It’s fair to see that we’re relative newcomers to the NES, none of us really owned the console when we were younger. Going through the old titles has been nothing short of a joy. The Necrocosmos indie project, we think, would have been massive (pun intended) on the console. A mix of planet exploration, platform japes, and shoot em up space sections, it’s one of the most ambitious titles we’ve seen this year and deserves to be backed on Kickstarter – so do it, do it now. I caught up with Andromeda Project to find out more about them and the game.
Your indie project Necrocosmos is a very exciting retro indie project and seems extremely ambitious! Can you tell us a bit about the game and the story behind the game’s title?
As a Necrocosmos player you control and play as Max Weaver, a bounty-hunter who was sent to find a group of missing scientists in Andromeda Galaxy. In theory it was going to be an easy mission but soon Max will be involved in a true nightmare and a lot of big mysteries.
At the beginning the game was called Andromeda, but due to legal copyright reasons we had to change the name to Necrocosmos. Funny enough, everyone thinks that EA tried to sue us because of their title Mass Effect Andromeda… but the truth is that it was a glasses-manufacturing company name Andromeda (ha ha! – Ed).
We feel the game would have had an almost Zelda-esque impact had the humble NES cart been able to support a huge game like this back in the 80s/90s. Barring Metroid and Castlevania, what retro games inspired you when making the title and how difficult is it to make a game that has a current gen framework completely in a retro style? What were the biggest challenges you faced?
When I was designing the game what I thought about was “What would I have loved to discover and play when I was a kid?” What game my past self would have loved to see in my game shelf.
Mainly the game is inspired by “Metroid” and “The Guardian Legend “games, but it has many more touches and inspiration from other games like Megaman or even Mario Bros for many of the planned boss fights or level designs.
To make a retro-looking game is actually difficult. There is a great amount of people that underestimate the work and effort needed to do it. They think it’s easy to make an old-looking game compared to making a “new-gen” game, but they are terribly mistaken. It is not only hard to limit the colour palette but also difficult to make it look like an old game and at the same time limit the camera field of view without taking away the beauty of the landscape and massive enemies.
Spain has recently seen many exciting retro-inspired indie projects and actually tops our list of indie devs interviewed in the last few years – does this surprise you? What do you think makes the Spanish dev scene so special?
It doesn’t really surprise me that so many retro games are being developed in Spain. I consider the Spanish gaming community to be nostalgic. There are plenty of groups and communities for retro games and events of that type. Retro video games are very alive in Spain, even when looking at sales you can see other genres (such as Football games) on the very top.
How many of you are there in your dev team and who does what?
At the moment we have several members that are helping us because they love getting involved in the game development industry and they are amazing and helpful people that are helping even knowing they aren’t getting anything in return for the time being.
If I had to name the current official members of the team (at the moment) it would be the following four:
Hebi Lee, the boss. He started developing Necrocosmos on his own and the rest joined slowly to help as the interest for the game grew on us.
Mimi, graphic designer. She is in charge of the all the part and pixel art for the enemies in the game.
Antonio, the physicist. He is not only a professional programmer but also an awesome pixel artist. Most of the game backgrounds and tile-sets were drawn by him.
And Ana, she lends a hand with marketing and game concept art for the game.
***Readers, please check out the Kickstarter ***
You make a point that the planets are not procedurally generated. Were you fans of No Man’s Sky or did you think it was awful like us?
We’d rather not give our opinion about No Man’s Sky (think that says it all – Ed). Although we defend the idea of procedurally generated maps we think they take away the mystery and charm of a map designed by a person with attention to all the details and corners of a map. Big games like Metroid, Dark Souls or Resident Evil are famous and popular because they do not have procedurally generated maps and have been designed to be fun to explore and amaze the players.
One of my pet peeves is the number of buttons and button combinations needed with current gen games. Retro games, for us, need to be easy to pick up. Given the complexity of the game (DNA-Gun, Space Travel etc…), do you think retro gamers like us will be able to pick the game up again easily after a month of not playing? How will the game achieve that?
Necrocosmos was designed to be played with a NES controller so it won’t matter where or when you find playing the game: the controls are simple. We are trying to design a set of controls that are intuitive and easy to pick up. But having simple controls does not stop the game from being complex!
One of the suggestions we received is that the charged shot is hard to pull off so we are looking into it to make it better and easier.
Many games have attempted breaking up platform levels with driving or shoot em up levels. It’s clear what sets the platform element apart but what do you hope to achieve with the shoot em up levels? What makes them unique?
We didn’t add the shooting after making the levels. We designed the game from the beginning to have both types of levels mixed together since those two are key components of the game. Maybe it’s not so clear in the demo, since a demo can show only so much, but it will be more clear in the finished game.
We think all of it should fit together: using the DNA-gun, combining the different types of shots to clear areas, resolve puzzles and destroy blocks, rocks and parts of the map.
The two big points for the game would be the DNA-Gun and the Jetpack.
The DNA-Gun has dozens of possible combinations for your shots to achieve many effects for combat or puzzle solving. The Jetpack will have completely different uses depending on your armour, upgrades and planets. Some planets’ gravity will barely let you lift from the ground while others will shoot you flying up into space if you are not careful. Then you might also find problems with the weather or find yourself submerged underwater! (sounds very exciting! – Ed)
This all makes for many combinations for the levels, countless amazing ways of interacting with platforms.
As for the “Shoot Em Up” side of the game, we want it to be dynamic and adjusted to which part of the galaxy you are currently. You might be running down a level shooting things when suddenly another bounty-hunter shows up and puts you in a tight spot…or you might find a boss that you weren’t expecting and the action and pace of the game suddenly rises. Maybe some of the shoot em up phases are the key to open completely new parts of the galaxy!
What platforms do you hope to release the game (we’ve already backed it on Kickstarter)?
Thank you for backing and helping the game!
At release our planned platforms are Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PC, Linux and MAC but we don’t discard other possibilities at a later date.
What was your favourite console growing up and games to play on it?
I think that most of us were captured by the Game Boy. Many of us still remember the afternoons we spent playing the many Pokemon classics on the Game Boy and Game Boy Color.
If you could go for a drink (alcoholic or non-alcoholic!) with any video game character, who would you choose and why?
I would definitely choose Dante from Devil May Cry, but Mimibits from our team would surely make a scene about going out with any Golden Sun character!
Nice! Thanks for a great interview guys – the game sounds amazing. Readers, please check out the Kickstarter – this needs to happen!