Magick has always been a paradox. It's a science of the supernatural, a consistent manipulation of inconsistencies, a simulation of a fantasy. Often game designs dealing with the magickal err on the side of suspension of disbelief in being a mage while neglecting the visceral side of becoming a mage -- how exciting is memorizing spells every night only to exhaust them in the heat of the moment, or to pick spells off a menu in expense of MP? Arrowhead Game Studio is composed of a bunch of folks from Skelleftea in northern Sweden, at a latitude on par with Macbeth's weird sisters or The Once and Future King's Orkney Isles from whence hailed Morgan le Fay. Apparently, the further north you go, the more magickal things get, Dustin can fill in the details. These people said, hey, forget all the nonsense, we're going to pull the magick of creating game dev jobs in a place where none have existed since initial settlement 8000 years ago, and then we're going to make a game with production values on par with a AAA game circa 2003, and we're going to do a completely fresh spell-casting system that will do what no fantasy game has ever done before in terms of blasting the player with a sense of imminent empowerment.
It's been awhile since we heard from Agustin Fernandez a.k.a. "Tembac" - he's apparently suffered from what I call "developer's curse" where you spend so much time and energy making games for an employer that you lose all capacity to develop games for yourself, an afflication which only Rod Humble in his Vice Presidential focus could overcome, and that only for a couple of weekends. Since then he's been free, not in the since of "free beer" but in the since of "hey, I'm fucking free!". He brewed up a poppy dish for Gamma IV, and now he gives us the exegesis of 48 hours worth of jamming. Polygamic Pac-Man poses the question: "what if Pac-man was no mere glutton, but a sex fiend?"
Chaser invites you to follow it at first, you're thinking its another lo-fi arcade game where the emphasis on extremely iconic entities makes the simplicity of the controls stand-out and gives you something to meditate on as you fail over and over. It is that. It is more. But it won't tell you just yet, you've got to chase it.
This game is fresher than a Snapple, do you remember Snapple? It was in tight competition with Lipton Brisk. This game is brisker than a cute animal wielding a bazooka, who must be brisk lest he take too much risk.
We've already established that retro is a sort of cancerous fetish and/or celebratory exercise in practical limitations, it's one or the other, or both. We've seen retro sweep over the platformer genre like a plague of locusts, devouring every possible variation on physics, level design, goal-orientation, character development, and aesthetic. The term Metroidvania has been viciously defiled, mutilated strung upside down in a mock crucifixion. Now Zelda-style games are being descended upon, we can only expect a skeleton to remain in the wake. But for now, it's time to feast!
From everyone's favorite chillax country, Uruguay, comes a game that will be for many young boys and girls, their first experience with a videogame. Produced by Batovi Studio in Montevideo, this game manifests basic joys of button mashing and combo-stringing with the deformed anime-esque pixel people we've come to know and wield. The game takes the old formula of Final Fight or Double Dragon of beating up a seemingly endless torrent of opponents with a few buttons, including the layered health bars that have different colors for greater amounts of health correlating to shinier layers. The doldrums of that genre, the repetition of the punching and the stretched out reward schedule, are fixed somewhat in this game with a more diverse array of inputs and the ability to do mid-air combos that really lay into opponents, instead of having to wait for their temporarily invulnerable bodies to rise again for a few more centimeters of health chipping.
What's most notable about this little gem is that it's being deployed for the XO operating system used by the infamous $100 laptops distributed via the One Laptop Per Child program. I really believe in stuff like this, these younger generations are like gasoline soaked tinder waiting for a spark of informatic flame to explode their minds into transcendence, or at least less paco usage. The initial reaction of many sensible people is that it isn't a good thing to be giving kids stuff like this, better to leave Don Hopkins to his porting of SimCity on that OS, but I say, why not both? I probably intuited just as much math from watching Mario increment coins against the decrementing clock and feeling the slow inertia of his pacing as I did from playing Seasame Street edutainment. I remember when one of my money management clients told me about his non-profit and I suggested he show these kid's Kenta Cho's Torus Trooper, I really believed in that. I also suggested he show them the McDonald's game. Satirical tycoon game + triptastic shmup + 3rd world children = future. I think this game does a pretty good job of serving the right-brain role as well.
Speaking broadly about the future of OLPC, games, and education, I have to say the path of least resistance seems to be in using Flash. But that assumes there's WiMax everywhere, which might not even be desirable considering the unknown safety hazards of bathing in WiFi radiation all the time for years. To paraphrase Braid, this feels like an acceptable start.
Continuing the fine tradition of procedurally generated platformers made in GameMaker, such as Spelunky and also the fine tradition of belligerent, Christianity-addled empires, comes We Want You. You fall through a freshly weaved mess of destructible blocks and killer soldiers, grabbing armor and weapons, raiding refugee tents, and trying not to be distracted by the torrent of Fox News-esque headlines that blip by. A few things you may not be aware of initially, pushing up picks up stuff and goes into tents, pressing C will drop a mine that will blast through floors (for free, unlike Spelunky where terrain deformation via bombs was a finite resource). There isn't a whole lot to this simple game, and yet, there's so much more.
Terry used to work as a "Risk Analyst" for an Irish bank, keeping in mind that Ireland has a nearly 1000% debt-to-GDP ratio. While there he applied his technical competence toward automating stuff that would have otherwise been tediously done by back-office sycophants. The logical next step is to go make indie games and have one be about a bull destroying capitalism, what could be more efficient?
Like Pedercini´s take on Communism in a game, Bullfist is contra-simulationist in its approach to ideology; in this case its communism is skin deep, and its satire of modern capitalism plays out more in the arcade-y viscera of bulls smashing into things. The ideological "thesis," if you want to take it that far, isn´t about the mathematical curve of a system but rather the chemical link of rush and crush. Its capitalism´s animal spirits wrapped as a gift to destroy capitalism. It´s also got really solid mechanics, and as we know, the bull is only indirectly responsible.
You charge along, crushing monocled, Age of Innocence looking gentry, picking up fellow bulls, then smashing Model-Ts. Once you get a full sextet you can smash Joe´s Diner type establishments like a leveraged short-seller of commercial real estate, with horns! This is the bull rush that culminates the dance with capitalistic incentives gone coked, and your score may experience exponential gains, provided that you don´t mis-time the end of the rush and crash.
When Tim Leary died, his last words were "why not?" This game is basically an expression of that. Total insanity giving way to refreshing mechanics and surprisingly deep arcade gameplay. See, you´re a garden gnome, or maybe a building, and you use tether physics in conjunction with left/right movement to knock these little bastard Christmas elves off of you. If one can climb up and get in your chimney, like a Santa of doom, then you lose. Each wave gets more crazy and loaded with elves, then they get the flying sleighs out and the black cats you never know quite what to do with. Then there´s this guy´s face popping up in moments of hysteria to reward you with a bonus token and a perpendicular sound effect. All in all, a wholly aesthetic mosh.
In a time where the CEO of Electronic Arts describes collapsing revenues as a brightside opportunity to cut the fat, farmers can't get enough GMO seeds and petro-fertilizer for lack of credit, and the whole show looks like it's going to come down, we need to ask ourselves what kind of a high we want to develop, what kind of an industry we want to create. It's clear to me that there could be a very bright future in web-based games, either as stand-alone experiences or windows into a wider world, such as a MySQL database of profiles, a leaderboard, a rich MMO, or what the hell - Storytron. That's assuming that the internet doesn't crash under a lack of infrastructure or get knocked out by a solar radiation storm in 2012. Either way, Flashbang has been putting out fresh, distinct games using Unity for a while, and they're really starting to broaden out. In their latest, they show that you can have your casual cake and eat it too, suggesting that the future of profitable gameplay may well take majority out there in the wilds of the net.
Digital Eel makes deep games about weird stuff, going so far as to name one of their better games Weird Worlds. Then they went ahead and outdid themselves.
Brain Pipe is an experiment to see if a game can be designed to evoke feelings that are alien to the human condition, a design to evoke feelings that cannot be designed or accounted for. Apparently the answer is yes, we can do that.
2005 IGF Award Winner Game Tunnel 2004 Game of the Year
At first glance, Gish might appear to be a classic arcade-style game, something like Sonic or Mario Brothers. First glances can be deceiving: yes, this is a sidescrolling platformer, but the actual gameplay is very different, because it's based on a physics engine. Gish, the tar ball who is the title character, needs to get momentum to get up and over objects, controls how high he jumps by compressing and extending himself, can move objects by gaining momentum and running into them, walks on walls and ceilings by making himself "sticky", and so on.
...when you Log In or Register. Gives you the ability to post to the forums and your own blog; to rate games and receive recommendations based on your ratings; and to bookmark games for later reference.