April 3, 2012 2:00 PM | John Polson
Arvi Teikari (Hempuli) has teased his blog followers with a metroidvania going by the code name of Environmental Station Alpha for the past few months. While there is no public demo yet, he was kind enough to let me tinker with an early build of the game. As a fan of metroidvanias, I couldn't be happier; it's got the genre down to a science.
Hempuli doesn't hide the fact, either. "The game is basically sort of a 'dream' project of mine; a traditional metroidvania is something I (and probably many other devs) have been longing to do for the longest time. As the pictures show, it's very, very traditional to the point of bordering a Metroid ripoff, so I don't really want to claim that the game'd be very innovative or otherwise interesting. To me the most important thing is that the game's a lot of fun to work on, and I get to do certain parts of game design that I enjoy (mainly boss fights)."
I found the first boss, and it felt like an introductory boss, spraying me only lightly with shots (animated images of bosses after the jump!!). This boss could change, but the basic metroidvania ingredients won't probably go anywhere: a world map that fills in as you explore, different areas of the map which become accessible after obtaining certain statuses, rooms of different sizes to explore that are littered with enemies, false walls and platforms, lots of challenging jumping sequences... you get the drift.
While Hempuli can't set a proper release date, he feels about 40-45% of the game content is finished from when he started this January, so that might give some kind of idea about when it might be released. As for what platforms, Hempuli shares, "The game is made in Multimedia Fusion 2, and due to the heavy use of very specific extensions the game unfortunately can only be played on Windows; there's slight hope that a mac/linux support might be viable later on, but that depends on Clickteam."
I am particularly fond of the aesthetic, but Hempuli says the visuals may change. "Since I have a track record of losing interest in games relatively quickly, I settled on a very low-res approach in order to be able to get done with the graphics quickly. The game also uses a 32-colour limited palette. I personally kind of like the looks of the game, but also admit that the visual look is mostly based on my desire to get done with it as fast as possible."
With even the main character looking a bit like a low-res Samus Aran from Metroid, I wondered if this game was more of an homage to the series. "While the game probably won't have much of its own stuff going, I wouldn't call it a 'homage' per se; it's more about me making a game that'd have all those metroidvania designs I've wanted to make for quite some time (although this description might fit the 'homage' title, heh)."
He's a little worried how indie fans will receive such a game. "I'm quite torn about the fact that the game isn't innovative and admittedly has nearly no originality in it, but while I consider that a bad thing I thought it'd be better to make an unoriginal game with a setting I enjoy working with instead of trying to come up with an original one and not getting anything done."