Game development continues to open up more and more with the release of new tools designed for user accessibility, and that’s exactly what Bruno R. Marcos had in mind when constructing Arcade Game Studio (abbreviated as ARGS so as to not confuse it with Adventure Game Studio). As the kids of the 80s grew up playing the ZX Spectrum, NES and Amstrad, they came to forge loving memories with those classic games and those that have since ventured into game development have gone about reimagining them in various ways. A couple of the most recent releases that are more nostalgia-fuelled tributes than anything are Locomalito’s Maldita Castilla and Bruneras’ Maximus Action Carnage, which follow the movements and styles of Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins and Commando respectively. Maximus Action Carnage is actually the first game to be made entirely within the Arcade Game Studio, and as such it’s readily available for PCs and arcade cabinets alike.
Considering how old the games that inspired these new releases are, you might be under the impression that they’re not too difficult to create. Of course, you’d be very wrong, especially as the two developers being referred to here consist of just one body carrying the whole production from start to finish. That fact hasn’t stopped many attempting a foray into making a retro game tribute, but many of them come off lacking polish as well as the authentic feel that really rubs those old bones. The release of the beta version of Arcade Game Studio means that even you – yes, you – can make a pretty solid retro styled tribute to the classic games that inspired so many players and developers.
It’s a very simple studio that is not only easy to use but presented with an appropriately retro aesthetic too. If you want to get stuck in the only drawback will be your lack of drive or inspiration, though you should quite easily be able to create clones of Pac-Man, 1942, Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins, Green Beret, Gauntlet and Commando as the genre templates (scrolling shooter, run ‘n’ gun, maze, platform) allow for this with no coding knowledge required at all. You’ll have to supply your own sprite sheets, pixel art, sound effects and music either by creating it yourself or acquiring them from the many royalty-free databases. And the studio renders them in those classic looking arcade visuals as you can see in the images taken from the program above. CRT filter and all.
Just Like Old Times
Clearly, Arcade Game Studio isn’t made as a means of competing with the other tools and studios out there that brag allowing users to create games without having to use a line of code. In fact, Bruno revealed to Retro Maniac Magazine that the original intention behind creating the studio in the first place was for his own personal use. Bruno says that upon returning to game development in 2011, after a five year hiatus, that he wanted to create lots of arcade games inspired by the games of his childhood. So he set out to create a means for himself to bypass the effort each of these ideas would require by creating a program for that purpose. In that same interview, he discusses how Maximus Action Carnage took just three weeks to create, though the work that was done in ARGS amounted to about a week’s worth as the animated characters took the longest and they were created with Game Maker.
It should be noted that ARGS is designed with making games of a specific style and way of playing, though there is a little room for experimentation. So there’s not much point of heading into it with intentions of making anything else apart from the pre-set genres. There is, of course, a demand for tutorials as to how to use ARGS, and they are provided on the Help/Tutorials page, which covers pretty much everything you’ll need to create your own retro style game with the studio. There’s even a tutorial video that focuses on creating a run ‘n’ game just like Maximus Action Carnage.
“Arcade Game Studio™ is a program for making games with the style and gameplay of the 80′s arcade games.”
The current beta release of Arcade Game Studio is the most recent one, the 0.242 beta. It is fully functionable and currently non-commercial, with the only restraint being that the Build Game File option has been disabled, so you can’t create a game in a distributable form. The only platform supported at this point in time is Windows, but Bruno is looking at enabling users to build games that can also be ported to Android, iPhone and Windows Mobile. There are plenty more features to come as Bruno continues to work on it while creating games with it himself. You can grab the latest version of Arcade Game Studio from the Download page.