Joakim Sandberg spent seven years making the huge, colourful, beautiful, 2D action-adventure game Iconoclasts. I played it. He watched and reacted. We had a good time.
Usually, when someone makes a Metroid-like game these days, they channel Super Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Sandberg’s influences are more unconventional. He prefers the action-packed Metroid Fusion above the contemplative Super Metroid. His favourite Castlevania is the strategic, boss-battle-filled Order of Ecclesia for Nintendo DS. He played Dawn of Sorrow before he played Symphony of the Night. He enjoys Streets of Rage 3 more than Streets of Rage 2.
He prefers Capcom’s Aladdin for the Super Nintendo to Sega’s Aladdin on the Sega Genesis.
I’m not going to lie: I share all of these opinions. (Well, except I maybe like Aria of Sorrow a little more than Order of Ecclesia. And Rondo of Blood better than both of them.) One of the many differences between myself and Joakim Sandberg, however, is that if I tried to explain why I liked Streets of Rage 3 more than Streets of Rage 2, I’d probably make somebody mad.
On Twitter, Sandberg describes Iconoclasts as “Metroid Fusion meets Metal Slug“. The Metal Slug portion of Sandberg’s recommendation stems from – well, if you watch at least five seconds of this video, you’ll see that it’s full of gorgeous, intricate, fluid, bubbly, delicious sprite animation.
I’ve known Sandberg through Twitter for several years. In 2015, we showed our games at the same booth at an expo in Birmingham, England. We later had a curry together and talked about games that no one else seemed to like as much as we did. It was a nice conversation.
I contacted him a couple of weeks ago so we could talk again, this time just over Skype while I played his game. He logged in from his home in Sweden and we soon lost more than hour of time to playing his excellent new game. You can hear that conversation in the video in this post.
Let the sweet graphics and action of Iconoclasts wash over you while you listen to us talk about flawed masterpieces, “pleasant discomfort” in action games, Aladdin on Super Nintendo, Streets of Rage 3, Metroid Fusion, and, most importantly, Wonder Boy 6: Monster World 4, the pretty bad (masterpiece) game that brought us together in the first place.
Sandberg is so intelligently sincere about his influences that you absolutely must believe him. He isn’t messing around. The seven years he spent making his game is proof. The result of his not messing around, Iconoclasts, is a rich and singular game. As I shamelessly gush about it to the creator himself in this video, “It feels like a game that wouldn’t exist if you hadn’t made it.”