What better way to celebrate April Fool’s Day than help fund an indie game starring a court jester? If that sounds up your alley then head over to the Harlequest Kickstarter campaign that is now live.
Harlequest (stylized as Harlequest!) is a game currently in development for Steam and Sega Dreamcast (yes, Sega Dreamcast!). It stars Estienne, a court jester thrown into the King’s dungeon after one joke goes a little too far.
Battle your way to freedom
To escape a gristly fate you must spring, tumble, strike and sneak your way out. Travel through floor after floor of randomly generated dungeons, and battle any who stand in your way.
Billed as a new 3D dungeon crawler, it has hardcore roguelike elements. There’s also a couch co-op, which is something I can always get behind. I got in touch with developer Ross Kilgariff for a quick Q&A session in the run-up to the Harlequest Kickstarter launch.
Could you tell me a bit about where the idea of Harlequest came from?
RK: Sure! I made a simple dungeon crawler tech demo in 2017 as a personal project so I could learn how to code for the Dreamcast. After helping LowTek Games port their NES titles FLEA! and Tapeworm to the Dreamcast as well, I realised there was a market for commercially made independent games on the platform and so decided to turn my demo into a full-fledged game. I’m a fan of the high-difficulty technical combat you’d find in games like Dark Souls, but I wanted the player to have a different experience every time they play. That’s why I decided to make HarleQuest! a roguelike.
In terms of the game’s visual style, I was inspired by all the dark cartoony games I’ve enjoyed over the years. These include MediEvil, American McGee’s Alice, Pandemonium!, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, and many others. I’m also a massive fan of the Disney movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Especially the scene with the Court of Miracles. Alastair Low of LowTek games has done most of the 3D modelling and animation in the game so far. His main point of reference was that scene from the movie.
What made you choose to build a Dreamcast-specific version of Harlequest!?
RK: There are actually a lot of different reasons, but to pick one, designing a game for an old console forces you to focus on the core game and only include ideas that actually pull their weight. It’s all-killer-no-filler because, with only 200Mhz, 16MiB of RAM and a very basic GPU, there’s actually no room for filler. I picked the Dreamcast specifically because I always thought it was impressive growing up, and the development community is amazing.
You can check out my YouTube channel where I upload development logs and Q&A videos if you’d like to hear more about my reasons for making a Dreamcast game.
To coincide with the Kickstart campaign, Harlequest! is also being featured on the Debug Indie Sampler #2 demo disc, which releases in the near future. For those of you who don’t want to wait (or have missed out on getting one), you can download a Dreamcast.cdi demo file here.
I’m always stoked when a potential new Dreamcast game is on the horizon. The Sega Dreamcast was such a beast back in the day and it deserves all the love it is getting recently. Hopefully, this Harlequest Kickstarter campaign will help down-on-his-luck Estienne join the likes of Intrepid Izzy as a modern Dreamcast icon.