Several years ago, I had the pleasure of working with San Francisco startup Sifteo on their cube gaming platform. Instead of relying on a traditional controller or a D-Pad, players interacted by shaking, tilting, pressing, and neighboring the cubes. As a result, the hardware led to some interesting design challenges.
The flagship game was a Zelda-style adventure that featured a princess searching for ingredients to build a magical sandwich and fulfill a universal lunchtime prophesy. Due to the platform's unique inputs, the game eschewed combat in favor of exploration and Sobokan puzzles. The game's colorful graphics, sprawling levels, and epic story made it a hit with kids, even those too young to read the humorous dialogue. In fact, when we showcased the game at Indiecade East 2013, we witnessed many kids return for the second day of the event to continue their playthroughs.
With additional cubes, the player can see more of the map at once. Did I mention that the small LCD screens on top of the cubes were perfect for pixel art?
Here is some of my favorite artwork I created for the game.
The venom-spitting camel spider didn't make it into the game. I sure wish I could keep one as a pet.
A sample level made with the tileset from the starting world.
In-game cutscenes featured these portraits to accompany dialogue text.
Positive response to Sandwich Kingdom prompted the creation of a sequel: Ice Palace. This installment introduced new puzzle elements like ice slides and fierce owlbears.
Sifteo was acquired by 3D Robotics in 2014. The cube platform is defunct.
A surprise package arrived at the compound a few days ago. After it passed the security screening protocol, I was surprised to discover it contained a game I had worked on six years ago. Not only did Watermelon ship two physical copies of the game (Dreamcast and PC versions), but also they included a variety of merch and a hardcover, full-color strategy guide.
A spread featuring one of the bosses I made for Pier Solar.
Inspired, I cracked open the vault and dug through project archives for more images to showcase from the game.
This environment serves as a backdrop for battle scenes. While you observe a jungle, I only see a jungle of graphical restrictions.
Because the game was originally created as a Sega Genesis cart, I was limited to a 16-color palette (the pink designates transparency) with a 3-bits-per-RBG-channel color depth.
In addition, the background had to be built from 2 layers of 8x8 pixel tiles with a maximum of 255 tiles per layer. Fortunately, I was able to mirror individual tiles, which allowed me to get more mileage out of them and conserve the total tile count.
Layer 1 and its tile palette
Layer 2 and its tile palette
As a bonus, enjoy another battle background that my friend and former coworker, Andrew Bado, crafted for the game.