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Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Yacht Club's "Mina the Hollower" Kickstarter

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - It presses my two Oracle buttons!

Game developer Yacht Club Games has revealed their new non-Shovel Knight project, though they want your money via Kickstarter to help fund it on top of their already accumulated Shovel Knight profits. Meet Mina the Hollower (nothing to do with Hollow Knight):

That video has at least over 9,600 Likes on YouTube (I dunno how many Dislikes it has!) but currently 13,135 backers pledging $746,081, which is far more than the $311,503 goal. And there's about 3/4s of the campaign left to go. I find it impressive that more people are financially backing the project than decided to give it a Like (which is free).

So why am I writing about Mina the Hollower and bringing it to your attention? Mainly because of its art style, which is purposefully reminiscent of Game Boy Color games like The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons and The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages. ...Yeah, a lot of the comments are saying it's Link's Awakening and Castlevania (because the game is...spooky and themed around gothic horror, though it's apparently linear in design). And, hey, I get that Link's Awakening did it first before the Oracle games. But the Oracle games did it better.

Mina the Hollower The Legend of Zelda Oracle of Seasons miniboss comparison Game Boy Color graphics
Mina the Hollower is doing it better than the Oracle titles did, but you should expect that over two decades later.
Yacht Club Games calls this “a next-gen Game Boy Color game” that is a widescreen version.
Mina the Hollower takes obvious inspiration in things like how to graphically represent a damaged character (that's what's going on in the screenshot) and being underwater/ground.

You might've remembered how I kind of liked Devolver Digital's E3 2021 presentation. One reason is that I liked the look of Demon Throttle, which has a similar art style. Unfortunately, Demon Throttle also had the gimmick of only being distributed as a physical copy, and the only physical copies came from pre-ordering it during a limited time that has already passed. So... most people are never going to be able to experience that. (And it's still due for release sometime in 2022. Clearly was not January.) And while it has a similar art style, it's definitely not similar gameplay.

But at least Mina the Hollower will be around (though the list of platforms hasn't been decided yet—and while it costs $100 to obtain a physical copy via Kickstarter, when the game releases, they will also sell physical copies at a standard price) and is similar in nature in terms of gameplay style and controls, including Trinkets being like the Oracle Ring equippables but probably better. But there are some important differences, like RPG-style character progression with Bones. Apparently Yacht Club has sent out demos to certain... media and streaming people. (Not me.) They conclude that the burrowing mechanic is very important to moving around (including auto-jumping) and puzzle-solving, and there's added difficulty in that if you lose all your health and must try again, you'll have to recover where you were or you'll be at great risk and lose your Bones (and thus not progress your character).

While I think 8-bit NES-style indie games are way overdone, I think these 8-bit GBC-style indie games are a lot less tapped out. I'm very okay with them! So I guess I'll keep an eye out on how Mina the Hollower does.

Ludwig doesn't think he's a hypocrite for preferring GBC graphics over NES graphics. Is he? Ludwig didn't actually back the Mina the Hollower Kickstarter since he has a policy of not doing so for any project.


  1. Oh yeah! I am very excited for this. Yacht Club got their goal funded so fast because people know they will deliver. It’s honestly a nice change of pace compared to all the other video game fundraisers where they take the money and run.

    I love games with unique arts types and play styles, so this digging underground technique is very intriguing to me. I’m also starting to get a little sick of indie developers always making 8-but games, so while the GBC is certainly a unique change of pace, I’d like to see what Yacht club can do with a more modern style. A fun idea I like to play around with is Nintendo hiring them to reboot one of their IPs, ice climbers maybe? I know it’ll never happen but I think Yacht club has built up a lot of goodwill with gamers and deservedly so, so I’d like to see them really expand their horizons.

    But of course, that would mean taking certain risks. Now that I think about it, the gaming world is one of the last few to really keep taking risks, I suppose the idea of gimmicks has a lot to do with that. Sure there are things like New SMB, but that definitely doesn’t represent the vast amount of games out there. I think you have a better chance of an indie game being better than an indie movie, although I’m not sure if they require the same amount of effort, facilitated in different ways of course.

    1. I'd definitely say that the gaming world is very, very risk-averse. Both big studios and indies. A lot of them are just following trends set by someone who did make a risk... be it recently or decades ago. Now almost all you see is a quirky EarthBound-like throwback, an 8-bit nostalgia trip, or blockbusters trying to be the next Breath of the Wild or Dark Souls.


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