The levels in Dustforce aren’t long or particularly difficult, but my progress has been really slow. This is due in no small part to the results screen, where, if you’re like me, you’ll likely spend an inordinate amount of time checking your ranking, checking your friends’ rankings, watching replays, and formulating plans to improve your run. Case in point, I probably replayed the tutorial level a dozen times alone before I was satisfied enough to move on to the rest of the game.
I’ve seen Dustforce compared to Super Meat Boy as an “ultra-hard platformer”, but the point of both games seems different. The challenge of Dustforce isn’t so much to beat each level as it is to beat them well, achieving S ranks in both completion (debris cleared) and finesse (number of deaths), and doing it as quickly as possible. This point is driven home by the climbing and dashing mechanics that are based around speed, and the fact that enemies end combos and slow you down, but never outright kill you. You also get keys for SS ranking that will unlock more levels in the hub world.
The controls feel great (gamepads supported) and the levels are designed well around the game’s purpose and your character’s moveset. Watch the replays of the highest scorers and you’ll see some amazing precision, but even with just a little practice you TOO can feel like a ninja! The graphics, which are stylistically too close to free Flash web games for my taste, nonetheless animate extremely fluidly and support the acrobatics nicely. No complaints about Terence Lee’s soothing soundtrack, though, especially “9-bit Expedition”, the song that plays during the tutorial.
Aside from a few interface issues I ran across, I’m having a wonderful time with Dustforce. It’s a great release to ring in the new year with.
TIGdb: Entry for Dustforce
Before Warcraft and before Dune 2, there was Technosoft’s Herzog Zwei (1989), a Genesis/Mega Drive game that laid the groundwork for real-time strategy games. Whereas the majority of RTS games that followed put you above the action, Herzog Zwei had you controlling a mech directly. This commander unit could fight, issue orders, and transport units.
Cut to today: Carbon Games is working on AirMech, an RTS game that is a more direct successor to Zwei. The small team comprises the core members of the now-defunct Titan Studios that developed Fat Princess for PS3.
A number of alphas/betas I follow have had significant updates, so I thought I’d mention them together. Also, I’m updating the neglected “Dev Roll” on the sidebar to feature games that are in long-term development.
The first update is from Minecraft, which finally reached v1.0 last month, during the two-day Minecon that was held in Las Vegas. The update adds a proper ending and “hardcore mode” to the game, among other things (full changelog). After the release, Notch announced that he is relinquishing duties as lead developer to Jens Bergensten, who was originally hired to do back-end programming.
It’s worth noting that Minecraft made its public debut on TIGForums on May 17th, 2009. Check out the thread for a “Before They Were Stars”-style stroll down memory lane!
Super Smash Land is a cute Game Boy demake of the popular Super Smash Bros. series of games. It features six characters (Mario, Kirby, Link, Pikachu, and two unlockable characters), three game modes (Arcade, Endless, and Versus), and up to four human or CPU players. The control scheme has been simplified to one jump button and one action button.
Dropped into a randomly-generated maze reminiscent of the classic Pac-Man, players new to Forget-Me-Not will happily gobble “flowers” and shoot enemies for a few minutes before all manner of wacky creatures begin warping in – bombs, centipedes, replicating diamonds, etc. The enemies are not only harmful to the player, but also damage each other and the maze freely, adding to the chaotic feeling of the game. They can also rob you of the key, an important item that lets you unlock the level’s exit door and protects you from killing yourself with your own bullets as they pass from one side of the screen to the other (nothing’s worse than realizing you’re shooting yourself in the butt because some random beastie nabbed the key). Eventually, the screen goes black except for a small area around your character and a ghost chases you around until you get the heck out or die.
From what I gather, these are the two things you should know about the upcoming Krautscape: 1. the player in the lead builds the track, and 2. your vehicle can leave the track and glide through the air.
I haven’t tried it out yet, but Fuelcell Games and illustrator Michel Gagné have just released Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet on XBLA. It’s a non-linear action game that features up to 4-player cooperative play (local and online). The price is $15.
Apparently the game’s music (including what you hear in the trailer) is by the Norwegian black metal band Dimmu Borgir!
Not sure how this escaped my sonar (insert canned laughter), but Depth is a team-based multiplayer game of scuba divers versus sharks. The goal of the divers is to stealthily recover sunken treasure before they get turned into chum. According to the game’s website the sharks are powerful but have limited visibility – they rely on movement and blood to track their prey. Each team has three classes.
On the other hand, Primal Carnage puts you in the role of either a mercenary or a friggin’ dinosaur. Each team has five classes, with the dino classes ranging from massive T. rexes to flying pteranodons to tiny “Compies”. No word yet on what the game modes are, although the website mentions “getting to and holding the abandoned facilities which are spread throughout the maps”.
Both games are being developed by small teams using Epic’s UDK. No release dates have been announced, but in the meantime, you can watch the footage I’ve embedded under the bloop:
No Fun Games’ one-button RTS, Pax Britannica, has been ported to Android. This port supports 2-player battles on the same device, or against an AI player if you’re by yourself. Like it’s computer (Win/Mac/Linux) counterpart, Pax Britannica for Android sports beautiful pixel graphics and easy-to-learn gameplay, as well as a price tag of ‘free.’