And now, some more IndieCade games!
The Indie Fix Award for Best Damned Co-op at the Event
I almost didn’t even play Way. Something about the art style or look of it wasn’t clicking with me early on, but I thought I’d watch someone else play it for a few minutes and see what it was about. I was paying more attention to the guy playing the game than the actual title itself at first, and what I noticed was that he was having way more fun than he looked like he ought to have been. So I figured, why not, I’m here to try new things, let’s take a turn at this. The game was set up on two computers placed far enough away from each other so that you couldn’t really communicate with your co-op partner outside of the game’s mechanics. I sat down at one machine while someone else sat at the other, and we started playing. The game has some very creative ways in which it teaches you that a) you have a partner in this that isn’t with you at the onset, b) you can communicate with your partner in a variety of ways using the game’s controls, manipulating the character’s arms and head to express yourself, and c) the only way to make it through the puzzles is to help each other. One of the main puzzle types, for instance, allowed you to see invisible platforms on your partner’s screen that they could not detect on their own. You would then have to use your limbs to guide your partner through the puzzle, and when they made it through, there was always a sense of mutual victory, and much jubilation (I’m not kidding, we would be jumping with joy, and waving our hands around to express our happiness… in game, not real life). By the end of the game (it was about 10 minutes long), we were united and sent above ground to a giant stone slab where we could write and draw MS Paint style on the surface with our mouse. A nice way to communicate without speaking, but more expressive than just waving limbs around. A final chance to congratulate each other and wallow in our mutual success. I’m not sure if it was intentional, but there was this sense with Way that it wasn’t just about gaming, but had a larger message of a unified global language, a reminder that we can all communicate and work together for mutual success.
Check out the game’s site here, where you can download it and play it with a friend. Not sure what setup you will need, but…
I almost didn’t want to write about this game. I’m well aware of Gaigin’s catalog of games, and was pretty excited to try it out. When I came to the game’s booth however, I was surprised to see it abandoned. Neither people playing, nor the developer supporting it. I picked up a Wii controller, started the game up, and soon realized why no one was playing it. The controls were an absolute mess. I couldn’t get the motion sensor to really understand what I wanted to do, and it was a difficult and not so enjoyable (or playable) experience. In fact, a little while later, I saw someone had found a copy of Cave Story on the Wii, and were playing that instead. That said, I’m sure with proper calibration, the game would run much more smoothly, and could be a lot of fun. It’s a sort of evolution of the paddle game (Pong) mixed with a shoot-em-up. It has the art style and sound that we’ve come to expect from Gaigin, and probably was at IndieCade with good reason. Just a shame no one was there to make sure it worked, or wasn’t Cave Story…
Check out the game’s site here, where you can see what it’s supposed to look like when it’s played right.
What can be said about Fez that hasn’t already been mentioned a hundred times before? It has gorgeous pixel art graphics melded seamlessly with 3D and non-pixel graphics, an absolutely charming and adorable game world and characters, mind-bending puzzles, and a cute, tiny little fez. Now if only they would release the damn thing already! Admittedly, the way I understand it, this game is being developed by two people, and they lost funding for it at one point (who would drop funding for such a promising game?!) which stalled production. But damn if some of us aren’t tired of seeing it as just a demo or a set of videos at this point. Here is hoping it comes out sometime in the near future on the Xbox, does its time there as needed, and finally comes to the PC when Microsoft releases the game’s developers from their iron grip of XBLA-exclusive release agreements.
In the meantime, go look at their site, in case you haven’t longingly drooled all over it countless times in the past.
Sissy’s Magical Ponycorn Adventure
I first got to play this gem of a game when it was created for Toronto’s TOjam festival. With art and concept developed by a 5-year-old girl, and programed by her father, Sissy’s Magical Ponycorn Adventure is about as charming and lovable as one might imagine something from the mind of a very creative 5-year-old could be. It’s a simple point-and-click adventure game where you play as Sissy, a little girl going around and saving ponycorns (a combination of a pony and a unicorn) by collecting them in jars. Between the lovely, hand-drawn art, the smile-inducing voice work (by little girl and father), and the sort of logic only the uninhibited mind of a child could devise, this is a great way to spend 10-15 minutes. It’s also the kind of game just about anyone can play, from core gamer to an absolute noob, It’s bound to appeal to anyone with even a shred of humanity in them.
What? You haven’t played it yet?! Well go here and do it now!
The Dream Machine
Note: I didn’t actually play The Dream Machine, so I got Gregg B. from Tap Repeatedly to give us his thoughts on this one, since he’s already reviewed it for the site.
The Dream Machine is a 5 episode point-and-click adventure game by Cockroach Inc. It follows the story of Victor and Alicia who, after moving into their new apartment, come to realize that there’s much more to the place than initially meets the eye. The first thing you’ll notice about The Dream Machine is just how beautifully presented it is. The whole thing is lovingly rendered using sets, props and characters hand-made entirely out of materials like clay and cardboard — it just looks stunning. There’s also a dreamy ambient soundtrack that hums, glistens and yawns as you explore the apartment block imbuing each area with a distinct atmosphere and sense of place. The puzzles are thankfully a delight and often logical, falling nicely on the right side of taxing. Perhaps most surprising of all is how organic and down to earth the dialogue is; there’s the odd dash of humour in there and a bit of grit to keep things interesting. Whether you’re an adventure veteran, a newcomer or somebody jaded with the whole genre, The Dream Machine is a welcome breath of fresh air and well worth your attention.
Check out the game’s site here, and thank you Gregg for your wordage.
I didn’t actually get a chance to play Desktop Dungeons at IndieCade, nor have I played the paid beta yet (which is what they were showing at the event), but I have spent way too much time on the free version, and I will now use that experience to tell you what the game is about. First of all, Desktop Dungeons is a phenomenal game, and deserves your attention if you play games on the PC. You might think, “But this looks like an RPG, and I don’t like RPGs,” to which I would say that, at its core, this is actually an ingenious puzzle game. Now, you might say, “But I prefer RPGs,” to which I would respond by saying there are still plenty of RPG (and roguelike) mechanics here to keep you interested. In fact, as previously stated, I’m not a big fan of puzzle games, yet Desktop Dungeons has managed to capture my interest time and time again. The fact that I haven’t picked up the beta yet only suggests some sort of alien goo-creature is controlling my mind, and preventing me from purchasing a game I know I would love. This is an ideal game if you want something fun you can play in short bursts, or something addictive enough to turn those short bursts into late night marathons. It’s challenging, smart, and really needs your love and support.
So go here, and pick it up, or play the massive free version!
Deepak Fights Robots
This is a game that is probably heavily inspired by the classic Bubble Bobble, only somehow much zanier. You are Deepak (I think that’s his name), everyday 9-5er and office guy, who is suddenly swept up and taken to the robot world… where he fights robots. The level structure is similar to Bubble Bobble in that each level is a single screen with exits on various edges that loop around to the other side of the screen. Grab the items scattered about each level to go into your super-Deepak mode and kick some robot ass. The art style is bright, colorful, and looks like it was done with MS Paint (in a good way). You can spot cameos from gaming classics like VVVVVV and Super Mario Bros. (to name a few), and though I didn’t get too far into it, it seems to have evolving gameplay mechanics as by the end of my playthrough I was riding on the back of a tiger, and had a bird and a key following me around the screen. Why was any of this happening? No idea, but I’m looking forward to finding out as I picked up the game on sale from the developer for the low low price of $5!
You can get the game, or see more, here.
Games I Didn’t Get to Play at IndieCade for One Reason or Another
Gamestar Mechanic: As far as I can tell, this is some sort of online game maker for amateur developers to have fun with. Probably should get more of my attention and I hope to give it some down the line. You can see the website here.
Halcyon: I just didn’t see this one when I was at IndieCade. It’s a combination of fast-paced puzzle gaming and a musical instrument… or so the website tells me. You can get it on the iPad if any of that sounds interesting, or go to the site to see more.
Kiss Controller: What can I say? I didn’t have my partner at the convention with me, and I wasn’t about to start asking random people to help me play this one. It’s basically a game controller you use by kissing. I awkwardly watched one couple play a racing game with it, but after 10 seconds of looking at strangers make out, I had to look away. You can watch strangers kiss too at this website.
Loop Raccord: Another iPad game I just didn’t see at IndieCade. I think a number of these were just not up for use when I was there. Far as I can tell, this makes video editing a game… somehow. I don’t know; I’m tired. Judge for yourself here.
Ordnungswissenschaft: This is a game about stacking boxes. It has nothing to do with video games, so… I didn’t try it. People who were playing it seemed to be having fun though. Go here to see it in action.
Papa Sangre: This was a game I really wanted to try, but, alas, it was not available when I was there. It’s an iOS game that has no graphics, but instead uses sound for its cues to let you know what’s going on. Experience the world like the blind do… if they lived in some sort of horror-esque reality. Website!
Application Crunch: Another non-video game game. This one’s a card game about getting into college. Sure wish I had this when I was younger. Here is their site.
Kaleidoplay: I don’t know where all the iPad games were at IndieCade, as they weren’t where they were supposed to be. This one sort of mixes kaleidoscopes (which are awesome) with puzzle gaming. Check it out.
The Bridge: I really wanted to try this one, but just didn’t have the time. It’s a lovely-looking puzzle platformer that lets you change the direction of gravity to turn floors into ceilings into walls and so on to help you navigate the environment. Go look! It’s pretty!
The Swapper: Another puzzle platformer with a cloning mechanic that lets you create body doubles of yourself. It looks amazing graphics-wise, and has elements of Metroid-style games with its emphasis on exploration. Here is the link.
And that’s it! I’ll be covering a number of these games in greater depth over the coming days, but for now, my arms hurt, and I need to get away from my PC. Edit: These days it’s a budget indie gaming laptop.