When we played the demo Terror of Hemasaurus on Indie-licious recently, it was a game that easily won us over. Not only does it bring a throwback to games like Rampage - a genre that is sorely lacking nowadays - but it also brings much needed innovation and improvement to the formula, making what’s old feel new again, and ridiculously good at that.
Terror of Hemasaurus is being published by Digerati and developed by Loren Lemcke, whose previous works include Over 9,000 Zombies and Super Blood Hockey. At this point, Lemcke knows a thing or two about not only studying a genre and making something with it, but also playing around with the regular staples to create something quirky. A cursory glance at Terror of Hemasaurus from our recent playthrough puts this on full display, both bringing back what we love about Rampage, but also playing around and bending the usual foundation into its own thing. We talked to Lemcke recently about the design direction of Terror of Hemasaurus, how he bent the rules to make this one stand out, and a little bit of what comes after the game launches on PC in 2022.
Shacknews: This game clearly wears the classic building-smashing of Rampage on its sleeve. What made you want to approach that style of game in Terror of Hemasaurus?
Lemcke: I think the genre space of city smash ‘em ups deserves more exploration. I loved playing Rampage World Tour in the arcade as a kid, but we haven’t seen any innovation beyond that classic formula. Terror of Hemasaurus is my attempt to reinvent and push the genre forward by taking innovative risks in terms of design. In the game you will find stages that go beyond “destroy everything” in terms of goals. For example, in one stage you are rescuing cats and dogs from a burning building by throwing them into a cage carried by a helicopter (try not to throw the cute critters into the blades of the helicopter!). I just think there is much untapped potential in the space of 2D kaiju games.
Shacknews: Are there any other particular inspirations that aided in the creation of Terror of Hemasaurus' looks and gameplay?
Lemcke: Combining cute visuals with ultraviolence has become a signature style of mine. Much of it is influenced by classic 80s and 90s cartoons, flash animations from Newgrounds and a dash of Happy Tree Friends. Since I am trying to bring the gameplay formula to new places, I am often finding myself mixing up the rules, goals and physics elements of the game to see what fun scenarios it might produce. Terror of Hemasaurus’ building destruction mechanic is dynamic and physics-based, so it lends itself to be influenced by all sorts of physics games. For example, I might ask myself, “How would Terror of Hemasaurus play out if a stage was like Angry Birds?”. This type of remixing of game formulae can lead to all sorts of interesting physics-based gameplay within the space of a city smash ‘em up.
Shacknews: I really like how you incorporated the nature of pollution and greed into the in-between-level cutscenes since that was a big part of Godzilla as well, but the comedic approach is also fun because of this game's style. Are there any other story elements you considered when putting together the narrative for Terror of Hemasaurus?
Lemcke: I knew before I even wrote a line of code that Terror of Hemasaurus would follow in the tradition of environmentalism in kaiju cinema. Climate change is a looming specter upon mankind so I figured I would make the game about that, rather than nuclear weapons. Without spoiling too much, the story does stray off on several tangents, but touches upon some serious topics, like ecofascism, as well as some less serious topics, like the treatment of digital animals.
Shacknews: While this game seems to draw heavily from Rampage, it also clearly features a lot of fun evolutions of that style, i.e. the Atomic Butt Drop, picking up and throwing citizens, and kicking vehicles through buildings. Did you have a clear idea of where you wanted to improve on the classic formula or did it come together throughout development?
Lemcke: Much of it is just me playing around and experimenting within that space trying to stumble across fun twists on the gameplay. It’s not my intention as a developer to make an indie clone of the Rampage game formula to cash in on some unmet nostalgic desire. So, people expecting a game that faithfully recreates the Rampage formula might be disappointed. Throughout development I have often been met with feedback that begins with “Well in Rampage you could do X, Y, Z, why don’t you add those?”. There is definitely overlap between the two games, but the central mechanic (that of building destruction) is expressed in a way completely different from Rampage, so the mechanics that grow out of that as a consequence are often rather different. For example, the climbing mechanic has to be different because the dynamic destruction system within Terror of Hemasaurus means buildings can be irregularly shaped from damage, so the monster needs to be able to climb over the whole surface, rather than just the sides and top of buildings.
Shacknews: You've got four player local co-op planned for the game's release. Any plans to add online play beyond Steam Remote Play Together?
Lemcke: Unfortunately, I do not have plans to add networked multiplayer. It’s just too much work for a single person to do on top of making an entire game. Plus, if I am being honest, it’s a bit beyond my capabilities as a developer. I have done testing with Steam Remote Play Together and it would seem the game is rather well-suited for it.
Shacknews: Obviously, the plan is to launch on PC via Steam in 2022 for the time being. Can you speak to any plans following the PC launch? Post launch content? Any thoughts on a Switch release?
Lemcke: I am pleased to say that it is official: Terror of Hemasaurus will be released on all major console platforms, Xbox, PlayStation and Switch! It’s too soon to say whether we will release on all platforms simultaneously or if the console version will follow shortly thereafter. I already have some ideas for post release content lined up too, probably something along the lines of more monsters, a new gameplay mode, etc.
That’s the end of the interview, but you can check out more Terror of Hemasaurus on Steam where there’s a demo of the game available right now. It launches on PC in early 2022 and, as Lemcke said, launches on console are in the works. Stay tuned for further details such as official PC, Xbox, Switch, and PlayStation release dates as they become available, right here at Shacknews.