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Hop between 8 and 16-bit eras in The Messenger

The generation game

So long as it moves and feels right and has an original idea or two of its own, I'll always make time for an old-school platformer, especially one starring ninjas. What can I say? I grew up through the late 80s/early 90s.

The Messenger is the upcoming debut game from Sabotage Studio, and it looks, at least at first glance, more than a little like Ninja Gaiden. That alone is enough to catch my eye, but the addition of Metroid-like exploration elements built around hopping between 8 and 16-bit iterations of the game? Alright then, you've got my interest.

The Messenger has already made a bit of splash in Canada. At the Montreal Independent Games Festival, it came away with both the Best Gameplay Design and Best Music awards, and I must admit that the audio in the trailer below is catchy. Apparently it's composed in Famitracker, meaning it's fully NES-authentic.

The big gimmick of the game is a little bit of a mystery at this point, but it seems that at some point, you gain the ability to phase between 8 and 16-bit eras, with level structure changing, and the art being significantly improved in the latter realm, right down to enemies having more-detailed sprites with additional animation frames. Sabotage have some art chops for sure, so it's not too surprising that they're also collaborating with Oddworld Inhabitants to develop Oddworld: Soulstorm, the modern reboot of the classic puzzle-platformer.

Sabotage only fully announced The Messenger just recently, and the teaser trailer saves the main twist of the game for the last couple seconds. Sabotage Studio will be demoing the game at PAX South in 2018, so hopefully we'll hear a few more details then.

The Messenger is due to launch sometime this year. Until then, you can follow it on Sabotage's site and the game's Steam page.

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