MidBoss talks pixel art, inspirations and more
Upon its release in 2015, MidBoss struck gold with its old-school cyberpunk adventure, 2064: Read Only Memories. The game boasted of a solid story, likable characters, and beautiful pixel art that had fans gushing. More than seven years later, a sequel, titled Read Only Memories: Neurodiver, is finally almost here.
To shed some more light on Read Only Memories: Neurodiver, I caught up with MidBoss Creative Director John “JJ” James and CEO Cade Peterson. Thank you both for taking the time to discuss the upcoming sequel.
Twinfinite: What will be the biggest differences between 2064: Read Only Memories and Read Only Memories: Neurodiver?
NOT A WORD : For the most part, he plays the same. It’s still a point-and-click adventure that has a lot of Japanese adventure game styles from the late 80s and 90s.
The only thing that’s really different outside of a visual update is that there isn’t really a huge variety of minigames. Last time we had map and maze puzzles; this time around we decided to focus on a specific gameplay element: collecting relevant items from a memory and putting them into a shard to fix it.
This will basically be the main gameplay aside from interacting with characters and exploring environments like the first game.
Twinfinite: Will there be any characters you think will stand out the way Turing did in 2064: Read Only Memories?
NOT A WORD : We’ve already had a pretty warm response for ES88, the main character in this one. When people see more of ES88 and a character named Gate interact throughout the game, we think they’ll really love them together as much as Turing.
Sure, Turing is going to be back, but they won’t be as outspoken and central as they were in the first game where they were sort of the protagonist’s mouthpiece.
Cade Peterson: I think people will really fall in love with the ES88 and the Gate, especially the ES88.
Twinfinite: Since you’re playing as a psychic detective, is it going to have the same mysterious vibe with lots of twists and turns in Read Only Memories: Neurodiver?
NOT A WORD : There will be twists, but we’re not really going for dramatic twists with Read Only Memories: Neurodiver. I kind of wanted something that felt like playing an anime or manga in some way.
Each chapter is like a little episode of that. There will always be a mysterious atmosphere. You are a psychic detective. You’re tracking down another rogue seer lurking in people’s memories. So there is still a mystery to be uncovered about how and why they hide in people’s memory and what exactly they do to these people and why are they attached to them.
Twinfinite: All you had to say was anime and manga, and you immediately caught my eye. Are there any anime or manga that you have used as inspiration or that you could compare Read Only Memories: Neurodiver to?
NOT A WORD : There’s a lot of stuff very early in development that I would show our writers to catch up on quickly for a specific vibe that we’re going for with this game. Of course, you can’t pass up Stooshi Kon’s Paprika, because we’re dealing to get into people’s heads.
Other things like Seijun Suzuki’s Branded to Kill, which is a live action movie, and Ai City are also really good inspirations. Ai City especially, because it’s a very fun ride visually and musically, and its story doesn’t take itself very seriously. It looks like a fun ride, and that’s what I want with it – a fun ride for people to think about and think about after playing it.
Twinfinite: What would you say to someone trying this game for the first time? What would be the draw for someone diving into the series for the first time?
NOT A WORD : I guess it’s a little hard to say. It’s kind of filling a niche. I guess if someone was interested in older games and at some point whenever you were on Tumblr or Twitter and followed accounts posting older games for the PC88 or MSX, if they love those, it’s a game that’s heavily inspired by those and that kind of aesthetic and feel.
If you want to explore that, and not just dip your toes into buying old hardware or emulating or a bunch of games that haven’t been translated, then give this game a try.
Otherwise, if you’re not into that kind of stuff too much and are into anime or retro pixel art, then this is just the thing for you.
Twinfinite: Obviously the pixel art looks old school, but it’s very colorful and unique and reminiscent of the style of the last game. brilliant ?
NOT A WORD : So one of the main things we were dithering about early on when it came to visuals was the color scheme. We started with a very limited color palette and then expanded it to match older systems.
So the color palette we work with is loosely based on the PC engine, more or less. Our engineer also had a fun idea about limiting color channels for the game.
There are only a limited amount of colors that can be displayed on the screen at a time. Whenever it comes to fades or fades or those things, it can only work with what we have in our built-in color palettes.
So there are a lot of natural color changes that you would see on older systems in our game. I was thrilled when I first saw it.
Everything is also pixel perfect when it comes to movement. Other than that, whenever it comes to character portraits, it’s mostly about leveraging the experience that comes with animating most of the first game with this – experimenting more with more vivid expressions and animations.
Twinfinite: Is there anything else you would like to tell the fans?
NOT A WORD : I hope you like! And if you haven’t already, please wishlist us on Steam. We will also be present on other platforms. Everything is on the table for now – except for mobile, for now.