After leaving Konami a little over a year ago, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night creator Koji Igarashi is turning to Kickstarter to help fund his next game, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, a 2.5D adventure that appears to be heavily inspired by the brand he helped create. Symphony of the Night fans will be happy to know that Bloodstained sounds like the 2.5D Metroidvania game we’ve wanted to see from Igarashi for years. The game stars a young woman with amnesia who storms a castle to fight off a plague of demons while collected crystals and using a new crafting system to make weapons and spells. We chatted with Igarashi about this new project, why he had trouble finding another publisher, and how Keiji Inafune’s Mighty No. 9 inspired him.
What made you turn to Kickstarter for your next game?
The biggest reason is that we couldn’t find a publisher to fully support the title as-is. There were several bigger publishers that really liked the pitch and the game, but in the end, perhaps they didn’t feel it was a popular enough genre, or that it wasn’t viable for today’s current gaming market. Fortunately, we found some investment that would allow us to get close to the budget we need to make the core game, but even then, the condition of this funding was to first prove the desire for the game I’d drawn out. Not only is Kickstarter what will allow me to do this, but it will also potentially allow us to add a lot more content and some really creative things if we manage to surpass the bare minimum goal.
How did you land on the name Bloodstained? What does it say about the game?
The theme of blood often ties into Gothic roots, so it felt like a good keyword. The “stained-glass” magi-crystal graft made for a good play on words, and – much like a stain continues to grow and expand – the magi-crystal curse grows and slowly consumes its host. All this made Bloodstained a natural choice.
The crafting in this game sounds fun. What went into its creation?
Honestly, I just wanted to delve further into the key concept of “collecting.” Items are usually rendered useless as the game goes on, but this way, everything still has a use later on as players collect a wide variety of materials to custom-craft their own weapons and such.
Did Keiji Inafune’s work on the Mighty No. 9 project inspire you in any way?
He was one of the main reasons I finally went independent and did a Kickstarter. I was fascinated to see that a famous Japanese creator could strike out on his own and create his own IP. I’ve had so many fans asking me for more games that I decided to take the same route as Inafune-san and establish a direct pipeline to my fans to create the game they and I have always wanted.
Are you interested in pulling public domain characters from classic literature and mythology into this or a future project in the same way Castlevania did? Why not just make the main character Dracula?
Dracula may be public domain, but he’s linked too heavily to my previous games. The game is still going to have a Gothic vibe, but I needed a new enemy and a new character unrelated to those games in order to establish this new universe. I don’t want it to seem like a half-baked copy of my previous work. I’m still not totally sure what to do with the enemies, and I’m still wondering whether it’s really necessary to pull in classic monsters just because of the Gothic theme.
How do you feel about the recent rumors about Hideo Kojima and Konami? Do you think what’s been happening to him is at all similar to your departure?
It’s all groundless rumors at this point, so there’s no telling either way. But I do hope he is being treated respectfully as a creator who has generated so many great games.
How do you feel about Konami’s current state as a game company? Are you disappointed that they’re not doing more with properties like Silent Hill and Castlevania?
Konami has grown out of its original game roots and is definitely more of a corporation now. Companies exist to increase profits, and if console games aren’t reaching profit margins, the company can often very dryly choose another path. It’s the obvious choice for them. And while I understand the basic principle behind it, I joined Konami and spent most of my career there because I loved their games. Even now, I’m able to make a new game like this because of my work with them. It’s hard for me, as a fan personally, to see the end of sequels to their bigger IPs.
Before playing Symphony of the Night with Double Fine for their Devs Play, when was the last time you played the game?
I think it was back when I was making Castlevania X Chronicles. I couldn’t believe how terrible I’d gotten at playing the game.
As we’ve seen with games like Ori and the Blind Forrest and Axiom Verge this year, Metroidvania style games are still super popular. Still, do you feel like developers have been missing any element that you consider important for doing it right?
No game is truly perfect, so I’m sure there are always a few elements missing. If they got everything right, then there’d be nothing left to move forward in that genre – developers would probably just start exploring other genres. Honestly, I’m so focused on trying to make the best game that I can, it gives me tunnel vision; I only come up for air to make sure I’m giving the fans the 2D side-scrolling Igavania experience they tell me they want. Who knows – maybe they want more games in this genre because it feels like there’s still a key element or two that we still haven’t found yet. I suppose this Kickstarter could tell us the answer.
A lot of people compare Bloodborne to Castlevania. Have you checked out Bloodborne and what are your thoughts on it?
I’ve watched my kids play it. Man, that is a very well-made game. The game world and positioning are pretty different, so I was surprised to hear people compare the two games. I love the Cthulhu world, so I hope they keep on making sequels for it.
Do prefer playing with a whip or a sword?
Well, I technically gave birth to the sword-based Igavania-type characters, so I guess my weapon of choice is a sword.