Zackulback Adventures

Zackulback Adventures is an action platformer based on the first game Karl Ast ever created.

Setting:

Mamphibireptile is a distant planet inhabited by talking animals and other bizarre creatures. The planet also has two moons: a terraformed tropical paradise as well as a ravaged desert world filled with monsters. The evil mouse Luggsina, who is from the tropical moon, wants to take over the world to transform it into her domain. Only the cat Zackulback is motivated enough to actually do anything about this impending disaster.

Characters:

Zackulback – A young cat that is swift and fast, capable of shooting spiky hairballs from his mouth. He is sleek, cool and has an edgy attitude.

Luggsina – A mouse that has access to lots of technological resources, she just wants to conquer the world through sheer force.

Levels:

Moucat City – A sprawling metropolis and major hub of Mamphibireptile home to many of the planet’s inhabitants. The Die Sphere terrorizes the city with its army of Die Grunts.

Grassy Battlefield – A battleground where Luggsina’s army has gathered. The Cannon reigns supreme over this area.

Vega Jungle – Vega Jungle is filled with carnivorous plants and leaping Red Hedgehogs. The Monkey King rules with an iron fist.

Western Wilds – A wild, untamed desert with cacti, eagles and many more. The Die Rock roams these areas.

White Mouse Mountain – A type of genetically enhanced mouse was created here designed to explode upon defeat. And it is Zackulback’s skeletal counterpart Skeleback that controls them.

Clockwork Cavern – A cave frozen in time as strange arrows bend the laws of physics. The Chronon is responsible for this.

Volcanic Valley – A fiery valley that formed as a result of the world of Hades breaking out into the surface. The Salamander is the guard dog of this domain.

Luggsina’s Castle – Luggsina’s base on the planet which she built herself, filling it to the brim with death traps. She awaits Zackulback here, flying around in a missile shooting UFO.

Trivia/Behind the Scenes

Inspiration

The idea for Zackulback came from a series of cartoons I created in Microsoft Powerpoint around 2001 and 2002.  In fact, the grey fur and black stripes pattern came directly from a Clip Art image used in the cartoon.  When I first learned how to make games, I figured that Zackulback was an appropriate source material.  At the time, the idea had grown from random doodles to a miniature franchise consisting of tons more Powerpoint cartoons and even a few poorly drawn comics.  There were so many ideas and characters, that in the end, I realized that I could only fit so much into my first game ever.

The overall tone took a lot of inspiration from Tom and Jerry.  In fact, the idea of exploding mice seen in the White Mouse Mountain level came directly from the episode The Missing Mouse.  While I certainly loved the show, at the time when I created Zackulback, it had bothered me for sometime why cats were almost always the villain and that mice were almost always the good guy.  Granted, Tom and Jerry portrayed both of the titular characters as jerks towards one another, but after seeing the typical portrayal so many times in other cartoons, I wanted to flip the idea on its head by having a hero who was a cat and a mouse who was a villain.

Although Zackulback Adventures portrays Luggsina as just a typical evil villain (I could only fit so much into a game of this small scope), the original Powerpoints developed her personality a lot.  I based Luggsina off of frustrations I had against spoiled, arrogant kids who had everything handed to them on a silver platter.  She was made to be an extreme omnivore who would literally eat almost anything to symbolize her greed and selfishness.  Though I never actually made a game about this aspect of her personality, some of these ideas were eventually reused for Laser Industries 3 (created in 2006, not yet released to the public) in the form of the Gophers.

As for the weird names?  Well, “Zackulback” came from my attempt to create a cool sounding Star Wars-type name like Sebulba, because Zackulback was meant to be my take on a 90s animal mascot character, sort of like Sonic, Spyro or Crash Bandicoot.  Luggsina’s name was derived from the ghost Mr. Luggs in Luigi’s Mansion.

Development

The original Zackulback Adventures was created in July of 2005 when I was learning how to use Multimedia Fusion 1.5 for the first time at iD Tech Camps.  This being my first game, I was just having as much fun as I could with it.  Before this time, I had always wanted to make a game about my fictional character Zackulback, so what better opportunity?  The difficulty of the game at the time eventually became notorious, but I had always professed that it was beatable.  And it is.  Really!

After I completed the original game, I wanted to do more, so I ended up using the Zackulback character as a sort of scratch pad.  I ended up creating sequel/remakes of the same game to try out different ideas and coding techniques.  It was essentially beta version after beta version of the same game.  The later levels of the version on the site use the ideas seen in the sequel/remakes, so all of the various Zackulback games ended up getting combined into one big one, resulting in something close to what I originally imagined the game might have looked like back in the day.


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