Interview | Causal Bit Games on Insanity's Blade Wii U

By Jorge Ba-oh 13.04.2014 2

Cubed3 caught up with Christopher Obritsch from Causal Bit Games on indie side-scroller Insanity's Blade, inspiration and developing the game for Nintendo Wii U.
 
Pitched as a side-scrolling, retro inspired action game with RPG elements, Insanity's Blade is a tale of a father's desperate plea to save the souls of his wife and child after a demon destroys his village. Taking things into his own hands, he ventures into the underworld to save his friends and family.
Image for Interview | Causal Bit Games on Insanity

 
Cubed3: Please introduce yourself and the team working on Causal Bit Games.
 
Christopher Obritsch: I'm Christopher Obritsch - Creative Director, lead developer and artist. My two business partners, Daven Bigelow is developer and math master, and Angelina Obritsch takes care of admin. We have also recently hired on Tatiana Barros as our PR and Social Media Specialist, and Frank Martin who is composing the soundtrack for Insanity's Blade.
 
Cubed3: What projects have Causal Bit Games and team members worked on previously?
 
Christopher: I've worked on several web based games over the past few years for various companies; Daven is a hobbyist and has been in several competitions.
 


Cubed3: We're loving the retro influence and style for Insanity's Blade - please explain the concept.
 
Christopher: Insanity's Blade is a mash up of many of my favourite childhood games. This is a game I've wanted to do since I was a kid. I grew up worshiping games like Ghouls N Ghosts, Black Tiger, Magic Sword... Splatterhouse - the games that made me want to make my own games. Originally I wanted to make an over the top action game that never could have existed on the NES due to the violence. As the game development progressed, I wanted to take it to a more playable level. More detail, more moves, more mess! Now it's become a 16-bit arcade action game with elements of RPG tossed in to give it another level of fun.

Image for Interview | Causal Bit Games on Insanity


Cubed3: Please explain the world of Insanity's Blade, the protagonists and storyline.
 
Christopher: My old graphic novel/online comic Insanity's Blade was based entirely around the sword of the same name. The first story was based around the creation of the sword. Thurstan - the hero of the first story - is a man hell bent on saving the souls of his wife and child after a demon ravages his village looking for a magical artifact. He is cursed during the attack on his village, causing him to go berserk and laying waste to anything in his path whenever he gets worked up, basically. The game/comic story has Thurstan on a path to find a way to get to the underworld and create a weapon that can destroy the demons that have his family and friends souls held captive.
 

Image for Interview | Causal Bit Games on Insanity


Cubed3: The artwork looks highly nostalgic yet has that modern lick of paint, what made you opt for this style of design?
 
Christopher: The graphic style is what I grew up with, it's what I love. I've been making sprites since the day I got my first commodore 64 (1988). I love the look of the games I played back then in the arcades. Now we have the means to add some really cool special FX to them to which makes some parts of the game look even cooler than they would have looked if the game was made back in the early 90's.
 
Originally I was all about doing a true to the 8-bit NES style game but the palette was so limited (I was using the actual NES palette) and giant sprites just weren't going to work. I wanted everything bigger and more bad-ass as we went on and now we have full-blown 16 bit looking graphics with giant monsters and heavy special effects we never could have had on Nintendo or even 16 bit hardware back then.
 


 

Cubed3: What existing games, films or animation have helped inspire the Insanity's Blade design and concept?
 
Christopher: Games that inspired Insanity's Blade look and gameplay are Black Tiger, Splatterhouse, Castlevania (the series), Magic Sword, Batman (NES), Ninja Gaiden (NES), and Cadash. The game is inspired by the graphic novels I wrote over 10 years ago, otherwise.
 

Image for Interview | Causal Bit Games on Insanity


Cubed3: Why do you think indie studios have had to fill the gaps for classic 2D side-scrollers and adventure/brawlers?
 
Christopher: I don't know. Insanity's Blade isn't being made with filling a gap in mind. I wanted to make a game I wanted to play. I really have no opinion on that. Our game more or less started as a joke between Daven and myself. "I wonder what my old character would look like as an NES sprite" I said. I did it just for the fun of it, and it just kept going and going. It was never originally meant for the public.
 
Cubed3: Most modern attempts at the side-scrolling format, like Castlevania, haven't been as successful - what is it about the retro look that appeals?
 
Christopher: For me - the look is just what I grew up with. It's what I miss when I play a game - being reminded that it's just a game is nice sometimes. It wasn't about winning awards and being innovative to the point of breaking the idea of fun - it was all about just picking up a game and playing and having fun. Pure and simple.
 
I'm also not up on what modern attempts have tried to emulate games like Castlevania. Lately I even find myself going to my gaming room and firing up an old console like the Genesis or SNES instead of tackling hours upon hours of questing or shooting people (underage kids) who then swear at me online if I get them more than once in a match. Old school is what I like, it's what I want to play, bottom line.
 

Image for Interview | Causal Bit Games on Insanity


Cubed3: The music fits the mood perfectly - how did the chiptune soundtrack come about?
 
Christopher: The music was supposed to match the game in authenticity when the entire game was supposed to simulate the Famicom/NES. Originally the soundtrack was being done by two other composers but the styles were clashing. Then when we brought Frank on, we instantly fell in love with his music - he's now doing the entire soundtrack, although the earlier completed songs will make their way into the mini games!
 
Cubed3: What made you decide to bring the game to Nintendo Wii U and would you consider a 3DS port at some point?
 
Christopher: I'm a huge Nintendo fan. I think I own all of the American versions of the hardware back to the original NES, including handhelds, give or take a few. This was a cool opportunity to share our game with a wider audience. It plays like a console/arcade game and the core Nintendo gamer still like platformers.
 
As far as Nintendo 3DS goes, it's a whole other beast. We would love to get the game on to it, but that's only going to happen if people want it there.
 

Image for Interview | Causal Bit Games on Insanity


Cubed3: Now you've had some time to explore the Wii U setup, do you have any ideas on how you might intend on using the GamePad controller?
 
Christopher:  Insanity's Blade wasn't designed with any specific console in mind. There's no need to over complicate it with more buttons or other bits a game like this doesn't really need. The only two things I can think of using it for are for player 2 screen in co-op and the map screen/pause screen can always be open. I'm not really hot on either idea, I don't see the point.
 
Cubed3: What hurdles have you had going at it as part of an independent team?
 
Christopher: There have been many. The game originally started with just myself doing everything. It was just for fun. Then it got a bit off attention and started turning into a bigger beast. Daven stepped in to help me and he's helped a lot. At this point, I'm sure he's re-coded about 25% of the stuff I've done to make it better/more efficient. Some of the stuff he's done with AI is amazing too! I wouldn't be doing the game to this scale if it wasn't for him! He's a very busy guy and so am I. So this game basically gets done when we have time though for the past couple of months I've been focusing on the game a lot more.
 
The Kickstarter was a full time job in itself. We didn't know what we were doing at all, and no matter what you read on all of the sites that help, it's next to impossible to do everything with such a small team in such a short amount of time. It's overwhelming even for a work-a-holic like myself. We had someone join on to help for the last week but it was a bit too late to really make a difference. We now have a PR pro doing all of the heavy lifting for us there and she's outstanding at it! If we had only known about her in October, haha!
 

Image for Interview | Causal Bit Games on Insanity


The music was pretty much a total mess until we met Frank. Since the project actually started about a year ago, I had been using placeholder tunes and trying to contact the people that had written them to see if we could use the songs etc. That was an uphill battle with no sign of victory. Email addresses didn't exist anymore; some people were in but then never responded again. I put an ad up on a Famicom tracker site and got a few bites there. The other musician was one of those guys. But with a few of those musicians, it was more of a take it or leave it or I'm not interested kind of thing. So aside from the musician, others came and went, making us a bit nervous. I talked to Frank around the time the Kickstarter was ending. We hit it off - he made some amazing music, and at breakneck speed. Turns out he's a veteran chiptune artist of 10 years... everything was good again!
 
Then there are the little things that you can't let discourage you. People getting mad that you're not making a new Call of Duty or Assassins Creed. As much as I love playing those games, I'm all but tired of them. Just like we got tired of all of our favorites way back when. It happens. We're not trying to make everyone happy. We're trying to make people like us happy. We get a lot of crap for the pixel art, we're not doing it because it's trendy, we're doing it because that's what made games awesome for me back when that's all we had. When people learn that innovation doesn't always make things better we'll be in a better place gaming wise. Games used to be about having fun; they took a horrible wrong turn at some point.
 

Image for Interview | Causal Bit Games on Insanity


Cubed3: What are your thoughts on Nintendo's approach to indie developers in recent years?
 
Christopher: Well considering how far they've come with third party publishers since the original NES, I'm very happy with them. Now they're giving the indies a chance at the system - incredible!
 
Cubed3: If you could both work on any Nintendo franchise, what would it be any why?
 
Christopher: Luigi's Mansion - I just loved it on the GameCube and the 3DS one was pretty awesome as well. The style is up my alley. Daven would love to work on a 2D Mario game or Metroid, he's a big fan of the original SNES games.
 

Image for Interview | Causal Bit Games on Insanity


Cubed3: What are your plans for the future - could an Insanity's Blade sequel be on the cards?
 
Christopher: We have another title in the making for Wii U and yes, the story of Insanity's Blade goes through the 1300's right up to present time. If the game is successful enough, there should be at least two more games to finish the story.


 
What are your thoughts on the Insanity's Blade look and concept?
Box art for Insanity's Blade
Developer

Casual Bit

Publisher

Casual Bit

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  n/a

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date None   Japan release date None   Australian release date None   

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Comments

Well I'm DEFINITELY buying this day one. It's good to see devs with a good head on their shoulders & balls enough to NOT let people try to tell them "no it won't work".

It is not wise to speak on subjects you do not know all facts about, nor is it smart to judge a game based on looks alone. PSN: Nintendo_Gamer 3DS: 4296-3029-7422
Al (guest) 14.04.2014#2

I'm buying it. Thanks great article and awesome looking game!

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