The Games of Gamma 256

By: Derek Yu

On: December 12th, 2007

gamma 256

I know it’s been awhile since Gamma 256 ended, but I just got around to playing the entries. (Some of them at least!) I was expecting good things, but managed to be blown away regardless. There are some really interesting ideas in here!

Each of the 10 games mentioned below are are compatible with both the keyboard and the Xbox 360 gamepad. Enjoy!

Bloody Zombies is the brainchild of none other than Petri Purho, who seems never to run out of interesting game ideas. I don’t know if I really need to say more about this one other than “blood surfing on a lawnmower.”

The arthouse kids are ostensibly peeing their pants with delight over Mondrian Provoked, Jim McGinley’s kaleidoscopic feast for your optic nerves. I really like the way you slide around against the sides of the various obstacles in this game, and the ending blitz of special effects is inspiring!

1A90 is a glowy shoot ‘em up where the background is a cellular automaton. Whenever your ship’s bullet (which you can design and redesign at the beginning of each level) strikes an enemy, it pastes itself into the background and sets off a series of chain reactions based on the ruleset of each level!

Sunset Runner has you hopping across the top of a moving train in an attempt to save your “best friend” before he/she/it gets squished. A fun, fast-paced, and difficult game from the King of Grinds, Guert!

StdBits, named after “the low-level pixel blitter in classic Mac OS,” is an abstract exploration game, where every screen has its own unique look. Beautiful visuals and music make this entry a stand-out.

Célu, by Alec Holowka, is a dreamy platform game inspired by Le Petit Prince. In the game you leap from planet to planet and soar through the stars.

Namako Team’s Dive is a brilliantly-realized underwater game where you plumb the depths of the ocean and interact with good and bad creatures using sonar. The atmosphere in this one is top notch.

Mr. Heart Loves You Very Much is a nifty little puzzle game that has you pushing rooms and rotating the level to get to your beloved Mr. Heart. A fun and original idea made better by super-cute retro pixel art.

Nick Sheets’ Doomed Planet is a B-Movie throwback that puts you in control of a UFO looking for victims (for probing?). I really dig the “movie reel” backdrop for this fun little game.

Our final Gamma 256 game is Passage, a poignant exploration of life, love, and the passage of time. My suggestion is to play the game a few times before you read the developer’s statement about what the game means to him.

  • rz.


  • Neon

    Bloody Zombies was great but i wish it would’ve been longer and maybe expanded the ideas more, i can’t wait to see more from this guy.

  • Zaphos

    Neon — because the games were designed to be played at the Gamma party, they were intentionally short! But Bloody Zombies was created by the prolific Petri Purho, who releases one game a month on his blog, so you can see more from ‘this guy’ … right now! Hooray!

  • Zaphos

    Also, is there actually a playable version of Celu anywhere yet? I thought Alec was hiding that it away until he had time to tighten up the graphics on level 3.

  • tantan

    Dammit alec, I wanna play celu NOW.

    Only half kidding.

  • Del_Duio

    “blood surfing on a lawnmower.”

    Sounds like another “Dead Alive” fan. Man, that movie is awesome but so friggin’ gross, bleh.

  • chris

    (after reading Passage’s developer’s statement)

    huh… wait, there’s treasure chests? a maze! what does that say about me for giving up before i ever even saw those things? (gasp)

  • Peter

    This blog needs more passage.

  • skaldicpoet9

    Celu sounds cool…

    You are only making me want to play it more by not releasing it yet…

    damn yous Alec, damn yous

    A well take your time.

    I seriously wish I had a 360 controller though, playing Bloody Zombies with a touchpad is some kind of punishment.

  • MisterX

    1a90 was pretty interesting, reminded me of this ### program, trying out different combinations of pixels and “inventing” differently working bullets this way. I could just rarely ever find out how exactly a level works, so it mostly came down to randomly trying out different bullets until I got a proper result. But let alone the idea of such totally dynamic, “unscripted” creation is great.

    Dive and Mr. Heart were also pretty nice, if just a little short-lived.

    And of course the most interesting of the bunch for me was Passage, for its symbolic value described in the statement which can already mostly be understood when playing the game at least twice.

    All in all truly a nice compilation of totally different games. Given the short time for developing these it’s always interesting to see how innovative many of them still are.
    If games probably made during a week or more by single persons can be this interesting, why can’t so many of the games developed over the course of many years by dozens of different people?

  • JacobG

    Pleeease let us know on the front page when Celu is available for d/l.

    Bloody Zombies = Bloody Awesome.