Old School Gamer Magazine chats with Wonder Boy and the Cursed Kingdom co-producer Philipp Döschl, who details the origin and creative process behind the newest original game based in the world of the cult-classic retro adventure RPG. With the blessing of original Wonder Boy creator Ryuichi Nishizawa, it’s easily one of the most anticipated upcoming retro remakes.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Why do you think The Wonder Boy games have made such a huge comeback?
Philipp Döschl: Because they’re well designed, fun games. The spirit of the series is very positive and many people of my generation (aged 35+) and older ones have fond memories of these games, either at home or in the arcades. The series had a performed a great evolution from the first Wonder Boy to the last Monster World release. We’re taking this evolution one step further to the next level.
Also, we all love to get back to our roots, what we used to play, watch, eat, experience or whatever when we were kids. This is also a reason why the Mini-NES and Mini-SNES are so tremendously successful.
OSGM: What makes this game different and special?
Döschl: Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom is not a remaster. It’s an original game which hasn’t been there before in any way. Monster Boy draws it’s inspiration from the original series and adds a lot of fresh ideas. I don’t want to spoil the fun of discovering all of this. What I can tell you know for example is that you’ll meet characters from the old series, such as Pepelogoo, as well as cameos and other surprises. Of course, there are tons of new features, locations, characters, NPCs, game mechanics and more that haven’t been in the series before.
OSGM: Any fun development stories?
Döschl: Phew, there are definitely fun stories to tell, as we’re working on the game for 4 years already. Right now we’re working so hard (and especially Game Atelier), that it’s a bit hard to think of fun stories, as we’re super focused on reaching our goal. That being said, even if it’s quite stressy right now, we’re still enjoying the project every day. Given the progress, status, and improvements, even more, today than ever before.
Probably once we’re finished with the game, we’ll look back at everything and lots of fun stories and anecdotes will come in our minds.
OSGM: What was it like to work with Ryuichi-san?
Döschl: It’s a great cooperation and we’re super thankful and happy he joined the production. It’s a big honor to all of us. We have all creative freedom we need and he’s always there for good, constructive and useful feedback and open to new things in the series. We only met once last year around TGS. It was great to finally meet each other in person. Even though we’re working together, I still had a bit of a fanboy feeling as I met the creator of one of my favorite game series from childhood. Thinking about that now, this meeting and the fanboy feeling I had could be one of the fun development stories =)
OSGM: Bottom line, why must a hardcore fan of the series play this game?
Döschl: Because it’s the first new game in the series for 26 years and by far the biggest, most versatile installment in the series yet. Hardcore fans will be remembered the original series throughout the whole game while discovering many new things.
OSGM: Considering how awesome the Dragon’s Curse game was, do you think you have more pressure to create something magical here?
Döschl: Yes and no. It’s still two different games. Dragon’s Curse was a (brilliant) remake with a unique and lovely art style. Both us and especially Game Atelier know Omar and Lizardcube well and there’s no competition. Actually, we also helped each other out every now and then, either at conferences by sharing our booth with Omar (from Lizardcube) or Omar helping us out on the technical side (eg we’re using an awesome tool he created, which many developers also use).
Making a new game is still a totally different challenge, as you have to start from scratch. Expectations are high, for sure. However, the feedback has been very positive. People who had the chance to play the demo on events loved the game, even at its early stage, so we feel confident. What puts a bit more pressure on us is the budget, which is quite a sum already.
OSGM: What’s next?
Döschl: Besides Monster Boy, which is our biggest production so far, we’re working on a handful of new ideas and prototypes. Some look very promising. Console games are getting a bigger importance for us and we’re super happy to have reached the point where we can produce larger scale games. We’re also working on porting Blossom Tales to Switch right now.
OSGM: Anything else you’d like to add?
Many things are happening and we can’t wait to announce them. We’re fans of the series since our childhood and it is an absolute dream came true. Both us and Game Atelier are doing our best to make a great game. We only have one chance for this release and we want to deliver a game that people will enjoy from the start to finish. The game looks better than ever before, many things have been worked and reworked in order to really nail them. We’re not fans of delaying things, but sometimes it’s necessary and for the good.
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.