A Kick for Kickstarters: Code: Hardcore

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I’ve posted about many crowdfunding campaigns in the last few years on this blog, and during that time, I’ve seen some that immediately gave me a good feeling upon merely reading their pitches and seeing early gameplay. The currently-running Code: Hardcore is the newest to fit that mold.

Code: Hardcore is a high-octane 2D side-scrolling shooter where players control a mech capable of taking a variety of attacking and defensive forms, depending on the combat situations. Its pitch video spends time showing some mechs and attack combinations that will be available, including the Thunderbolt, Round Hammer, Geier Evol, and Crimson Flame, each varying between being well-rounded or favoring offense or defense. The final game will have over 15 mechs with a variety of weapons and skins, helmed by pilots with their own skills and perks. Given the bevy of options, Chinese developer Rocket Punch is claiming players will be able to create their own formidable attack and defense combinations.

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It’s tough to ignore seeing the game in motion upon visiting the page. The developers are clearly proud of their animation work, as shown with the amount of gameplay footage in the trailer, the animated GIFs on the page, and their detailed description of why they chose 2D. It’s what I meant when I said I got a good feeling in the first paragraph, as confidence from the developers in their work can immediately rub off on those who happen upon the page. Choosing 2D for their presentation was a good idea, as it can allow for prettier results at a lower budget, a particularly useful plan when this isn’t a high-profile campaign. This provides confidence that the developers are working within their means, and creating something they can actually complete.

Watching the game in action, it’s clear the developers took inspiration from many older 2D mech shooters — though one released fairly recently. Mech shooters were fairly popular during the 16-bit days, in the era of the Konami-published Assault Suits Valken/Cybernator and Squaresoft-published (and Japan-only) Front Mission: Gun Hazard. Some of that popularity extended into the 32/64-bit era, but didn’t go too far beyond that. But there are signs that it could be making a comeback, perhaps proven through the recent release of Assault Suit Leynos on PS4, and Code: Hardcore could join those ranks. This game, however, has the extra element of pilots acting on their own at certain moments, though they clearly aren’t the focus.

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If that wasn’t enough, this game’s story is also inspired by those titles, along with other sci-fi anime. It takes place in the year 2219, where conflict begins when rebels from Mars launch an attack against Earth’s forces. The latter is set back when those Mars rebels cut off contact between Earth and forces in the space colonies, particularly with the Lunar colony. Given the nods to other futuristic sci-fi stories, I wouldn’t be surprised if this involved a colony drop at some point. The story isn’t the most original around, but it doesn’t need to be when it simply there for the sake of it; making a good action game is the important focus here.

In addition to its single-player mode, Hardcore will also have a variety of multiplayer modes — including online play. It’s good when crowdfunding campaigns go the extra mile and provide a demo, though you’ll have to back it for at least $20 to get it. While online multiplayer isn’t available at the moment, they plan on implementing it for the final game when it releases. That’s an awfully grandiose intention for a small project, as this might entail maintaining servers, but I hope they’ve already planned how to allocate resources for this.

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They could already be set with potential server costs, given how overwhelmingly well it’s doing in funding. The team only asked for $65,000 to complete the title, as it seems some of the more difficult work has already been completed. But it soared past that initial goal within the first few days of starting, thanks to the team doing their homework in knowing that they needed to present to convince backers to pledge. It’s done well enough for its funding to reach the sizable number of stretch goals they set, which include the creation of an art book, new maps and playable characters, and a PS4 port. That’s nice, but it would be ideal if they didn’t make too many goals, lest the game take numerous delays.

Considering they’ve raised nearly twice their initial goal with 20 days to go, Rocket Punch should have plenty to work with in completing the game. If all goes according to plan, they intend to release this in October of 2017, around a year from now. Given how developments rarely go as scheduled with crowdfunded games, though, don’t be surprised or angry if this slips back into early 2018. Hopefully the developers keep their backers posted about how the game is coming along every step of the way.

P.S. It’s also interesting how they felt so confident in this and their mech designs that they’re already preparing figures. Of course, it helps that they’re based in a country that manufactures them by the dozens.

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