All you need is *Retro* love...
A mash up is not just a really good idea for an episode of Glee to help improve ratings it is in fact a superb idea when you have a website like RGG with the calibur of team members we have all over the globe.
You see the indie scene much like any aspect of both life and the gaming culture is made up of different ideas, concepts and a multitude of languages. Sometimes something as simple as an interview and a feature needs to be done as a team drawing on the specific talents each of the members brings to the table. This is how we at RetroGameGeeks roll. Portal Style!
Quality indie gaming comes at the low low price of... FREE!
It's time to reach out to another indie developer rooted in the same origins as almost every retro gamer and lover out there, a person raised on the classics in the same way we all were at RGG. Thankfully it didn't take long to find a perfect example of one such indie dev. A combination of highly talented, well loved and respected in the community who just so happens to take all those past gaming memories he has and along with a few others keeps the flames of passion burning brightly. It's time to sit down with Locomalito Games.
This time round though before we even got to the part of finding out how the man himself thinks two RGG team members both madly in love with the games this developer produces joined forces to make sure we could get the job done.
So let Miracleman and Olly023 take you on a journey into a world where games like Lifeforce Salamander, Wolfenstein, Ghouls & Ghosts and Choplifter still keep coming out, this is how Retro lip service is meant to be done. The same look and feel as the ones that made us who we are today... With a huge twist!
All aboard!!! destination... Awesome!
RGG: So, who're the folk behind Locomalito? Introduce yourself to the RGG readers!
LOCO: Locomalito is actually my own nickname, though I usually work with two other persons, Gryzor87, who deals with every sound in my games and Mark Barej, who is the one behind the drawings on my game covers and extras. We are a kind of group that gathers all the skills we have in order to do what we like, each in their own area, as free as possible, without any pressures or influences. It can be said that we make games as a hobby, for personal reasons.
RGG: Give us wannabe historians a little history lesson. When did you first start developing your own games and what's your proverbial pedigree?
LOCO: Well, I’ve been trying to make games since I was a little kid, first doing paper sketches and later adding some pixel art (with my first Amiga computer, when I was 8) doing some graphics for games that were never released, until 2006 when I discovered that tools to made homemade games were flourishing and I then started to experiment and learn how to make levels.
I always loved the classic type of game, aimed at scores, where the player must face the machine, overcoming level after level and discovering new areas as he gets better in the game. That’s the kind of game I like to do, and the one I defend as an alternative to those long games of the present.
RGG: Fancy giving a brief run down of your philosophy (as more gloriously detailed on your site)?
LOCO: Not at all. Basically I stand by three points:
Firstly, that pixel art and chip sound are part of a legitimate audiovisual language that belongs to videogames and might be exported to other arts, like any other art form, similar to what may occur with oil paintings or orchestral music.
Secondly, I stand by the arcade gameplay, aimed at very short plays (less than an hour long) that can be completed in one sit (without saving the progress for another day), and where all the content is condensed in time (the game offers new things every few seconds, there are no dull moments). This type of gameplay is very current nowadays for people who just can’t spend many hours playing a game, due to lack of time or simply because they don’t like to do that.
Lastly, I believe that the game developer should fill the game with personal content. I’m of the opinion that a game is not only a product created to fulfil the customer needs (in this case the player’s), but a mean by which the developer can shape his ideas, stories, etc.
RGG: From the homebrew of the Spectrum to the demo scene of the Amiga, the old school 'bedroom coder' idealism runs rampant across your work with the Freeware method of release(s). Do you have any heroes of those classic days you hold dear?
LOCO: I normally take developers such as Pac Fujishima (creator of Golvellius, among others) or Manfred Trenz (creator of Turrican, among others) as role models. Those guys created their games almost by themselves and I’ve always been attracted to that, since a game created by just one person or by a small group of people normally has more personality deep down than a game created by a huge group of developers.
RGG: What was your introduction to home video games? Console or computer? What machine popped your gaming cherry and what's your memories of it?
LOCO: My first contact with a home system was the Spectrum ZX my neighbours had. My first own system was a Master System, that was with me for a long time, even during the 16 bit era. I remember that during the weekends we used to connect it to my parent’s TV, which was bigger, and we used to say that it looked like a MegaDrive, because the sprites looked gigantic (LOL!).
RGG: According to your experience, what does a person need nowadays to take a leap of faith and start developing indie games?
LOCO: Patience and the will to do things. Making a game is technically within anybody’s reach, but one thing is for sure, it requires dedication and determination.
Ghouls & Ghosts... and Dragons!
RGG: Maldita Castilla is undoubtedly one of your more beloved titles in the Locomalito catalogue and is something that I would personally argue surpasses its somewhat broken inspiration (Ghouls N Ghosts), what was it like developing Castilla and was it important for you to push the influences of The Amadis of Gaul?
LOCO: Maldita Castilla came up out of a sudden idea during a trip. While looking at the landscape in Segovia, Gryzor87 and I were joking about what a game would be like with Castellan’s landscapes, and of course, Ghouls'n'Ghosts, came to our minds, which actually does have a stage with mills just as those in Castilla la Mancha.
When we came back home, I did some quick tests (simulated screenshots) to see how a game like that could be, and we decided to go on and create a full game. The developing was quite rushed, since it had to coexist with a health issue (an RSI in my hands that it is still with me…) but I took it easy, resting for a while, and doing only one thing a day.
While developing the game, I read the Amadís of Gaul, a medieval book by an unknown author that is mentioned in Don Quixote as the best cavalry book of all time (one of the books that drove Don Quixote mad). The book is a marvel; you can read it as fast as child story because it focuses on the action and the facts, without minding the details or the characters too much. That in a way, is what I wanted to do with the game, to focus everything on the action while leaving the storytelling bit in what happens in the controls.
Finally, with a lot of patience, Maldita Castilla came to be a full game, and later we decided to spend some more time on it and create the manual, an extra piece for the trailer, and some other goodies.
RGG: You've even created your very own saga with the Verminest series. Was it intended from the outset to do this? Also, we love the trailer presentation of a classic Sci-Fi film with They Came From Verminest!
LOCO: I’ve always found space bugs a thrilling topic (LOL!).
Even though the name comes from one of the planets in Hydorah, the Verminest saga started as a single game, a tribute to the first scoring games with simple controls like Galaga (my favorite classic), Centipede or Moon Cresta. The experience was quite funny, we made the trailer just for kicks but also to show how important the game was, though at first sight it could go unnoticed, it hides a handful of different situations, all of them challenge oriented.
Later when I decided to do some other very classic type games, I found it cool to go back to the story of the space bugs and that’s how Verminian Trap came to be. Right now I’m working on some other projects, but there’s an idea in store for Verminian Wars, the game that would complete the trilogy.
RGG: A personal favourite of mine (Olly023) is Gaurodan - a game that, in my opinion; most accurately recreates a true retro gaming feel while being an original work. Also, who doesn't love Kaiju? What was the inspiration and will the world get a sequel!?
LOCO: I got inspired by all the Kaiju films that keep being produced since the ‘50s, I’m a big fan of the genre. Same as what happened with Maldita Castilla, I tried to make a game that had some connections with the reality, so I decided to merge the history of the Canarian Islands by linking the fictional creature (Garoudan) with a Canarian legend about a demon that inhabits the interior of mount Teide (Guayota) There are no plans at the moment for a Gaurodan sequel.
RGG: You have stated that remakes aren't typically your 'thing', but EFMB busts that mould. Sort of linking back to the question on homebrew heroes, etc. - what was it that attracted you to Dave Hughes' Speccy original?
LOCO: It is absurd and fun at the same time! The game assumes that the player knows the common rules of videogames and breaks them all one by one, making you die a thousand times in the most absurd ways. It is quite a consideration exercise of the inherited habits and how hard it is for us to break them.
RGG: Now that we have mentioned remakes, which game do you believe deserves one and why?
LOCO: Well, I myself am working on a game which is a mixture between Getstar and Flash Gal, two auto scroll fighting games. It is a rare genre which I call run'n'punch, that has a lot of potential and that has no great tiles among its lines (the games I mention here are very modest indeed).
Bringing the magic... With added extras!
RGG: Many of the Locomalito titles are ported across multiple platforms. What is your modern platform of choice and how important is it for you to get your work on the likes of the Ouya?
LOCO: Well, my base platform is the PC, since it is the one that gave me the chance for the first time, to make my own games, and besides it is a system very opened to small developments, etc.
On the other hand, Ouya is the first commercial console that is at the same time very friendly towards freeware. Due to its small magnitude, it looks like the ideal place for the most underground indie games, which are precisely where I think the most crazy and innovative ideas can be found.
RGG: There is a clear understanding for the retro collecting crowd who enjoy a physical copy of a game, as outside of the store the Locomalito website allows fans to download posters, covers, manuals, etc. Was this always the plan?
LOCO: I always believed that the game is not just an executable software, but a series of elements that build a whole experience. Manuals, cover illustrations and other extras, make the game alive beyond the screen, and add details that cannot be included within the software.
Besides, in my games, these important pieces provide an understanding of my games, and despite the fact that they are freeware, add some production value to them. It is, in a way, to show that the games are freeware out of conviction rather than for lack of resources.
RGG: What differences do you see between old school and modern gamers?
LOCO: Well, the first games were pretty much oriented to a public that nowadays it is nothing but a niche in the market. Old gamers were into games looking for fan and improvement, with the illusion of “beating the machine”, overcoming all the challenges that developers had set to finish them off. In those games the important thing was not beating the game, but improving your performance from your previous playthrough, or doing better than other players. Many games didn’t even have an ending.
Old gamers complain that current gen titles are really slow and the action is too deluded within the storytelling, while modern gamers find classic games too hard or skill oriented.
RGG: What are the best and worse things about being an independent developer?
LOCO: The worse is the lack of time, since I earn my living doing other things I can only develop a little bit per night, and sometimes whole weeks go by without any progress. Also the lack of money when it is needed to invest in additional materials (such as actors to do the voices or a real image trailer).
The best thing without a doubt is the freedom you have to work and decide, without anybody imposing their criteria over yours. Besides, in my case, since I don’t do this for a living, I don’t have to meet deadlines, comply with market tendencies, etc. I can focus on what I am working on, doing what I like, when I like it.
RGG: You're locked in a bunker with a choice of five arcade cabinets of your choice for an unannounced amount of time...What are they and why?
LOCO: It’s hard to choose among so many games, let’s see…
Tetris, to organize my mind as the days go by in the bunker. Ghost'n'Goblins, because it’s fun and I haven’t beaten it yet (hey, but I`m really close!) One of the Gradius saga, because each playthrough is different and there is a lot of variety between levels. Sengoku or King of Dragons for the action bit. Last but not least Shinobi, because it responds extremely well to the controls and it is a pleasure to play it.
RGG: If you were on the Board of Directors of a big video game Company, such as Nintendo, what would your orders be?
LOCO: I don’t think they would let me in. I guess I would try to gather a small team capable of creating a whole new series of classic NES style games gameplay wise.
RGG: What can we all expect to see in the future from Locomalito? More games? More platforms? World domination on the back of a winged kaiju?
LOCO: Right now I’m developing many games, but I’m mainly working on one, Star Guardian, which is an amalgam between a shoot'em'up and a beat'em'up short in duration and high in intensity.
RGG: Lastly how can the readers here at RetroGameGeeks help support Locomalito? Also, on the flipside - how can websites like RGG go further in helping to promote developers such as yourself?
LOCO: You can help by simply keep talking about my games and about others done by small developers such as me, that don’t have any other way of promoting their work except comments and posts that players may want to write.
RetroGameGeeks Final Thoughts...
Well I think we can all agree that it's not hard to see why so many people think that this guy, his fellow indie dev friends and the games that they produce are just first class.
Let's the get the obvious out of the way by stating that for a man who is ultra busy with multiple projects, developer meet ups and of course an actual real life he could not have been more open to chatting with us about all manner of cool stuff. That speaks volumes to us at RGG because we don't always get a friendly warm response, sometimes we actually never get a reply, that's disappointing from a community that prides itself on being open and welcoming. So well done Locomalito, for being awesome!
Now let's get down to the really important things regarding the games themselves which are utterly fantastic from first to last. A quick glance around this feature/interview will show you all manner of glorious retro themed and inspired work and all of it jumps from the screen. Playing them takes said experience and raises the bar even higher with smooth engines, tight controls and some killer tunes.
Shooters like Hydorah are a perfect throwback to the 16-Bit era and if you have ever spent time with both the Amiga and Japanese shooters especially you are in for a real treat. This is a game that could easily sit on a Sega Megadrive collectors shelf and look like it didn't just belong but that it was one of your go to games for the genre. It also reminded us why so many of us fell in love with Gradius so many years ago.
8-Bit Killer, an obvious nod to the classics of Wolfenstein and Doom has such a great colour pallette to it making the background and foreground feel like you are playing a pop up book, it's hard to describe so get this tried for yourselves to see what we mean. Anyone even remotely loving games such as Choplifter need to get Gaurodan played asap, if you love over the top Godzilla inspired monsters this could possibly be the best thing you have done all year.
The stand out star however and bare in mind that every game is just flat out brilliant is the title Locomalito Games are rightly most praised and known for. The game the creator himself likens to the Capcom great of Ghouls & Ghosts, Maldita Castilla is a work of real passions, skill and above all else class. It controls like a dream, has a wide range of enemies and boss fights and unlike it's inspiration will not make you want to throw a pad at a wall. This is how you make an indie game and how you do it perfectly!
So what makes this developer so special, well aside from all the obvious points mentioned above and through the interview itself for RGG it's all of the little touches that make this set of games and this indie dev worthy of such praise. From making all their games free to even providing you high resolution scans to create boxes and CD labels, even manuals these guys have thought of everything.
For us that's what retro was and still remains to this day, limited hardware even limited looking games with the unique and genius small touches to make them stand the test of time and sparkle, good news is that people like Locomalito Games still keep this standard going. See for yourself!
- Miracleman & Olly023