Nicalis Blog

January 22, 2015

Castle In The Darkness: Release Date Announcement!

Hey guys! Matt Kap here again. I know it’s been a while since you’ve heard any news about Castle In The Darkness, but I’m posting here today to rectify that :). Please see for yourself below:

So there you have it. Castle In The Darkness will finally be available on Windows through Steam on:

February 5th, 2015 for $5.99

For the full press release, click on this link!

This isn’t all there is to announce, there will be a lot more upcoming posts between now and the release, so make sure to keep an eye on this blog, and follow me and Nicalis on twitter! Thanks a lot!

August 25, 2014

Castle In The Darkness: DANGER! General attacks!

Hello! Matt Kap here again, with another dev blog about Castle In The Darkness! Today I’ll write about one of the bosses you’ll encounter- General!

General is a posessed statue of a deceased knight from Alexandria’s history. He is almost a screen tall, and holds a scary stone greatsword. Besides just being a statue of a past general of the army, I named him after a character from one of my favorite manga series.

He may seem really intimidating, but like many bosses from classic-era games, he has a fairly simple pattern that most players will start to understand after fighting him a couple of times. He walks back and forth in the room, occasionally pausing to unleash one of two attacks.

Attack 1: Greatsword Crush- He lifts his stone greatsword, and brings it down to attempt to crush you! This also causes a loose brick to fall from the ceiling, so watch out!

Attack 2: Eye Beam- He pauses, and then shoots a short laser from his one eye!

To damage General, you cannot just hit him anywhere, you have to attack his weak point. I won’t spoil that in this post, but it isn’t very hard to find. Touching General will damage you, so be careful to stay away from him until you are ready to strike! As a final bit of something to show, here is an image that shows the old design of General before I redesigned him!

Thanks for reading, guys and girls! Please keep checking this blog for future updates! Till next time!

August 21, 2014

Castle In The Darkness: Introducing the hero!

Hello! Matt Kap here again, with another dev blog about Castle In The Darkness! Today I’ll talk a little bit about the hero of the game.

About The Hero
At the beginning of Castle In The Darkness, not much is known about the player character, other than the fact that he is a royal guard of Alexandria, and the sole survivor of the monster attack that left the castle royalty-free. To put it simply, the hero is you, discovering the world and its secrets, as you do. I purposely avoided giving the hero much back story, because the game isn’t about his development, it’s about a kingdom in danger, and you, the player, cleaning up the mess.
The hero doesn’t talk in-game, for the following reasons:
1. Many classic-era console heroes did not talk, so I wanted to stay faithful to that.
2. This game doesn’t have a lot of dialog anyway, so excessive dialog would take the focus off of the action!

The hero is primarily shown wearing variants of guard armor from the kingdom of Alexandria. The sketch below shows what he might have worn if he was ever seen without his armor.

(At one point, a tutorial chapter was considered where you run around a field with a wooden sword and regular clothes, but there wasn’t much to teach that wasn’t easily learnable just by playing the game.)

I designed the armor with one main thing in mind, I wanted him to look like what he is- a generic guard. After sketching lots of types of helmets and armor, I decided that he would have more charm with a helmet that shows his face. I also had to choose something that would look iconic and recognizable in a 16×16 sprite.

At the time when I started to work on this game there weren’t any active blue heroes in games (Megaman was on vacation), so I chose blue as the color of the hero’s armor. It also happened that blue looked best and stuck out over the background tiles I was drawing, so the choice stuck…

That’s it for this post! Please keep checking this blog for future updates! Till next time!

August 14, 2014

Castle In The Darkness: Design Pt. I, General Design

Hello! Matt Kap here again, with another dev blog about Castle In The Darkness! Today I’ll spend some time talking about the general design of the game! But before I do, I’ll show you a piece of promotional art.

As I have mentioned in the past, my main goal was to create a game that would have been my absolute favorite as a kid, had it been released on a classic console like the NES. I loved action platformers and adventure games the most, especially those that allowed some exploration (Metroid, Castlevania 2, Faxanadu, etc), so the main choice was that simple. This has always been my favorite genre of video game.


In order for it to work better in this day and age, I felt like I had to make some changes to the formula.

1. Movement: To keep up with modern design sensibilities (and to avoid getting shot at by angry players), I did away with antiquated game design decisions like ultra-slow (why do Belmonts always walk?) movement and not being able to alter direction mid-jump. Instead, you are free to run and dodge at a fast pace.

It takes just a couple seconds to run from one end of a room to the other, but by doing so you might not be seeing obstacles, traps, and secrets. The plus side to this is that slower players can choose to play carefully, and impatient players (like myself) can blast through the rooms after dying learning where the traps are! Also, you get more airtime by holding the jump button, so it’s possible to tap jump to do a short hop, and hold jump down for a leap.

2. With the exception of projectiles, attacks come out as fast as you can press the button. So players can wait through an enemy’s patterns and strike a few times to play it safe, or use that window to dice them up by fist-of-the-north-star-ing the attack button! You will still lose momentum while attacking on the ground, but no more taking damage because you’re stuck with your sword out for half a second!

In the old days, slow mechanics were commonly used to extend gameplay time. So, by getting rid of those slow mechanics, the only way to extend gameplay time in Castle In The Darkness was to add as much content as I could. I’m hoping that players will appreciate this effort, and work together to uncover all the stuff I hid in this game.

August 12, 2014

Castle In The Darkness: Ye Olde Introductions

Hello internets! My name is Matt Kap, the lead artist here at Nicalis and the designer/creator of Castle In The Darkness!

For those of you who don’t know, Castle In The Darkness is a 2D classic-styled action-adventure game that I have spent the last three years developing. We are proud to announce that Nicalis will be publishing the game on Steam this summer! Before I go into too much detail about the game, have a look at the new trailer below!

Castle In The Darkness is an action platformer with RPG elements, and a big focus on exploration. When I started development on it, my goal was to create a game that was faithful to the games I played as a kid in terms of concept and aesthetics, but with a fast and modern approach to control and game design. As you have likely noticed from watching the trailer, I’ve done my best to retain the 8-bit look and styling in the graphics, and though you can’t tell, the in-game music is all chiptune as well.

This game was inspired by many games, including (but not limited to) Mega Man, Castlevania, Kirby, Zelda, Ys, and many more, so fans of those series’ will surely find something to enjoy in Castle In The Darkness. Starting now, and until around the time of Castle In The Darkness’ upcoming release, I will be making posts here regularily to outline both aspects of the game content, as well as aspects of the development process.

Please keep checking this blog, and be sure to follow @nicalis and @mattkap1 on twitter for future updates! Before I sign off, I’ll leave you with these moving screenshots to check out! Thanksth!

May 24, 2014

’90s, Steam, non-Steam and new screens

For this update I would like to address some concerns and share a few more screenshots from some of the game’s new cars and tracks.

I have received several emails asking about the game’s release date and why we haven’t shown any gameplay videos yet. There is nobody that wants the game released more than we do and we are working hard to make it happen.There are still some areas that need work and I’ve kept postponing any gameplay videos until we are happy with what we are showing. I understand that the people that helped fund this project want to be more involved in the development process but I feel that releasing unpolished or rough material can do more harm than good. It’s a fine line and I apologize if some people feel left out.

Also we’ll make sure that everyone who doesn’t use Steam will be able to receive a copy.

Last but not least..

May 7, 2014

’90s Arcade Racer and Nailing Every Part of the Game

We’ve have been quite for a while on the ’90s Arcade Racer front and there are a few (good) reasons why.

First, the game has taken on a life of itself and we really want to get it just right. Yes, there are a number of racing games coming, but none have really taken on the idea of reviving an era that we both love and find the most appealing in the genre. To be more specific, we’ve found that as we continue to polish the game, its visual style, a physics model we’re happy with, everything else needs to be powered-up so to speak.

We know we have something special with ’90s and we want it all to be special, every. single. part. of. the. game! With that said, we’ve secretly been trying to get some of the best talent for basically every aspect of development, even if it means we need more time .

One of the aspects of the game we really haven’t spoken much about, but have put a lot of time and effort into getting just right is audio. Neither of us are audio experts so to speak, but we have found one!

The engine work and accompanying game sound effects are going to be handled by Stafford Bawler. That name probably means nothing to you, but it should! He’s working on everything from Dirt, GRiD and Forza to Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing. He’s that good. We’re already working with him to create some really amazing, authentic and very dynamic sounds that you’ll hear in the finished product.

You can follow Stafford on Twitter: @StaffordBawler

The other area we haven’t talked much about is music. We’ve received so many requests to enlist Takenobu Mitsuyoshi (famous for Daytona USA). But, unfortunately for us, he’s still employed by SEGA. However, we do know a number of really amazing musicians who have taken on the cause of ’90s Arcade Racer.

We’re taking a different approach to ’90s Arcade Racer and treating the soundtrack like a compilation of great music from great musicians. Each artist will be giving his or her take on what they feel the ’90s sounded like and we’ll announce each them as we progress through the final development of the game and near release. By the way, if you can convince Takenobu to do a track for ’90s Arcade Racer, we’re all for it!

We’ll be announcing the first musician in the next couple of weeks with a tiny sample of his track.

As a reminder for anyone who hasn’t followed our updates recently, our plans for ’90s Arcade Racer were to launch on PC (via Steam) and Wii U and follow-up with mobile. However, given the prevalence of Unity 3D on PlayStation 4, PS Vita and Xbox One, you can be sure we’re trying to find a way to get the game on those platforms as well. However, we’d like to get the game out for backers on PC and players on Wii U first–you’ve been patiently waiting and we do want to give you the ride of your life.

February 3, 2014

Update: ’90s Arcade Racer and Wii U

Antonis and Tyrone here!

As you probably know, part of working together brought along the opportunity develop and publish ’90s Arcade Racer for Wii U (among other places). The development is moving along well and for this update we’ll share some details related to the Wii U version of the game and our plans.

Fortunately, moving the game from PC/windows environment to Wii U has been a straight forward process since the project is being built on top of Unity and the team porting Unity to Wii U have obviously been doing a great job; that alone has made our part of getting running on Wii U much easier than expected. Of course, the process hasn’t been without it’s fair share of challenges.

Without getting into minutia that we’re probably not allowed to share in great detail, some things that worked on PC couldn’t be ported exactly Wii U without having affecting how the game performs on the Nintendo console–and probably other consoles, too. However, we’re very happy with the results. Fidelity, image quality and a smooth framerate are our priorities. Detractors note, Wii U is proving very capable of running the game at 60fps at 720p with 4xMSAA and FXAA resulting in a crystal clear image. It’s simply beautiful.

On the programming side these past few weeks our lead programmer has been busy working on the AI and creating the type of competition we’ve discussed in the past–focusing on a fun arcade experience. Our goal is to be able to race against 30 cars in each race. If we hit that number we’ll be quite happy

Many of you have emailed us asking for a release date, unfortunately it’s hard to give you a solid date but mid 2014 is our goal for now.

Thank you for being patient and even more thanks for all the support and interest in the project. It’s kept us going and we love hearing from all of you!

November 29, 2013

’90s: New Video, Environments

Hello everyone,
I wanted this update to be a gameplay video but unfortunately the car handling is not ready to show yet. Instead I would like to share a video showing the latest developments for the race tracks. Excuse me for the quite bad youtube compression.

As many of you might have already figured out the game won’t be out this year, targeting more platforms as well as creating more cars and tracks than what was originally planned have led to a longer development cycle.

We are working hard to get the physics right and get rid of any bugs and unwanted behavior while also working on the AI and general game structure. It’s quite a challenge but every day we are getting closer.

Probably the biggest undertaking for this project, the art assets, tracks and cars are close to 90% done which means there is enough time to polish and optimize in order to get the best possible results.

November 7, 2013

Legend of Raven Coming to PS4 and Xbox One with GGPO!

We’re sure some of you may have heard that Legend of Raven is coming to more than just PlayStation Vita. Well, we’re super happy to confirm that Legend of Raven will indeed be releasing on PlayStation 4 AND Xbox One. It gets better, too. We’ve signed an agreement with Tony Cannon to implement GGPO netcode for the console version of Legend of Raven. Oh, and did we mention that the PlayStation 4 and Vita version will be cross-buy/cross play? Yeah, pretty cool.

Check out the new trailer below that shows some of the more interesting combos in Legend of Raven. We want to hear more of your feedback and thanks for the support!