In The Works For Two Decades, Legend Of Iya Is Gorgeous

By Nathan Grayson on July 18th, 2013 at 12:00 pm.

I don’t normally squawk and squeal over pixel art, but well, my throat currently sounds like a jungle of parrots and horrifying red foxes. Legend of Iya is an absolute sight to be behold, with intricate art singing life into its boulder-strewn hills. And also castles, forests, giant rock monsters, and T-Rex robots. Pixel art maestro Andrew “darkfalzx” Bado has been developing the Metroidvania on-and-off for nearly two decades, but always in the background of other professional projects for companies like WayForward and Majesco. Legend of Iya’s undergone countless transitions and transformations, but now Bado’s finally ready to finish it. He just needs one thing. Or rather, 75,000 one things. Yeah, you probably know where this is going.

But how did Bado reach this point? Well, pretty much like this:

“Legend of Iya (it’s pronounced Ee-yah), has been my never-ending passion project as long as I can remember. Beginning with early 8-bit computers, and stretching all the way to present day, the game has changed, evolved and improved over the years, from a simple 8-bit run-and-jump to something far more compelling. The game has seen at least half a dozen iterations, each time dying, but being reborn as some kind of a stubborn freaking phoenix.”

The sprawling Metroidvania begins with an Alice-in-Wonderland-like setup – young girl gets whisked away into a land of fantastical and bizarre misadventures – but Bado insists that it goes in some pretty unexpected directions. I believe him, given that I don’t remember seeing any elephants with miniguns for tusks in classic children’s stories.

The rest, meanwhile, sounds like it’s par for the course on grounds whipped (and whipped good) by the likes of Alucard and Samus: countless skills and items, combo-based combat, and secrets galore.

So Legend of Iya’s not the most innovative thing, but it’s clearly gushing love. Assuming it reaches its $75,000 funding goal, Bado’s aiming to have it out next year. Granted, this project has been his baby for longer than it’s actually possible for just about anything to stay a baby, so I have to wonder if he’ll actually be ready to let it go when the day comes. But then, he does have copious amounts of professional experience. I imagine he knows when to cut the cord and let a project go free. Here’s hoping, anyway.

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82 Comments »

  1. BurningPet says:

    Need to speed up the running animation just a bit. otherwise, looks very lovely.

  2. Tinotoin says:

    Is it just the video, or is the animation a little, I dunno, clunky? The game itself is really intriguing, but it seemed a little jerky to me.

    I’m not bashing here, just wanted to see if anyone else shared this view.

    • MarcP says:

      I’m with you, and I’ve noticed the same effect happening in other 2D games or mods where sprites go beyond a certain amount of frames per animation. Intuitively you’d think more frames per second should always make things smoother for everyone, but it’s like how those movies shot at high FPS make some viewers feel like it’s eerie and unrealistic.

      I’m loving the environments on this, and the bosses look especially gorgeous. Yet I can’t help but feel slightly uneasy with the emphasis on the protagonist being twelve years old (why does it matter? couldn’t she just be “a teenager”?), while at the same time having a very sexualized look, with mini-skirt, giant belt and in-game idle posture emphasizing her hips.

      Yes, yes, YMMV, might be just me, other people could see stylistic choices arguably necessary to make 2D sprites stand out in that. And yes, I am also aware girls dress like that at 12 now; but it’s one thing for girls to wear what they want in real life even if it’s sexualized, and it’s another to have a grown man painting a fictional sexualized preteen pixel per pixel.

      • Teovald says:

        12 year old ?!? I saw the gameplay video & artworks without reading that and assumed she is 20-something.
        It is a weird art choice.

      • frightlever says:

        She looks like a school girl. I have no idea what you’re reading into it. Genuinely.

        I thought the animations were nice though the actual art direction wasn’t anything special. Go figure.

        • aliksy says:

          Do schoolgirls wear skirts that short? I honestly don’t know. If you zoom in on the header image it goes like halfway to her knees.

          Also whoever thought it was a good idea for chrome to use the same zoom setting for entire domains is a bad person who needs to go into the corner of shame.

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            Well you have to wonder who designs these outfits and who forces the students to wear them. Men, right?

          • Cinek says:

            Lesbians?

          • JamesTheNumberless says:

            The girl at the top of the page does seem a bit at-odds with the sprite in the actual game. Like she’s grown into a lanky teen but kept the same clothes on!

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        To me she’s been drawn and animated completely as a child, and is basically wearing a school uniform. Reminds me more of Sonic than of any grown up female character. Seriously this is one of the most innocent looking game characters I’ve seen in ages. It could just be that the style of the game reminds me of when I was 12 :)

      • apocraphyn says:

        “[...]a very sexualized look, with mini-skirt, giant belt and in-game idle posture emphasizing her hips.”

        …really? Reeeeeeally? I guess some people see sexuality in everything. Just becomes a tad worrying when they start seeing it in 12 year olds, sprites or no. Looks perfectly innocent to me!

      • pilouuuu says:

        Well, strangely enough teenagers that I’ve met in real life look much more sexualized than the character in this game.

        I’m getting bored of people always complaining about that here in RPS. They did the same with Bioshock Infinite. I don’t mind if the character of a videogame want to be a prostitute or something. Let the characters wear whatever they want!

        • jrodman says:

          While *this* heroine doesn’t deserve complaint, IMO, claiming that the clothing of characters in videogames is the personal choice of the character is a common (albiet bizarre) fallacy.

          Obviously the fictional characters don’t actually exist, and certainly don’t choose their own attire. The choices are clearly those of their creators, and can be judged as such.

          *Within* the realm of a serious work of fiction, we can *also* get interested in the choices that a character makes for themselves. Most games don’t reach even this mark. But such a viewpoint does not invalidate that the choices were actually made by the creators.

          • JamesTheNumberless says:

            I don’t think anybody has ever made such a claim about a fictional character without it being taken as read that the author/artist is the one making the choice.

            I disagree that a character has to be part of a serious work of fiction in order for them to exist and be important outside the context of their fiction or for us to discuss them as entities in their own right. Why should this be the case?

            Sonic the Hedgehog chooses red sneakers because they make him run really fast. But he never sweats like a fat plumber, because he’s a cool hedgehog. He’s so cool he’s blue. Sonic tells us about the state of the games industry, the ambitions of Sega and something of what it was to be a child in the 1990s.

            How is this any different from discussing a character in Macbeth?

      • Lemming says:

        If you think she looks ‘sexualised’ I’d say that’s your issue dude, cos I don’t get that at all. She just looks like a young girl wearing what young girls wear, kicking butt.

      • Jupiah says:

        You’ve gotta be joking. Her clothes are baggy and unflattering, the art style is very cartoonish, her sprite isn’t very detailed, and there isn’t a panty shot or any cleavage to be seen. If you think she’s too sexualized then I’d say that’s your own problem of seeing sexualization where there isn’t any.

        Although I do agree that she doesn’t look 12, but the weird cartoonish body proportions, with the huge legs, hands and head, make guessing her age kind of a crapshoot anyway.

      • d1a2n says:

        Wonderful overanalysis.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I thought the same thing when I saw it on Greenlight.
      http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=159562434

      The backgrounds are gorgeous but I hate the design of the main character. He also probably picked the wrong time to launch a kickstarter.

  3. Noviere says:

    ^^^ Okay, so I’m not the only one. While watching it, I was like “Gosh that’s pretty! But why is she running in slow motion?”

    • DarkFenix says:

      That was my thought, “looks great, but why is it in slow motion?”

      • P7uen says:

        My thought was similar “I enjoy the visuals, but why is she running in slow motion?”

        • Sparkasaurusmex says:

          I thought like you guys, sort of, but my thought was more like, “The graphics look great but why is she running in slow motion?”

          • Berzee says:

            I haven’t watched the video yet, but everything I’ve heard from very reliable sources suggests that while the appearance of the game is excellent, but why is she running in slow motion?

          • Berzee says:

            I watched the video, and was very disappointed in the accuracy of the reports I’d received. My thought was, “This is stunningly rendered, but why isn’t she running in slow motion?”

            (that is to say, it’s not that bad! more of a stomp-motion than slow-motion…and it really is quite nice-looking, especially in the levels that are colorful and not castle-dungeons)

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            Everything looks great but I would prefer smoother and quicker animations for a fun platformer. I don’t know if complaining here (especially with a humorous tone) is going to make any difference, but it’s something I’m good at!

            (and no, it’s not that bad. But could be better!)

          • Berzee says:

            Your complaining is great, but why aren’t you posting in slow motion?

          • The Random One says:

            *cracks whip* Not to endlessly repeat the same joke; that is the Law. Are we four chan?

  4. casshern09 says:

    Dat music.

  5. c-Row says:

    Not sure if I will ever get around playing it since I am not the biggest Metroidvania fan around, but here – have my money!

    • Berzee says:

      There are so many “Metroidvania” games that sound and look amazing, but every time I try to play them I just wither away. D: It is a tragic character flaw.

  6. Randomer says:

    Blah blah blah retro pixel art. Blah blah blah pandering to the masses. Blah blah blah wish it looked like Call of Duty.

    Just wanted to get the obligatory anti-retro sentiments out of the way. Carry on with the conversations!

    • Rikard Peterson says:

      Yes, it does look good (despite the slow motion animation).

      But when I see it, I can’t help but wish that it was made without the brick-sized pixels. It’s like seeing a beautiful close-up in a game from Wadjet Eye, and be reminded of of good the game could have looked – just compare the top image to the video, and imagine having that detail in it actual game.

  7. Juan Carlo says:

    This looks awesome. I absolutely cannot wait to buy it in some future Humble Bundle, play it for 5 minutes, then completely forget about it.

  8. maximiZe says:

    Animation quality is outrageously good, but some of them might be overdone. Do you really need a >1 second animation when jumping onto a ladder? Also the ‘chunkiness’ looked more like slowdown due to lack of optimization to me, there’s a few sequences where the protag runs considerably faster.

    Looks sweet nonetheless.

  9. ran93r says:

    I’m a curmudgeonly old bastard who is just a little tired of the 8/16bit pixel art throwback projects but I still backed it. Anyone who has worked on a project this long, starting the damn thing as an actual 8bit game (if that is true) is worthy of a few of my quids.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      Maybe I should dig out the text adventure I was making 25 years ago, and stick that on Kickstarter.

      • AngoraFish says:

        But can you still find a drive that will read your old 5 1/4 inch disk?

        • Sparkasaurusmex says:

          Believe it or not those are still being manufactured

        • JamesTheNumberless says:

          Actually it was on tape :)

          But no, it was in no way anything special, or worth going back to. And I was about 8. The best ideas I had when I was that young were way beyond my ability to program (and not that good either).

          • Rikard Peterson says:

            My best game idea as a child was a top-down two-player racing game with rubber banding between the cars. And by rubber banding, I mean an actual physical rubber band. (Or maybe a stiff rope – whatever works best.) I still think that could possibly be an interesting game mechanic.

          • Pray For Death says:

            Did you (Rikard) end up working on the Need for Speed series by any chance?

          • Rikard Peterson says:

            No – are you saying that there is such a gameplay mechanic in one of the NFS games? Which one?

      • phlebas says:

        If you can convince yourself and other people that it’s worth giving you money to do so, then by all means. It wouldn’t be the first text adventure project on there.

  10. botonjim says:

    It does indeed look and sound fabulous in an Amiga-ish sort of way, but I’m kind of put off by the author’s decision to have it render at 256*192 or something like that. My pc is not a Game Boy Advance!

    Would most likely back otherwise.

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      Excuse me but this looks nothing like an Amiga game. If you could go back in time and show this to Amiga players they would shit bricks or die of a heart attack.

    • Mad Hamish says:

      It’s got a bit more frames per second on the animations and more colours I’d say, but Amiga was definitely the first thing that came to mind. It reminded me of when I had a C64 and was looking at multiplatform magazines(probably CVG or Mean Machines) gawping and drooling at Amiga screenshots.

  11. Disrespecting says:

    I liked it for the most part, but that running animation bothered me throughout the entire video, it seemed.. Quite terrible.

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      Yeah. Old school graphics can look amazing and have a certain charm, but a big draw is that you don’t have to worry about optimizing and hardware so much. All our machines can run a 16 bit platformer quite easily… so why does it look like it has Crysis-on-a-Pentium slowdown?

  12. phlebas says:

    So is the Spectrum bit a previous version of the game or a weird bit of the current version?

  13. TsunamiWombat says:

    First I want to say: Don’t get me wrong, this is an amazing project, Bado should be proud of what he’s made, etc. I love pretty pixel arts, the animation in The Iconoclasts made me giddy. But now onto constructive criticism:

    The art is very pretty, though the animation itself is sooooooooo slooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwww and there seems to be considerable slowdown during actual gameplay sequences. Also that music was horrible.

    I hope he gets his kickstarter money and spends it on polish and a composer.

  14. faelnor says:

    “An epic metroidvania adventure built of beautiful pixels.”
    “An adventure of ridiculous EPICNESS!
    No thanks.

  15. Erinduck says:

    “Legend of Iya (it’s pronounced Ee-yah), has been my never-ending passion project as long as I can remember. Beginning with early 8-bit computers, and stretching all the way to present day, the game has changed, evolved and improved over the years, from a simple 8-bit run-and-jump to something far more compelling. The game has seen at least half a dozen iterations, each time dying, but being reborn as some kind of a stubborn freaking phoenix.”

    And I should believe he has it right this time because..?

    • dE says:

      That’s my concern as well. Can he break the cycle and get it out the door?
      Especially since he already mentions his current build is ” in a bit of disarray at the moment”. I know the feeling of going full Nero on a project. It’s tempting. Time has moved on, new shiny stuff has come out that would just fit too well with the project and it’s in disarray too, why not start over? I also know from personal experience it’s nigh impossible to break out of.

      • Rikard Peterson says:

        That could be a reason for the Kickstarter. Once the fundraiser has succeeded, scrapping it and starting over is no longer an option, so it’s no longer a temptation and obstacle to finishing the thing.

    • Lemming says:

      It’s not dying because it’s losing investment or something, it’s because he’s doing it in his spare time for himself, and his abilities and available software have changed over the years. It’s not the sort of thing that should be cause for concern. He’s just decided now that he wants to push for a proper finished product. The tools available and advent of Kickstarter surely make it the best time to do this.

  16. deadly.by.design says:

    It looks like enemies only hurt you when they attack and connect, rather than just doing damage upon touching them. I like that!

  17. Synesthesia says:

    those animations are fucking gorgeous. Grappling the stairs mid jump, climbing up a ledge, there’s some love going on there. Also GATLING MAMMOTH.

  18. Beartastic says:

    The Shadow of the Beast inspired logo is really out of place.

  19. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Looks pretty good as far as I’m concerned. I might very well back this.

  20. Shepardus says:

    Those are some nice backgrounds. For no reason other than pretty pixel art, I’m reminded of Owlboy, so I must ask, what happened to that game? It hasn’t been released yet, has it?

  21. Toad says:

    I worked with the guy that’s hosting this Kickstarter and actually played the in progress game. This was over 5 years ago. The game actually felt great even with the slow animations. He’s got a knack for making controls ‘feel’ nice and obviously some crazy animation skills.

  22. MetFed says:

    Cool to see the logo they are using is in the same style Richard Dean used with the legendary games company Psygnosis.

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