It feels like in my short time writing here, all I’ve covered is failed Kickstarter campaigns. Thankfully, what’s going on with Steel Assault by developer Sri Kankanahalli and company is different. As a holiday gift to backers, the team published their first update since July, detailing a few changes coming to the game.
Steel Assault, a side-scrolling action game similar to Contra, is getting a bit of a face lift. Originally, the game was pitched as a modern NES game, complete with 8-bit graphics that the kids love these days. In the latest update, the developer admitted this was more to do with a budget limitation than a stylistic choice.
The developer acknowledges the lack of updates, accrediting them to a new freelance job he landed, a job that gave him more than double the original budget of the Kickstarter. In the update, he says he decided to spend that money on hiring a new artist, and scrapping the original 8-bit look. It still has a retro feel to it, but it isn’t pixelized like the game was originally going to be.
Only one small image comparison was posted in the update, so it’s hard to tell exactly how much has changed. However, it’s clear that the look of the game has changed significantly. Besides dumping the 8-bit, true NES feel, the game also seems to be employing more detailed background art and animations, stuff NES developers could only dream of. It looks more like a late SNES game, or even an early PS1 game now.
Since it’s not what the developer originally pitched, the team is offering refunds to anyone who doesn’t like the new look. I’m not sure if that’s entirely necessary, but it’s a nice gesture if they’re able to properly pay everyone back who asks for a refund.
Steel Assault’s new art direction looks great, and should help the game stand out more in a market saturated with similar 8-bit looking games. Many developers want to perfectly emulate the old 8-bit look and not take any liberties, and that can awful backfire big time. A developer who’s willing to bend the rules to create a game with a retro feel, without feeling the need to handcuff themselves to the limitations of the time is a good thing. Look for Steel Assault sometime in May 2016.