If you’ve been around as long as I have (or perhaps are into retro gaming) you may remember Capcom’s classic platformer Little Nemo: The Dream Master. You might also remember Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland, the animated feature from 1992. They’re fairly well regarded even today. Indeed, Slumberland and its pajama-clad hero have captivated audiences for over a hundred years, and Chris Totten — game design professor, indie developer, and founder of Pie for Breakfast Studios — wants to take us back in Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends, a game planned for Nintendo Switch and Steam and currently in the final days of its Kickstarter campaign.
Pie for Breakfast Studios is animating every character in the game by hand. In honor of Nemo’s creator, Winsor McCay, they’re utilizing pose-to-pose animation, a technique invented by the man himself. The creators of Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends are building the game with nods to the NES classic in mind but want to make the game have its own feel. The stages seem large, expansive, and faithful to the comics, featuring an ice cave, a mushroom forest, a fight against the moon, and more. They’re making sure that all of the various design aspects reflect the sense of dream-like wonder McCay drew into his comics and cartoons. Additionally, they’ve name-dropped games like Shantae, Demon’s Crest, and Little Samson as sources of inspiration.
The gameplay has an interesting character swap mechanic, which reminds me of Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon. Players can switch freely between four heroes: Nemo attacks with a wooden sword and has floaty jumps. Flip punches and swings with his spring-loaded boxing gloves. The Princess flies and has magical blasts. Peony, a brand new character, is a total ninja, with bombs and the ability to climb walls.
Being a Nintendo fan and an animation enthusiast myself, Little Nemo has been one of my favorites since childhood. As I learned more about Winsor McCay, I developed a greater appreciation for the comics he created, as well as his work bringing drawings to life. I’m not the only one who admires this artist, of course. What Pie for Breakfast Studios is doing with Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends is possibly the greatest love letter to McCay’s legacy I’ve seen yet.
Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends is currently in its final three days on Kickstarter, and as of the time of writing, it’s 90% funded but needs another $6,400. If you enjoy modern games with an old-school aesthetic like Cuphead, classic platformers like The Dream Master, or are a fan of animation in general, consider throwing some money their way. It looks like this will be a game that’s sure to make your dreams come true.
[Disclosure: The author of this article has backed Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends on Kickstarter.]