For those looking for a new platforming, boss-rush game with old cartoony animation then look no further! Enchanted Portals has you covered. This is something we have talked about a couple of times over on Indie Pod -a podcast all about indie games- and wanted to know a little bit more about. And the developers have graciously agreed to an interview with us so let’s get right to it.
[Editor’s note: this interview has been lightly edited for clarity and readability – Jason]
First off, let’s start with why you’re passionate about creating this game. What really made you say “We have to make this!”
Well, it is no secret that we’re avid Cuphead fans, and Enchanted Portals was born from a deep admiration for the original. We’re a small team of just two people and for our first project in the world of game development, we wanted to create a similar game, as an homage to it. The way Cuphead seamlessly blends the look of a 1930s cartoon with the classic run and gun gameplay was really appealing to us, we thought it was a shame that no other games were trying to do something similar so we set to do it ourselves!
Were you nervous about creating a game with a very similar look and feel to that of Cuphead? How do you feel that has impacted the reception of the game?
We were fully aware from the start that there would be backlash of course, but we couldn’t have ever anticipated just how viral the first trailer became, and with it how much toxicity and criticism would be thrown our way. It was a bit rough, but once the initial surprise died down there was quite a substantial change in the reception of the game, with more and more people reaching out to us to say that they love Enchanted Portals and would love to play it someday.
You initially attempted launching a Kickstarter campaign for this but canceled it, correct? What exactly caused this cancellation?
We never got to even launch the campaign the first time, we were approached by the publishing company shortly after showing the first trailer and we decided to delay the launch of the campaign indefinitely until we had sorted that out, as that opened the possibility of funding the campaign without ever having to go through Kickstarter.
I believe you also had a publishing company at the time that isn’t with you now. Some considered this being due to concerns of the game’s similarities to Cuphead. Can you share any information on what happened?
The similarities were never a concern for the publisher, it was us who had to say no to the deal in the end. The contract we were offered had some non-negotiable points that were just unacceptable for us. They wanted too much control over the IP rights and also there were some very scary hypothetical scenarios where, even after completing the game, if the publisher didn’t like the final product or the sales were low, we’d have to pay the publishers back their investment in full.
Well, I’m glad you are at least able to continue by going the Kickstarter route then. Let’s talk a little more about the game itself now. Cuphead is an obvious inspiration but are there any other games or media that you used to come up with things like the story or music for the game?
Just as with Cuphead, the 1930s rubber hose style of animation is the main inspiration for Enchanted Portals, but there are many other sources of inspiration as well. The overall story of the protagonists going through different dimensions through portals gives us the opportunity to explore a lot of different ideas and themes, and so you can see some references to other more recent styles of animation here and there, like Warner Bros., Don Bluth, or cartoon series from the 90s. For the characters and worlds they visit, we initially thought about having them all be based on classic fairy tales and folklore (like the princess with the frogs) but other more absurd ideas keep popping up that seemed too good not to include, so in the end, we dropped all the constraints and we added everything that we thought was interesting and fun. For the music we were going for a jazz-centered soundtrack initially just like Cuphead, but fans quickly suggested us to change it to a more fantastical sound that better fits the game’s themes, and so we now have a more varied soundtrack with different styles that fit each world of the game, and with heavy inspiration from other videogame soundtracks like Monkey Island, Banjo Kazooie, The Legend of Zelda, and many others.
You mention the amount of bosses and content depends on funding. If you only receive base funding about how many would you anticipate having?
For our base goal in the campaign, only the bosses shown in the trailer plus a couple more would be part of the game, with at least one platforming stage happening between each of the boss fights.
And lastly, this is something I generally ask indie game creators, what advice would you give to others who want to get started or for those who might already have something but want to create a Kickstarter campaign?
This is our first project so we’re not really sure if we’re fit to give helpful advice to other indie game devs out there since we still have a lot to learn too, but there’s a couple things we have learned the hard way that we’ll mention. The first thing we would recommend is to be very, very cautious with publishing companies, as their contracts (especially the first drafts they send) tend to be very detrimental for the developers, often in very sneaky ways you don’t see at a first glance. The second thing we would tell you is that, if your project goes viral, take advantage of it as soon as possible, as virality goes away really quickly. Everyone might be talking about your game now and forget about it completely tomorrow, so seize the opportunity!
Once again thank you so much to the Xixo Games Studio. It’s interesting just how important logistics can be when it comes to game development. If you thought this sounds interesting go over and check out their Kickstarter page while it’s still available.