After a long hiatus, the Xbox Enthusiast Developer Spotlight is back. In the past, we’ve talked to developers such as Harmonix, Yacht Club Games, and Brushfire Games. This time around, we were able to talk to Fabio Ilacqua from Rimlight Studios to discuss ZHEROS which Xbox Live Gold members can now download for free. For those who don’t know what ZHEROS is, the game is a beat em’ up that follows Dorian and Mike as they try to stop the evil Dr. Vendetta. It feels old school with plenty of new tricks.

Before we begin the interview, Fabio Ilacqua provided us with a brief description of Rimlight Studios.

“Rimlight Studios is small independent studio based in Catania, in sunny Sicily.
We founded the studio in 2014 starting from a small team of 3 with the goal to give life to our ideas and create fun games. With that ambition we started working on our first project and slowly growing. We have an international team with people coming from many different countries: Germany, Sweden, England, Belgium, France and even Canada.

Even though the company is young several members of the squad have been in the games industry for many years and worked in the past on very well known titles such as Gears of War, Unreal Tournament 3, Crysis 2&3, Ryse. We gained the experience needed to do the jump and start working on our own creations.

We are artists, programmers, animators, but first of all gamers that love to play games and we hope to transfer that passion in our games as well.”

Xbox Enthusiast: ZHEROS is a throwback to the beat em up games from the 90’s What games were the inspirations for ZHEROS?

Fabio Ilacqua: “There are a few people in the team that come from the generation where the beat’em up were very popular. ZHEROS is inspired by the classics: Golden Axe, Cadillac and Dinasours, Street of Rage, Double Dragon and the list goes on and on. We wanted to bring that feeling back and also the difficulty of those games.”

XBE: I love local co-op, but the gaming industry is heading in a more online co-op atmosphere. What was the reasoning behind the decision to only include local Co-op in ZHEROS?

Ilacqua: “It’s a bit connected to the first question: we used to play with a friend shoulder to shoulder and that’s a cool feeling to have. You can scream at each other and feel the game in a different way to what the only experience gives you. That said it would have been great to have both options but due to the limited possibilities of team we had to pick one and we went with local.”

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XBE: I’ve played through Zheroes and admire how it pays homage to the genre while bringing unique elements. Was this a hard balance for the team to find?

Ilacqua: “Balancing the game was the hardest part. Many enemies, plus we added in some platforming, traps trying to add variety to a genre that falls quite fast in the repetitive mechanic of fight after fight. There is still room for improvement but that’s true for every game and we would never stop but at one point you have to.”

XBE: ZHEROS is part of the ID@Xbox program. How was the process of getting your game released on the Xbox One?

Ilacqua: “ID@Xbox is a great opportunity for developers. If you have a good idea it allows you to put it out there and opens the doors of a big market like the console one also to small developers. Get into the program is pretty straight forward so I suggest developers to put their idea together and give it a go.”

XBE: ZHEROS will launch as part of the Games With Gold program. The beat em up genre used to be huge, but lately, it has walked further and further away from the spotlight. Do you think that since so many gamers will be able to experience ZHEROS this weekend that there can possibly be a resurgence in the genre?

Ilacqua: “We definitely hope so. It’s a big opportunity for us both as a Studio but also to promote the kind of game we like.”

XBE: This is Rimlight Studios first game. Do you have plans for any other games in the future? Possibly a new genre or a new ZHEROS entry?

Ilacqua: “We have plans of course and those involve both ZHEROS and new IP. I can’t go into the details but finger crossed more news will come out soon enough :)”

ZHEROS is now available on the Xbox One (for gold members) for FREE until the middle of February. If you are curious about the game, check out the Xbox Enthusiast official ZHEROS review.

Written by Andrew Gonzalez

Andrew Gonzalez has been playing video games since the NES. He’s owned basically every console since the Super Nintendo. When he’s not playing video games, Andrew is usually listening to music. Follow him on twitter @VersaVulture89 if you want to read about video games, movies, music, and comic books.

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