Developer interview: Cyber Shadow

Already one of 2021’s indie hits, the recently released Cyber Shadow has been well received by both critics and players. We got in touch with developer/designer Aarne “MekaSkull” Hunziker to chat some more about the game, which we recently reviewed as well.

How did you come up with the general gameplay concept for Cyber Shadow?

I started with just jumping and slashing. Over time as I learned more things and that’s how the gameplay evolves over the course of the game as well.

Which modern gameplay mechanics have made it into the game?

The checkpoints are something that you probably wouldn’t see in the 8-bit era. There’s no lives system and no penalty from dying apart from getting spawned at the latest checkpoint. You get to accumulate currency from each try allowing you to spend it on checkpoint items. The wide screen aspect ratio of the game also allows for faster lateral gameplay so I took full advantage of this and the speed can get quite fast indeed.

cyber shadow3

The indie scene has given us a huge resurgence of the 8-bit and 16-bit look and feel. How does Cyber Shadow stand out from the (now rather large) crowd?

The goal of a ninja is to not stand out but rather stay concealed and strike when you least expect it. In fact there’s a ninja behind you right now!

What have been some of the inspirations for Cyber Shadow, both in terms of gameplay and the audiovisual style?

Some of the coolest looking NES games such as Batman and Shatterhand are an influence for the visuals and for gameplay there’s Shadow of the Ninja and Megaman X. For sound I gave a listen to many Konami titles as those had really punchy SFX.

The music for the game sounds like a blend of classic chiptunes and a modern, richer sound. What can you tell us about the creative process behind it?

I feel like this is Enrique’s natural sound, a result of his retro gear and affinity to metal guitars. He’d often get inspiration from level visuals and come up with just the right track for it. Sometimes he’d jam progressive sounding stuff with parts inspiring new levels. It works both ways. Levels inspire music and music inspires levels.

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