Austin, Tx - A New development studio, Zero Infinite, has been formed to create very specific video games: Spiritual successors to underappreciated classics. Their first title, Into The Eternal, was heavily inspired by the black sheep of the Zelda franchise - Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link on the NES.
"It's a misunderstood game, no question, but it paved the way for action RPG's" says designer Jen Goddard. "Even amazing games weren't perfect. Grinding out health after you die in Metroid was excruciating. Kid Icarus' first level was harder than the final level. If you died once in Gradius you might as well restart the game (or use the cheat!). Maybe Zelda 1 was perfect. Maybe it's the exception."
When Infinite Zero was being formed, the three person team played a lot of NES games. Games that they grew up on - those that inspired them.
"It's easily my favorite console of all time - but it's the same with music. Your favorite decade is the one you spent your teen years in. I got the NES when I was 6, so it had the most impact on me. It's still the console I go back to over and over again.
We talked about the unsung hero of the 8-bit era. Zelda 2, Guardian Legend, Robowarrior, Legacy of the Wizard, The Goonies 2, Faxanadu - the original challenge was to go back and beat the ones we hadn't, but then it quickly shifted to 'let's pay tribute to these games by creating spiritual successors to the games we loved, but only the ones that weren't all that well-received.'
The first game we talked about was Zelda 2. Other games copied it. Even Rambo copied it. And the thing is - we played the heck out of Rambo. It was pretty fun. All of a sudden, completely linear games felt outdated. I never wanted to play another straight forward game again. What hurt Zelda 2 more than anything was how good Metroid was. '86 and '87 was a huge couple of years for non-linear adventure games. Imaginations went nuts. Those two years were vital for the advancement of gaming.
Our goal is 10 games in 10 years. All spiritual successors to under-appreciated NES titles. A lot of this is about family. All three of us grew up in gaming households. Mine had "family game night" on Fridays and Saturdays. Taking turns getting destroyed in Ghosts n Goblins. It seemed to be the one time I didn't have to listen to my parents fighting in the next room. My mom was a huge Zelda fan, and she never got to play Breath of the Wild, which I know she would have loved. I want Into The Eternal to be the kind of game she would have loved. In many ways, it's a tribute to her."
Zero Infinite has their sights set on a late 2020 release for Into The Eternal. There is a Kickstarter currently running which is important to gauge interest in their project as well as to create collector's editions and bring gamers directly into the project by getting their opinions.
"We want to hear what people want out of this genre of game. The fans will let us know if we're doing good - or bad. This is a lot of our childhoods. We look at Zero Infinite as the vessel for delivering inspired classics to current gen systems, which is why we offer Kickstarter rewards where gamers can be put in an email group to give ideas - but we'll see where it goes. If there's no interest then there's no game. Hopefully we can do something really cool."