The upcoming hand-drawn remake of this 16-Bit Classic is progressing along, with a new blog released by the developers behind the project, Lizardcube and an interview released as well. The blog released this statement.
An adventurous undertaking: the blog!
Dear all, we are pleased to start this blog to keep in touch with fans and give you updates about the game.
We announced Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap back in June and the feedback was overwhelming. The announce video has been seen more than two hundred thousands times, and the game was featured on countless websites and publications. We also received an overwhelming amount of comments, e-mails, tweets, faxes. We are trying our best to answer all of them but please forgive us that a handful were probably overlooked in the middle in the action.
You can find a link to the blog here and under the source link will be choice quotes from a recently released interview the studio had with gaming site ZeroLives.
Q: Walk us through the initial days of development. When did development start and what was it like knowing that you could start work on a remake? Were you already developing the game before you acquired the Wonder Boy license or was development started afterwards?
Cornut: “In 2013 I started looking into the [ed: Wonder Boy 3] ROM and reverse engineered its code and data. I was curious to see if I could find new doors or secret areas that people hadn’t found yet. Before I knew it, I had enough knowledge to browse all the levels and it revitalized this old idea of making a remake of that episode.
I had mentioned it to Ben Fiquet a few years while we were working on Soul Bubbles for the Nintendo DS, and contacted him around Christmas 2013 suggesting we should try making this game. He started doing early visual research to try to nail a style for the game. So at that time, of course, we didn’t have any license, and we were working toward building enough of a prototype to show Westone to try to obtain the license.
We showed an early proposal to Mr. Nishizawa of Westone mid-2014 and he was immediately supportive. Though, maybe at the time he didn’t know how serious we were about making this real! And we hadn’t signed anything, but at least we knew he would be willing to help.
It took a while to gel because we were only doing this in our spare time and we ourselves didn’t know if we could find the funding for it. Mid 2015 we started talking to DotEmu and as they agreed to fund the game and turn it into a real product, we also clarified all the licensing legalities together.”
Q: What is it like creating a new art style that is based on the original 8-bit franchise? What are or will you be doing to ensure that the remake retains the game’s original vibe?
Fiquet: “It took me quite some time to find the appropriate style that would befit the project. First, it can be difficult to pinpoint what the original team would have gone for if it weren’t for the technical limitations of the time [ed: 1989]. And there’s also a lack of art consistencies between the games, whether it would be on Master System or PC engine, the characters would look different for example and then there’s also the official artworks.
I tried to focus on ‘upgrading’ the original to what I, in my opinion, would consider be the truest to the original art, but there is obviously a lot of interpretation when I have to fill a plain black background, you have to consistently make choices with your own sensibility.
And finally, I put a lot of time and efforts into the animations, which are created traditionally, frame by frame. It is something that I really miss from the old days. Games like Aladdin (on Megadrive) or Earthworm Jim were animated that way. It really makes the characters more alive and I think people tend to feel that the game will be more vibrant with it.”
The tracks are based on Shinichi Sakamoto’s original tunes. We have rearranged all of them to sound modern and to take advantage of real instruments. It was actually an enormous amount of work as Michael found out.
Q: Will the game feature remastered versions of all tracks from the original and will it include new tracks as well? And how does this translate to sound effects? The game’s announcement trailer lets us hear some of these and it seems the sound effects will stay very similar to the original, is this the case?
Cornut: “The tracks are based on Shinichi Sakamoto’s original tunes. We have rearranged all of them to sound modern and to take advantage of real instruments. It was actually an enormous amount of work as Michael found out.
The originals are using 3 square wave synthesizers and, despite being catchy, sound very primitive when you try to adapt them to real instruments. Michael started working on the soundtrack in 2014 and he tried many directions – I must have about a hundred different demos that Michael made in attempt to nail all those tunes!
So our goal was to rearrange those tunes to sound elegant and ‘premium’ while staying close to the original. And they’d have to be working with Ben’s new visuals as well. We didn’t want to go the direction of those Japanese games, that utilize synths and saturated guitars.
Michael used dozens of instruments, some classical ones, such as the violins, cello, clarinet, oboe, guitars and a variety of flutes, and even some quite uncommon ones, such as khene, gadulka and accordion. We went and hired instrumentalists to record most of that. It will sound amazing.”
While Cornut is focusing on programming and Fiquet on art and animation, the duo has joined up with two sound artists to try and recreate the game’s unique soundtrack and sound effects. Sound artists Michael Geyre and Romain Gauthier are working on an extensive library of sounds, with Geyre focusing on remastering the game’s nostalgic soundtrack, and Gauthier focusing on remastering the game’s sound effects.
Gauthier: “For the sound effects, many are based on homemade recording. For example, for creating the sound of drawing the character’s sword I am combining the sound of a kitchen knife and the “woosh” of a badminton racquet – I play a lot of badminton! I sometimes also use samples from soundbanks when I can’t figure out a way to make them myself. For example, even though I live in Barcelona, it’s hard to record the waves for the beach level here because there’s always noise from people and boats.
The sound effects are composite creations, assembled in Cubase Pro. Cubase is typically used for music but I am using it to sequence and create rich sound effects. We extracted sound effects from the original Master System version and I usually have them on one layer. It allows me to closely match the melody of those original sounds which are too iconic to stray away from. It’s actually a tough choice sometimes, deciding how much of the original “meat” of a sound I should keep.”