In modern times the pixel has found itself to be something of a jagged ambassador to computer-game culture as a whole. Where sprites once bounced along the forefront of graphics technology, they’re now a fond memory of a simpler time. The pixel’s value to gaming is far greater than just nostalgia and aesthetics however; the principles and mechanics championed in yesterday’s ‘Golden Era’ are of seemingly increasing relevance today.
Mystic Searches is a celebration of yesterday’s gaming, but also of one of it’s most recognised domains; the Nintendo Entertainment System. It’s a brand new ‘grey cartridge’ game which is being developed not only for compatibility with the yellowed’ NES in your attic, but via USB port, your home computer or laptop too.
The game’s realisation is particularly personal to the project lead and documentarian Joe Granato who, as a child, actually plotted out the original basic designs in thick crayon and scribble. The rebirth of Mystic Searches will incorporate these blueprints, but also expand upon them in collaboration with new talent. Joe’s new team will consist of a fantasy novelist, an accomplished illustrator, a graphic designer at IGN, and amongst others, a film score composer.
The unique production process behind ‘Mystic Searches’ will be also chronicled through a concurrently developed documentary, The New 8-bit Heroes. As well as exploring the genesis of the game, this film will also feature a number of industry professional’s who will offer insight and advice to members of the design team in their quest. Such oracles include, Yacht Club Games, producers of Shovel Knight, Sivak (creator of BattleKid), Brian Provinciano (creator of Retro City Rampage), and also veteran’s who were involved in original NES game development such as Marc Erickson, who created the unforgettable box art for popular titles such as Megaman2, Strider, and Tetris.
Mystic Searches itself is in part inspired by both classic games such as The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy, but also more contemporary titles like 2012’s stunning Journey. One aspect of the game that reflects this duality is it’s highly unique ‘double platform’ system. Both the 8-bit and contemporary iterations of the game have the ability to exchange and unlock items between each other, giving gamers a reason to get immersed in both.
Mystic Searches and The New 8-bit Heroes are both slated for an October 18th, 2015 release, coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the NES’s release in America, and the project is currently live on Kickstarter with a range of backer rewards tincluding; physical copies of the documentary and the game; signed, hand drawn concept art; beta testing opportunities; personalised prose literature where the backer features as the hero of the story; production credits in the film and game; and instruction manuals on how backers can create their own hardware-playable game for the Nintendo Entertainment System using modern tools.
Words> Samuel Cochrane