Category Archives: Indie Games
At first I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about the OUYA, but it’s starting to look like a pretty legit system. What’s OUYA? So glad you asked. It’s a console in the making that breaks away from “The Big 3″, using an android based, digital download format, that will be playable on your TV.
I’m still a little conflicted though. I suppose it really depends on where the video game market goes and how well they execute their format. Will this be a commercial success? I really don’t know. But I wouldn’t necessarily want it to be either. A “commercial success” can often feel soulless and cheapened. It also kind of feels like they’re trying to sell us something that we already have. It runs on android. If I really wanted to I could hook up my android tablet to my TV and a controller to that. Granted not all games could work this way, but this is one of their main boasts. Well I can already do this. I’m also not the biggest fan of digital download. I prefer to own a physical item. If they’re going to be selling console class gaming, I’m sure they’ll be more expensive than your typical app store game. And then you’re locked in. No returning it, no selling it when you’re done, no lending it out to a friend.
On the other hand, Brian Fargo is absolutely right. Console gaming is where REAL games are (I totally agree. I’ll be the first person to tell you iPhone games are trash), however, you need to be a big name to make any sort of money. Actually forget that. You need to be a big name to even be considered for making a game for a console. Unless your game is going to make $4mil in it’s opening week, EA and Activision don’t want to know you. And this is why I most certainly will be getting an OUYA. Indie developers of all kinds will have easy access to releasing their games on the OUYA format. And since it’s a console you play on your TV with a controller, not a clumsy, on-screen, touch-sensitive pad, it will feel more like a real gaming experience.
Most recently OnLive and more importantly, Square Enix have jumped on board. That was the moment I was sold (trying so hard not to be a Square Enix fanboy). I had already put my backing into the project, but it was when I got this news that I no longer felt like it might have been an iffy decision. They’ll have available at launch, a remake of Final Fantasy III. Not the American III, which is really VI. But the one that was only released on the Japanese Famicom and had the DS remake back in 2009. Don’t expect a straight port either. Apparently it will be a full HD console remake from the ground up.
You don’t have much more time to get in on the ground floor. They have about a week left for backers to get on board. It’s only $99 for the console and a controller when it releases. They’re already well over their goal, so this is happening. The OUYA could very well change the face of the console gaming market. We’ll see what happens.
OUYA: A New Kind of Video Game Console <—– The OUYA Kickstarter page
Bit of War
Bit of War is a free download for your PC, made by Holmade Games, who are also responsible for Pixel Whirled and Hurdle Turtle, both available on the Xbox Live indie arcade. But neither one of them are free, or as worthwhile as Bit of War, so I won’t get into them here. Bit of War follows the familiar story of Kratos defying the lords of Olympus, albeit in a side-scrolling, platformer fashion. A cherub-like Kratos wields his blades of chaos against 8-bit skeletons and minotaurs, with a soundtrack to match. They even have a Game and Watch version of God of War on the site, which is a fun diversion for a few minutes.
This one’s hard, even for a Mega Man game. You play as the boss robots from Mega Man fighting through remixed stages from Mega Man 2. After so many years of having the mega buster, not using it throws the whole dynamic of the gameplay off. It’s a challenge. Or Maybe it’s just me, maybe I suck. Playing as Gutsman is particularly tough because you can’t run with him, only jump, and his attacks are ponderously slow. They have a sequel in beta right now. This game comes from Fusion Fangaming and there’s a bunch of other stuff on there so be sure to check them out.
Spelunky is like the spiritual successor to the 1980s console game, Spelunker. Though that game never deserved any kind of sequel, we got one, and it’s pretty damn good. And if you’ve never played the original or don’t remember it, it was impossibly hard, like Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde for NES. Even more obscure? Too bad. Anyway, Spenlunky is far more playable and follows many basic platformer principals, which I’m usually not a fan of but has enough of an adventure feel to make up for it. Armed like a mini Indiana Jones, with a whip, some rope, and a few explosives, your goal is to go relic hunting and find as much riches the bowels of the earth has to offer. This game has already been nominated for a number of awards and is available now for free to download on your PC and will be coming soon to XBLA. The xbox version however has traded its pixely aesthetic for a more polished, cartoonish look. Also, for you toy aficionados out there, they’ll be releasing a set of collectable Spelunky minis along with the game.
Click the links below to check out each games website
Wasteland, the George Washington of the Fallout series. Actually it’s more like Fallout was the spiritual successor of Wasteland. And I’m not talking about Fallout 3 and New Vegas – those are laughable mutations compared to what Fallout 1 & 2 brought us. Wasteland was THE sandbox game before that term was even used. It existed in an era when games with creativity could thrive and not be shadowed and forgotten because they didn’t sell 2 million copies the first month they’re out.
Why is this all relevant? Because Brian Fargo’s new development studio, inXile Entertainment, is going to bring us Wasteland 2! And this will truly be a game by gamers, for gamers. For starters, a handful of talent from the original Fallout team will be working on Wasteland2. Plus this will be a project free of big corporate publishers (oh how I wish EA never bought Bioware, but that’s another story), they are getting their funding through Kickstarter. They’ve actually already met their budget and will be officially funded on April 17, but if you want to get in on the ground floor, there’s still time to check it out. Besides, the more money they get, the more they can throw into the production of the game and the better it will be.
Maybe you’ve never played the original Fallout games. Maybe you’re first foray into the Fallout universe was Fallout 3. In which case, I feel bad for you. You like Fallout 3 you say, and can’t imagine it not being a first person shooter, and hated all the “useless” dialog in the game? Well then you might as well just forget you read any of this and go on with your life. But if you really want to experience a true open world classic RPG made by the masters of the craft, then do yourself a favor and check out the game.
I got this email update from them, plus you can just find it on their kickstarter page, and rather than paraphrasing it, I’ll just copy and paste the whole thing here:
All of the money we raise through Kickstarter is being spent on making the game. Most of the cost of development is in paying for the team to create the game. There will be a team of engine programmers, game-play programmers, UI engineers, character artists, environment artists, animators, effects artists, UI Artists, sound designers, composers, writers, game designers, systems designers, level scripters, and testers. Not to mention all the interns it will take to handle the mailing out of the physical goods. It is simple math that the bigger this budget gets, the more jobs it will create. The bigger the team, the deeper and bigger the game gets. If you want a deeper and larger game, and we think that you do, you want us to raise as much money as possible to spend on the game.
Did I just hear all 43,000+ of you say ‘How can we help?’
I am glad you asked!!
One thing you will notice in that list of potential jobs above is that nowhere in that list do you see ‘Marketing Lady’ or ‘PR Guy’. That is because we don’t have these positions, nor do we plan to hire them. We want to spend the money on the game, and only the game.
This is where you come in…
All 43,000+ of you are our marketing and PR team. We need your help to get the word out that the Kickstarter countdown is on.
• Post to your Facebook pages with links back to the Kickstarter.
• Follow @BrianFargo on twitter and retweet my Wasteland related tweets.
• Post it to forums where you think it is relevant.
• Send emails out to everyone you know.
• Go to our website and put our Doomsday countdown clock on your website.
• Get a friend or family member to buy in.
• Shout it from the rooftop.
• Do some early shopping for Christmas 2013!
If every person who has pledged manages to get one more person to buy in for $15, we will increase the budget by over $600,000. You can help the project in very tangible ways by helping us get the word out.
Lastly, I am very excited to release the first official piece of Wasteland 2 concept art. We asked the very talented Andree Wallin to help us establish the look and feel of the Desert Rangers. I think this image speaks for itself…
Hope you enjoy it,
If you still have a NES console chances are it’s main fear, as it sits alone in the darkest recesses of your basement collecting dust, is that the next time it sees daylight will be at a garage sale, being offered for a sum so low that a desperate hooker would be insulted. Though the NES glory days may be gone, there is no reason to relegate this once mighty titan to just a fond memory. Through an underground community of dedicated fans, 8 bit games have never truly died. Fan made games, and independently produced titles have been in production for years behind the curtains. The most notable game to crawl its way out of obscurity would of course be Battle Kid: The Fortress of Peril. This is not a reproduction or a run of a game that was never officially licensed, but a brand new homebrew IP designed and produced specifically for use on the NES. Do not confuse this for how we got Mega Man 9 & 10 as downloadable titles for the Wii, PS3, and Xbox; Battle Kid comes in official cartridge format.
Battle Kid plays like the bastard child of Mega Man and I Wanna be the Guy. For those of you who haven’t heard of or played I Wanna be the Guy, know that playing it is more frustratingly painful than having a goat chew on your nuts. Battle Kid isn’t quite as hard, but it’s definitely a challenge. The story is largely irrelevant – has any old school platformer ever had a story that mattered? All you need to know is that there’s some evil guys doing evil and you need to break into their lair, destroy the bosses, and win. That’s all the story we ever needed in the 8 bit days. Your ship lands on the outskirts of the fortress and then you’re on your own, figure it out from there and learn the rules of the game as you play. Like many classic platformers, your skills, reflexes, and patience will all be tested. Expect to throw your controller across the room in a monkey-throwing-feces fit of anger because you will die A LOT. One hit from anything kills you and there’s plenty pitfalls, traps, and tricks to trip you up as well, such as fruit from trees falling UP at you as you jump over them. Checkpoints are few and far between as well, making death all the more unforgiving. There are however multiple difficulty settings along with a password feature. Don’t be fooled though, easy doesn’t necessarily mean easy, just means you have infinite continues. And just forget about unfair mode – no continues and no saves, only one life to complete the whole game – which is impossible unless you’re some teenage Asian kid.
From a development standpoint, this game is the Bret Hart of the video game world. And by that I mean it’s the excellence of execution, not a geriatric, operating in a medium that it’s grown too old for. Controls are tight, accurate, and responsive, which is a requirement of any good platformer. Graphics can seem a bit bland at times, but for the most part there is as wide a variety of colors that the 8 bit palette can muster. Level design is clever and well planned out, offering a lofty challenge but without being too completely unfair. The world is broken down in a Metroidvania style, where instead of defined stages, there is one large seamless map. You are free to explore the areas of the fortress at your leisure, though many areas will be blocked until you obtain the appropriate upgrades after defeating one of the games 8 bosses. My personal favorite aspect of the game is by far the soundtrack. I can only stomach the insane difficulty of the game in small pieces, but the music is always good. 100% authentic, catchy, 8 bit chiptunes, could easily fit into any Mega Man title, and has a quick tempo that perfectly fits the gameplay.
This game is currently available at Retrozone for $30, comes with a full color manual, a dust cover, and should work on any version NES. You can check out a demo of the game in ROM format at the Sivak Games website and also check out the demo of upcoming Battle Kid 2: Mountain of Torment.
Developer: Sivak Games
Release Date: February 22, 2010
“Why don’t you post something about holiday Christmas games that have come out?”
“No, that is such a horrendous waste of time. Why would I bother talking about games that are disastrously awful?”
“Well do you have anything better you wanted to talk about this week?”
“Yeah, kinda. There’s that Metroid 2 fan remake that’s finally nearing completion. I’ve been meaning to do something on that for a while now.”
“Well you can put that off a little longer.”
“You’re right! I can!”
That’s pretty much the conversation I had with myself about doing this. As we swing inexorably towards what I know as the culmination event of our consumer/retail bondage-fest, which you may know as Christmas, there are inevitably going to be game developers hoping to bank on our misguided holiday spirit. Thus we have holiday themed games, and they are NEVER any good or worth paying for. Except for maybe Christmas Lemmings, but that was just a skin over a pre-existing game… and it was free.
So I took the time to browse through a few holiday-centric games and believe me, they’re not worth your time or money. Although there was one that sort of stuck out – Elf Squad 7. I’ll be honest, I was tricked into playing this because I didn’t even realize it was a holiday game. The biggest point it has going for it, it’s only a buck. Secondly, and very surprisingly, it’s made by Stardock! Stardock specializes in strategy games like Sins of a Solar Empire, which caused a few blinks of disbelief when I saw their logo attached to a cutesy-ish, retro style, holiday game. Which leads me to the third point, it’s retro, and we all know I’m a sucker for those. The music isn’t as chiptuney as I would have expected though, but it is happy and catchy and I can’t complain. The basic premise of the game is that there’s a present shortage and you have to help wrap the gifts. Toys and such fall from the sky and you have to use your gift wrapping gun to save them. Wrap enough gifts in the allotted time to beat the stage. In between stages you can buy upgrades, which I normally wouldn’t expect from such a basic game, but thankfully Stardock made it. You can pick from 6 different characters, and up to 4 people can play at once. Available on XBOX Live and PC. There’s a lot of game here for only a dollar. Christmas game or not, this is a good buy, and probably the only Xmas game that came out this year worth playing.
This is where I was going to list the other Xmas games that I came across, but I won’t even bother. You’re not going to play them, and you shouldn’t. Waste of time for me to talk about them and waste of time for you to know about them.
You know what, just play Christmas Lemmings. You can download it free HERE. But keep in mind it’s a DOS game. If you don’t know what Lemmings is, or DOS for that matter, then just adhere to my earlier statement of all Christmas themed games being garbage.
I was thinking, I created this blog with praising indie games in mind. It seems so often I’m bashing them. So much negativity… The next post will be a positive, upbeat one. I promise!
Another win-win situation up for grabs. They’ve put together a collection of games called The Humble Indie Bundle 4 available for download FREE if you want, but you get a bonus if you donate to charity. 5 games are available at no cost, however they throw in another 2 if you donate higher than the average donation rate. What are the games you ask?
You can donate whatever you want, it’s fully customizable. You only want to donate a dollar, you can! You want to give nothing? You can and still get 5 games for free. If you donate as little as $10 though you get Cave Story+ and Gratuitous Space Battles as the bonus games along with the other 5, for 7 games in all! All of which all sold for around that on their own.
The games are all available on Steam, or for direct download on PC, MAC, and Linux.
The American Red Cross and the Child’s Play Charity get some money and you get a handful of games; everybody wins. So do it!!!
CLICK HERE or the pictures for a direct link to the site.
Stop making avatar games for Xbox Live. And I don’t mean games like Kinect Sports or whatever other Kinect games use avatars. Don’t get me wrong, those games aren’t worth my time, but I will at least acknowledge their right to exist. My problem is with the games you download from the indie arcade like Avatar Sudoku, Avatar Lawn Mowing, Avatar Fighter Online, or Avatar Granny Assassin (actually that one might be kinda cool if they made it). Does anyone actually download this garbage? I’m insulted that they even make these. I wish I could say that most people don’t care about the Xbox Live avatars, but I’d be dead wrong. This is apparent through all the real world money that is spent to acquire fake digital clothing items to play dress up and make your avatars pretty. What an absolute waste. If you’re going to throw your money away like that, instead of spending a dollar on that new shirt that came out for your Xbox Live avatar, that in no way is going to affect your life either positively or negatively, and if you avoid the transaction altogether you can continue on your way and nothing will have made a difference, donate that dollar to charity. Pretty much every super market ever has a donation thing. I really don’t want to infuse my political or social agenda on this blog, but instead of spending 3 bucks for that lighsaber – which I will admit looks cool, but is utterly useless in every aspect of your life – buy a pack of socks for the homeless.
Sorry that got a little off topic. So the indie arcade avatar games are never any good. If there’s a good one out there, I challenge you to find it and prove me wrong. I’m not too proud. I’m willing to admit when I’ve been bested. Or better yet, someone make a good avatar game. Since their inception, the avatars have painstakingly gone out of their way at every turn to make it abundantly clear how useless they are, but since they’re there, let’s give them something good to do.
Avatar paintball – garbage. Avatar Laser Wars – horrible. Avatar Fighter Online – why not just play Street Fighter? I’ve had these thoughts before but I usually keep them to myself. I don’t like to be a hate monger, especially on the internet because we all know that’s the last thing we need to see here. But Avatar Adventure Online has me so personally offended that I just couldn’t hold it back anymore. It’s just dumb. The concept around it is dumb, the graphics are dumb, the playability is dumb, the enemies are dumb, the idea to make the game is dumb. Seriously, how many MMOs are out there now? How many of them are good? MOST of them are completely free! So right there, before we’ve even delved into why the game itself is bad, is a reason for why the avatar games should stop being made. Why would you ever pay money to play a horrible game when you could easily play another horrible, yet slightly better game, for free?! Yet still I was curious. I’ve played nearly every MMO I’ve come across and I wasn’t about to stop, so I had to at least check out the demo. I would say that I was disappointed when the game loaded up, but to be disappointed would make the assumption that positive anticipation was present. When compared to pretty much any other game from as far back as 10 years ago, Avatar Adventures Online still looks like it’s a few years behind. The landscapes, if you want to call them that, looked awful. Clearly the mentally challenged designer was rebelling, possibly infuriated by his lack of enemas.
If we do a side by side comparison to Everquest, considered to be the genre defining game, which launched in 1999, it still looks slightly better. The only reason a game shouldn’t be up to graphical standards is if it’s integral to the game design. Obviously a game designed to be 16-bit shouldn’t be expected to look like Crysis. But I don’t see any reasoning to intentionally take a 3D landscape, which uses polygonal features, and not use current gen lighting, texture mapping, etc, when the system it’s being played on is clearly capable of it. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe people do miss the early days of polygon graphics and have a nostalgic soft spot for that “devoid of all detail” look. Oh, and the first enemy I came across was a big, round, dumb, bumble-bee. That’s when I turned the game off.
Sonic Generations finally released last week and most of you probably don’t even care. And who’s to blame you? The last…decade maybe of Sonic games have been awful. Although, Sonic Colors was pretty good. Too bad it was only on the Wii and DS, pretty much ruining any legitimacy it might have gained. Sonic Generations however is really awesome. But that’s not what this post is about. It’s about a fan made Sonic game that I played some time ago and was disappointed because it never came to full fruition.
Back when I first heard they were doing a Sonic 4, I started to do some research to find out release dates, style, graphics, etc. and I stumbled upon the Sonic Fan Remix. After seeing only a couple of screen shots, I immediately sought out a demo. The project was being lead by Pelikan13, who has unfortunately stopped production. Despite only releasing a couple demos with a few playable stages, the fan remix was still loads better than Sega’s official Sonic 4 release. A lot of things kept that game from being a good side-scroller; the momentum in Sonic 4 felt all wrong for starters, and overall I don’t think it really recaptured the essence of its 16-bit ancestors. Sonic Fan Remix just feels right, like putting on a pair of socks fresh out of the dryer on a cold winter day. SFR has vibrant colors, great lighting effects, weather effects like rain and wind in the trees, it has more lush backgrounds and foregrounds (though some say it’s too overpopulated with stuff), and mainly just feels more like an authentic Sonic game. Pelikan13 has said that it’s possible he may return to the game at some point in the future, but I won’t hold my breath. Like too many fan made and indie games, it will probably never see completion. I guess I understand. Making a game for free doesn’t pay the bills.
Check out the Sonic Fan Remix homepage for some screenshots and a video. Unfortunately the download link there doesn’t work anymore. A lot of hosting sites I’ve seen have taken down the demo, but it’s still accessible on fileplanet and various other sites. But here’s a favor. I’ve got the link directly to the download right here. This is the most complete version I’ve seen. It’s got 3 stages in the Emerald Hill Zone, the first zone from Sonic 2. There’s also a less complete demo of the Chemical Plant Zone which you can download here. Both are executable files with nothing to install. So take a few minutes and enjoy the demos and if you like them, let Pelikan13 know. Maybe with a big enough push we can see a complete remake.