Guest columnist Vourbot is back and better than ever with a write up on Retrotainment Games...
As far as “perception of video games as Fine Art” goes, the one thing I usually find missing from the dialogue is any discussion of the medium. There are very few mediums (and none for general public consumption, as you’d know from my coverage of Tall Studios and JPO in SLC). As I walked the aisles of PAX this weekend, I had one insight– that there are pretty much only two ways to make a game, either with the Gamemaker or the Unity programs. And those two mediums are very clearly reflected in the two kinds of games I seemed to see– either Gamemaker made ones, or Unity made ones. And, as I’ve been pioneering my work on my own game (JPO in SLC) using the Tall Studios Shoot’em Up Kit, the one thing I was shocked by was the fact that my game looked so different from everyone else’s– since I’d used a different engine. So put that into you discussion about video game art.
Here is one video game company that works in an unusual medium.
Retrotainment Games is a small team of artists, game developers, programmers, and musicians from Pittsburgh that specialize in making games for the original NES. Last year I met them and was blown away by the idea that they wanted to use that medium for their games. They program the games in the ancient language, produce them on traditional circuit boards and throw them into plastic cartridges, complete with black dust sleeve and cardboards box.
Last year I bought their first cartridge “Haunted Halloween ’85". The game and production are just top notch. You play as a youth in side-scrolling-beat-em-up-platformer action, as you fight zombies and monsters through your school, mall, forest and other locations. Some of the games innovations are the delicate inertia system (like mario but with punching), the dark color palette (the dive-bombing crows from the black sky are often just red eyes), excellent background design, tough action– just a very cohesive and moody masterpiece.
This year, I bought their second cartridge. It is a sequel, “Haunted Halloween ’86 ‘The Curse of Possum Hollow”, and it is bigger and better in every way. The demo had small slices of multiple levels, and they were just… fancier in every way. In the interview, they said they used up every bit. -And I haven’t played the cartridge yet, it’s still in my unpacked PAX bag. So review forthcoming
PAX WEST 2017 Exclusive Interview 'Haunted Halloween '86: The Curse Of Possum Hollow':