Ah Deadly Towers, I just posted my review of it last month. While I may enjoy it, it’s clear that most people don’t. It’s not hard to see why given the myriad of problems with it but that’s not what we’re here to talk about. I am pretty sure that most gamers have likely thought of how they would make their own game if they had the resources available, ideas are much more common than action after all. I’ve certainly had plenty of projects in mind and have even began writing the script for some, but it’s unlikely you’ll get to actually see me developing a game any time soon. I have way too little resources or experience to do so at this point in my life so I’ll just bounce off ideas like anyone else.
The point of this article is to imagine what a remastered version of Deadly Towers would look like if it were made today. I’m going to at least keep it within the realm of what an indie studio could create today and not imagine it with AAA production values because that’s far less likely to happen.
When remaking a game it is important to remember what worked well in the original and what didn’t. There are a lot more solid concepts in Deadly Towers than most will admit, and I don’t just say that because I liked it either. Deadly Towers is basically top down 2D Dark Souls, or it would be if it had a bit more polish. If I were behind a remake of Deadly Towers, I would want to keep the difficulty of the original game but in a more fair and balanced way (and I don’t mean the Fox News “fair and balanced” either).
The biggest hurdle that most had when most people played the original was the initial spike in difficulty from the start until you get decent equipment. Starting off very very hard is not inherently bad though, the issue is more that there is no difficulty curve and the game becomes way too easy compared to how it started out. The biggest flaw is that Deadly Towers is an action game yet it is structured like an RPG.
Handling a difficulty curve can be quite tricky when it comes to non linear games given that they allow you to play through levels in different orders. The hardest part of the game should NOT be the start. The towers are really not as much of a problem as the dungeons are. For clarity’s sake, the dungeons in Deadly Towers refer to literal dungeons and not the typical “RPG area with enemies.” These dungeons have the player transported to them once they walk over a certain spot on the over world and they need to make their way back out.
Some have suggested that they should allow the player to exit the way they came in, but I feel that kinda defeats the point. Rather what should happen is that there should be an in game map feature that fills out as you explore each room and where any significant landmarks such as shops or the exit are marked. Most importantly, the map should still be filled in if the player exits the dungeon. On the overworld, there should also be a hole over the entrance to the dungeon after the player enters the first time as to prevent them from being transported by accident. Perhaps the entrances to the dungeons should be trap doors and the first time the player walks over the entrance, an animation of the trap door opening up should play, and maybe the ability to re-enter the dungeon from where the exit was should be possible.
Some have also suggested to make the dungeons smaller, but I feel that also defeats the point. Having the map feature would make it a lot easier to find one’s way through the dungeon and thus make exploring the rest of the dungeon easier. Although it would be wise to provide some incentive to do so like finding hidden items or even possible background lore to the plot, Who says that it needs to stay an excuse plot?
Another benefit to this type of design is that it would make the blue scroll useful for a change. In the original game, the blue scroll merely warped you to another room in the dungeon. It not only caused you to get lost within a labyrinthine structure, but it even had the possibility of stranding you in an area that you could not exit unless you had another blue scroll. If there was incentive to fully explore every dungeon then it may actually be rewarding to explore these hard to reach areas.
There is also the obvious “don’t render every room as a separate location so you don’t hear the music starting over each time you leave the room” addition. The original game did add some variety by having different variations of the dungeon theme with different countermelodies play at random as you explored them, and I do think that might be something to keep. Rather than having them play at random though, you can instead have the music change depending on how close you are to exit or any other special locations.
That gives me another idea, and it’s one I just thought of now. Have the keys to each of the towers be located in the dungeons and require the player to find them by combing them. Additionally, there should also be keys to the parallel zones and secret rooms that one needs to find as well. Better yet, why not just have every dungeon be interconnected and form a giant labyrinth? Think of it similarly to the red labyrinth in Yume Nikki, a giant interconnected location with multiple entrances and exits. I would have each section separate at first but have openings between those sections appear after the player burns all seven bells, where they will unlock one last secret area with an optional boss if they bothered to do everything they could in the game. Perhaps we could have it be Rubas’s pet dragon that is rumored to be stronger than even Rubas himself, so he was locked at the bottom of the dungeon.
In regards to each of the towers, I would likely make them a bit longer and meatier. The towers in the original game were way too short compared to the dungeons and it often felt like you were in and out in a flash, so I would naturally be in favor of fixing that. maybe through a few puzzles in there but we don’t want this game to go full Zelda since it should be more about combat and exploration. Also I’d want to keep the non linearity as opposed to shit like needing a certain item to solve certain puzzles, although I heard A Link Between Worlds and Breath of the Wild ditched that formula.
I would also have the bosses revamped. The original bosses all followed simplistic and easily exploitable patterns and could be beaten in mere seconds depending on how well equipped you were. The battle against Rubas especially deserves an overhaul so that you can just use the blue necklace and avoid all attacks. I would specifically add a second phase where he turns into a giant because he’s a wizard and can do shit like that. Also he needs a new final boss theme since reusing the normal boss theme would be lame. Also the two fights that came before Rubas would be put earlier in the final dungeon (which would also be longer) and would both require boss keys. Also I’d make sure there is little to no backtracking if one already defeated a boss but didn’t have all three keys.
Given that Deadly Towers Remastered would still need to be a difficult game, there would need to be a sense of risk that comes with death. The castle area would likely remain similar enough but with a few differences. The first would be that the mini bosses don’t respawn for obvious reasons. The second would be to allow a shortcut to the Holy Flame room after the player has reached it (which the original may have had in regards to a key that can be used to get rid of a pair of guards, but I never used it since I abused savestates). Also adding either NPCs or written notes about gameplay mechanics may be a wise idea as to not leave players completely in the dark.
Having fully covered design and concept, I think it’s time to talk about gameplay tweaks. First of all, add an animation of Myer either thrusting or throwing/shooting his sword. Rather than require the player to mash the B button repeatedly during close range attacks, I’d give Myer the ability to hold out his sword by holding down a separate button similarly to Soul Blazer. Yes, the initial weapon would still move slow as hell because you are supposed to start out weak, but I would make the quicker enemies that often fly out of range require less hits (as well as making it so that their money or health drops don’t land in the walls.
Furthermore the eight directional movement will be fixed so that walking diagonally doesn’t make you stop in your tracks, and the hyper boots will speed up all movement as opposed to just diagonal. There is the obvious addition of more invincibility frames so that the player doesn’t get knocked around the room like in the original. And make sure that you don’t immediately take damage upon entering another room because you spawned on top of an enemy.
In regards to the double shot and the parallel shot, I would make it so that you can have both equipped at once to allow for a total of four swords on screen at once, but have them each load separately so that you don’t get blocked from firing because one sword is still flying across the room while the other hit an enemy. Instead have it so that when the parallel shot is equipped, you fire off only one sword while the other is still on screen (unless you have both the double and parallel shots at once).
Another major change would be that you don’t lose your items when you do… but you still lose your money. As I mentioned in my review of the game, I would likely add something similar to the Soulsborne games’ bloodstains in that you can find it and get your money back. Also no more 255 ludder cap, that will be moved up to at least 1000. Obviously there will be a save feature and Myer will start out with full health instead of with the default 100 even after picking up health containers.
In regards to items, the red scroll won’t be limited to just dungeons, the blue scroll will have a more predictable pattern so that one can find the secret areas without having to go through too much ludder, the orange necklace will instead temporarily increase attack, and the red necklace will revive you once after death similarly to the fairies in the Zelda series. There will also be shopkeepers that sell evil shields and cups but there will be some subtle hints that they should not be trusted as opposed to the original where you only find out by doing so.
In short, Deadly Towers Remastered (or Deadlier Towers if you want to go with a sillier title) would be a cross between Dark Souls, Ys, The Binding of Isaac, and well… Deadly Towers. I specifically mention these four games as an answer to a question challenge by Later Levels; to create the ultimate video game by combining already existing titles. Of course, I already started working on this about a month ago but I feel that it will work as an interesting addition. Plus I have too much other stuff planned that I want to get done first. Besides, the idea of the “ultimate video game” is purely subjective and depending on personal preference. Deadly Tower Remastered likely wouldn’t be my own idea of the ultimate video game, but it likely would be someone elses.
Oh and if anyone else has been wanting to make a fan remake of Deadly Towers, you can feel free to steal every idea I posted here. Just be sure to tell me when the game is completed. Also tell me if there are any existing games that fit the description I gave for this hypothetical remake because I’d be all over that shit. Anyway let me know if you liked this piece, because I may decide to write other pieces about how i would improve upon pre existing games.
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