Crowdfunding Friday: a videogame special
In a videogame crowdfunding special, we highlight a River City Ransom sequel, a Hotline Miami film adaptation, and lots more...
It's always exciting to see a creative new project on a crowdfunding site, and it's even more exciting to see it get the attention and cash it deserves. Such is the case with Hyper Light Drifter, a project we were planning to focus on in one of the four main entries in this week's Crowdfunding Friday, only to get such a colossal groundswell of support that we thought it only right to select a less funded project to promote instead.
Nevertheless, Hyper Light Drifter looks so lovely, we had to at least mention it. A 2D action RPG, its gameplay and perspective resembles SNES era Zelda, but its psychedelic dreamscapes and exotic monsters give it a look and feel all of its own - if anything, it reminds us of Another World or Flashback, with its hazy shading hinting at a huge world expanding beyond the confines of the screen.
In honour of Hyper Light Drifter, and Keiji Inafune's Mighty No 9 - two gaming projects that have done tremendously well recently - we've gone for a bit of a videogame theme this week, with the four campaigns below all linked in some way (one rather tenuously) to the interactive medium. Enjoy.
River City Ransom: Underground
Back in the heavy mists of time, a Japanese company called Technos created a beat-em-up called Nekketsu Kunio Kun, which appeared in the west (in substantially altered form) as Renegade. The Kunio-Kun series was popular in Japan through the late 80s and 90s, resulting in a string of sequels and sports-related spin-offs.
In America, the 1989 sequel Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari was released as River City Ransom, where it became a cult hit. Technos sadly closed down in 1996, but the legend of the Kunio-Kun and River City Ransom games has never quite gone away, as this exciting Kickstarter project proves.
Canadian studio Conatus Creative plan to revive the series with an officially licensed follow-up, which will revive the 90s-era graphics and sound, along with artwork that follows the lead of Technos' charming retro designs - a uniquely cartoony style that somehow makes the extraordinary violence of the side-scrolling brawling look cute.
The team clearly has a knowledge and enthusiasm for the earlier games, and who knows? If River City Ransom: Underground is successful, maybe we'll see a full-scale revival of the series. Technos were working on a potentially brilliant Kunio-Kun Polo game before it went belly up. Maybe that game will finally emerge from the ether.
With The IT Crowd and The Inbetweeners counted among its inspirations, Games could be the first sitcom set in a videogame store. The actors, camera crew and script are all in place for the shooting of the pilot, and the location's even been arranged - as long as the landlord doesn't rent the building out first, reads the project's tongue-in-cheek Kickstarter page. More details are admittedly a bit thin on the ground, but the pitch above gives an idea of the retro, lo-fi tone, and with creator Ronnie Mitchell only asking for £7,000 to get his sitcom going, it's well worth a look.
Hotline Miami: A Short Film
Game-to-movie adaptations seldom provide spectacular results, but here's a project that has more than a fighting chance of bucking the trend. You may have played Dennaton's frighteningly violent top-down indie shooter Hotline Miami, which was a critical hit late last year. If so, you'll probably recall - perhaps fondly, but maybe also with a shudder - its brutal pace, seedy 80s atmosphere and pounding music.
Writer and director Saman Kesh plans to make a short film based on Hotline Miami, which he describes as "If Memento met Pulp Fiction". The original game was evidently inspired by movies like Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive, itself inspired by the work of Walter Hill and Michael Mann, so making a game inspired by a movie inspired by movies might seem like a pointless cultural echo chamber. But one look at the pitch video above shows how much of a handle Kesh already has over the film's uneasy, gaudy look and feel, and the game's original story was hallucinatory and gripping enough to make ideal fodder for an adaptation.
And if you're looking for more examples of his work, make yourself a nice cup of tea and watch the eight-minute short film, The Controller, which we've helpfully added below. It really is an outstanding piece of work, and Kesh could well be another great feature director in the making.
Okay, so this isn't about videogames, strictly speaking, but The Transformers have had quite a few games based on them, haven't they? Just look at 1986's Mystery Of Convoy - what a game that was. Well, the box was nice anyway.
Philip Reed's Transforming Expectations project really is a niche within a niche, since it's about transforming robots created by third-party companies. These aren't cheap, nasty bootleg versions of Grimlock or Optimus Prime, which you can still find on racks in British seaside towns on occasion. No, these are quality homages to the official Transformers, whose designs and construction materials often rival Hasbro's output. In some cases, these manufacturers made toys out of the comic and cartoon characters Hasbro never bothered to tackle themselves, which makes them a rare and sought-after commodity for the most enthusiastic of collectors.
Transforming Expectations is actually a follow-up book to Transforming Collections, which was successfully Kickstarted last year. That slim volume was handsomely photographed and designed, and Transforming Expectations will provide even more of the same, with the two books providing a comprehensive reference to some fantastically geeky toys. And if you missed that earlier book - as we did, we must admit - there's good news: pledging $60 will net you hardback copies of both hardback books, which sounds like a real bargain to us. If you're after more unofficial Transformers toy goodness, take a look at Philip Reed's website.
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