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Sacred Stones – AXOLOTL!!!!

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.

Double jumpin' around a floating island as you do.

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!
It's a snake.
ARMADILLO!Take that, Great Midwest Trivia Contest mascot!

AXOLOTL!****

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.

**Whatever that is?***

***Super Metroid, duh.

****Also Lawful Evil.

*****AXOLOTL!!!!!

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Blog (Pre-Medium)

BitSummit 6 – Run Down Hoe Down

Hoe Down, y’all. Play that funky music.

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:

Trends:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.
  1. 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.

Games:

I didn’t have a chance to play everything, but here’s what I got hands-on with along with some thoughts:

What exactly is that under the water?

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. 

Live your MAGA life

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.

Weapons are sexy

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).

The Dev shares my Birthday!

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.

Brave Earth: Prologue – A birds knocking you into pits simulator with no checkpoints from the I Wanna Be the Guy guy.

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!

I don’t know what is going on, but I love it.

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.

Witch Girl Fight!

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!

8-Bit Love

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 Aban Hawkins and the 1001 Spikes EX – Port of the multiplayer ultra difficult platformer by Nicalis. Really hard, but fun with a friend. Now on Switch!

Chaos!

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.
The Labo is awesome!

 

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Archive

David Lynch – “Teaches” Typing

Full Disclosure: I downloaded this “game” like everyone else. I’ve never felt so pleb. 

 

David Lynch Teaches Typing

 

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.)

 

David Lynch Teaches Typing – Not Compatible At ALL.

 

  • 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.

  1. 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.
  2. Different carpets.
  3. More fingering options.

Thank you.

 

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Archive

Chuchel – Thank You

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.

 

“My Spoon Is Too Big.” – Chuchel

 

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.

 

It’s a retro-esque party and everyone’s invited? I got nothing over here. – 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.

 

Paaaaaaartaaaaaaay. (Those black things are your muscly arms.) – Chuchel

 

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.

Ima go play it again now and see.

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Archive

Drawkanoid – Bullet Time Arcade

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…

Boing! Ping!

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.

UPGRADES!

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!

Space Invaders Boss Thing GO!

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.

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Archive

Ambition of the Slimes

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.**

To battle, my slimes!

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.

I don't know how to make a gif!
It’s grosser when you see it in game.

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.

Get your shots in now miner, for next turn I will devour your mind!

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.”

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Archive

Polyventure

Full Disclosure: Bought the game. Pleb. Yes, yes. Tired joke.

Since the game only takes 10 minutes to finish, we’re gonna do this quick.

 

Is Polyventure worth buying? No.

Is the OST for Polyventure worth buying? Probably yes.

Is Polyventure worth playing? Mild yes.

 

It’s walking simulator, but it’s a super pretty one. There’s nothing to do, but you can look around. It was a fun 10 minutes.

 

Pick it up for a buck on sale and have an enjoyable 10 minutes.

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Archive

Subsurface Circular – Robotic Zork

Full Disclosure: I bought this game like a pleb. I’m just going to get a shirt that says “I’m with Pleb.” and wear it from now on.

It’s finally 2018. A fresh-ish new year. Why not start the year off with a review of something fresh? …from 2017… because I didn’t check the date on Steam when I bought the game…? Okay. Sounds good. Glad we’re cool with that.

 

Subsurface Circular – Intro Graphics

 

Subsurface Circular is a visually-gripping text-based adventure about going about their business in a futuristic metro system. Okay, realistically, all dating-sims and a good number of JRPGs fall into this category, but something here pushes each end a bit further down the spectrum than normal, but it works well, at least through the first three chapters.*

You play a “Tek,” a member of the android subclass that’s de-facto owned by the government. You’re a security guard?-cum-detective assigned to the subway system that’s gone rogue, now looking into the recent disappearances of Teks in the city. The entire story (so far) takes place in one subway car as you ride around the ring line, letting off and taking on Teks along the way, but that’s enough to piece together what’s happening.

At times, the Teks that pass through you subway car are seemingly self-aware, having dialogue that seems influenced more by individual and diverse personality traits than rigid programming structures. With the exception of Listeners, who, up until where I am in the game, just ignore you while listening to techno, every Tek has a somewhat unique personality that makes conversation interesting. Pretty important for a text-based adventure, hey.

 

Subsurface Circular – Conversation

 

Not speaking of, I should point out that I really like the graphics. Though mostly static, the screen shimmies slightly but fluidly with the mouse giving a believable feeling of depth, and the Tek design is brightly coloured and full of detail, and they have fluid movement. It really sets the mood for me. I feel like I’m on the subway when playing.

But not in a bad way, because fuck that place in real life. Line 9, you know what you did.

The only real downfall is that the game itself is not much of a challenge. Of course, being text based, it’s more about the journey than the gameplay, but knowing that, at least as far as I’ve played, that all information can be gathered by simply going through all the available options, removes some of the motivation to go through all of said options. In fact, I’ve only seen one part in the game so far that I could actually get wrong. Though the Teks can link to each others for conversation, most can’t get a signal to reach the surface, which is designed to be limiting to the current environment for emersion, but it has the side effect of needing to have everything you need to continue to be right in front of you at all times.

Honestly, though it’s a small gripe compared to the positive points of the game, that the story is interesting and believable, and that the graphics are so well done. I estimate the whole game could probably be completed in 2-3 hours, but I feel that’s worth the $5.99 price, and if the game’s longer or you actually get off the train at some point, then bonus.

Despite the slight potential for mild inceptiony-like situations, I think the iPad version would make a pretty good commute time killer. It’s pretty pick uppable/put downable.

I’m gonna go play it.

 

*The author requests that people do not stream past the first three chapters, or at the very least put spoiler warnings if they stream past that. Super respectful and practical. I’d like to see more of this from game devs. I didn’t end up streaming it, but three chapters is good enough to get a good idea of what’s going on.

 

 

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Archive

Breaking Wheel – Cheese With Guns

Now I first encountered Breaking Wheel from Insane Mind Games two months ago at BICFest, was on… two months ago at BICFest when my friend and I went to Busan. It was the silliest game at the festival. A game where you play a wheel. A wagon wheel, or maybe a gear. Even a cheese wheel. You roll around and collect coffee and money. Also, there are goblins and orcs.

Those fiends.

For the most part Breaking Wheel is your basic 2D-Platformer. You move left. Sometimes you move right. Jumping is involved. Sometimes double-jumping. Spikes and fires and monsters keep tryin’ to make you dead. You collect coins. Also, you collect coffee, which is kind of funny. Cause why would wheels need coffee? WHY!?!? One interesting bit is that your speed and jump height is influenced by how many coffees you collect. Taking damage knocks away some of your coffee so you won’t be able to move so good. Which makes sense, as you have less coffee. It’s a neat little design that I can’t help but feel could’ve been a bit better explored.

The level design is quite clever in Breaking Wheel. The gimmick is that you periodically encounter intersections that shift the field of play by 90 degrees allowing you a new axis to explore. It creates an interesting grid pattern to the levels and makes for some unique exploration options. I don’t think I’ve ever come across a 2D platformer that handles it’s level design quite like this, and I think it goes a long way to creating the illusion of an interactive world within the confines of two dimensions.

Free the bombs.

The levels are also lavishly detailed. It’s pretty clear that the dev team has a background in Skyrim mods as much of the look and feel of the levels comes from Tamriel. Ancient crumbling staircases, fortresses built from sharpened logs, and ice caves populate Wheel World. A lot of work has clearly gone into to putting together the various backgrounds. It feels a little sacrilegious to be rolling a cheese wheel around in these environment. Really you should be like an awesome wizard. That would be more appropriate and also awesome.

A caveat to my enthusiasm is that Breaking Wheel is not a perfect game by any means. For as good as the graphics look some of the game-play elements lack polish. This manifests mostly as minor things like imprecise hit boxes or enemies walking on thin air*. I feel that I would be remiss in my duties as some wizard on the internet if I didn’t complain about a couple of things that bothered me.

Spider wheel does whatever.

First, the levels are simply too graphically busy. It can be really hard at times to tell what is a platform and what is a spikey thing that will steal your coffee. This can be a real bummer in a game the requires precise platforming as I felt that it lead to some cheap deaths. Compounding this is that on occasion foreground graphics block out the view of your path.

Second, the physics on your avatar are just plain off. Breaking Wheel can stop on a dime and doesn’t roll down inclines. You move more like Mega Man and less like Sonic. You just don’t feel like a wheel, feel me? There are a lot of physics based puzzles in this game, and I found it disconcerting when your avatar didn’t seem to affected the same way.

With those concerns in mind, I’m still quite fond of Breaking Wheel, warts and all. It’s currently about five bucks on Steam. Pick it up if you feel like supporting a small group of indie devs who enjoy making silly games where wheels of cheese blow up orcs.

*Maybe this is a deliberate bit of Skyrim influence. Zing!

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Eversion – Mario vs. Cthulhu

Just in time to be three weeks late for Halloween it’s a genuine Lovecraft inspired fun time here at Burpy Fresh with Eversion by Zaratustra Productions. And just because we like to only review the freshest games here this is an old platformer from 2008. Fortunately, this kind of thing is right up my alley as I was a huge fan of these types of games back in the day. Eversion is reminiscent of Cave Story, Within a Deep Forest, Knytt, and countless other awesome games from the dawn of the indie era.

Eversion doesn’t really hide it’s roots

Sure, the controls are a bit clunky in these older games. Eversion reminds me of nothing more that the somewhat infamous Super Mario knockoff The Great Giana Sisters in it’s no frills approach to ripping off a classic.*  The graphics a bit basic, even more so that the other pixel art games of the time.  But the thing that these early indie games has was ideas, man! They were trying new things in contrast to the console games that were increasingly becoming sterile. These games took some of the basic ideas of platforming games and pushed them forward… into the abyss… where there are only the dark gods from beyond the stars…

Sometimes when I sit alone in a melancholy state staring at the cavorting figures that shine from my computational box trying to vainly move my hapless avatars through ever increasing torturous hells of sharpened blades and jets of fire I begin to think about what dark nameless gods look down upon their worlds. Whither does my portly plumber go when he imbibes too much of nameless colored fungus found amongst the all seeing distant hills and then slips and falls into a yawning chasm? Do I die? Is this but a trip to the dreamlands where I cannot die but live again only to behold the infinite horrors laid out before me yet again? What nameless shapeless deity finds this amusing?

Horrible claw hand is horrible

Sorry, don’t know what came over me…

Anyhow, Eversion’s gimmick is that there are different increasingly freaky “layers” to each level that you must navigate. At certain points in the level you find areas that let you travel between the layers of reality. Certain blocks are destructible only in certain layers. Some paths are only open in others. Ultimately, it’s a slick little puzzle game where you have to use the properties of multiple layers to collect all the things.

Oh, good. Everything is melting into blood.

Eversion is a quick play. About 30 minutes for an initial run through, and another hour to collect all this shiny things. It has a genuinely creepy aesthetic and some bumping tunes. You can download it for free here, or check out the premium version on Steam for a couple bucks.

*The recent remakes of the Giana Sisters games are awesome. I will play them for this site maybe someday.