Talking about Wulverblade, with Michael Heald

If you’ve not been reading some of our recent articles, you might have missed the fact that we here at IM PLAYIN are really excited for the future of indie gaming on the next-gen consoles. I myself am particularly excited for Wulverblade, an upcoming side-scroller beat ’em up / slasher that will be hitting the Xbox One as part of the ID@Xbox programme. The main reason that I can’t wait for it is because I’m a history buff (geek), that and it looks really interesting. Wulverblade is set around 120AD in Roman Britain, and focuses on the Roman’s attempted conquest of the North. You will control Cradoc, a Briton warrior, in his quest to save the North from the Romans and stop their push across the island.

We were lucky enough to ask Michael Heald, creator and owner of Fully Illustrated, a few questions about Wulverblade as well as some other bits and bobs. Wulverblade is a joint project between Fully Illustrated and Darkwind Media, with the concept being devised by Michael and Fully Illustrated over a number of years and Darkwind coming in to handle the development and help get the idea off paper. Below is a short gameplay trailer for Wulverblade which shows snippets from two out of the eight available levels as well as around one fifth of the moves and characters in the game. So there’s plenty more to Wulverblade than the video shows, but what we’ve seen so far looks great!


Why have you chosen to create a game based on a period of history that is often overlooked?

“I chose Roman Britain mainly due to the fact that it interests me greatly. Many people know little to nothing of this period and that’s sort of sad really. There are so many incredibly mind blowing stories that happened during these centuries. Britain was a place of tribes and we had no king or queen to speak of. We also had a hugely spiritual belief system that tied deeply into nature, which I think paints a really interesting picture. The amount of superstition and lore that surrounded this was amazing. Just imagine the shock, when an island of tribal folks saw these HUGE Roman ships pull onto their shores and out poured 20,000 soldiers, all looking identical to each other, same clothes, same armour, same weapons and they all moved in the same way. It must have seemed otherworldly.”

What games would you say have most influenced Wulverblade?

“Many games have influenced Wulverblade, but solely from a genre perspective: Wulverblade is a classical side scrolling beat ’em up in the vein of Final Fight, Streets of Rage and Sengoku. All of the greatest games of this genre have been studied down to the finest pixel to ensure we could learn what worked and what didn’t.”

Will you be showcasing at EGX, at all?

“Not currently, but this may change, I’m looking into it.”

How has it been working as part of the ID@XBOX programme?

“There’s been a lot of negative press surrounding the programme, but for us it’s been great and we’ve got no complaints. If it wasn’t for Microsoft’s openness to Indies, we’d not be here, it’s that simple.”

Do you think that this could be the generation of the indie publishers? Especially on the Xbox One, considering that they were slightly marginalised on the 360.

I think these last few years have been the start of the greatest generation for Indies. The explosion of mobile gaming has allowed people to get their games into the mainstream, which in turn has forced larger platforms to be more open. This year will be the first year where next-gen consoles are truly open to Indies. This excites the hell out of me!”

Finally, what’s your favourite game?

“Now this is one hell of a tough question. If I could split this down into genres, I’d say this …

Shoot ’em up: R-Type

One on One Beat ’em up: Street Fighter 2 Champion Edition

Side Scrolling Beat ’em up: Final Fight

Platform game: Super Mario World

FPS: The very original Medal of Honour

RPG: Zelda 3, Link to the Past

Puzzle: Tetris

Driving: Sega Rally (original)

… there’s a bit of a retro theme here isn’t there!”

Michael is clearly excited about his game, and who could blame him! That’s what I love about indie games and indie developers / creators, you can really feel their passion and you can see it in the games that they make. Wulverblade seems to have a real retro feel about it, drawing influence from classic beat-em ups like Final Fight and Streets of Rage, but the art style is modern, smooth and beautifully designed. Games like Wulverblade could be paving the way for something big on the PS4 and the Xbox One. I’m really excited to see more of this game, as well as the other indie gems that will be hitting our consoles in the coming months!

IM PLAYIN would like to say a big thanks to Michael for the time he took to chat to us. If you want to see more from Fully Illustrated or Wulverblade, check out their website – as well as the Wulverblade site –