arthur from Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins. I bet he would grumble about the princess not being there or having to clear the game twice. He would be fun to have a drink with!
And that reminds me, I forgot to implement the princess into Dungeon of Gravestone too!
Excellent work Honda! Thanks so much for stopping by, we wish you all the best for the future! Readers, if you want to get some of this action (would I suggest you should), check out the Dungeon of Gravestone official page and also follow the guys on twitter @BlockQuest_wk