Developer Profile: Nicalis

What do we know about this independent developer?

By Aaron Roberts. Posted 07/25/2011 18:00 Comment on this     ShareThis

Developer profile: Nicalis (Aaron Roberts) masthead

When one thinks of Nicalis, one tends to think of Cave Story. This is not an unwarranted occurrence, as the development house was responsible for both the WiiWare and DSiWare ports of the classic PC game.  But while Cave Story is unequivocally a fantastic piece of software, Nicalis is hardly just about one single game. That being said, Nicalis is a fairly new development house. Not including the multiple versions of Cave Story, the company has helmed five separate games, although some of these games do exist on multiple platforms:

Nintendo DS:
Cave Story (DSiWare)

Windows PC:

Cave Story
Q (upcoming)
La-Mulana (upcoming)

Nintendo 3DS:
Cave Story 3D (upcoming)

A lot of the games listed above are still in development, and of the group, La-Mulana is the only one not to be developed in-house at Nicalis (although Cave Storywas technically developed by Daisuke “Pixel’ Amaya originally, Nicalis did handle the ports listed above). In fact, Nicalis is an unusual developer in that it has more games in development than it has games already released. Nicalis prides itself on publishing “indie” games, meaning software with a modest budget that is distributed through low-cost channel, so far via direct PC download or Nintendo’s online marketplace.

Here is a look at Nicalis’s upcoming games:

Q (WiiWare): Nicalis’s “Project Q” has been in development since 2009.  Created by NightSky’s Niklas Nygren, it’s a 2D platforming adventure that features numerous puzzles and a female hero who’s trying to reassemble a teleporting device.  Again, like NightSky, it has no combat mechanics and enemies must be avoided or dodged.  The primary gameplay revolves around solving platforming puzzles to advance the plot.

La-Mulana (WiiWare): Unsurprisingly, La-Mulana is a 2D Metroidvania much in the style of Cave Story.  The game is actually a tribute to MSX games of the 1980s and the original version features the same 16-color palette and load screens parodying those games (the main character even carries an MSX system around with him).  The protagonist resembles Indiana Jones and uses a whip as his weapon of choice, but power-ups can be accessed and used to gain new abilities or unlock new sections of the game as well. The difficulty was also engineered to be specifically difficult, and there are several dead-end rooms that are nearly impossible to escape.

Cave Story 3D (3DS): A 3D remake of the original Cave Story, this 3DS game renders both the backgrounds and characters in 3D while keeping the action on a 2D plane.  In addition, the mere fact that it’s on 3DS means that it’ll be seen in EYE-POPPING, GLASSES-FREE 3D as a bonus. The remade graphics of the beloved characters didn’t go over so well with the gaming public at large when the first screenshots were released, so they have been retooled, and Nicalis has also said that players will be able to choose to play the game with the classic 2D character sprites instead of the 3D character models, although the backgrounds will remain in 3D.

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