Thursday, June 14, 2012

Indie RPG "Boot Hill Heroes" Is Old School with a Hint of New

For the past month or so, my 360 has been getting less use, while my modest "Little Laptop That Could" has been getting more love.  With no access to the Xbox Live that fueled my Gears 3 multiplayer addiction, and my general lack of motivation to turn the system on, I turned to Steam's budget-friendly indie selection, bought twelve games (thanks, Humble  Indie Bundle!) and accrued a sizable wish list.  So, it's safe to say my interest in indie projects has been piqued recently, and this new-found interest comes just in time for Operation Rainfall's interview with the developers of the upcoming retro-flavored RPG, Boot Hill Heroes.
The great thing about indie games is, of course, that the developers are free to do things that big publishers might write off as too "dated" or "niche" to be worth their funding.  Boot Hill Heroes has embraced the vocal niche that is classic JRPG fans as a game whose primary influences include Earthbound/Mother 2, Final Fantasy VI, and Tales of Vesperia.  In the interview, they mention other Super Nintendo staples like Secret of Mana, Chrono Trigger, and Super Mario RPG.  Sure, we've seen a lot of 16-bit RPGs... but not so much in recent years.  The game also puts a little twist on the classic JRPG, taking place in an old Western setting--something drastically underused in video games, let alone RPGs, and a far cry from the typical fantasy backdrop that is the genre's bread and butter.

Better yet, the money that developers Dave and Ben received in vast excess of their original $5,000 Kickstarter goal is going into the polishing and tweaking of the game--and addition of online co-op.  Their FAQ writes:
The game features a team of four characters – Kid, Doc, Moon, and Rosy. A single player can control the entire party, or friends can play cooperatively by taking controlling [sic] of certain characters. Players can seamlessly drop-in and drop-out just by picking up an Xbox controller (or an input device for the Windows version). The menu system is designed so that four players can simultaneously manage their characters’ equipment and abilities.
The way they explain it in their Operation Rainfall interview makes it sound like the familiar, Active Time Battle systems of Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger, effectively busting the myth that co-op only allows for real-time battle systems.  Finally, it looks like the game will have plenty of personality.  I love that the top reward tier, reserved for one very generous contributor, is "the title of Mayor of Kickstart Creek," which allows them to design the cheekily named town to their own liking, and a role as an NPC in the game.  Lower reward tiers grant donors NPC status as well.  It looks like they're taking a lot of inspiration from the fans, and want to interact with and include them in this undertaking.
Overall, this has quickly become one of my most anticipated games, and thankfully, the wait isn't too terribly long; it will be out in October for Windows and Xbox Live Indie Games.  The classic JRPG may have had its own Gilded Age in the 90s, but that doesn't mean some of us don't long for a blast from the past every now and then--especially when the developers attempt to do some new things with the genre, as well.  The fact that the developers clearly put so much heart and soul into their project is icing on the cake.

What indie games are you looking forward to?  Pssst:  the Steam Summer Sale is coming up.  You're welcome.

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