PC Gamer recently spoke to Luca Galante, the sole developer behind indie hit Vampire Survivors. During the conversation I asked about a brief early controversy, which flared-up and then died-down almost as quickly: some people accused the game of going too far in its homage to Castlevania, and even that certain sprites were a straight rip-off.
“I had done my homework,” says Galante. “So even before publishing I did check all the sprites, specifically to make sure there weren’t you know, ripped out from Castlevania, because they came from an asset pack. And it was fine. Honestly, there was nothing like a copy-paste.”
The problem was that, while Galante was focused on the sprites not being rip-offs, some of them were clearly heavily ‘inspired’ by Konami’s series: and, as he came to realise, probably went too far.
“The thing is, that of course some things recalled Castlevania way too much, so some people became really upset at the fact and they were 100% sure the sprites were ripped off, or somehow they were taken out and readapted, like resized or something like that. I wish it was that easy to make and sell art!”
Galante decided that, before things got out of hand, he’d simply change the sprites people were getting angry about. “I had a lot of trouble actually finding artists that could emulate the style of that asset pack [used originally], not emulating Castlevania, because even if you put the art styles next to one another, you will notice that there are a lot of differences: like Castlevania doesn’t use so many colours and have that thick outline for example.
“Anyway: I found some artists that are helping replace even stuff that is a little too close to the reference. I also left in some stuff that, you know, there are some that’s going to complain about the water icon. Sorry, but the little blue bottle is gonna stay there.”
Vampire Survivors is well worth a look, and for me the Castlevania homage is a selling point rather than something to get annoyed with (and it’s not like Konami gives us much to get excited about).