Tales of Monsterland DX Developer Spotlight

Games
Tales of Monsterland DX Developer Spotlight

Welcome to the magical world of Tales of Monsterland DX, an original platform adventure inspired by classic 8-bit games from the golden age of platforming. Imagine this: a village besieged by monsters, and you are the hero tasked with saving it by uncovering the origin of these creatures. Run, jump, and battle through a strange land, gaining powerful abilities to aid in your quest. It's non-stop action all the way to the end, where you might finally find your way home.

Tales of Monsterland DX is a love letter to the classic platform games of the 8-bit era. What spark often leads to a new idea, thought, or—in this case—a delightful video game experience? We often never get the chance to find out, but fortunately, we had the opportunity to ask video game designer and digital artist Joel Jarman about his work on Tales of Monsterland DX.

ModRetro Blog: Could you introduce yourself and the game to everyone? 

“Hi, I’m Joel, the sole dev and pixel artist of the imaginatively titled Joel J Games studio. I’m from Manchester, in the UK. My game is an 8-bit platforming adventure titled Tales of Monsterland DX, set in an interconnected fantasy land.” Joel explains. “In Tales of Monsterland, you’ll wake up lost in a village besieged by monsters, and you need to, somehow, find your way back home. In a classic platformer style, hidden around the world are coins and collectibles, as well as four powerful potions. These will unlock areas previously inaccessible to the player.”

Tales of Monsterland was originally created for the Game Boy®️, touting its original green color palette. However, Joel decided to create a Deluxe version for the Chromatic. “It’s been brought into full color and more or less rebuilt from the ground up using the latest tooling, with improvements to most areas of gameplay, graphics, and a fantastic all-new chiptune soundtrack.”

Why did you create this specific game? What was the inspiration behind it?

“I set out to make a (hopefully) charming game that evoked some of the feelings I had playing the original Kirby. I loved returning to its world, and I’d often complete the game in one sitting on long car journeys during family holidays, daylight and battery supply permitting, of course.”

“The Sega Master System was my first games console, and the Gameboy was my first handheld, so one of my original inspirations when deciding what project to start was a bit of a ‘What If’ an original Wonderboy game had been launched on the Gameboy. I’d have loved this to have existed back then.”

What do you do when you're not working on games? What's your primary job? How did you get into game development?

“When I’m not playing around with pixels, scripts, or handheld devices from the 90s, my day job is as a graphic and UI designer. I’ve been doing this for a number of years now and work with various clients, but mostly in the healthcare sector with our (UK’s) National Health Service.” Juggling a full-time job and game development passion is no easy task, but Joel’s love for retro games goes deep, still collecting Nintendo handhelds and Sega consoles to this day. 

From there, Joel explains: “...aside from spending some time with Klik & Play and the Gamesfactory, I only got into games development during the lockdown of 2021, where, like a lot of people, I suddenly had a little extra time on my hands, and I haven’t been able to switch off from it since.”

What game engine did you use, and how did you approach development using it?

“I use the fantastic GB Studio engine to develop in. I’d been aware of it for a while, but I jumped in around version 2 (as soon as platforming games became possible). It was great then, yet a bit of a challenge getting some of the things you take for granted in platform games working, but the progress it’s made since has been amazing.”

“I set out to make a game I could flash onto a physical cartridge and slot it in there with my own collection to pick it up in ten years' time and enjoy, hopefully having forgotten the pains of QA testing on my original Gameboy long into the evening under a lamp,” he adds. 

“Being able to build a game and see it boot up and play on actual handheld hardware that I owned as a kid is a thrill each time.”

While Joel is a solo developer, he is thankful to the retro gaming community, saying that “people are generous with their time” and that it is “a friendly, supportive, and inspiring corner of the Internet.” We couldn’t agree more.

Thank you for your time, Joel! Can you let folks know where they can stay in touch and keep in the loop on your work?

“Thanks for sticking around to read this! If Tales of Monsterland DX sounds like something you’d enjoy, be sure to check out a demo on my Itch.io. You can download and play it on hardware, on your emulator of choice, or just on the browser.

If you’d like the full thing, you can preorder a complete boxed copy here, on ModRetro’s site.”

Preorder Tales of Monsterland DX Today

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