Inspired by MacPaint, Rogue Invader mixes retro art with modern gameplay

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Modern game, retro look. Does FOX know about these Zenos?
Modern game, retro look. Does FOX know about these Zenos?
Photo: Squishy Games

Upcoming sci-fi shooter Rogue Invader looks like a massive HyperCard stack in glorious motion. Currently on Kickstarter to fund the last bit of development, the roguelike game is the brainchild of Squishy Games founder Nathan Rees, who’s been making games ever since he discovered the joys of MacPaint as a kid.

As a child in Oakhurst, California, Rees wasn’t allowed to play video games, unlike all his other friends. Instead, he would come home after hanging out with other kids and create his own games on his family’s Mac 512K, Mac SE and Mac Classic.

“After playing the likes of Mario, and all the Sierra Adventure games that didn’t come out on the Mac,” said Rees, “I went home to think up what games I would want to play.”

He designed a lot of his gaming ideas using Video Works 2 on his Mac SE, then later using HyperCard on the Mac Classic to make actual interactive stacks, like the images below.

These dudes just needed to stay cool.
These dudes just needed to stay cool.
Photo: Nathan Rees
Surfers must avoid all the  ocean hazards.
Surfers must avoid all the ocean hazards.
Photo: Nathan Rees
Rees' re-creation of Star Fox.
Rees’ re-creation of Star Fox.
Photo: Nathan Rees

When deciding to make his current game Rogue Invader, he noticed a recent upsurge in retro games and their love affair with 8- and 16-bit gaming.

“But nothing out there went further back to the games I grew up with,” Rees told Cult of Mac. “I wanted a game that would stand out amongst all the talented pixel artists out there, a game in black and white like the Apple Macintosh.”

To achieve the 1-bit look in a modern video game, however, was a challenge. He found the patterns from his youthful experimentation in MacPaint that weren’t too jarring on the eyes, and made them himself in Photoshop to apply to the gaming models.

Custom patterns in Photoshop mimic the older Mac Paint ones.
Custom patterns in Photoshop mimic older MacPaint ones.
Photo: Nathan Rees
3D rendering of female soldier for Rogue Invader.
3-D rendering of a female soldier for Rogue Invader.
Photo: Nathan Rees
Conversion from greyscale to true black and white.
Conversion from grayscale to true black and white.
Photo: Nathan Rees

Rees’ current game makes you an invading space soldier attacking an alien horde. If you die, your death is permanent; you’ll need to start over with a new soldier at the beginning. The perspective is isometric and the graphics are high-def, while still maintaining the 1-bit black-and-white look. It plays like a modern shooter but looks like a Mac Classic HyperCard adventure. How can you say no?

Rogue Invader is slated to go live for Mac, PC and Linux later this year, and you can help put the finishing touches on it by funding the game over at Kickstarter.