Tanglewood is a brand new and original game for the SEGA Genesis and Mega Drive, to be released on physical cartridge in winter 2017.
Tanglewood hit its Kickstarter goal in December 2016, as well as its first two stretch goals - a gloss print inside the box, and a port to the SEGA Dreamcast!
We've hosted an extended campaign here on Megafounder to try and reach our third stretch goal, the Dreamcast HD version! At £75,000 we'll be expanding upon the Dreamcast port by reworking all of the 16-bit graphics and audio to bring you a high definition version of Nymn's story, for the Dreamcast and more.
If you're after the Dreamcast version, just select any Mega Drive cartridge tier, and we'll give you the option to choose in a post-campaign survey. Collector's Edition backers will receive both.
Set in the realm of Tanglewood, the game follows a young creature, Nymn, separated from the pack after the sun sets. Unable to get back to the safety of the family's underground home, Nymn must find a way to survive the night terrors and get to morning. Tanglewood’s world is a dangerous one after dark; guiding Nymn you must use your skills of evasion, traps and trickery to defeat predators.
Tanglewood is a platforming game with puzzle elements, and can be described as a mix of the Mega Drive titles Another World and The Lion King.
- SEGA Mega Drive and compatible clones (PAL, NTSC-J)
- SEGA Genesis and compatible clones (NTSC-US)
The Windows/Mac/Linux versions are delivered in the form of a downloadable app, providing a close-to-authentic Mega Drive experience on your desktop without the hassle of setting up an emulator!
All reward tiers include a copy of the Windows/Mac/Linux version.
Yes! This is the real 16-bit deal, a physical cartridge that plays on your very own SEGA console.
Multi-region cartridge for PAL, NTSC, and NTSC-J consoles
It is compatible with SEGA Mega Drive and Genesis (PAL, NTSC and NTSC-J) console versions I, II, and III, and all compatible clones.
The ROM is compatible with most major emulators, but we recommend playing on a real console using a flash cart like Everdrive.
The prototype contains three acts from the first level.
Tanglewood is a loveletter to a wide variety of 2D platforming and adventure games of the '90s, mixing fast-paced action with puzzles, tricks and traps inspired by titles like The Lion King, Another World, Flashback and Sonic the Hedgehog, mixed with more modern gameplay elements from newer titles such as LIMBO and Ori and the Blind Forest. It also takes inspiration from PlayStation platforming classics like Abe's Oddysee and Heart of Darkness.
The gameplay experience will vary from level to level; a toolkit of mechanics keeps the game interesting from beginning to end. Levels incorporate exploration, thought provoking puzzles, monster encounters, chase scenes, battles of the elements, as well as secret areas.
For collector enthusiasts and hardcore completionists, the game features a range of collectible items, with rewards (and bragging rights!) for finding them all.
Nymn is Tanglewood’s protagonist, a shy creature from a family-oriented species called the Djunn race, who survive in packs, live underground, and only emerge during daylight.
Night time is dangerous for Nymn and the rest of the day-dwellers, since many of Tanglewood’s less desirable characters emerge after dark to chase, intimidate, hunt and eat any strays who should have retreated underground.
Nymn, Tanglewood's protagonist
Unfortunately, this is exactly the situation Nymn is found in. Lost, alone and far from the safety of the family, Nymn is desperate to find a way to get back to the underground pack before nightfall sets in, and becomes the victim of a hunt.
It's safe in the daytime, Nymn can snooze in the trees
An early concept of Nymn
Evolution of Nymn's design
Early face concepts and expression tests
There’s a reason our friend Nymn is so keen to get back home before dark. That reason is huge, snarling, fearsome beasts, birds and spirits that emerge from the darkness, with the blood of the last victims still dripping from their teeth, and an insatiable appetite for Nymn’s face.
Introducing the Djakk monster: just one of many enemies the player will encounter at night.
Djakks and Djunn don't get along
Djakks have been a threat to Tanglewood for as long as its inhabitants can remember. The lore speaks of an ancient tribe of hunters who saddled them up and rode them right to the edge of the forest, hunting Nymn's kind for as far as they could smell. Long gone are the bad rulers of the lands, but their big ugly pets remained.
Djakks can outrun Nymn, so you'll need to be crafty in your escape
A Djakk fight is a long and drawn out challenge, they are expert trackers and will chase Nymn to the ends of the forest for a taste of his innards. Sometimes the only place Nymn can find safety is in the boughs of the trees where every jump counts. Flues, Fuzzls, and all other tricks and traps inhabiting the forest floor are rendered unusable with a live Djakk patrolling, making whole sections of the game, pickups and secrets inaccessible unless Nymn figures out a way to dispose of his unwelcome companion.
More importantly, Nymn is looking for somewhere to sleep to wait out the rest of the night terrors, and with this thing around it’s unlikely there will be anywhere safe to rest.
Early Nymn/Djakk palette tests
Tanglewood’s world is alive with the strangest of creatures, from little to large, good to evil. The Fuzzl is a neutral, furry, confused, and easily startled member of the club.
Nymn can roll these little ones (if they’re awake…) back to their nests. The Fuzzls dish out handsome rewards for your efforts; you get to copy their colour, and use the ability that comes with it.
No, we're not sure how it got itself up there, either
Fuzzls aren’t the smartest of creatures, but they play a major role in Tanglewood, and are woven deep into its history. They were once domestic pets of various races, including Nymn's ancestors. Some of the more advanced – but now extinct – species used Fuzzls to power contraptions, as counterweights for lifts and hoists, and even to hug for stress relief, but now the Fuzzls are left alone to live out their lives sleeping, or getting startled by their own shadows.
They dream of world domination
Nobody knows what they do, what they eat, how they mate, what goes on in their little minds, if they can communicate, or how they still exist as a species without being able to perform basic functions of their own. They just… are.
Flower lamps keep sleeping Fuzzls nice and warm
Early concept of Nymn rolling a Fuzzl to its nest
Colour is everything in Tanglewood. It is a life force that can be given, shared, stolen, or used as currency.
Every animal and plant in Tanglewood has a distinct colour, which may play as an advantage or disadvantage to the player. The organic world may respond in a positive manner if Nymn is of a matching hue. For example, a length of twisted vines blocking your way may open up if you find a way to switch to the same colour, or you could even move or entice a matching creature to sit next to it.
Fuzzls give you temporary powers if you help them get back to their nests
Monsters may behave differently depending if you are a matching or opposing colour, and will either give chase or ignore you on the assumption that you are a member of their pack. Be wary, though, because your newly acquired power won't last forever, and could leave you stranded at the worst possible moment.
Glide - an ability gained from a yellow Fuzzl
In Nymn’s case, colour is power. When transformed into a blue, green or yellow creature, Nymn takes on special abilities to help navigate the terrain, or provide an advantage against enemies.
Cloak/time stop - an ability gained from a green Fuzzl
Tanglewood is set on a far away planet with twin suns and many moons. The land itself is coloured with deep forests and spotted lakes, however life is not so peaceful there once those suns have set. The day-dwelling race of creatures must find shelter amongst a world fraught with danger as packs of predatory beasts and vicious birds roam at night.
Early branch detail tile tests
Tanglewood features a dawn/day/dusk/night time cycle, with the current time of day influencing the type of enemies the player will encounter, some of the actions that can be performed, and the behaviour of creatures and organic life.
Early night environment tile count test
Floating leaf sprite animation test sheet
The game is being created using original SEGA development tools, software and processes, and programmed in raw 68000 assembly language, just like your favourite titles of the '90s.
One of the Cross Products SNASM2 MegaCD Development Kits used to create Tanglewood
It's important to us that Tanglewood is as authentic a Mega Drive game as possible. We're aiming to ensure that its journey closely matches that of original SEGA games, from the design methods, to the development hardware, all the way through to the materials and processes used to manufacture the cartridge, box and manual.
You can learn more about the development hardware and processes, and see the kit in action over at Computerphile:
An approach to tree branch tile count optimisation - video memory is a limited and precious resource!
Matt Phillips - Designer and Programmer
My name is Matt Phillips, I'm a videogames programmer from Manchester UK, with over 10 years industry experience.
I've worked on 14 released AAA titles at studios such as Traveller's Tales, Crytek UK and Deep Silver Dambusters, under roles from engine programming to audio to gameplay to special effects. I have experience programming for Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Wii U, Nintendo DS and 3DS, SEGA Mega Drive, SEGA MegaCD, SEGA Saturn, SEGA Dreamcast, Windows, Mac and Linux.
I've worked on 2D and 3D platforming games, serious first-person shooters, not-so-serious first-person shooters, action adventure games, vehicular combat games, physics puzzle games, vertical scrolling shooters, ports of old games to new platforms, franchise reboots, and more licensed IP's than I can count.
The most prominent titles in my catalogue are from the LEGO franchise; from LEGO Indiana Jones to LEGO Marvel Superheroes, and everything in between. Oh, and I brought that TimeSplitters 2 arcade machine to Homefront: The Revolution!
I also run a blog on Mega Drive programming. I've been a very active member of the SEGA homebrew community for around 5 years, helping out other members, honing my 68000 assembly programming skills, writing tools and utilities, and studying other Mega Drive games to see what makes them tick.
My SEGA Mega Drive development blog
Nathan Stanley (aka freezedream) - Composer
freezedream is a rare breed of experienced Mega Drive composer, and someone familiar with the machine's sound hardware at a fundamental level.
Nathan Stanley (freezedream)
In 2010 he released an album on a physical Mega Drive cartridge, which more than shows his dedication to keeping the 16-bit era alive. More importantly for Tanglewood, freezedream is able to bring out the Mega Drive's more ambient side to suit the dark environment and gameplay, a tricky feat considering the machine is infamous for its loud, in-your-face, and very "SEGA" style of sound.
freezedream will be giving Tanglewood's audio an overhaul, and will be composing a complete soundtrack and a set of iconic sound effects to give the game its own identity.
You may already be familiar with one of freezedream's prominent tracks. We used Rain to accompany the Tanglewood pitch video, and the piece will feature in the game.
freezedream is an underground experimental electronic music artist from Adelaide, Australia. With more than 16 years of experience, he uses tracker software to create emotive, organic digital music with deep bass, melodic arpeggios, complex beats and layers of ambience that conjure up vivid sonic dreamscapes. Starting out making chipmusic with LSDJ on a Gameboy, he now prefers to explore the rich timbres of the Sega Mega Drive FM synthesis chip. In 2010 freezedream became the first artist ever to release a chipmusic album for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis as an album on a cartridge that plays directly from the console.
Some more examples of his work:
and more on his SoundCloud page.
Adoru C. (Pier Solar) - Character/Cutscene Artist
Adoru was a character designer, cutscene director and illustrator for the original Mega Drive release of Pier Solar, and more recently the HD re-release!
His style defined the final visual appearance of the characters and cutscenes for Pier Solar, and his work was reprised as a base for the recreation of the cutscenes and in-game portraits in the HD version. His most recognised and highest praised work was the creation of its iconic 3 minute opening animation. He then handled identical tasks for a still undisclosed game developed by the same company.
Adoru also worked as a character designer and cutscene director on the platforming games Battlekid and Battlekid2, on the Nintendo Entertainment System, by Sivak Games.
Examples of Adoru's work:
- Pier Solar HD official trailer
- Pier Solar HD opening animation
- Pier Solar website art
- Pier Solar rare artwork
- Pier Solar region variants
- Pier Solar original Mega Drive cutscene
- Battlekid2 NES intro
- Battlekid character art
- HUMAN RECOLLECTIONS (2005 personal short)
- Lunar Silver Star Story complete PlayStation reprint disc art
Matthew Weekes (Freedom Planet) - Environment Artist
Matthew has an impressive portfolio. His most significant work is that on Freedom Planet, a highly received fast-action platforming game that's been widely compared to the original Sonic games on the Mega Drive. It currently sports a 10/10 rating on Steam, which is quite a rare sight!
Simon Butler (Ocean Software, Atari, Team 17, Probe) - Character Artist
Sporting over 300 titles in his 33 years of videogames development, Simon is an industry dinosaur who can still roar when needed (his words, not mine)! Simon's expertise spans every console generation since the Spectrum, and boasts his name on some top favourites such as Addams Family (SNES), Total Recall (Amiga), Platoon, Target Renegade (ZX Spectrum), and a bucket load more.
Simon will be breathing life into Tanglewood's bad guys. The Djakk monster isn't the only threat to our little Nymn - you'll need to watch the skies, dirt, and even the trees themselves to save from getting munched, crushed, shredded or even skewered by Simon's incoming army of wretched, sharp-toothed predators.
To continue and make a full length game, I can't do it alone. I need to hire pixel artists and animators, tool and utility programmers, sound designers and composers, and engage publishing experts to help me realise my dream and bring Tanglewood to the masses. I also need more equipment, and a more appropriate work space.
The project will see a physical cartridge release, which has considerable overheads compared to a digital download.
For those unfamiliar, Kickstarter allows a project to continue funding past its goal for as long as the time limit allows, and one particularly lovely way to make good use of that little extra is some stretch goals! We've got a few planned out, just in case:
£50,000 - Gloss Print - GOAL REACHED!
If we stretch £2,000 beyond our goal, we'll be offering any backers at the Boxed Cartridge tier one high quality gloss print of Nymn inside the box! To make things extra spicy, the print will be one of ten different designs, making your copy a little more unique than its neighbour!
We'll also add an additional concept art print to the Collector's Edition and Developer's Edition boxsets.
£55,000 - Tanglewood - SEGA Dreamcast Port
If we secure £7,000 beyond our original goal, we'll put that extra into a SEGA Dreamcast edition of Tanglewood, after we've finished and released the Mega Drive version.
Once again, created on genuine development hardware, and released on physical disc, because we can! This will be a complete port of the game's code (not emulated) using the original graphics and audio.
All Tanglewood Collector's Edition (and higher) backers will receive Tanglewood on SEGA Dreamcast free of charge. It will be shipped separately from the main bundle.
An Extra Level
We'll also expand upon Nymn's story with a level that we previously cut to keep the project scope under control. With this little extra, we can afford to dust it off and continue developing it!
£75,000 - Tanglewood - Dreamcast HD
With an extra boost of £30,000, we'll be expanding upon the Dreamcast port by reworking all of the 16-bit graphics and audio to bring you a high definition version of Nymn's story, for the Dreamcast and more!