Mega Cat Studios are a retro and current gen game development studio based in Pittsburgh USA. What is interesting about MCS is the fact that the games that are created for original retro systems, get full box packaging and artwork, and a full colour manual just like you would have received back in the day; while still also releasing on modern day formats that current generation gamers would be familiar with. Just for you lucky Orange Bison readers we were able to secure an interview with the head of Mega Cat Studio, Zack Manko also known as Retro Apostle.
Orange Bison: How did Mega Cat Studio get into making games for retro consoles?
Mega Cat Studio: We had been doing contract game dev for several years, and decided to do a project for ourselves. Most of us grew up with the NES, so we figured it would be a unique place to start. Once we got our feet wet, we had such a blast that we decided to jump in!
OB: Do you enjoy the challenge of limited hardware?
MCS: Working around the limitations of legacy hardware is certainly a challenge, but in many ways it makes you a better designer. There isn’t room for a lot of bells and whistles, so you have to make sure that the core of the game is fun and engaging. The specifications on the art squeeze the creativity from artists in new ways. On the other hand, it’s a blast to come up with ways to push these classic consoles to their limits with some cool effects and rarely used tricks.
OB: What are the main pros and cons for working with retro consoles?
MCS: Pros include the nostalgia of working with these cherished icons from our youth. It’s very satisfying, and I’m sure ten year old Zack would be high-fiving me right now, if he could ha ha! This connection is something shared by many gamers, and there’s no shortage of love for these classic consoles. The major con is that forecasting a project is always a nightmare. It’s tough to predict a timeline, especially because bug testing takes so long – after all, you can’t put out a patch or update for a physical cartridge!
OB: From what we have seen on your twitter and your website your very focused on building a community and helping out content creators. Do you feel that this is an important part of your ethos?
MCS: Absolutely. There was a well-established community of NES devs that we tapped into to get started with our own projects. To give back, we regularly put up a series of blogs about game design, working within restrictions, and programming tricks for these consoles. We want to foster this community by being a resource for other enthusiasts. This is especially true with the SNES. There are no easy tools for development on this console, and there is not the same type of community as there is on the NES. So every time we learn a lesson the hard way, we’re sure to put up a blog post about it. Its weird to be a pioneer for a 30 year old system!
OB: Do you have any new projects in the works that you would like to share?
MCS: Little Medusa has found her way to the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive and the SNES! Go full gorgon as you solve brain boggling levels, dodge traps, and take down the Titans in this action puzzler! You can even check out a free demo from our site. Also, be sure to check out Fork Parker’s Crunch-Out! This is a collaboration between Mega Cat Studios, Devolver Digital, and the ‘TakeThis’ Charity.
OB: Finally do you have advice for people who want to get into the industry and or want to create games for retro consoles?
MCS: Develop a good work habit. Creating a game from the ground up is a tremendous undertaking, and will require perseverance. Be willing to put the time in.If you’re working with a team, develop some people skills. This is good advice for people trying to break into the industry as well. The ability to communicate clearly, self-organise, and support others are necessary for the health of any project, and the sanity of those involved.
We would like to thank Zack for his time answering our questions. If you would like to know more about Mega Cat Studio or if you would like to purchase some of their fantastic games visit https://megacatstudios.com. Also give Mega Cat Studio a follow on Twitter. They are very active in engaging fans so I highly suggest you get involved!
Don’t forget that MCS also have a Kickstarter that is live until 12th October 2018 for their new game, Log Jammers. It looks amazing so be sure to have a look.