MagiCat from Toge Productions is simply an incredibly solid two-dimensional platformer. That sounds like faint praise, but I swear that it really isn’t. It’s the product of a single person studio and is really a remarkable piece of game craft. Everything about it is just well made. Which is our theme for today. Just straight up quality games. No nonsense.
The graphics in MagiCat are super cute. You’re a cat in a wizard hat for crying out loud.* How can you not love that? You spit hairballs at slimes. Magic hairballs. So cute. Just good pixel art all around. The bulk of the enemies are palette swaps of of couple basic forms, but I don’t hate that. The basic forms are well executed (cute slime & cute bat being the most common) and the pallet tells the player exactly what they are in for. Each level is unique and colorful with clearly defined goals. None of the graphics are things that you haven’t seen before, they’re just done really well.
Part of the charm of MagiCat lies in it’s simple yet elegant structure. Each level in MagiCat consists of three platforming sections and then a boss. In every platforming section there is a bonus red gem you can collect if you are so inclined which allows for some added elective challenge. At some point you’ll want to cash in those gems for special abilities (they are MagiCat’s currency), but I really like how they’re structured so a player can choose their own difficulty.
Each level has it’s own mechanic. Maybe one is rolling platforms. Another might be switch blocks. Another would be a shrinking mechanic. I liked how focused this made every level. The player has to understand the mechanic to complete the level, but if they want to get all the red crystals they need to master it. Again, this is another example of MagiCat’s design ethos. Seemingly simply well constructed levels that allow the player to learn at their own pace.
At the end of each level you fight a boss which is usually a larger version of a level enemy and incorporates the level mechanic. I found these a bit of a mixed bag. Some were really trivial and some were super difficult. But there were a lot of them that I thought were extraordinarily clever. They felt like cool tests of the level mechanic. I’m not a big boss battle fan, but the bosses I liked in MagiCat I really liked.
I’m not really sure what else to say about MagiCat. The controls feel good, the graphics are cute and fun, and the level design is top notch. It’s not a revolutionary game by any means, but I don’t think it needs to be. It’s really fun to play, and I think other developers could learn a bit by checking it out. I think you should play it our I will cough a hairball at you so hard.
*Notably this means that MagiCat passes the Wizard Test with flying colors. All games should have wizards in them.
Back in the 8 and 16-bit eras there were a whole bunch of terrible jank-ass games based on the hot movies of the time. They were pretty much all terrible. Made with no doubt limited budgets and seriously limited time frames they were generally just cheap-skate cruddy platformers. Occasionally though, there were the outlines of good ideas in these games mired in the half-assed execution.
One such game was Home Alone, based on the hit movie starring that kid we all liked for a brief minute and Donald Trump. It was developed by some jank-ass little no-name studio from Maryland, and was a jank-ass garbage game. However, the game had some good ideas that I always thought would be worth stealing by an indie dev sometime in the future. The innovative part of Home Alone was that it was a trap setting game. You had to maneuver little Donny around a house and set traps for the crooks so they didn’t brutally murder you. The execution was jank and ass, but the idea was sound and worth developing.
Samurai Punk has developed that idea into Roombo: First Blood. Created for a Game Jam, you control a brave little Roomba as you defend the home of your owners from a stream of crooks. You do this with the power of Bluetooth! You’re connected to other systems in the house and can use them to stop the thieves. Drop a ceiling fan on their heads! Blow up an electrical socket and electrocute them! Blow up some windows in their vicinity! Do all the things at once! Make them bleed! Hoover up enough blood and you can just charge at them and kill them that way. Then you have to dispose of their corpses and clean up.
You control your blood-thirsty roomba with WASD tank controls and activate household appliances by clicking on them with yer trusty mouse. There are six levels with a corresponding number of criminals in each. I found the difficulty curve to be in a real sweet spot. In the early levels I was simply amused and allowed to wander around and try things without too much worry that the crooks would destroy me. The middle levels were the hardest as I was forced to really learn which traps were the most effective and which escape routes worked best when they came for me. I died a lot. However, I persevered, and once I got to the later levels I felt like a bad ass. Killing off five or six crooks at a time made me feel really good about myself. Just… so much blood. Everywhere. So, kudos to Samurai Punk for laying out a really good and satisfying difficulty curve.
It’s not a perfect game by any means. It’s a small scale Game Jam game at its core, so it’s limited in scope. The controls felt a bit unresponsive to me at times, and there’s only one home layout with six levels. I played through it in just over an hour, and wasn’t really feeling the urge to go back and master it. But that’s okay. Not everything has to be a jank-ass mega game like Skyrim. You do get maybe the best reward I ever seen when you complete all six levels. You unlock a gallery of pictures of buff sexy roombos. It’s amazing. I’m glad I have those in my life now.
And hey, here’s the inaugural Burpy Fresh Happy Fun Time Stream Hour with your host Curtis the Inverted. Tuesdays late night, after Leno.
Welcome, ladies and gentlemans to Burpy Fresh Dot Com.
Cutting to the chase before I get into some more personal deals. This website has been mostly dead for the last few* months and I wish to make it slightly more alive. I have a couple of plans for that beginning with the Burpy Stream Show.
I’m going to be doing some regular streaming. Not a whole lot to start, but it’ll be late on Tuesday evenings Korean Standard Time. 10:00 PM – Midnight most weeks, and I’ll stay up later if a game is super cool of if cool people are hanging in chat.
Schedule for April April 2: Don’t Feed the Monkeys April 9: ???? April 16: Profit
I’ll be editing up the streams and putting them on our YouTube channel as the Burpy Stream Show. Enjoy stream summaries and my jank video editing skills.
I’m also aiming to get some more indie reviews up on a weekly basis. The goal is one review every week plus a blog post about something or other.
I’m going to ramble a bit about my goals for this site and I guess my life at this point.
What is this site even? Glad you asked. I’m a dude who likes games and likes writing things that might even be witty on occasion about them. However, I don’t have a ton of time (hence the limited streaming schedule), so I’m trying to do what I can here to share what I can about some cool games.
What kind of games? Indie games mostly. It’s the hip and cool part of the gaming industry with small teams making weird things. I like small weird things. I don’t have any access to publishers or anything. I know a few devs from meeting at trade shows and such, but mostly the games that go here are the ones that amuse me.
Which means that Burpy Fresh ain’t gonna be a place to catch the hot new Indie News. There are other sites for that. I get word of a couple of cool games here and there or find something I like on the internets and I play it. I’m getting older and crankier everyday and have less head space to devote to keeping up with the treadmill. Bottom line is that sometimes you will get a game from 2015 or something, and like I know that’s old to people with no sense of perspective, but it’s whats going to happen. Heck, I’ll probably just go play a bunch of Cave Story at some point.
That being said. If you have a line on something cool. Send it my way. I’m easily suggestible. I like to show up at the indie game shows around East Asia, so say “hi” if you see me.**
What are your life goals vis-à-vis games? Ah, the million dollar question. A variation on “what are you even doing with your life, dawg?” I’d like to do more with making games, but my skills and interests don’t really run towards programming. I dunno, this is kind of an existential crisis for me right now…
I’m a classically trained musician of sorts, and I’m working up the skills and the courage to make and share some electronic jams that might be game material in the future. I’m hoping to devote some space on this website to my journey. It’s a learning curve.
So what is the “mission”? To gain some skills in streaming and video editing. To meet strange new people, and play strange new games. To make make wack video games style jams. To boldly burp cause I just have run low on my god-given supply of forks and like just need to share things that I enjoy without much regard to judgement be it my own better judgement or the judgement of people who think they are cool or of the dark gods that watch us from afar with their unblinking eyes that show neither pity nor contempt nor love.
*Six is not really “few” but work with me here. **Or pretend not to know me, cause I’m just like a rando guy with a website and an oboe. Whatever. I don’t need your noise anyways.
BIC is good times for those of us based in Korea. It’s nice to have something on our home turf where we know all the good restaurants to take people too. Makes us feel important. Always fun to meet devs from all over the world. I thought the whole festival was a bit better organized this year, so a big thanks to all the people who made this happen.*
Musing on the Nature of Busan Indie Connect:
Much like last year, Korea is a very different space than Japan or the States for these types of meetups. Indie Devs want to break into Korea, but there aren’t the big dogs here to wine and dine. In Kyoto everyone all up ons Nintendo trying to get some of that sweet plumber action like they alls in a cliche porno. Or Sony. Or Microsoft. Not really that kind of party here.**
That being said, Korea is a big market and devs want to figure out how to get their stuff out here amongst the sea of mobile shovelware that dominates the market. I had a lot of good conversations with devs about ways to sell small scale games across East and Southeast Asia. But…
I’m not sure BIC was really a great conduit for connecting indie devs to publishers. There were some good speakers, but I’m not sure there was any coordinated plan for getting Korea indie publishing and development on the map. I say this with some caveats:
I’m not really privy to the business side of things, so I’m kind of burping out my rear end here. Which is to say farting.
I’m not sure that breaking into the Korean market was actually a purpose of BIC. I think it could and should be, but maybe I’m projecting my dreams onto it.
Ultimately, I don’t think there are any good answers. There are millions upon millions of mobile phone gamers who aren’t going to download a small scale game on Steam. If I had the answer I would share.
On What is Rad and What is Not Rad:
Indonesia is Rad – Toge Productions brought a really solid slate of games. Each with a different focus and style. And the people I talked to were all really nice and had great insights into the gaming industry. Southeast Asia is the future, man. Lot of people with good ideas and games coming from there in the future. Get on the train.
Dungeons are Not Rad – Believe you me there is no one more aware to the debt we owe Gygax and Arneson for creating Dungeons & Dragons oh so many years ago. Reducing fantasy to abstract numbers was incredibly important in the history of game design. That being said, and I never thought I’d say this, I’m really tired of dungeons as a setting. Find something new? I recommend… luchadores?
Some Individual Game Thoughts:
Bossgard – Awesome brawler where the gimmick is that one player controls a boss monster while the others hack at it. The devs mocked us cruelly while beating us down with a giant monster slice of bread.
Gato Roboto – The new hotness from Devolver Digital. Basically Metroid except you are a cute kitty. I can dig on that.
Just Shapes and Beats – I’m a gameplay type guy who digs sick nasty chiptunes so this game is basically for me. You and your friends are shapes and you dodge other shapes while sick nasty chiptunes play. Now on Switch!
KlangM – Slick rhythm game with great art and a cool Thunderdome theme. I think we may indeed need another hero to play this.
MagiCat – 2D platformer from Indonesia. At first glance seems real basic, but it’s remarkably well designed. There is a smoothness in the gameplay that I don’t know that I’ve seen in other platformers.
Monster Garden – Weird low stakes adventure game about monsters trying to recreate a garden of monsters out of nightmares. This is the kind of weird little gem I love finding at BICFest.
WaveCrash – Fun puzzle brawler. I could see this being a really fun party game.
RPG Time!: The Legend of Wright – Cute reproduction of games created in Junior High School notebooks. You could tell the dev wasted a lot of his youth making these things during class time. Time well spent, I’d say.
She and the Light Bearer – An adventure game out Indonesia with gorgeous art that recreates Indonesian fairy tales. One of the aforementioned great games out of Indonesia and one that I’m looking forward to spending more time with.
Sticky Bodies – From Q-Games, our gracious hosts during BITSummit, come what is basically a Terry Gilliam animation game. The world need more Monty Python themed games. Someday I’ll get on making a fish slapping dance game.
The Missing – New jam from SWERY. Creepy puzzle platformer where your protagonist much remove parts of her body to solve physics puzzle while being chased by some monster.
Wattam – I don’t even know, man. This game is weird. Fortunately I like weird things! Noby Noby boy an obvious influence. I’m going to have to play this a bit more.
*Canada apparently was a big sponsor. Who knew, eh?
**Though there were parties. Korea style. Introducing people to the cosmic horror that is Soju is always fun.
One of the classic Indie Games, heck, perhaps even THE Classic Indie Game is Cave Story. Coming out in 2004 around the time when the internet finally got widespread and processing speeds had just made a quantum leap forward, it was the model of what Indie Games would be. It was from a small studio (one person, “Pixel” in this case) with charming retro graphics and great gameplay. It was probably the most influential games in the genre (if “indie” can even be called a genre) and Sacred Stones from NoxBiX is the latest of it’s progeny. And it is a game that is worthy of its influence.
Sacred Stones is a 2D pixelated Metroidvania style platformer. Your adorable scientist travels around floating islands looking to avert some sort of crisis. You gather weapons upgrades and keys and other fun MacGuffins to unlock new areas and new challenges. An evil* mind flayer shows up and threatens you from time to time. Sacred Stones differs from a “pure” Metroidvania** in a couple of ways. First, rather than a giant interconnected map each island is self contained with a series of exploration, combat, and puzzle challenges. Second, the only combat challenges you face are boss battles.
But what boss battles they are. GIANT. ADORABLE. ANIMALS.
BADGER! ARMADILLO! AXOLOTL!****
The heart of Sacred Stones’ gameplay are protracted battles versus these huge boss animals. Each boss has a pattern that you need to learn with three or four different modes of attack. The weapons you can find exploring the islands can help exploit various boss weaknesses, but no weapon really trivializes a boss Mega Man style. You’re still gonna have to work for it. These fights are difficult, is what I’m saying. Many relying on some serious memorization and some pixel perfect execution.
For what it’s worth, I’m generally not a huge fan of involved boss battles. With all the multiple forms and the complex pattern memorization. They are hard for me. And Sacred Stone contains some particularily tricky bosses.***** I’m more into the exploration and problem solving of these types of games, but Sacred Stones is at its heart a Boss Battler. Just a word of warning if big bosses aren’t your jam. They are, however, fairly well designed boss battles, and the promise of more cute animals to explode in the next level is pretty good incentive to continue.
Sacred Stones is a bit of a sleeper. Not a game that I think a lot of people will have come across, but if 2D pixel platforming is your thing, I really encourage you to give it a try.
*Are there other kinds of mind flayers? Last time I checked they were totes Lawful Evil.
Went to BitSummit Volume 6 in Kyoto over the weekend. Played some great indie games, reconnected with old friends, and made some new ones. A good time was had by all.
Here are some thoughts on what I saw:
The Switch: The Switch is the trend. Period. A lot of the showcased games were 2015-2017 releases sporting shiny new Switch ports. I think that the overall quality of the games on display can be traced to a large number of them not being new, but rather having recently released optimized versions to the hot new console.
One developer I talked to put it like this: “It’s great for indie games because so many of them are perfect for playing in short portable bursts. Not every game shines when you have to sit in front of a PC to play it on Steam.” This is true, and I applaud Nintendo for making it easier for indie games to be released.
The Haves and Have-Nots: However, there was a feeling of disparity at BitSummit this year. The developers with the Switch ports were making bank. More than one time I heard variations of “finally we’re making money on this.” And that’s great, but there were a ton of devs that were a bit disappointed that they haven’t been able to manage Nintendo’s licensing system. Games just as worthy as any other are being pushed aside because it’s hard to deal with shifting requirements and paperwork in a language you don’t know well. I feel a great deal of sympathy for the devs struggling with this. I hope that indie games are enough of a boon to Nintendo that they can find a way to be more inclusive.
The Middlemen: The solution seems to be in part to find a publisher with an “in” in Japan. Pikii, Dangen, and Devolver among others had large booths of fresh Switch ports. I have no idea about the business end of things, like how much of a cut a publisher takes, and I’m sympathetic to devs that want to retain more control over their product, but middleman production companies look like the future. I could be totally full of it on this, feel free to hit me up on Twitter if I kneed some knowledge.
Other than That: – We are still banging on with the 2D pixel platformers. Homages to the 16-bit era are still the bread-and-butter of indie gaming. I await the PS1 nostalgia wave so we can get our hand painted background and janky 3D tank controls on.
– Very international crowd this time. Felt like more European and South American devs made the trek this year than last. The indie scene is all over the world.
– Much less VR this year. Is VR dying? Sources say “yes, it is a nonsense gimmick.” Sources are “my butt”, but I truly wonder about the viability of that platform in the future. Kits aren’t really becoming any less of a luxury item, and the Switch might take over as the future thing for the next couple years at least.
I didn’t have a chance to play everything, but here’s what I got hands-on with along with some thoughts:
Above – You explore a world of water and islands in your seaplane looking for materials and battling sea monsters. Still in beta, but it’s already fairly polished. Could be *really* good upon final release. I’ll keep an eye out.
Agartha – Neat little 2D platform shooter with destructible environments. Fire gun turns water to steam. Bullets and explosions can destroy earth. Go grab it from that link. It’s fun.
Black Bird – Slick 2D shooter with a cool “evil bird beast destroys medieval town” aesthetic. This was fun to play. Just the kind of shooter where you can’t help but cackle maniacally as your destroy all the things. Won a bunch of BitSummit awards, and deservedly so.
Boss Golf – A golf course sim. Build a golf course and play it. I asked the dev if they had a “Donald Trump” option and he was all like “He’s already in the game.” Zoomed in on one of the players and sure enough there was little pixel Tonald Dumph playing golf. Priorities.
Boyfriend Dungeon – You are a person who only dates weapons. The weapons are also hot people. Part dating sim. Part Diablo. All Awesome.
Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon – Me: So, this is just Castlevania III with modern updates? Dev: *shuffles feet nervously* Me: Dude, don’t act embarrassed. I’ve wanted this game for 20 years.
ClusterPuck99 – Elegant, simply executed hockey game for multiplayer. It’s on Switch now! Really fun party game to look for if you have a Switch (or any system with multiple controllers).
Eatvolve – Still early in development, but this promises to be a fun platformer with the mechanic that when you eat another creature you can some of its abilities. Frogs = jump. Bats = wings. Looking forward to a full version.
Fight Crab – A game where crabs battle in gladiatorial combat. Epic. From the creators of Ace of Seafood. Which is also epic. Didn’t get enough time on this to fully rate it, but it was epic.
Kero Blaster – The best game about a Frog who does business and that business is shooting things. You literally have to shoot your work because there is an evil work creating machine. Now on Switch!
Knuckle Sandwich – This. This game. I don’t know what was going on here, but I love. RPG style in the vein of Earthbound. Weird ass WarioWare mini games. I want more of this. I could’ve played this for a long time if my friends weren’t so eager to get in on the Fight Crab game.
Kwaidan (?) – As my partner in crime intuited, PS1 nostalgia could be the next big thing. Didn’t play much of this cause my Japanese is weak sauce, but a trend to watch.
Necrosphere – Two button (left/right) Metroidvania. Very cool and intuitive. I want to spend some more time with this.
Parade! – Cute and funky rhythm game for Android and iOS. Dance with a bunch of cute animals until you get abducted by aliens. I dig it.
Phogs! – Still in development, but this was a fun, cute, and good looking game where you solve puzzles as a two headed dog. Looking forward to getting my hands on a full version of this.
Pixel Game Maker MV – A 2D platformer creator from the RPG Maker folks. Potentially a really big deal if it takes off like RPG Maker did. Keep an eye out for a community that forms around this game once it drops in the Summer. I predict there will be some gems made for this if one is willing to dig.
PixelJunk Eden Obscura – Not officially at BitSummit, but Q-Games hosted a launch party, so I’ll include it. It’s an odd little experimental game for Android. I’m not really sure what to make of it. It involves elephant DJs who require pollen from trippy plants for like, magic or something. Cool music and visuals from Baiyon.
Psyvariar Delta – Bullet hell shooter. Ain’t my jam, but if you like the bullets and the hells, check it out.
Remilore – Upcoming Diablo clone with an anime witch girl reskin. Wacky weapons including a giant skewer of ddeokbokki. Super fun with two players.
Rising Hell – 2D vertical beat em up where you get a magic punch glove and proceed to punch your way out of hell. This was one of my favorites at BitSummit. Like Black Bird it required some skill, but once I got going I felt like a blood soaked bad-ass.
Runner 3 – The third in the Bit.Trip Runner games. Stylish one button run jump platformer. Coming to Switch!
Save Me Mr. Tako – Game Boy platformer homage from Nicalis that is finally coming out. I’ve seen this a few times before. It’s cute and also Game Boy so I’m on board.
She Remembered Caterpillars – Cute / creepy puzzle games. Didn’t spend much time with this but the folks at the booth were really nice.
Shu – A nice looking 2.5D platformer from 2016. I pretty much like any game where you are a bird or a bird person, so this is right up my alley. Now on Switch!
Slime-san – Super Meat Boy style wall jump platformer. Super difficult, but one of my favorite games from a year ago. Now on Switch!
Super Slime Arena – Smash Bros. style 2D battler where you are all slimes. Gimmicks are 1) can be used with any controller (I used a Dreamcast Fishing Rod), and 2) can be played with as many players as you have open USB slots (up to 30 or so, I think). Good times.
Super Sportmatchen – It’s like those terrible old NES Track and Field games, but actually good! Another style of game I’ve been wanting to see get a modern update for a while. Super fun party game. Now on Switch!
Tarotica Voo Doo – Originally planned for the MSX. Homeboy programmed this in BASIC and Machine Code cause he is OLD SCHOOL. Was showing off how changes in the Machine Code affected the game. I love when these old indie projects show up. Indie ain’t new.
Three Stars of the Match
Note: I’m disqualifying the games that were previously released and are now just getting a coat of polish. No offense to those, but I wanted to showcase some new stuff.
Knuckle Sandwich – I want more of this.
Boyfriend Dungeon – obviously gets a star. For obvious sexy reasons.
That Game Where You Controlled a Cardboard Box to Move a Naked Guy Who Had to Get Home Without Being Spotted Metal Gear Style – I have no idea what it was called, but it gets a star.
Full Disclosure: I downloaded this “game” like everyone else. I’ve never felt so pleb.
Here at Burpy Fresh, we try to remain positive when reviewing games. We tend to pass over games we dislike rather than be negative. But sometimes, we just can’t stay silent. David Lynch is a habitual line-stepper, and enough is enough. There’s so much to go through, I’m just going to break it down step by step. (Take a few pointers there Lost Highway.)
Ol’ Davey is clearly just dialing it in on this one. It’s like he already knows that my life is a complete failure without even meeting me. Just look at the sadness in his face. He knows everything. HE ALREADY KNOWS. Every time he says “Good Job!” I know I’m just one step closer to death. I think it might be because I don’t have a right index finger, but with him, you never know what else is at play.
The bug is not USB3 compatible. I’ve gone through every cockroach in the house trying to find one that worked, but the best I could find was Android 5 pin, and I have an iPhone now, so I threw it in some boric acid. (Which there is NO button for by the way.)
Nothing is spoken backwards, rendering my reverse audio app useless. (That’s some free I’ll never see again. I spent 15 seconds searching for that, too.)
Every time I held down A, I felt a tingling down my left leg, not dissimilar to when I had a slipped disc, but it was more insistent. Other keys left me unaffected, except for J which remains untested.
The game did not help me up when I was writhing in agony on the floor due to bath salts/tide pods/mid-life crisis.
I feel nothing anymore.
As you can see above, clearly Lynchy, your typing tutor needs some more work. Here’s my recommendations.
Give more motivation to learn typing. Tell a story, or better yet, bring in that short weird looking dude and get him to stare into our soul for a few hours. People’ll be all ASDF JKL: all day long.
I love point-n-click adventure games. Even before mobile saved their asses I loved them. I have fond memories of going to my friend’s house and play Sierra games on his 286 until they physically kicked me out of the house, boot to rear.
I’m glad we didn’t have Facebook then.
I’ve always been a sucker for weird point and click adventures. The old Sierra classics, Sam & Max (pre-Tell Tale), The Day of the Tentacle were some of my favourites as a kid. Chuchel is less story driven and more episodic, more streamlined and minimalistic than these titles, but I think that’s what I like about it the most. It’s not a challenge by any means, but it houses a rich world that is wonderfully animated that brings something new and different with each stage. I’ve played through about half of the levels so far, and I plan on going back to it after I get this article written. In short: It’s my jam, yo.
The protagonist is a lovable asshole that just wants to relax and eat his cherry, but the *man* just keeps fucking him around. He’s runs with this rodent who’s sometimes his friend, but only when they need to team up to get the cherry, cause they got this Gold-Silver pact going on. Everyone else in the world just seems to be minding their own business, generally content with not understanding the inner turmoil that is Chuchel. I mean, I think the main dude’s name is Chuchel. It doesn’t explicitly say it, and it could through a curve. I think its name is Chuchel.
Most of the time you’re chasing that cherry, interacting with the environment in new and interesting ways, just to get rebuffed again and again. Sometimes you’re playing jaunty renditions of retro video games, like weird cherry eating pacman or space invaders. Sometimes you’re taking a break. If I had played another chapter, I’d probably have another sentence to put here. I’m trying to say that the content is varied. Varied, and yet really well put together. New events are unexpected but not unusual in the grand scheme of things. New mechanics seem to come naturally.
It’s a party. And for 10 bucks you’re invited.
I guess overall, the only complaint I would have would be that the game is not really challenging. After messing around for just a few minutes on a stage, the game drops a hint in the shape of a crude child’s drawing (at least on the level I used a hint). It would be nice if there was a bit more of a challenge. Mind you I’m only half way through so maybe there’s something harder coming.
Arkanoid is totally not my game. There was an old cabinet in the student union back in Wizard College*, and I had friends who could clear it! Much respect, because, for whatever reason, I could never figure it out. Yet, my whole life I’ve always put quarters into that damn game. It just looks so cool. All space themed, with bouncing and explosions…
So along comes Drawkanoid from QCF Design, makers of the *choice* Roguelike Desktop Dungeons. The gimmick here is that the ball slows down to bullet times when it gets close to the bottom and you draw a paddle with your mouse to redirect it. It’s a simple concept, but it turns the twitch geometry of Arkanoid into a more chilled out puzzle game.
You can pick your spots and choose your angles more carefully. Blocks ‘splode into pretty sparkles! There are Space Invader looking bosses to blast! I still kind of stink at it, but it’s fun to play and to look at. To mitigate my terribleness there’s an upgrade system where you buy… ummm… upgrades… Bigger paddles! Much damage! Etc!
I played this on PC as part of the Humble Monthly early release, but I’m guessing we’ll see this for mobile fairly soon. I mean, it’s fun on the PC, but this is going to be a great time killer on your phone of the Switch when it’s finished. Keep an eye out for it.
The video crops all funny. I don’t know what happened. Deal. I’m pretty pleased with my commentary so I’m not redoing it.
*More of a Bard College, but it wasn’t Bard College.
Slimes, molds, oozes and the like are an important part of any balanced dungeon ecology. Any wizard worth his robes whips up a few in ye old laboratory for the labyrinth beneath their wizardly tower. Primarily, slimes consume most types of dungeon waste leaving less garbage for your kobold minions to deal with. They also help to keep the numbers of your kobold minions in check preventing another futile uprising. And, best of all, they really mess with n00b-ass adventurers: Thief: “Ooh, there is a bunch of treasure floating in the air! I will reach for it! AAAAAH! My arm has been dissolved for it is really a gelatinous cube placed here by a clever wizard!”
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! That never gets old. Nor does watching through ye old crystal ball as adventurers get suffocated by yellow mold, get turned to more green slime by a green slime, or encounter whatever that thing was that killed Tasha Yar.* Yes, I have one of those. Its name is Alvin. I don’t really screw around with Alvin. Just kind of let him be. Dude is scary, and sometimes a hands-off management approach is what you need in a dungeon.**
Enough with the details of proper dungeon management, for today I bring you a game in which the slimes get this revenge: Ambition of the Slimes by Altairworks. Japanese style slimes are a bit different than their western counterparts. They are cute, and they are weak. Generally they are used as training dummies for parties of spikey-blue haired youths whose villages have just been destroyed on the way to discovering their ULTIMATE DESTINY! In AofS, the slimes are tired of such shabby treatment and have devised a strategy to get revenge. Their strategy is simultaneously creepy, gross and cute.
AotS is an isometric tactical RPG in the vein of Final Fantasy Tactics or Disgaea. You move your slime army a certain amount of squares and then attack or activate a special ability. Then your opponent goes. The gimmick here is that the slimes are able to take of the bodies of their enemies by DIVING DOWN THEIR THROATS AND TAKING OVER THEIR MINDS! The animation is hilarious and nasty as the slime squirms into their mouth and takes over. If you are like me you will not get tired of seeing this.
This domination of your enemies souls is the key strategic aspect in AotS. Without skin-suits the slimes are fairly ineffectual. The player must choose which enemy units would be most advantageous to control and work out a corresponding strategy. There’s a rudimentary Pokemon style elemental hierarchy (water > fire > plant > water) going on which adds just enough of a complication without becoming burdensome. In addition, some slimes have special abilities ranging from special movement to debuffs which require the player to make some additional tactical decisions. All in all it’s AotS is a pretty slick little indie RPG. There are enough choices presented to the player that you do have to plan out your next move, but the game is accessible enough to pick up and learn quickly. AotS can get quite challenging after a while, so it’s not just a cute/nasty animation gimmick. It’s actually a good strategy game. It could have just rested on the laurels of its retro style and comedy gimmick, but the good folds at Altairworks actually understand how to make a good rpg, and I applaud them for that. Now, if you’ll excuse me it’s Alvin’s feeding time, so I need to go defrost another security officer to drop into his pit.
FWIW, I played this on Steam, but it’s out on a number of platforms, and this might be a great one to pick up on a portable system. I think this could be a great “long commute” game for the right kind of player. Here is a video:
*Totally did not see that coming when I was a kid.
**As the bard said: “You don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit into the wind, and you don’t mess about with ancient sentient slime beings.”