WayForward is a studio that is no stranger to looking back, be it towards its own games, with re-releases of the Shantae series, for example, or revamping the previous work of other developers, as is the case with the next remake from the Advance team. Nintendo Wars. GBA duo Advance Wars 1 + 2: Re-Boot Camp is coming to Switch in December.
Before that, however, the WayForward team is reviewing one of their own back catalog featuring BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites, an improved re-release of their 2011 2D side-scrolling hack-and-slasher starring the headline. Dhampir, a game that originally came to Wii and other platforms courtesy of publisher Majesco.
With the new headlines from IP Ziggurat Interactive taking over publishing roles, we recently caught up with Adam Tierney, Director of BizDev and Publishing at WayForward, to discuss the upcoming game, the origins of this remaster, and what it’s like to revisit his own work from a a decade ago …
Nintendo Life: Can you tell us how the idea of remastering BloodRayne Betrayal came about?
Adam Tierney, WayForward: Ziggurat acquired the rights to BloodRayne IP and its previous games and of course WayForward developed the third game in the series (Betrayal). They reached out to us to ask if WayForward would be interested in porting the game to modern consoles, and also exploring what (if any) updates or additions we could address while porting the game. BloodRayne Betrayal is a game we’ve always been very proud of, so we were excited at the prospect of diving back into that world.
How did you decide the exact parameters of this remastering project and what tweaks / improvements to make (and what to leave alone)?
Ziggurat and WayForward discussed this together during some phone calls. What we decided on used to be features and additions that performed well, meaning they were doable to pull off but also made a noticeable difference in playability.
Laura Bailey and Troy Baker are some of the biggest names in the voice acting business these days – was their return to the franchise planned early on or did they join later?
I think we could have discussed the possibility of recording them during the original production, since we were working with both of them on another project at the same time (Silent Hill: Scrapbook). But in 2011, WayForward was still figuring out how to do VO in-game effectively, so the decision was made to primarily omit VO for the game.
bringing Laura and Troy back made perfect sense, because Betrayal was the only BloodRayne game without full VO
As we discussed possible improvements for Fresh Bites with Ziggurat, bringing Laura and Troy back made perfect sense, because Betrayal was the only BloodRayne game without full VO, and it also had a lot of text dialogue, waiting to be voiced. .
In terms of art and assets, did you have to rebuild or redraw something from scratch? Tell us a little about that ‘transfer’ process.
First, we analyze what original materials existed from the original production and with what resolution they existed. Often we will illustrate and animate the assets in a project at a much higher resolution and then shrink them based on the needs of the current project. When BloodRayne Betrayal came out a decade ago, it was a 720p resolution game. Now both the PS5 and Xbox Series X allow 4K resolutions. So we needed to bring the art to that level of detail.
For character animation, we also used a clever form of autoscaling that looked for patterns and curves within existing art and then expanded it. The results were quite amazing, much sharper and more detailed than I would have expected from any kind of automated process.
For veterans of the original game, what would you say are the most notable changes in terms of gameplay? Are there any changes to the level design or any new content?
We identified some areas in the original game where players frequently got stuck or tended to stop playing due to a sudden increase in challenge. We then made minor tweaks there to make the game a little fairer and more balanced than it might have been on its initial release.
We identified some areas in the original game where players frequently got stuck or tended to stop playing due to a sudden increase in challenge. We then made small adjustments there to make the game a bit more fair and balanced.
We also tweaked Rayne’s health and damage values a bit. But this was all changed in-game, so as much as we might feel that this subtly refined version is the best version to play, players who want to play the original version without these game settings still have that option.
How many titles did you consider before deciding on ‘Fresh Bites’?
Hahaha, I can’t even remember, there were so many. Probably more than 50, maybe even more than 100.
It’s rolling out on all console platforms, so how will the resolution / frame rate of the Switch version compare?
Well obviously the Switch version can’t be 4K resolution. Broadcasts at 1080p on a TV screen or 720p in handheld mode. But otherwise, the Switch version should look and play identically to how it does on the other systems.
Is it cathartic to get another pass in a game you put to bed a decade ago? How did you feel reviewing your work from that time?
It was fun, yeah! This was always one of our favorite games, so it was appreciated that we were invited to help reintroduce it to a new generation of gamers, and I’m glad that Ziggurat gave us that opportunity. And the added character VO feels like such a natural addition, it’s hard to remember that the game works without it.
Our thanks to Adam for speaking with us. BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites will be available on Switch on September 9. Stay tuned for our review soon.