Haiku Hero is a game by Montoli/Paper Dino where you write haikus – three-line poems consisting of five, seven, and five syllables, respectively. There are three modes: a Deadline mode where you write as many haikus as you can in 5 minutes, a Survival mode where “good” haikus earn you more time, and a peaceful Endless mode where you can take your time and drink tea or rake sand gardens or whatever inspires you. The game determines whether your haiku is good based on whether you followed the 5-7-5 structure and whether you fulfilled the challenges that it set out for you based on one of three difficulty settings (e.g. “Use at least one word with 3 syllables.”).
It’s really quite fun, and I was surprised by how well the game was able to recognize fake, overused, or (for certain challenges) non-rhyming words. Ultimately, though, it’s up to you to decide whether you wrote a truly awesome poem, which is why a multiplayer version of Haiku Hero or an easy way to see other people’s haikus would be great. Also, for a game about such a delicate artform, I was pretty unimpressed with the presentation, which, while serviceable, is kind of ham-fisted.
TIGdb: Entry for Haiku Hero
Mike Boxleiter and Greg Wohlwend (aka Mikengreg) have released a wonderful new game, called Solipskier. In Solipskier, you use your mouse to paint snow on the screen for a little guy to ski on. The skier will build up speed on downslopes and can perform jumps over gaps in the snow. The goal of the game is to obtain a highscore by skiing through gates and catching air to build up your multiplier.
It takes a while to learn how to build up speed effectively, but once you get going fast, it’s blissful (gotta love it when the heavy metal turns into wind as your headphones fly off). Solipskier is a very polished game, which is not surprising, considering that Mikengreg also worked on Fig. 8, Effing Hail, and Dinowaurs as part of the Intuition Games collective. But in my opinion, this is their most enjoyable release yet.
Solipskier is also available on the iPhone and iPad for $2.99.
TIGdb: Entry for Solipskier
[This is a guest review by tim_the_tam. If you're interested in writing an article for TIGSource, please go here.]
What is a game? Does it have to be something fun to play? Do you need to be able to win or lose? Does it need a clear objective? Is it a series of choices? Kometen is a “game” that will mess with some people’s ideals of what a game is, which is no surprise coming from the guy who made Blueberry Garden. It’s because Kometen is not a “traditional” game as you can’t win or lose – there is no conflict, no official goals, and no way to die. Personally, I consider Kometen a game but I can also see an argument for it to be an interactive screensaver. But let’s not get too bogged down with the definition and for the sake of this article, Kometen is a game.
The beta version of Revenge of the Titans recently came out. Puppygames, the creators of Droid Assault and Titan Attacks, have worked their mojo over the tower defense genre this time, crafting a fun game that looks and sounds great. Hats off to Puppygames’ artist, Chaz Willets, for creating a distinct art style that improves upon his previous work in every way. It’s awesome.
This free demo is quite long, and features some 20-odd levels that charge you with protecting your home base with turrets and other, more exotic, weapons. In between levels you can also research new lines of technology to bolster your defenses. This research costs money that’s earned during battle, either from destroying gidrahs (the game’s requisite hostile alien race), collecting power-ups, or harvesting energy crystals using refineries.
Reloading turrets and collecting money from refineries is handled manually by the player, by clicking on them. One of the main challenges in the game is keeping track of your turrets and refineries and making sure that they’re always firing or collecting whenever possible. Although it makes the game feel more frantic, it also reeks slightly of unnecessary micromanagement. That, and I think it might impact the strategy of the game negatively, putting too much emphasis on keeping your buildings close together (the strange acceleration of the map scrolling doesn’t help).
Another problem is that you can get kind of screwed later in the game if you’ve done badly, either by not harvesting enough crystals or by frittering away your research on things that you don’t end up using. It is possible to start over at any previous level, but right now the game doesn’t appear to update your starting state with subsequent replays. And alas, there’s really no way to know what kind of research you need until the challenge starts ramping up dramatically. Oh well.
Those issues aside, I’m having a good time with the beta and decided to purchase it for its pre-order price of $13.37 (the final game will cost $27.72). Unlike many tower defense games that move at a plodding rate, Revenge of the Titans is very fast-paced, and the production values are top-notch. I also like the levels are somewhat randomized each time you play. It doesn’t seem like it’s making any sweeping innovations to the genre, but the execution really enhances what makes these games so addictive. Definitely my favorite Puppygames project so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it turns out.
Honeyslug just released Poto & Cabenga, their browser-based one-switch game that was made for the Gamma IV party (and was chosen to be displayed there). You control both Poto and Cabenga with one button, and the way it’s done is pretty nifty… definitely a bit of a mind-bender at first, though. I like the art style!
TIGdb: Entry for Poto & Cabenga
Skipmore is a prolific Japanese game company that develops micro-games for mobile devices. They have a bunch of free browser-based projects on their website, but Synopsis Quest Deluxe is the first to be translated into English (thanks to Benito C.). The game consists of a series of micro-games and puzzles that poke fun at JRPG conventions. I thought it was pretty funny, and the clunky controls that are present in most of Skipmore’s titles are relatively bearable in SQD due to the tiny scope of the game.
(Source: Tim W., via IndieGames.com)
Beau’s Fish Face is a fun one-switch game made for GAMMA IV. You control a fish with a face and your goal is to save the Cephalopod Princess and party with your friends at the end of each of the three stages. Pressing either “Z” or the down arrow makes you swim downward, and when you release the key the water will buoy you up and send you flying into the air. Despite the game’s dark color palette, the graphics and music are really cute and cheery, and each stage is varied and filled with nice little details, like rain, waterfalls, and various flora/fauna (I noticed the awesome homage, Beau!). I found the level design to be well done, also – it’s fairly challenging and provides lots of opportunities to make tricky jumps, one of the most satisfying things to do in the game. Good work!
TIGdb: Entry for Fish Face
A new version of Rodain “Nandrew” Joubert’s Desktop Dungeons was released recently (read the original announcement here). Version 0.051 adds a bunch of new stuff like new player classes, level features, challenge levels, and graphics. The game also comes with an option to use custom tilesets, which is nice, because the default graphics are still rather homely (albeit endearing).
And since I love 16×16 tile graphics, I couldn’t not make my own tileset to use. I based most of my designs on the originals, which I like, but tried to make everything more crisp and readable. You can grab the tileset here. Just unzip it into your “tilesets” folder and select “derek” from the main menu screen. Let me know what you think, and share your own if you have any!
TIGdb: Entry for Desktop Dungeons
Your Doodles Are Bugged! is quite the game. Created by German developer Spyn Doctor (responsible for Golden Tangram and Kuchibi), this is one of the most unique, personal games on Xbox Live Indie Games.
So, what the heck is it? Well, to speak in gamerâ€™s terms, itâ€™s a combination of Lemmings and Paint. Its genius is in its simplicity. Your task is to guide the little bugs to the jar of honey, passing the various â€œdoodlesâ€ that block your way or form your path. To do this you basically draw lines for the bugs to jump and walk on. The gameplay is almost rudely intuitive and itâ€™s a breath of fresh air in an ocean of twin-stick shooters, platformers, and massaging apps.
You control your doodling pen with the right analog stick, which responds pretty well to your touch. To draw you hold down A and to erase you hold down X, simple as that. You can go faster by holding the right trigger, a much-appreciated addition for the bigger levels, and you can undo with the B button. The most important control feature is the ability to zoom. The levels in YDAB! are remarkably advanced at times and without zooming on you wouldnâ€™t have much luck trying to complete them.
To add a bit more depth to the gameplay you have a limited supply of ink. This might seem obvious and harmless at first but it really provides a challenge in the later, densely doodle-populated levels. Itâ€™s really good fun trying to figure out the best way through the dragons and clouds and fishes and smiling faces and trolls and squids and trees and birds and… oh sorry, kinda lost my train of thought there. What I mean is, thereâ€™s much challenge in just finding the least ink-draining route. You soon figure out that you might only need a little dot to get your bugs over a gap that a lesser player just wouldâ€™ve made a bridge over. Overall itâ€™s a very rewarding albeit sometimes time-consuming experience to make it perfect. Add to this a classic timer to compare your high score to your friends and youâ€™ve got some terribly addictive gameplay. Add to that some very clean and pretty the doodled graphics, in-game tutorials, and an adorable story, and you end up with quite the package.
I have a few very minor issues with the game though. The first, and least intrusive, is in regards to the music. Thereâ€™s only one track looping infinitely and even though I appreciate chiptune-infused folk music for mandolin and accordion as much as the next guy it gets a bit grating after a while. Another issue is that the bugs can be quite the little assholes at times. If one of your drawings is a pixel off that might result in a squadron of bugs leaping to their death. It does add a lot to the challenge and you get used to it but itâ€™s still a bit disturbing.
Overall though, YDAB! is one of the absolute best on Xbox Live Indie Games. The amount of love and polish in this game is just amazing. There are plenty of levels and theyâ€™re suitable for a pick-up-and-play session basically anytime. I mean really, for 80MS (1 PUNY EARTH DOLLAR!) youâ€™d be an idiot not to pick this up. There I said it, youâ€™d be an idiot.
[This is a guest review by Cosmic Fool. If youâ€™re interested in writing an article for TIGSource, please go here.]
I think I’m going to have to meet bento_smile.
This Is How Bees Work is from the creative minds of Jasper ‘superflat’ Byrne and bento_smile, and I know right now its a game I’m going to remember. The passive and relaxing gameplay of bento_smile’s games has never failed to bring a smile to my face, and This Is How Bees Work is no exception.
You open the game to be greeted by 2 simple instructions (Move and Plant) and a pleasantly relaxed queen bee resting on quite a comfy looking plant. The contented smile on its face is a sign of things to come.
The joy of growing and harbouring a home for the bees made me feel like a good person. When I would see the first forest I had created on the horizon I felt happy simply to see it from a distance as a measure of my achievement. It also amazes me the sense of reward I got out of subtle graphical changes. When I would spawn a purple tree or begin to collect red bees I began to genuinely feel like I had created something beautiful in this strange and weird magenta land.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not a game for everyone. Its lack of a superobjective and general endlessness might not appeal to those approaching it as a traditional game. Its beauty lies in a desire to excel on your own terms. If you got joy simply out of traversing the new environments in Knytt and Knytt Stories or seeing the new friends appear on your map in Tanaka’s Friendly Adventure, I’m sure you’ll garner some enjoyment out of this game, hampered only the brevity of the experience.