Interview – Bitmap Bureau

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Orange Bison had the pleasure to speak to Mike Tucker from Bitmap Bureau to talk about his up and coming game Xeno Crisis.

Orange Bison: Can you tell us about your project?

Bitmap Bureau: Well, Xeno Crisis is a new game originally designed for the Sega Mega Drive / Genesis which takes a lot of inspiration from Smash TV but also throws in elements of Mercs, Shock Troopers, The Chaos Engine, Skeleton Krew, Zombies Ate My Neighbours, Alien Syndrome, Twinkle Tale and a few others! So it’s essentially a top-down arena shooter where players must work their way through an off-world colony which has been ravaged by a supposed alien force. There’s a choice of either a male or female marine and the game can be played with 2-players simultaneously. There’s an arsenal of 10 weapons to make use of and you can upgrade your marine between areas by exchanging any dog-tags you collect.

OB: What prompted you to make a game for the Sega Megadrive / Dreamcast over the other retro consoles?

BB: The Japanese Mega Drive was the first console that I owned, and of course at the age of 13 it made a huge impression on me. Mega Drive games have a certain look and sound that makes them distinct from anything else, and we wanted to push ourselves to see if we could create not just any Mega Drive game, but hopefully one that owners of the console would get really excited about. We’d also had some experience of creating both a Mega Drive and Dreamcast game at Global Game Jam events, and so when we decided to launch the Kickstarter for Xeno Crisis, it made sense to us that we should bring the game to the Dreamcast too, as well as modern-day platforms.

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OB: Do you enjoy the challenge of using limited hardware?

BB: We’ve always enjoyed having been some of the pioneers of early mobile phone game development, creating games in about 16kb on tiny black and white displays that had a resolution of 96×65 pixels! So we’re no strangers to working within tight technical constraints. I’m a firm believer that working within modest specifications can actually inspire creativity. It is tough at times though – something you take for granted when developing a modern PC / console game might be utterly impossible on the Mega Drive, so I constantly have to check with my colleague Matt that I’m not adding anything too crazy to the game.

OB: How long have you had the idea for the game?

BB: Not long at all! I think Matt suggested that we make a Mega Drive game for our next project and look to Kickstart it back in October of last year, and so I got thinking about what genre hadn’t already been done-to-death on the system, as well as what kind of game wouldn’t be too insane to program, and I thought that something along the lines of Smash TV would be a good starting point. Within a day or two I had a decent prototype up and running, and then the “Aliens” theme seemed the most appropriate given the Mega Drive’s popularity in the 80s and 90s.

OB: We can see you have taken a lot of inspiration from games like Chaos engine and Smash TV etc. Would you say this game is like a ‘love letter’ to those games?

BB: I greatly admire those games and without them (or Berzerk!) Xeno Crisis wouldn’t exist, but we’ve tried to give Xeno Crisis its own feel and hopefully add some elements to the genre to make it stand out in its own right. If we can make a game that’s anywhere near as good as Smash TV then I’ll be more than happy!

OB: How do you feel the Kickstarter went?

BB: It couldn’t have gone much better from our point of view really – we launched at an awkward time of year with the campaign spanning Christmas, but the project eventually received 362% of the funding we aimed for, and the reception was amazing. We weren’t sure of what to expect before launch, but it quickly became apparent that Mega Drive fans were very excited to see the campaign succeed, and we hit our funding target within 40 hours.

OB: When will this game be released?

BB: We’re aiming for the end of October 2018 to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Mega Drive’s launch in Japan.

OB:
Where can Xeno Crisis be purchased from?

BB: It can be pre-ordered on our BackerKit page here: https://xenocrisis.backerkit.com/hosted_preorders

OB: How much will Xeno Crisis cost?

BB: The boxed Mega Drive version is currently £55 – obviously this version is the most expensive of the lot due to the PCB, manual and box manufacturing. The Dreamcast version is £30 with the PC and Switch versions being around £10. We also have the soundtrack by Savaged Regime available on both CD and vinyl. 🙂

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Orange Bison would like to thank Mike for his time answering our questions. If you would like to learn more about Xeno Crisis visit https://xenocrisis.backerkit.com . You can also follow their Twitter @BitmapBureau.

My name is Boouya I am a 22 year old RetroGamer from the UK. As a massive fan of History and video games, retro game collecting came to me almost as second nature; I am a massive fan of the 8 and 16 bit generations with the Super Famicom as my favorite system. As a Collector I collect games from all regions, I am really interested in the differences between Regions and also between Consoles.

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