A while back I made a post about the NES game, Sword Master. I am working on a custom engine that attempts to clone the basic gameplay ideas while adding a few nuances. I’ve been reading about the Metroidvania genre of game and consider my work to loosely fall within this category. For prototyping purposes, I am using the art from Sword Master as a placeholder. I wish I could make pixel art so sexy but I rarely practice pixel art so it will be a while before I can come anywhere close! If you know anyone who would be interesting in making some dark fantasy pixel art let me know!
I’m hunting for a 2D dark fantasy world with themes of blood-magic, mechanics like a Metroidvania game, and a challenge similar to Dark Souls. I gravitated towards Sword Master for the NES because this game is quite similar to what I think I’m looking for but with a few key components. Sword Master doesn’t have an “open world” feel to it for starters. Also, the enemy AI is very “in your face” which can cause frustration when the game is quite challenging to start with. For enemy AI I’ll take a lesson form Dark Souls. In Dark Souls, particularly for a few boss examples (S&O, Ruin sentinels, etc.), fighting a single enemy isn’t that bad because the moves are well orchestrated, meaning you can tell when the enemy will attack, but often the timing is slightly delayed. This is less frustrating because if you get hit by an attack you obviously saw a mile away you can’t really blame the game for cheating you. When faced with only one enemy, a player can learn the enemy timings and progress through the game with little trouble. However, if you add another enemy with the same timing (Ruin sentinels) or perhaps even different timings (S&O) the battles become very challenging because the timings become interconnected. The game can get away with this because the attacks are presented well before hand by enemy animations. So when you integrate timed enemy attacks over multiple enemies you end up with less time to make decisions than is apparent.
When restricted to two dimensions it is a bit harder to reproduce this because their are only four directions to throw enemies at the player (from the left/right, or from above/below). Perhaps with different projectile types one could make better use of attacking the player from an angle. Granted, to start simple four directions are plenty to deal with! I’ll keep playing with ideas and let you know what comes to mind next. What I really need to do is develop an awesome C-type for holding animation data.