A Nostalgic Journey: Rugrats Adventures in Game land, Developer Interview

As an older gamer who loves getting lost in retro nostalgia of games from the past, who also enjoys the latest AAA block buster that comes w...

As an older gamer who loves getting lost in retro nostalgia of games from the past, who also enjoys the latest AAA block buster that comes with cornea melting graphics I always enjoy when a studio creates a remake from some of the old 8-  and 16 bit games from the "good ol' days" Especially when they get a big audio and visual upgrade and include the old game graphics so you can compare what the game really was and how much was your brain compensating. Some examples in the last few years have been games such as Wonderboy, Diablo2 remake, Alex Kidd, Tomb Raider Remastered and many more. 

While at PAX we saw a new game that despite the game never existing until now it still delivers us a taste of the by gone 8 bit era while also delivering HD cartoon quality graphics. 

We had a great conversation with Thomas Guinan, Lead Developer at The Next Games. Recently the curtain had lifted on the highly anticipated "Rugrats Adventures in Gameland." and it was available for the public to try out at the PAX East show floor.  Guinan, an architect of retro gaming nostalgia, shares insights into the creative process, design intricacies, and the fusion of old-school charm with modern gameplay mechanics.

A Blast from the Past

Guinan reminisces about the genesis of the project, citing their successful foray into retro gaming with "Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl." The team, emboldened by the warm reception, set their sights on resurrecting another beloved franchise from yesteryears. Rugrats, with its endearing characters and timeless appeal, emerged as the perfect candidate for a retro-styled adventure. One of the game's defining features is its dual presentation: an authentic 8-bit mode and a stunning HD rendition. Guinan elaborates on the seamless transition between the two modes, allowing players to toggle between retro pixels and vibrant hand-drawn graphics at will and the same goes for the incredible soundtrack. This innovation adds a layer of nostalgia for older players while ensuring a visually captivating experience for newcomers.

A Meta Adventure: Rugrats Take the Reins

The game's narrative takes a meta turn, with the Rugrats themselves embarking on a quest to create their own video game after stumbling upon a reptar commercial. Angelica assumes the role of the boss in this whimsical escapade, setting the stage for a series of delightful encounters across seven distinct levels. Players can play solo or in coop where they assume the roles of Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, and Lil, each with their unique abilities and playstyles. The ability to switch between characters mid-level adds depth to the gameplay, encouraging strategic decision-making and exploration. You can even share your health with the other player if they go down. While playing the demo under guidance of Thomas he pointed out the parallels to classic NES titles like Little Samson, where character abilities dictated progression through the game world.

Navigating Challenges: From Hitboxes to Memory Constraints

Guinan sheds light on the technical challenges faced during development, particularly in reconciling gameplay elements across different visual styles. First there was the determination on a story that made sense as if it was a missing episode of the show itself and what kind of level design goes with that. In some cases, not all ideas were easily sold. Such as a level based on the episode "what the big people do" where all babies pretended to be adults working in an office space. The idea of an office as a background for an adventure was not an easy sell and still an idea that Thomas would have loved to have included. When asking how they handled the difference between the small 8-bit sprites and the HD graphics and if there were any challenges. Thomas explained that customized tools were employed to ensure consistency in hitbox alignments and other things like that, while keeping strict adherence to NES memory constraints preserved the authenticity of the 8-bit experience. The result is a harmonious blend of old-school aesthetics and modern game design. And it has also allowed the team to release the 8bit version of the game on NES cartridge when it releases. 

Guinan emphasizes the game's status as a passion project, a labor of love crafted by fans for fans. Working closely with Nickelodeon, the team ensured meticulous attention to detail, from character designs to animation fidelity. Reminiscing about the show Thomas reflected on his favorite character in the show.  "I personally always liked Chucky, He was this this real and interesting character who seemed to be a lot like me dealing with this anxiety problems run into the random problems like losing his glasses or being afraid of being flushed down the drain these real problems made it a fun and relatable thing to watch when I was a kid and he Alway overcame his problems". This feels for each character's unique personalities, weaknesses and strengths also reflects in the game design and Rugrats enthusiasts can expect a treasure trove of Easter eggs and callbacks, promising a nostalgic journey through cherished memories. 

As Rugrats Adventures in Game land prepares for its imminent release, Guinan invites fans old and new to embark on this enchanting journey. Whether reliving fond memories of the original series or discovering the magic of retro gaming, the game promises an experience that transcends generational boundaries. With pre-orders now open, anticipation mounts for the nostalgic odyssey awaiting players this spring.

Based on all the attention the game received at the PAX booth it is clear to us that Rugrats, once again has captured the imagination of the now grown-up fans of the show and even their kids, a whole new generation. This is a game that could bring families together to venture forth into the realm of gaming, inviting each other to join them on an unforgettable adventure. The question will remain, are you playing 8-bit nostalgia or go full HD mode? Who knows dad or mom might just dust of that old NES in the attic.

You can Wishlist the game on steam: link

or preorder the NES cartridge from Limited Run here 

About the writer: DadGeek (Rob) is the co-founder of GeeksVsGeeks. He is a product of the eighties and never let go of his geek interest and hobbies no matter how often someone told him to stop. His love for gaming and all things geeks has been part of his parenting style and permeates throughout the whole family. A family of Geeks vs Geeks 


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