A love letter to the kind of games that first inspired a generation of players to fall in love with technology, Mastema Out of Hell is a 16bit 2D platformer designed in every respect to match its forebears of the 1980s. Collect treasures, fight demonic bosses and start right back at the beginning if you miss a jump in this wonderfully dark escape from the pits of hell. The game is currently mid-Kickstarter campaign, in the hopes of raising €3,000 to make it a reality.
The Metropolist talked to creator Oscar Celestini to find out more about it.
The Metropolist: Hi, Oscar. Tell us a bit about your game.
Oscar Celestini: Hi, Kirstie, and thank you for this opportunity! Mastema Out of Hell is the game I would have wanted to play as a child. I never got a chance to play it, so I’ll create it. This is a game popped out from the 16bit era, low resolution, pure pixel art, lots of strange creatures, partially on screen and partially in your fantasy, as we used to do in the 80s, first 90s. You’ll play as a lost soul, a burned guy, in hell, losing his memory, with just one ambition: Get out of hell! It’s a classic platformer with hard jumps, badass bosses and dangerous traps, lots of levels and 20 different locations – desert, mountain, iced earths, volcano, giant skeletons, temples…
TM: Why did you choose this particular format for the game?
OC: I chose this format because I’m a nostalgic guy and I grew up playing C64 and Megadrive, I always dreamed of making a game like the ones I used to play as a child! Everybody has a PC and is the easiest way to play old games, so…
TM: What about the old style of gaming inspired you to recreate it?
I love the mystery involved in the C64 black backgrounds, the power of big diamonds that give to you extra lives and the irresistible charm of old hard platformer, where a small mistake in the jump can kill you and no way to continue, you just have to start again from the beginning!
TM: What sets this game apart from old games? Is there anything that modernises it?
OC: I’ll be honest, nothing! Imagine my game as a game that comes out at that time, new story, new graphics, nice animations, lots of levels, but the same feeling. Lots of new games have old style graphics and pixel art, but if you play them you realize that it’s modern – it’s full of alpha transparency FX and odious rotating full hd FX. It’s a game with an old mask but full resolution engine. I don’t want that. I’m a good animator and I work also for modern app as illustrator, concept artist and spriter, but this is my game and I’m looking for that exact 16bit feeling. I’ll add a “continue” option to help younger players, but the true gamers will play it in one session without using savestate, you can bet!
TM: What inspired the narrative of the game?
OC: Just my love of horror B movie and 80’s monsters, Nightmare, Jason, Hellriser. But also some comics and videogames, Spawn, or Chakan, a great game on the Megadrive.
TM: The game world seems really detailed. How did you go about crafting such vivid levels?
OC: Lots of love, passion, pain and experience. I worked on several other pixel art games (Golden Axe Myth, Astrorider, Broken Core, Speed Fighter). And I carefully studied other games to learn secrets and solutions. I’m 32 years old and I started spriting on an Amiga using just a keyboard and a mouse when I was 13, so I’ve had a lot of years to figure out how to do it.
TM: You’ve got some incredible concept art up on your campaign page. How did you go about changing your initial artworks into the 16bit style in the final game?
OC: I always start the creative process doing sketches, including when I’m writing comics. I know that in the definitive version, a monster full of details will be just a small amount of pixels. I’m happy as a child every time I transmute a complicated figure illustrated into a minimal sprite, it is a very “Zen” feeling. There are no tricks or digital techniques, I just open Photoshop, 8X zoom and start drawing pixel by pixel. I start from middle tone and when I’ve got the general shape, I add shadows and light tones, at the end I add details and fix minor mistakes.
TM: Why did you choose Kickstarter to fund the game?
OC: It’s hard in Italy to find a publisher and major industries don’t believe in these kind of retro games. But I do and a lots of people want to play games like that. Kickstarter is the best site of this kind, so, let’s try this adventure. I have just a crowdfounded project on Indiegogo, winning the campaign, raising 130% of the goal, a game called Broken Core.
TM: How are you finding your Kickstarter experience so far?
OC: Challenging and exciting. I’m at the first part of the campaign so not many people know about my game, but I know that at the middle and at the end, the crowd arrives and starts to believe in you, if you believed in the project and if you show them ideas, love and skills. And that’s what I’m doing at this step.
TM: What’s your plan for once the campaign is over? What are your hopes for the game?
OC: The best wish for a creative project is to keep it real! I don’t know if I’ll be an important game developer and I don’t care about it (I’m a good comic artist and I do that for a living). But I’ll be happy if people will say that Mastema Out of Hell is a good game and they enjoyed playing it alone or with friends. If the campaign is successful, I’ll produce other original games. I’ve got so many ideas to bring to reality.
TM: Thanks Oscar!
If you, like us, enjoy the sound of a hardcore platformer populated by crispy skeletons, check out Oscar’s Kickstarter page and help to make his dream game a reality, because frankly, it looks awesome.