Pico 8 and The Legend of Dracenstein

I made a game on the excellent Pico 8. I very much recommend giving Pico 8 a go.

It was called ‘The Legend of Dracenstein‘.

I’m really pleased with how it came out and I’ve found Pico8 excellent to use: as a result I think it’s the first of many games I’ve started making that actually gets to something like finished. This is my tribute to the games I grew up on with the 48k ZX Spectrum in the early 80’s, so if you were around at the time you’ll spot quite a few references I hope.

The Legend of Dracenstein!

Destroy either Van Helsing (found in the Cathedral) or Victor Frankenstein (found in the Castle)

Get High Scores by collecting Blood Goblets, Completing Levels Fast or Destroying the hated enemies! 18 Levels (though you’ll likely see around half a dozen on a play through as each screen has two possible exits).

  • Evade Captain Nemo in the Nautilus!
  • Sacrifice The Artilleryman to his own washing machine and collect his blood!
  • Beware the Ossuary!

You have six Franks and six Dracula. Exit levels by using the blue box or brown pool portals (I wanted to make these sparkle a bit to draw attention but ran out of time and tokens)

Arrow Keys to move – movement is based on Pacman/Hungry Horace in that they’ll keep moving until you change direction or hit a wall. This enables players to swap between characters while the other is still in motion. A breakable piece of wall can be used as an anchor by pressing to move in that direction while passing.

  • X switches between Frankenstein and Dracula
  • Frankenstein + Z = Punch doors, open cracks in walls, break crucifixes
  • Dracula blows up if he goes near a Crucifix.
  • Dracula + Z = Teleport through two squares worth of the same material.

You get out of a level by putting both Frank and Dracula onto the blue or brown circle/pool thing. On most levels there are two possible exits.

Here’s a map:

Feedback is Welcome.

Quite a few people really seemed to get what I was going for and of those a few seemed to actually like it and the rest game me useful and good feedback – some i’ve been trying to implement, some would take me too far back to the drawing board so i’ll take those on board when I next try to make a game.

The feedback basically comes down to better affordances, that I just didn’t have room to solve in the code:

  • Visually signalling the exists (and indeed the point of it all) and the crucifixes better.
  • Better affordances generally and a slower difficulty ramp demonstrating the gameplay a bit more.
  • Identifying Safe Zones to drop the characters off in and checkpoints for saving progress.

  • Feels like playing chess where the other guy is deciding when you loose a piece by rolling a dice, then kicking you in the gonads.
  • Is this a Joke?

Please do not get annoyed with me for making a game you don’t like.

I’ve noticed a lot of people are capable of great anger when it comes to games. How about that. I imagine if i’d committed that crime while also being woman, i’d have got it worse.

Let me know how you get on (and thanks to everyone who offered advice and assistance, and to chowyunbrent for pointing me in the direction of pico8).