If there's one thing that gets the heart pounding, it's meeting your heroes for the first time — those few influential figures that have played prominent roles in your life, be it directly or otherwise, perhaps through their work or words they've shared.
Perhaps more palpitation-inducing than that, however, is having those same admired figures experience your own work — which was heavily influenced by that person — for the first time.
Being shown publicly for the first time were two particular titles heavily influenced by the NES era Castlevania games, the 3D Momodora V prototype by Bombservice and Brave Earth: Prologue by Kayinworks. Both are published and localized by the recently formed Osaka-based Dangen Entertainment, along with the stunning pixelated side-scrolling adventure game Iconoclasts by Joachim Sandberg and the rich RPG Cross Code by Radical Fish Games.
It was on the Saturday of BitSummit that Castlevania mastermind and whip-enthusiast Koji Igarashi found himself amongst the throng of event-goers looking at what was on show. With a little helpful suggestion, Igarashi made his way first over to the Momodora V stand, where the developers stood by, watching in terror as he made his way through the demo. While it may have felt terrifying to see your idol play the work you’d put your heart and soul into, there was a slight tinge of satisfaction watching even Igarashi falter a few times.
In the past, Momodora had been heavily influenced by Castlevania, though with the recent departure from 2D to 3D, the game had greater similarities with the Dark Souls franchise. The 2D version and the fourth in the series was played only a year prior by FromSoftware president Hidetaka Miyazaki, again much to the dread of Bombservice, though even then, he was happy with how the game handled.
With Igarashi now satisfied with having defeated the boss of Momodora V, he then moved onto Brave Earth: Prologue by Kayinworks, and it was this game that provided the most tension all around. Brave Earth: Prologue is the second game from the developer, the first title being I Wanna Be The Guy, a notoriously difficult retro platformer. As Igarashi played Brave Earth, a Castlevania 3 inspired side-scrolling action game, many onlookers remarked at how quickly he picked up the controls. It wasn’t that the game was easy, far from it. But rather that it was such a solid tribute that Iga found himself treading familiar territory. Every now and again as he played, he would mention how nostalgic the game actually felt to him.
This level of understanding and admiration was brought up as I spoke to Dan Stern, the one responsible for developer relations for Dangen Entertainment. He remarked on how skilled Igarashi was.
“When he played Brave Earth: Prologue, there’s a certain area in the first level where there are some knights with these huge Zweihanders and when you come up against these enemies, they’re walking pretty slowly. When Igarashi saw these enemies, just based on their design alone, he knew exactly how they were going to work mechanically. He baited one out, let it charge at him, dodged backwards, attacked, let him do it again, repeated the pattern twice and killed it. Then he just moved on. And it was the first time he’d ever played it. He aced the area without getting hit and it was a place a lot of people struggled with earlier. That just goes to show just how much of a testament it is to Igarashi’s legacy, and he noticed it.”
It wasn’t until Igarashi stepped away and admired the games on show from a distance, that he realized the kind of influence he had on this new generation of gamers.