Old School Gamer chats with Ezekiel Rage (Lead Developer) of Citadale: The Legends Trilogy, who lets us know how a love of 8-Bit action platformer on the Nintendo Entertainment System and Master System gave birth to a game that could one day end up on the Switch. Powered by its ability to be fun and a gothic art style inspired by Castlevania and a chiptune soundtrack, you have a retro, meets modern experience that doesn’t let up. Combining the original release on Wii U (Citadale: Gate of Souls) with two all-new sequels, the newest version of the game is the most complete available.
About Citadale: The Legends Trilogy:
A Dark Lord plagues the land … and only YOU can stop him. Play as Sonja Dorleac and bring an end to the forces of darkness by wielding the legendary Shadow Blade. Battle the creatures of the night with swords, axes, shurikens and more – and face off against horrific bosses. If you prove your strength, you can unlock alternate endings for the first two games in the series. A boss rush mode for the original game can also be unlocked if you get the “good” ending in the first game!
For More on the Game, Click Here.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How was this game born?
Ezekiel Rage: Citadale started out as a Castlevania Legends remake project – something I decided to do in order to learn the engine. Over the course of development, I ended up making it my own project instead – while still paying homage to Castlevania.
OSG: What was development like?
Rage: Very frustrating, to be honest. I had no idea how to do basic things. I also had a ton of ideas that couldn’t be put into the game because I didn’t know how! As you can imagine, I spent hours just fixing bugs I was to blame for because I didn’t learn the engine properly in the first place. And then there was this whole Wii U debacle where we accidentally released a beta with placeholder graphics on the Wii U eShop. That was the worst part of all.
OSG: What makes this game special?
Rage: To me, it’s special because it taught me how to use the engine. It taught me game design. I think the fact that the Castlevania series hasn’t had a traditional action game in decades only makes me feel stronger about my own efforts. The two new chapters allowed me to put in a few things that didn’t fit within the original game, Gate of Souls.
OSG: What games influenced this one the most?
Rage: I was mostly influenced by my love for traditional 8-bit action games. I think the main source of inspiration turned out to be ActRaiser – a Super Nintendo game. The combat, choice of weapons, and gameplay style are a direct result of that. Castlevania, of course, for the visuals and the music, sub-weapons, and all that. I tried to make a fast game with tough enemies like Ninja Gaiden, but I scaled back when porting Citadale to the PC.
OSG: What inspired the art?
Rage: The art was clearly inspired by Castlevania and classic gothic horror. However, there is also a clear Zelda influence in there – especially if you look at the bosses.
OSG: Why do you think people love horror games so much?
Rage: I think deep down people want the supernatural, the not-so-ordinary because it keeps us engaged and interested. Fantasy is great, sure – but horror stirs the core within us and gets that survival mode going: Fight or flight!
OSG: Why do retro-themed games matter?
Rage: I think a lot of modern gaming is superficial. You have your “play it quickly and be done” games on mobile – or bigger games with a ton of tutorials that focus on the latest graphics and cinematic influences. Players crave something simple and fun that just isn’t serious and epic – but something you can play quickly and still invest a lot of time in simultaneously. Most people would say nostalgia – the search for something simpler. I think nostalgia is a small part of it, to be honest. Gaming is a rather new medium – and as such, its history is much more condensed. I believe that lessons learned from games made in the ‘80s and ‘90s can still be applied today. To me, a game must be fun above all else.
OSG: What’s special about the story?
Rage: Truth be told, absolutely nothing. I know it’s not a very good answer, but it’s the truth. It’s a very traditional good vs. evil story with Dark Lords, tragic deaths, and heroes falling from grace. It may not be special, but it’s hopefully engaging all the same.
OSG: As an indie studio, what do you think you guys do differently than the big studios?
Rage: I think we can be more personal with the game, ourselves, and the players. A big studio has to be focused on the financial side because tons of jobs rely on that. But I can do whatever the heck I want to with the game. It also allows me to answer the players directly and stay in contact with them – which can yield some interesting results, to say the least!
OSG: Any fun stories or wild moments during development?
Rage: I lost a hard drive filled with work data because of a power surge. Everything was gone – the game as well as all other projects I had worked on. It took me a while to restore everything from the backups I made (some files were gone forever because I hadn’t backed them up yet). And then, of course, the aforementioned beta leak that cost me some sleepless nights.
OSG: How does this game disrupt the video game landscape?
Rage: I actually hope it doesn’t. I don’t want a big disruption, I want business as usual: People enjoying the game, and hopefully me being able to make more games!
OSG: Any chance at this hitting the Switch?
Rage: If Nintendo gives me a devkit, you can be damn sure this hits the Switch. That’s a big IF, though…
OSG: Who will enjoy this game the most?
Rage: People who enjoy 8-bit classics from the NES/Master System era. It’s clearly aimed at them. I think people with modern gaming sensibilities will find a few things off-putting.
OSG: How do you want this game to be remembered?
Rage: As the first in a new series, if all goes well.
OSG: What are your goals for the game?
Rage: That as many people as possible play it. I also want to develop more titles – not necessarily sequels. I just wanna make more games.
OSG: What’s next?
Rage: I’m working on a game called The Masked Mage – a 2D open-world game that focuses on story and exploration over combat. Hopefully, it will see the light of day at the end of 2017.
OSG: Anything else you’d like to add?
Rage: I want to thank you for the interview! If people enjoy my work, maybe some will even support me on Patreon. That would be AWESOME! (Obligatory plug is obligatory.)
Patrick Hickey Jr. is the author of the upcoming book, “The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews With Cult and Classic Video Game Developers,” from McFarland And Company. Featuring interviews with the creators of 36 popular video games–including Deus Ex, NHLPA 93, Night Trap, Mortal Kombat, Wasteland and NBA Jam–the book gives a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of some of the most influential and iconic (and sometimes forgotten) games of all time. Recounting endless hours of painstaking development, the challenges of working with mega-publishers and the uncertainties of public reception, the interviewees reveal the creative processes that produced some of gaming’s classic titles.