Moving on: Cox and Mercury Steam aim for Contra reboot

Wednesday, 27th June 2012 07:52 GMT By Dave Oshry

Fans have embraced the Castlevania reboots and sales are strong, but Dave Cox and the team at Mercury Steam are ready to leave the Belmonts behind.

“You have to think about legacy. What sort of legacy do you want to leave? I’m proud of the games we’ve made but we’ve got other things we want to do. Other worlds we want to explore. Other stories we want to tell.”

Dave Cox doesn’t want to be known as Mr Castlevania. The head of development at Konami EU has been working on the series since 1997′s Symphony of the Night – but he doesn’t want to be known as Mr Castlevania.

He produced Lords of Shadow, the best-selling game in the series’s history – but he doesn’t want to be known as Mr Castlevania.

He’s currently overseeing the development of two Castlevania titles – but he doesn’t want to be known as Mr Castlevania.

After Mirror of Fate and Lords of Shadow 2 are released, he says that he and his team are done with the franchise. So what’s it all about for Dave Cox?

“Well, I think it’s about wanting to leave a legacy,” Cox said as he raised a glass, sitting across from me a few weeks ago in Los Angeles. “And I don’t want to be in charge of a series that perhaps over a certain time is going to decline. I’d rather go out with a bang and leave that as our legacy in the Castlevania universe.”

Directors like Cliff Bleszinski say that making more games in a successful franchise is just Business 101.  So, if Lords of Shadow 2 is even bigger than Lords of Shadow, how can Cox say that his team won’t to do another?

“We’ll somebody else can do that. I don’t want to be known as Mr Castlevania, and we don’t want the team to be known as the Castlevania team. Working in a creative industry, you’ve got other projects and other ideas you want to work on. And that’s something that we and Mercury Steam want to do. We want to work on other projects. We’ve got other ideas.

“We’ve always felt that when we were given the Castlevania torch, so to speak, that it was never ours to keep. Luckily we got the chance to do our thing, but we were surprised by the success of our game and weren’t sure that we were going to get the chance to do another one. That’s why there’s the epilogue in the first. However, now that we’ve got the chance to finish the story we really want to do it justice and do something really special.

“We kind of feel vindicated that the game did so well. It’s the best-selling Castlevania game ever. So that for us is vindication that we did the right thing.

“If the game is sucessful I’m sure there will be pressure to do more, but the thing is, like I said, you have to think about legacy. What sort of legacy do you want to leave? I’m proud of the games we’ve made but we’ve got other things we want to do. Other worlds we want to explore. Other stories we want to tell.

“We want to go out with a bang.”

What sort of other things?


Since being teased at E3 2011 we’ve heard nothing of Contra, but Cox says that he and the team at Mercury Steam are ready to pick up the franchise’s torch after they’ve put down the one they currently carry.

“Like I said, I know there’s going to be pressure on us to do another Castlevania game, but I don’t want to rise to that pressure. I want to do something else. I love Contra. I’d love to do Contra. At Mercury Steam we’ve got an original idea that I think is really awesome. We’d love to bring that idea to market and I’m hoping that the success of Lords of Shadow 2 will allow us to do that.”

As for what’s become of the current Contra we saw teased at E3 2011? I can’t say. My tape recorder mysteriously turned itself off and the copius amounts of alcohol I consumed with the boys and girls of Konami and Mercury Steam has seemingly clouded my memories. Shame, innit?



  1. KAP

    How often did you have to hammer home “he didn’t want to be known as Mr Castlevania” guys?
    You wrote that like 4 times… Damn.

    I was never a Castlevania player because of anything else I just didn’t play them. So it’s ironic that Lords Of Shadow for me personally is one of the best games I have EVER played, from soundtrack to combat, graphics to story…. All of this was in my opinion fucking epic yet such a departure of the original Castlevania titles.

    I never touched the originals so I didn’t have any particular expectations as to how the title should be like, but being a huge God of War fan I tend to favour a great epic story with tight controls and deep combat over anything else as far as games go. LOS had all this and loads more, to this day I still hum the theme songs to myself and I bought all the DLC that came out with it it’s awesome.
    I loved the mood of which the game was laced, from the detail of each and every level to the shock epilogue that to this day an still reeling from, LOS is my top 5 games this gen without a shadow of doubt.

    I watched the 12min E3 video with Dave Cox and how amazingly down to earth and real the guy is I fell in love with MurcurySteam even more. Dave Cox reminds me more like a more refined David Jaffe and I love that. Outspoken yet knows how to get his point across and actually knows what hes talking about when it comes to the franchise.

    I really enjoyed this interview and truth be told shocked that there going down this path with there next title and if LOS 1&2 is anything to go by I honestly can’t wait.

    MurcurySteam, for me is up there with NaughtyDog and the like.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. Dave Oshry

    @1 Cox is one of my favorite producers in the industry and you’re spot on about him and Mercury Steam. It’s always great when I get the chance to speak with him and I am inexplicably excited for Lords of Shadow 2 and can’t wait to see what they’ll be working on next.

    Thanks for the feedback ^__^

    #2 3 years ago
  3. The_Red

    They didn’t even mention the word “Contra” during their 2012 “pre-recorded show”, pretending the teaser shown at the end of last years video never happened!

    #3 3 years ago
  4. Dave Oshry

    @3 Indeed! And it did not go unnoticed!

    #4 3 years ago
  5. Gheritt White

    I am all kinds of excited to see how Mercury Steam will reboot Contra – something to look forwards to, for sure.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. Superfrog

    There’s only one “Mr Castlevania”:

    Also, “best-selling Castlevania game ever” is misleading because Lords of Shadow also has had the biggest budget of any Castlevania game, ever.

    Aside from that, he did a pretty good job with Lords of Shadow. He should maybe get off his high horse, though.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. Dave Oshry

    @6 It didn’t sell well because it had a big budget – it sold well because it was a great game.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. KAP


    Shouldn’t you be happy that someone like Dave Cox has exposed the franchise to a much bigger audience then ever before. I say that because I’m one of those who never had any interest in the Castlvania franchise because there were so many games in the series that came before, leaving me overwhelmed an uninterested in the lore.

    Then Mr Cox comes along and uses his initiative and breathes new life in to it for people like me and long time fans alike to embrace the name once more, you cant knock him for that dude?

    Castlevania LOS deserves to be the best selling game in the franchise. Plain and simple.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. The_Red

    While LoS was a decent game and did make some new fans, I wouldn’t say it breathed new life into the franchise. The series had a pretty good run on handhels. Heck, some of them like Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia could easily beat LoS.

    The best and probably most important thing that Cox and the team at Mercury did is to make a good “3D” CastleVania game because it has always been great and well received in 2D.

    #9 3 years ago
  10. KAP


    So he set out to make a great 3D Castlevania game and we can both agree it’s great.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. Gort

    first of all, i am a huge fan of castlevania. i have played CV: Simon’s Quest, CV: Dracula’s Curse, Super Castlevania IV, CV: SOTN, CV: Lamment of Innocence, CV: Curse of Darkness, and of course CLOS. And yes, of course i attempted to play some of the popular titles in the past, key word being, attempted. i just couldn’t get into them. that’s not to say that i hate any of them. i just found that some of them were without. weak storyline is mostly why i just couldn’t get into them. as for pre-CLOS i would have to say my favorite CV title is Dracula’s Curse, simply bc of the plot but my favorite CV title to actually PLAY, is Super Castlevania IV.

    what the folks of Mercurysteam have done is combined the playability, the beautiful scenery, memorable tunes from super CV IV, and the rich storytelling of CV Dracula’s curse togehter to make one intense game. i happen to agree with mr. cox when he talks about leaving behind a legacy, finishing a story and letting it go. i think this is why the storyline of cv actually became ‘stale’ in the first place.

    i have huge hopes for the games up and coming. i really hope they keep going in the same direction and have faith in the story being told. listen to the criticisms but keep in mind that there is a reason this game has made a huge impression on some folks.

    it’s new, it’s a reboot, a retelling, and a wonderful new vision. and while the naysayers seem to be louder than those who absolutely LOVE this new direction, i hope that the guys at mercurysteam know that change of anykind of met with resistance and hostility in some cases.

    this is a wonderful change and when the story is finished it WILL be a legacy and a new standard all together for future CVs.

    #11 3 years ago
  12. Dave Oshry

    @11 Well said.

    #12 3 years ago
  13. brotherhoodofthewolf

    wub @ 8 & 11

    IGA isn’t the father of the series; on the basis that he missed a good part of the series legacy, given the first Castlevania game IGA worked on was Symphony of the Night.
    Don’t be under any illusion that IGA was the main brain behind SoTN and the ‘metroidvania’ style of some Castlevania games either; the director and producer of SoTN is Toru Hagihara, who also directed Dracula X on the PC Engine. IGAs projects lived off that style for a long time, too long.

    Finally, there’s nothing misleading whatsoever about saying that LoS is the best-selling Castlevania game ever. It’s a factual, objective statement.

    #13 3 years ago
  14. Superfrog

    To clarify, I didn’t want to question if LoS deserves to be the best selling Castlevania game or not. Without question, it’s the best 3D Castlevania game by far, and its success is well deserved.

    I just wanted to point out that a game with a big production budget automatically requires higher sales in order to be considered a success (or break even). So from an economical perspective, it’s neither a surprise nor an outstanding achievement that LoS is the best selling game in the series. In other words: It’s not really a great achievement for a $30m+ triple-A game to beat the 1997 sales numbers of Symphony of the Night.

    Dave Cox can boast about several achievements, but praising LoS as “best selling Castlevania game ever” should rather not be one of them, in my opinion.

    #14 3 years ago
  15. brotherhoodofthewolf


    that a game with a big production budget needs bigger sales to break even, is indicative of the higher level of risk needing to be managed; AKA the higher level of innovation needed. to deliver that higher level of innovation requires better project management. production budget isn’t necessarily directly proportional to sales.
    so, try harder there.

    also, did LoS have a $30M+ production budget? i think not. there is no published source for the production budget of the game; so, where did you pull that figure from? your arse?
    SoTN can be seen as a AAA game too; when you compare the production quality of the game, and overall equity of the brand, against peers and competitors at time of release.
    so, try harder some more.

    #15 3 years ago
  16. stealth

    this is it for them and vania

    #16 2 years ago

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