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Saru Interview – Henshin Engine

Henshin Engine

We don’t see a lot of new PC Engine, also known as Turbo Grafx-16, games come across Kickstarter.  That is why when I saw Henshin Engine I knew I had to write it up.  Write it up I did (here).  What we have here is a new action platform title that is now coming to the Sega Dreamcast and a cartridge console the backers will get to vote on along with the PC Engine and Turbo Grafx-16 version.  I was able to catch with Saru, one of the main men behind Henshin Engine and he took time out of his busy day to answer a few questions.  Check out the interview after the jump.

RGM) Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Saru) Sure! I’m Saru. I’m an artist that loves video games and anime and have been drawing for the majority of my life. I’ve worked on some other projects in the past like Osu! Lick and Rhythm (an online music game), LVL UP EXPO and have done mascot designs for several other things. Right now, I am working with a group of talented individuals on Henshin Engine: The Game.
RGM) Why create a new PC Engine game?
Saru) The PC Engine/TurboGrafx is the one video game console that’s made the biggest impact to me as far as how I’ve perceived video games up until that point. The dawn of optical media as a gaming platform was upon us and would introduce things like orchestral soundtracks coupled with stunning animated visuals, all things that were highly influential to me as a kid. Ever since the early 90’s, I’ve dreamed of making a game with these types of aesthetics. Fast gameplay, cool anime-inspired visuals and CD quality sound, which was groundbreaking back then!

RGM) How will ports to other platforms differ from the PC Engine version? Will there be any additional content for each platform?
Saru) So from the PC Engine version to the PC, some things that will differ will be performance. The PC version will not have the hardware limitations that are present with the PC Engine version so it should allow room for optimization. One of the things that we want to do with the DC version is take advantage of the higher resolution and create things like cleaner story visuals, character portraits and hopefully an animated bit or two.

RGM) The Dreamcast version was given a lower minimum pledge level to become a reality. Why was that?
Saru) Optical media is usually more cost-effective to produce versus cartridge media. Also, since HE for the Dreamcast is more or less going to be an optimized port, that will help us keep costs low. We would love to one day make a game that would take advantage of the full potential of the Dreamcast, but seeing as this is out first venture into a game outside of the 16-bit realm, it was safest to stick to a port which will also allow us to stay within a certain budget.

RGM) In the video by PCEngineFX (on the official Henshin Engine Kickstarter page) shows the PC Engine version easily doing parallax scrolling. Was this tough to accomplish on the NEC hardware (which supposedly does not support parallax scrolling)?
Saru) I’m glad you brought this up. David Lee Perry (Nodtveidt), the programmer of Henshin Engine works wonders when it comes to pushing the PC Engine, considering the hardware limitations. The PC Engine did not have a dedicated background layer which we would later see possible on the Mega Drive (3 BG layers) and Super Famicom (4BG layers). All the parallax you see is achieved with sprites and some clever tiling. Achieving parallax on the PC Engine requires a different approach. And the parallax effect was something that was not seen in many PCE games, even by some of the bigger developers. Every stage in Henshin Engine has some form of parallax. Oh, and one more thing,.. Parallax.

RGM) How many frames per second will each version run at?
Saru) We should be looking at 60fps for all versions. However, the PC Engine is an older machine and does suffer things like flicker when too many sprites appear on screen at once. There aren’t too many instances where this happens though. We already know we can optimize these things for the PC and DC versions.

RGM) One of the stretch goals is porting Henshin Engine to another platform (a few are listed such as the Nintendo Game Boy). What platforms are possible candidates for porting to? Neo Geo Pocket Color? Game Boy Advance? Sega Game Gear?
Saru) As far as the platforms for that stretch goal, we’ve stuck to versions of the game that we could realistically port. I would have LOVED to make a NGPC version of Henshin Engine! Unfortunately, there aren’t enough resources available to us to make such a port happen (yet).

RGM) Unless I missed it on your Kickstarter page there is no link to the web comic. Is that still available or will we have to wait for the comic book?
Saru) Yes! The webcomic is free for all to view on henshinengine.com and we’ll be updating it with more pages very soon. The comic book is one of those key aspects to Henshin Engine as a complete package as this is a mixed-media project. However, you are briefed with the happenings of the comic prior to playing Henshin Engine: The Game so that anyone can jump in and play if you haven’t read the comic. The comic will also continue as the game progresses for a look at some more detailed events of the Henshin Engine world.

RGM) Finally, how has early response been to Henshin Engine?
Saru) Surprisingly good! Well, surprising to me at least! I first started the web comic in February of this year. For the fun of it, I made sprites of Yuki, the main character of Henshin Engine and started posting them places or using them as chat responses. Many people suggested that Henshin Engine needed to be a game including Nodtveidt, who I now work with on this project. By the beginning of April and about a month since we started, we presented the first tech demo at the Midway Gaming Classic in the TurboFest room. Our demo, still very primitive at the time, was received very well. And now, many demo versions later, here we are! 🙂

RGM) Anything you would like to say to your fans?
Saru) Our Kickstarter just ended with us smashing our stretch goals. If it wasn’t for all the awesome support we’ve gotten from the retro community, we wouldn’t be able to make this dream happen. We are ecstatic that people out there really enjoy Henshin Engine for what it is and hope that everyone will continue to enjoy it along with other projects we will be bringing your way. THANKS EVERYONE!

Carl Williams

It is time gaming journalism takes its rightful place as proper sources and not fanboys giving free advertising. If you wish to support writers like Carl please use the links below. https://www.paypal.me/WCW

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