As a child of the Nintendo generation, I remember the maps that were drawn for Kid Icarus, for each of the stage’s fourth levels suddenly placed players in sprawling fortresses with Eggplant Wizards and it was nice to immediately be aware of where the hospital was in case you fell victim to a potent spell. On the Genesis, I still have the giant taped-together maps for seaQuest DSV, which I remember were deemed necessary if you ever wanted to diffuse bombs in that one level with the special dolphin while avoiding turret fire within a certain amount of time. And while I don’t remember if we ever drew maps for Metroid or Castlevania, I’m sure they existed at some point.
If you played old games, drawing maps were a necessary part of the experience. You had no HUD or map rooms or objective beacon. As a kid, these necessities then transpired to our own fantasies, drawing our own game worlds on paper in an attempt to create the next best 2D adventure. Few of us ever made them come alive with an actual computer, but the worlds were there, waiting to be explored at some eventual point in time.
Pixel Press, the latest-coolest-thing to appear on Kickstarter, is a nostalgic blast to the past that explores the Nintendo generation’s child-like wonder of developing game levels. Not only does it merge current technology with the pleasure of drawing your own fantasy worlds from pencil and paper, but it has the potential to teach level design for budding game makers. With your iPad, you simply take a photograph of a map drawn on grid paper to apply textures and sounds, making it come alive where you jump, avoid moving obstacles, and navigate your way to victory. The demo is absolutely impressive — a time lapse takes you from creation to completion in just a few minutes with a playable result. Backing the game for $10 will net you the finished copy of the Pixel Press app for your iPad, while a $25 pledge will reward you with the app and necessary sketchpad. If funded at their current goal of $100K, Pixel Press is expected to ship Q4 2013.