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Cereal Killaz is one of those game ideas that is so cool you kick yourself for not thinking of it first. Because, after all, who doesn’t like cereal? Take distinct but still recognizable amalgamations of the most popular breakfast cereal mascots, add a unique and distinctive style, and coat it all with gameplay reminiscent of Marvel vs. Capcom 2.
This crazy idea is the brainchild of Mikhail “Mythallica” Sebastian, the Project Lead and Creative Director of Cereal Killaz. We got to speak with him, as well as the project’s lead animator and gameplay designer, Andrew “Hien” Rattanakongkham, about how the game came to be, where their inspiration comes from, and what they hope to accomplish with this ambitious and unique indie fighting game.
Humble beginnings, great inspirations
DES: Where did the idea for Cereal Killaz come from? How long had it been in your head before you decided to do something with it?
Mikhail: Cereal Killaz was an idea that I feel was had by almost anyone who’s ever eaten a bowl of cereal. All I really did was give it a style that gave the idea justice. It has probably rattled around in my mind since like middle school/ high school days. So having the means to make it a reality now is extremely exciting.
DES: Hien, how did you come to be involved with the project?
Hien: I was brought onto the project sometime in February of this year (2020) and Mikhail contacted me through Instagram. After some talking, I was on board with him and the team!
DES: What is your history with fighting games? When did you start playing them and what are your favorite fighting games and why?
Mikhail: My first introduction was Killer Instinct on the classic arcade system at my local barbershop. I remember being very young at the time. I was really into anime fighting games as a kid the most. Like (Dragon Ball Z) Budokai, and the (Naruto) Ultimate Ninja series back on the PS2 and PSP. Mortal Kombat is what first made me realize the necessity of skill that fighting games required to get really good at them.
Hien: I grew up in the arcades playing all kinds of fighting games from titles like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Tekken, Rival Schools, King of Fighters, Virtua Fighter, and Samurai Shodown. I started out really young so I can’t even remember (laughs). My favorite fighting games are Street Fighter III Third Strike, Capcom vs. SNK 2, and Dragon Ball FighterZ.
Third Strike is amazing because of the sprite style and the gameplay. EVO Moment 37 is enough to explain why it’s one of my favorites. With CvS2 I really loved the crossover between Capcom and SNK, and especially the groove system, which was fun. DBFZ right now might be my all-time favorite fighting game because I love the IP, and I grew up with it. The way it plays and its art style is amazing! It’s almost like you’re watching the anime whether it be playing or watching matches from other players.
Select your mascot!
DES: How was the initial response to the announcement of the project and the campaign when it launched? Were any of you expecting such a positive reaction and to be so embraced by the FGC?
Mikhail: The response, for the most part, was about what we expected, positive and otherwise. Not to sound boastful at all, but we knew the FGC would in one way or another appreciate what we are attempting to make. We made this for the community, and with the community in mind every step of the way, and we continue to do so. Cereal Killaz is an idea that is refreshing to the fighting game scene and we are exited to be able to make this a reality!
The community’s passion has honestly been the most incredible part of this pursuit thus far. People really connect with the vision and that means a ton. The campaign was an incredible experience, because we gained so much experience as a result of it. On top of that, we found an investor who believes in our vision enough that we were able to refund what we’d made by the campaign’s end. Our next step is to make you all proud.
Hien: The initial response was very positive when we launched. I didn’t expect so much support and interest in the project. The FGC never fails to surprise me.
DES: Recently it was just announced that Rollback Netcode will be added to the game. Knowing what a hot topic this is for the FGC, especially this year, was this something that was always planned and you just had to play coy? Or did it only come about later on?
Mikhail: It was something that was always on the table. But we just had to make sure we had the infrastructure to deliver it in a way that wasn’t at the expense of making a solid game. Fortunately, it’s something we can and will be implementing in the full version of the game. The demo build however will focus only on local play.
DES: What we have seen from the game art wise so far is absolutely amazing. Hien, how did you go about designing the characters and where did you take inspiration from?
Hien: I didn’t design the characters! (laughs) That was all Mikhail! Well, for the sprites I actually took time to try to come up with a sprite style that would help Mikhail’s designs come to life. As much as I love the sprite work in CvS2, Third Strike, and King of Fighters 13, I wanted to do something that didn’t replicate a previous style. The sprite style was inspired by Mikhail’s style (laugh). I looked at how many shades he did for the artwork and I replicated those same color counts into the sprites.
The sky’s the limit
DES: What are some things that you would love to add to the game if money wasn’t an option? We are talking a complete pipe dream here, sky’s the limit.
Mikhail: You asked the right one. Now, in a perfect world, with complete funding right now in this moment, our developers would not be too happy with me (laughs). A 12 character launch, online and local multiplayer, plus a side scrolling beat-em-up style story mode with fully animated cutscenes by Madhouse or Studio Bones. So obviously not now, but one step at a time!
Hien: If money wasn’t an option… hmmm. Well, one thing that comes to mind is adding characters from other IPs (laughs). I personally enjoy seeing guest characters in other games.
DES: Are there any characters that you wanted to add but couldn’t due to time? Or any designs on the cutting room floor that had to be scrapped for one reason or another?
Mikhail: I think Terror T had a really extensive evolution, design wise, from his animation to even his physical appearance. Other than that, the designs were locked in relatively early. But there are some characters who I’m currently undergoing the process of designing. It is still very early, so there have been a few scrapped versions here and there.
Hien: Well, I don’t think any characters we have are “cut,” but more so reserved for later. A lot of characters had to be reserved for later, since the plan for the full game is to have a roster close to about 10.
DES: How is the team approaching balance for the game?
Mikhail: I think we have a pretty good balance so far. Everyone has their own personal lives and schedule so we do a good job of accommodating for each other. The best part is that we all love this game, so we all give our best.
Hien: Ahh balance… Well, the team (right now) is just focused on making each character crazy and fun to play as. Although I do keep up with most recent fighting games, and look at how the game is balanced to try to apply those ideas to our game. In fact, I think I’ll just force the team to make each character as overpowered as possible! (laughs)
Grab your spoons, warriors
DES: What would each of you like to say to the fans of the game, or those who are just hearing about it for the first time?
Mikhail: For those of you who have supported us from the start, to those of you who will support us moving forward, we thank you. Without you this would not be possible. Because of you this passion project is a reality. We can’t wait to show you more. God bless you all.
Hien: I just want to say thank you to everyone for showing support and believing in the project, as well as the team. We have a very, very long way to go and I’m grateful for everyone supporting us so early on.
Stay tuned to the Cereal Killaz Twitter page for more updates and to find out where the project is heading. It will no doubt be somewhere bright! Thank you very much to Mikhail and Hien for taking the time to speak with us.