Headcannon, one of the studios involved in the creation of Sonic Mania, is aiming to make a gorgeous new 2D platformer with a skeleton protagonist called Vertebreaker. But they need some help from Kickstarter to make it happen, to the tune of a whopping $275,000, the most I’ve ever heard of being asked for a game of this type.
The game makes use of a proprietary “Methyl” engine, “built from the ground up to specialize in high-performance, breathtaking classic-style 2D visuals and gameplay,” promising optimization that makes Vertebreaker feel true to its ’90s roots. Here is what else the game promises:
- Six massive levels!
- Both a boss and miniboss for each level!
- Penultimate and final bosses!
- Time Attack Mode!
- Boss Rush Mode!
- Sound Test Mode!
- Versions for Windows, Linux, and OSX!
There is a stretch goal at $315,000 to apparently add a level editor, which admittedly sounds great, and at $330,000 they’ll add a Switch port. Headcannon’s explanation for why they’re asking for so much money is that they’d “rather bring this game directly to you rather than subject ourselves and our game to the complications and risks of outside stakeholders.” So basically, they frame it like they’re worried about having to compromise their creative vision or have to deal with budget cuts, etc., but would that really be a major issue for a game of this type? A lack of more specific reasoning is peculiar.
Vertebreaker is an unusual Kickstarter campaign
Aside from their huge financial ask, aspects of their PR sound poorly worded at best or outright absurd at worst, such as, “You heard the part about pixel-based graphics, right? They’re the real deal! ‘Methyl’ uses a ‘software renderer,’ meaning that Vertebreaker has direct control of every pixel on the screen!” Uh, doesn’t any video game with pixel art basically have control of what all its pixels do? Come on now.
I personally get a bad vibe from this Vertebreaker Kickstarter. It feels like its descriptions use nostalgia and retro gaming as a PR crutch without getting into much depth about how the game will be uniquely enjoyable beyond being a retro throwback. And that’s not even to say I think the game will be bad; on the contrary, it could be awesome. The swinging/anchoring mechanic seems like it could be used to great effect. But this campaign in itself isn’t instilling confidence in me.
That said, if 18,333 people donate $15, the game will be funded — and we all know how rabid and loyal the Sonic fanbase is. So I do actually think the game has a great chance to be funded.
And to be clear, Headcannon is a different studio than the recently founded Evening Star, which includes Christian Whitehead and Dave Padilla and their proprietary Star Engine, an evolution of the engine that produced Sonic Mania.
What do you make of Headcannon’s Vertebreaker? Are you going to back it? There is a demo available to help you decide.