With the love for retro games seemingly growing, often blurring the lines between fad and fandom, a Kickstarter campaign has begun to release a brand new game on a physical cartridge for the Mega Drive.
Tanglewood follows the story of Nymn, a fox like creature called a Djunn, a family oriented species who live and survive underground, only surfacing during the day due to the unsavoury beasts that lurk in the dark during the night. Unfortunately for Nymn, he has been separated from his family and with night upon him it is down to you to employ evasive tactics and skill to survive until the morning.
At it’s simplest, Tanglewood according to the campaign page is:
“a platforming game with puzzle elements, and can be described as a mix of the Mega Drive titles Another World and The Lion King.”
Without even reading that, you can see from the trailer video that this is very much a homage to the likes of ‘The Lion King’ but with elements of puzzle mechanics akin to ‘Limbo’ and ‘Ori and the Blind Forest’. You can also gain abilities in the game by helping out another Tanglewood species called Fuzzls. As long as a Fuzzl is awake then Nymn can roll them back to their nests. The Fuzzls will then provide you with a reward for your efforts and you get to take on their colour and use the ability that comes with it, be that gliding or cloaking/stopping time.
Visually, it has all the hallmarks of the classic Mega Drive titles of the 90s and this will be in no small part down to the production process the developers have in place. Matt Phillips is the game developer responsible for this project and reading the campaign info you can tell his passion for the Mega Drive is real:
“It’s important to us that Tanglewood is as authentic a Mega Drive game as possible. We’re aiming to ensure that its journey closely matches that of original SEGA games, from the design methods, to the development hardware, all the way through to the materials and processes used to manufacture the cartridge, box and manual.”
With that in mind the game is being created using original SEGA development tools, software and processes, and programmed in raw 68000 assembly language.
Even the music is utilising the original Mega Drive hardware with Nathan Stanley (aka ‘freezedream’) responsible for providing the soundtrack and sound effects for the game.
In this era of DLC and downloadable games there’s a certain charm to seeing a game released on a cartridge. Some may feel it’s a bit of a gimmick and in some cases where games programmed on PC and then released on SNES Cartridges for example, this is true. The fact this game is really going back to the roots of hardware however is to be commended, though with a price tag of £50 for the cartridge alone and £60 for the boxed version, it may put off even some of the most hardened collectors.
For those interested in the game though, fear not, because it will also be released on Steam for Windows, Mac and Linux for £15. Whilst I think the price is a little prohibitive, I think the game itself offers enough charm to warrant being backed, more so if the full game can be put on a flash cart (e.g. Everdrive) like the prototype can then it can still offer the retro experience without the larger price tag.
At the time of writing the campaign has 21 days to go and is around £26,000 short of it’s £48,000 target so it will be interesting to see whether the retro appeal will work it’s magic.
If successful, the game is aiming to be released in Winter 2017. For more info or to back the campaign visit the Kickstarter page.
For more information on freezdream’s music go to his Bandcamp page.