Interview with Denis and Oleg of Retrosouls
One of the things we love doing here at Mega Cat Studios is bringing the world’s best new retro games to a wider audience. That’s why we are proud to partner with RetroSouls, an independent team that creates some of the most addicting and satisfying new experiences on classic consoles.
Let’s find out more about what drives these indispensable supporters of the Retro Renaissance!
How was RetroSouls born?
Denis: It was when I stopped working with publisher Alawar Entertainment and decided to make PC games as an indie developer. All of my PC games have a retro feel so I just start from "retro" and finished with "souls".
In 2011 I decided to code games for the ZX Spectrum, but still makes games alone. Back in 2015 I started asking help from my friends in the Russian ZX Spectrum scene and they are still helping me a lot.
We have two permanent members in RetroSouls - Denis Grachev and Oleg Nikitin - and there are some other people that help us from time to time.
What are your roles in the team, and who else is involved?
Denis: I'm mainly game design, coding, in-game graphics, and everything else except music. Music is Oleg’s territory.
Oleg: We have a meme about creating projects when they require music. If there is any problem with a project, then just share its folder in the Dropbox for me. :)
How did you get involved in the industry?
Denis: We just started making games, and one day we became a part of the industry :)
Oleg: It all started with a demoscene and even earlier, when we didn't even know the word "demoscene" yet. Once I was invited by my ZX Spectrum friends to a commercial project (in 2007) on the PC, and then I worked for another 8 years with casual PC and mobile games. Now I'm back on the demoscene, and I'm happy to write for retro consoles too. Denis is always on fire with new ideas, his games are pure creative pleasure for an old chiptunist like me :)
What is retro development like?
Denis: It's a lot of fun, especially when we start working on a new retro platform like the Commodore 64 or the MSX.
Oleg: The first time was like this: "and for this they also pay money?!" :D After this surprise wears off, there is the excitement and desire to do better than you did before.
What makes your games special?
Denis: I think they have a mix of modern game design ideas with retro feel and are also very addictive.
What games influenced you the most?
Denis: I’ve never thought about that. Maybe early NES games and some gems on the ZX Spectrum, like Lode Runner, Milk & Nuts, Balloon Fight, and so on.
Oleg: I like the GTA series :) I also love old NES games too.
Any fun stories or wild moments during development?
Denis: We work on games during our free time, mostly in the evenings at home. Consequently, many times you are trying to concentrate on a tricky dev moment for a game but your daughter is asking you to fix her doll’s legs %)
Oleg: I sometimes find myself working on games for everyday situations, like doing homework with my daughter (a volcano from bottles, for example!) or hanging decorations on a wall. I can also get absorbed in my work, and many times I have muttered "five more minutes, guys, a little more" and so on to guests that come.
What are the major lessons learned after making several smaller retro games?
Denis: Always test games on real hardware! Eat cookies.
Oleg: Oh, echoing Denis, this is precisely why I am slowly getting original consoles on which I can play our games - the last thing I bought was a Japanese Sega Genesis with a version of the VA4 sound chip. I'll get something else soon.
Do you think preserving older gameplay mechanics in new games is important?
Denis: I think yes, but never forget to mix and shake with some modern gamedev ideas.
Oleg: The same applies to music. It is always worth considering that a lot of time has passed and modern music is different. With how great the masters of the past worked, their knowledge and techniques cannot be wasted.
What's your favorite memory as a retro gamer?
Denis: Hmmm, maybe translating Simons Quest from English to Russian and finally finding a proper way to use a Red Crystal :) Or the Pirate Ship level from Duck Tales 2, I still love that rain and music.
Oleg: I recall with pleasure the time when my friends and I would gather at someone's house and take turns playing something. In my time, ZX Spectrum was more common, so there were games like Spy Hunter, Crazy Cars, and Tanks. We spent hours playing them.
Any favorite consoles?
Denis: We are ZX Spectrum children mostly, here in ex-USSR, so that's a favorite one. Also, we really love NES/Famicom in a form called the DENDY, a strange pirate clone from the 90s.
Also, before the PC era, we received the SEGA MEGA DRIVE and we love them alot too. We played Rock'n' Roll all day long with friends.
Oleg: Everything is as Denis said about ZX Spectrum. But in my heart there is now a place for Sega and NES too :)
Does your choice have anything to do with coding or making music for them?
Denis: Sure, we make games for those we like platforms mostly, but there are also some retro platforms we miss like the Commodore 64 or MSX.
Oleg: I'm interested in trying new consoles or retro computers to understand their limitations. Until you make a real game or write a track for one, you don't understand what you have to deal with. We have much respect for those guys who did it in conditions much more unadapted than we have now.
How do you want RetroSouls games to be remembered?
Denis: As a maker of small addictive gems for a good evening with your favorite retro platform.
Oleg: Drum and bass remix of an old Soviet song at the heart of the game!
Denis: We have plans to make an atypical game for us. It'll be a mix of rogue and strategy, and maybe we’ll make it a small NES game - our first after a six years break. But first we'll need to finish a new Genny game called Gravibots.
Oleg: I enjoy juggling my normal life and working on retro games, I hope to continue to do so.
Anything else you'd like to add?
Denis: A tank of thank to MegaCats for support is and a whole retro community \o/
Oleg: Thanks to all cats-bratanam and those not indifferent to retro gaming culture, together we will win!
Screenshots & Video:
Old Towers (SEGA GENESIS)
Super Painter (NES)
Old Towers (Commodore 64)
Gluf (ZX SPECTRUM)