34 articles Articles posted in Indie games

What I played at Indie Launch Party: Summer ’14

Basically, not enough. There were at least 20 games at Bar Scenario on Monday night as part of Indie Launch Party: Summer ’14, all diffused in a pleasantly chilled atmosphere generated by 200-odd happy gamers. Yet my ageing brain and fingers managed to only get through three games. Three! Tsk.

One reason: I was rapt in front of Gang Beasts for ages, like a dog staring at a cake on a counter. Another: I spent some talking to Future Publishing’s lovely Joe Skrebels and Kate Gray. (I’m sure Kate was thrilled to come from an afternoon of Matthew Castle reminiscing about NGamer, straight into an evening of me reminiscing about NGamer.)

So here’s some information about three games:

Rock Boshers DX (TikiPOD)

So no-one else played Rex in the ’80s, clearly. The developers of Rock Boshers DX very patiently endured me comparing their neat little shooter to several ZX Spectrum games that no-one remembers or perhaps I just dreamt existed or made up. Rex. Spore. Gauntlet (they did remember that one, in fact.)

Rock Boshers DX is a top-down puzzle-shooter, each level a daintily crafted series of little switch/door puzzles. I do like games where the whole level is on one screen — somehow there’s a purer sense of exploration when you can see the little spaces you’ll be unlocking later, and being a tiny collection of pixels in a single big environment is always fun. Rock Boshers has an intriguing story — you’re a young Queen Victoria, in space — but the carefully-written text popups were brazenly clicked away by me, right in front of the poor developer’s face.

It really does look a bit like Rex, I’m telling you.

RockBoshersDX_screen4Rock Boshers DX
Rex15Rex
Rock Boshers DX flyer that I grabbed from the developer.Rock Boshers DX flyer that I grabbed from the developer.

Unnamed Robin Hood SNES (Namespace)

I didn’t take down the details of this game at the time, but luckily there aren’t too many Google links for “SNES Robin Hood indie game”. Because that’s what this is: a proper modern-day little Super Nintendo game, by Alex Roberts and Luke Shires, running on a Super Everdrive, which is a Super Nintendo cart that you can plug an SD card into. Alex made me feel old by remembering that her granddad might have had a Super Nintendo. I fled.

Gang Beasts (Boneloaf)

Very popular, this. And it was so good to play Gang Beasts with others, after watching so many YouTubers dissolve into giggling fits skating around and punching each other’s plasticine parts.

GangBeasts_Wheel

This version of Gang Beasts had some features I don’t think have been shown before, like character costumes. At the event, the blobby doughmen were wearing animal onesies inspired by Japanese kigurumi (and this tweet apparently), including a dragon suit that made you feel uncomfortably like you were beating up Bub from Bubble Bobble.

I only played the game briefly, as a man in a chicken suit, who under my control mostly lived a life of tumbling off window cleaning platforms and getting swallowed up by industrial grinders. But watching other play Gang Beasts is just as much fun — maybe even more fun. There was so much joy among the crowd as we watched little fellas cling on for dear life to chasm edges, or clumsily hoist other characters over their head and fling them to their doom.

James Brown, one of the brothers who make up Boneloaf, was there, a lovely man who barely paused for breath as he chatted to me about the game and its inspirations — which are mainly preposterous late ’80s/early ’90s retro side-scrollers like Final Fight and Streets of Rage. I think Boneloaf are a little bit shocked by the attention their little game is getting — but they deserve every bit of it.

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RotAKoko (Rotating Agent Koko)

RotAKoko by Rakugaki-Otoko is a real labour of love – a two year labour of love that’s emerged as a rotaty maze game that’s a shootery spin (hoho) on the Super Nintendo’s On The Ball / Cameltry, except its got cuteness and joy oozing out of its pores, and a brilliantly bewildering intro. Check this out:

See? Awesome.

The game itself can’t live up to that promise of that intro – you simply guide your ‘rotating agent’ around some probably over-complicated and under-populated mazes, grabbing coins as you go. There are some nice ideas later on – like darkness-shrouded levels you can light up by pelting bullets at enemy lightbulbs – and the odd tough boss level that ups the adrenaline a bit. The author is so sweetly concerned about all that spinning making you dizzy, he’s put a signed disclaimer on the loading screen.

“Please take a rest, ok? Keep yourself healthy.” My heart is exploding here.

Honestly, it’s not the greatest game you’ll ever play, but the sheer love that’s gone into it, the nostalgia-triggering innocent ’90s-ness of it all, the lovely music, the beautiful visuals… it makes me happy for so many reasons, I’m not sure 21st century mathematics has invented enough numbers to count them all up. Play RotAKoko (Windows, download)

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Red Chaser

Red Chaser

Cannot… stop… playing… Red Chaser.

There’s little here that a bazillion Kongregate-hosted dodge-the-blob Flash games haven’t done before. But the music is relentless (Speed Of Dark by Cartoon Bomb, since you ask), the enemies come in just-discernible waves so it’s undeniably your fault if you lose, and the multicoloured neon madness – combined with the need for hyper-alert stare-of-death concentration – sends the game straight through your eyeballs and into your brain in a properly psychedelic way.

Red Chaser isn’t a rhythm game, but all the same I have a feeling Zach Lewis has been playing the BIT.TRIP series and likes what he sees and hears. No harm in that. Play Red Chaser (Flash)

(Incidentally, Zach also put together Money Thief for the Ludum Dare 18 indie contest, and that’s well worth a play too.)

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Momentum

Momentum

Update: Hmm, which came first: this… or the suspiciously similar My First Quantum Translocator? I’m inclined to think the latter, in which case Momentum’s a bit of a slyly sudden ‘tribute’.

You like platformers with a twist. You like chubby robots with spindly little arms that wobble about a bit when they jump. You will therefore like Momentum, a short little diversion from the man behind double-cat beaut Black And White.

The twist in this platformer is that your robot can ‘store’ momentum to ‘retrieve’ later. So, first, you do a jump and press X to store the upward movement. Then, later, you can reach a high platform by using that previous momentum to boost a normal jump. Yes, it’s quite tricky to explain. And, yes, if you stuck a mighty great glowing gun in the hands of the main character, you wouldn’t be far off a 2D version of Portal. Assuming he could hold the gun with his spindly robot arms, the little cutie.

But that doesn’t prevent Momentum being an intriguing and pleasing little concept. Especially when power-up blobs start appearing to boost or reverse your movement, and cooking up the solutions requires you to turn the temperature up on your brain oven. It’s a bit rough around the edges, but consider it a taster for a (hopefully) inevitable sequel and you’ll come away happy. Play Momentum (Flash)

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Dude Icarus

Dude Icarus

There really isn’t very much to Dude Icarus. But what there is is really very lovely.

Crafted in two weeks for the Indie City Game Jam, this little beaut sees you collecting feathers that help little Icarus soar higher and higher towards Apollo, who’s hanging out on top of the sun. It combines two of my favourite things: circular platforming (which I’ve had a soft spot for ever since Wario Ware Twisted gave us Super Mario Twisted), and game-area-that-zooms-out-as-you-explore (cf Small Worlds). There’s also some nice music, and – I’ll do you a favour here – a crucial game hint tucked away underneath the game window so you don’t see it until you’ve spent 25 minutes being completely stuck.

This game needs more love. Search for it on Google, go on. You get four measly entries and The Big G snidely asking if you really meant to type ‘Kid Icarus’. Go and play it, and tell all your friends. Play Dude Icarus (Flash)

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