Fans of the new Mummy reboot—that’s right, all twelve of you—and Metroidvania games can rejoice, because Universal Studios and developer WayForward have announced the release date of the upcoming The Mummy: Demastered. Originally unveiled on September 25, the game takes place in the same “Dark Universe” that Universal has committed to, which will eventually include Dracula, the Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Frankenstein, and even the Phantom of the Opera. And while players won’t get to follow in the shoes of a 16-bit Tom Cruise in The Mummy: Demastered, they’ll have a chance to explore an expanded setting and story by the end of the month.
— WayForward (@WayForward) October 9, 2017
WayForward are no strangers to developing 16-bit titles, nor are they amateurs at adapting games from movies. The company’s first project was the SNES puzzler Mickey’s Ultimate Challenge in 1994, and over the last 20 years they’ve tackled dozens of franchises, such as Spongebob Squarepants, Adventure Time, Aliens, Godzilla, Batman, and even the previous Mummy timeline with 2002’s Scorpion King: Sword of Osiris. However, most will recognize the developers for creating the enduring Shantae series, still going strong after Half-Genie Hero last year. Movie adaptations are responsible for some of the worst games of all time (need I remind you of E.T. and Superman?), so it’s a relief to see Universal partnering with a team that really knows their stuff.
The Mummy: Demastered will be another addition to the ever-popular Metroidvania genre, whose core tenets are derived from—you guessed it—the Metroid and Castlevania series. In a nutshell, players explore an open, 2D, side-scrolling world, picking up incremental upgrades that unlock more combat abilities and parts of the map. Demastered separates a bit from its cousins, however, in some clever ways. An arsenal of Contra-like futuristic military weapons should spice things up, and instead of just restarting from a save point after a game over, the previous soldier you were controlling will be raised into the Mummy’s army and turned into an enemy. Whenever you respawn, it’s as a new recruit that may just have to face off against the shambling husk of their predecessor.
WayForward have already created games in this style, notably in 2011 with Aliens: Infestation, and it seems like they’ve become big fans of the format. In an interview with Polygon, director Austin Ivansmith stated bluntly, “Our thought was, ‘Let’s take these pieces of Castlevania, and these pieces of Metroid and these pieces of Contra, and try to make them all work together as [their] own thing.’ I think we’ve done that pretty well.” For a company that’s specialized in creating games in the same art and bit style as the titles that defined this genre, it makes sense that WayForward would adopt the gameplay philosophy as well.
The “Dark Universe” got off to a rocky start with the Mummy movie, but maybe Demastered can right the course. Two weeks from today, you can decide for yourself.