'Castlevania' Producer Koji Igarashi Crushes Kickstarter Goal For Spiritual Successor, But Did He Need Crowdfunding?
If you're a fan of classic video games, you know pretty well that they can be a cure for what ails you. Having a bad day? There's nothing quite like a shot of nostalgia to chase the demons away — unless, of course, the game is all about fighting demons. I'm bringing this up because, if you hadn't heard, former Castlevania producer Koji Igarashi crushed his Kickstarter goal for a spiritual successor to the iconic gothic horror franchise, generating over $1 million in just 24 hours. And, even as the news is being widely hailed as exciting — a genre master returning to his roots, in effect — it does raise a worthwhile question: did this project really need to be crowdfunded?
Of course, there are other, more fun questions too. For example: how much would you have to devote to this project to get your cat into the game as an enemy? How about an in-game portrait of yourself, hanging in some accursed gallery somewhere? If you're the sort of person who loves Igarashi's work, and you've got altogether too much money to burn, these are both actual possibilities — getting an animal enemy of your choice in the game demands a $2,000 donation, while the self-portrait is a relative bargain (shudder) at $1,500.
This is, needless to say, a little rich for most average people's blood (blood might be the key word here — the new game is to be titled Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, a title clearly evocative of 1997's Castlevania: Symphony of the Night). But even beyond gimmick-y perks for top-collar donors, it's easy to wonder whether this project truly demanded just a heavy financial commitment before getting off the ground — after all, Kickstarter is the place where a potato salad can turn into a cool $55,000.
But, even though I'm sure Igarashi wouldn't mind the swift, promising early funds, there's a fair case to be made that this is exactly what had to happen for his vision to be made a reality. First and foremost because he's no longer with Konami, the company that owns Castlevania, having left in 2014 ahead of some seemingly tumultuous times for the company, so he needs to create his own intellectual property here, in addition to the robust costs associated with modern game development.
Attracting investors (to say nothing of the extra time and financial costs of starting with a fresh world, characters and story) can be a tricky thing, and indeed that's part of Igarashi's pitch in his Kickstarter video — he specifically mentioned how crowdfunding can help establish demand, assuring other potential funders (as Kotaku's Brian Ashcraft notes, Igarashi's spoken about venture capital funds as well) that there's sufficient interest in a new gothic horror platformer.
Basically, however easy it might be to think "Hey, he's a known name with a track record, and who doesn't want a latter-day Castlevania," the reality is that this kind of game has grown a little long in the tooth. That's not to say Igarashi's new one won't be great — there's certainly nobody I'd rather have in a charge, as a casual fan of some of his earlier work — but it's no slam dunk, and this staggering first-day return will hopefully reassure his backers that they're making the right call. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night's released date is forecasted for 2017, however, so don't expect to play this one too soon.
Images: Koji Igarashi/Kickstarter