The rise of indie developers has provided a lot of throwbacks to the days of 8-bit gaming, and Cyber Shadow is the latest such example. Inspired by ninja-centric NES games like Ninja Gaiden, Cyber Shadow is a 2D action-platformer set to release next week on Nintendo Switch and PC, as well as PlayStation and Xbox platforms. The upcoming game was developed by Aarne Hunziker and will be published by Yacht Club Games, of Shovel Knight fame. ComicBook.com had the opportunity to speak with Hunziker about the upcoming title, its development, and what the future might hold for Cyber Shadow beyond the game itself.
Keep reading to see what Aarne Hunziker has to say about Cyber Shadow!
ComicBook.com: First of all, congratulations on the upcoming release! How does it feel to be at the finish line on Cyber Shadow?
Aarne Hunziker: Thank you! The feeling is surreal. I’ve been making the game for so long it has become ingrained in my daily routine and now I feel like my life has lost purpose [laughs]. So far I’ve taken apart a coffeemaker and the washing machine for minor repairs to occupy my time.
Outside of the music, you’ve handled almost the entirety of Cyber Shadow’s development. What kind of difficulties did that present?
Number one hurdle was allocating the right amount of time for each aspect of the game. Similarly, any one difficulty would halt the progress of the game completely as it was mostly a single-thread process in terms of work force. On the other hand, I found my pipeline was quite smooth and sometimes a new enemy or level gimmick would be implemented in a matter of hours. That was the most rewarding aspect of the whole project.prevnext
Cyber Shadow’s 8-bit graphics evoke some of the best games of the NES era. What is it about that era that inspires you?
The limitations force you to come up with creative solutions to art and gameplay while also offering a canvas where everything is inherently coherent. Most NES games are recognizable as NES games and some have their own style within the same boundaries. The low resolution art leaves a lot for the imagination and has the power to put you into a new world with only a suggestion.
Was it difficult working within the limitations of 8-bit?
One would imagine going 8-bit would simply make the work easier. Instead, there are some aspects that are indeed less work and some that are harder. The aesthetic illusion breaks easily and keeping it all together becomes harder and harder the bigger the game gets. Eliciting a mood you want without having access to certain colors or visual effects can be a struggle, though once you find the solution you feel like you solved a fun puzzle.prevnext
What kind of difficulty level should players expect from Cyber Shadow?
The difficulty should be on par with NES classics like Shadow of the Ninja or Batman but with checkpoints that don’t punish dying. Instead, repeated failed attempts accumulate your currency which can be used at the checkpoint to increase your chances so you can survive with perseverance if your ninja-like concentration wavers.
The rise of indie gaming has given players a lot of 8-bit throwbacks, from Shovel Knight, to Oniken. What is it that you think sets Cyber Shadow apart from the rest?
From the start, I wanted a classic-influenced game with modern gameplay. This meant the game is playable with a controller with only two action buttons while also having a variety of skills and attacks. All skills are available without needing to access a menu to select something. Once the system is mastered, the gameplay looks very different from when you started and the ceiling for player skill is very high. You can zoom through the final levels in a matter of minutes or take it easy and plan your actions.prevnext
Yacht Club Games
What does Yacht Club Games bring to the table, as far as development goes?
Most of all their collective pool of experience. Everyone has so many ideas for improvements I’d like to implement so it becomes hard to choose which give the most bang for the buck. For me, the most important learning experience was the ways a player can be taught things without them noticing by gradual introduction of gameplay elements that are later combined. On top of feedback, they allowed me to focus on the hands-on game development without having to worry about all the other necessary things related to making and releasing a game.prevnext
If there’s one piece of advice that you could give potential indie developers, what would it be?
Start making something and keep making it, but don’t sacrifice your health!
Are there any plans for a physical release for Cyber Shadow?
A physical release would be awesome indeed, but not in the plans at this time. I need to rest.
How important is the game’s story to you? Do you see it as an important piece of the puzzle, or simply a bit of background for the rest of the game?
The game’s story is excessively far-written yet it shares only select tidbits. I’ve found the games that stuck with me were ones that had more to discover beyond what it deliberately pushes. Every location and character has a past and a future that you only see a tiny slice of.prevnext
If you could bring the characters and world of Cyber Shadow into a different medium, what would it be?
One of the earliest pieces of art made for the game was a fake comic book cover. This is definitely something I would want to pursue further. Early '90s comic books had similar limitations in place, like a limited palette that makes me feel at home.prevnext
The Next Step
You began working on Cyber Shadow several years ago. Now that the game is complete, what comes next for you?
I want to continue the story as this one game encompasses maybe 25% of the storyline that was written. Also I need to learn how to take a break. It seems impossible. Send help.
Cyber Shadow will release on January 26th. Stay tuned for ComicBook.com's review of Cyber Shadow, coming soon!
Do you plan on checking out Cyber Shadow? What do you think of the game so far? Let us know in the comments or share your thoughts directly on Twitter at @Marcdachamp to talk all things gaming!prev