This year’s Fantastic Arcade is happening right now, so if you’re in Austin or a short drive away (n.b., a “short drive” in Texas is anything under 8 hours), you should go. Admission is free, gas is cheap, and Shine Boch actually tastes good if you drink it in the Lone Star State.
There’s a complete schedule of events here. Festivities started on the 22nd and run through this Thursday (the 29th).
If there’s a tear in your beer (Shiner or otherwise) because, like me, you can’t go, you can play the games of Fantastic Arcade (some of them) at home with this itch.io bundle, presented by Juegos Rancheros in conjunction with Fantastic Arcade, and benefiting the Juegos Rancheros nonprofit.
Unlike Fantastic Arcade itself, the bundle’s not free, but for $15 you get five new games by Moppin, Takahashi, Saltzman, Klondike, Lawhead and SOKOP. Viva los independientes!
The other day, I was wondering to myself: “What ever happened to the guy who made Hammerfight? I liked that game.” Hammerfight, released in 2009 by Russian game-maker Konstantin Koshutin, is an action game about piloting flying vehicles armed with medieval weapons like hammers, maces, flails, and swords as well as the occasional long-range cannon. Its dusty Steampunk world was beautifully rendered – bashing it out with mutant bugs and other pilots was often as lovely as it was brutal, with colorful faction banners streaming about and little people cheering you on in the background. I quite enjoyed knocking my enemies about, too, since a meaty hit could send someone’s airship smashing into a wall, with bricks flying everywhere. Unfortunately, the physics-based movement also took its toll on my poor wrists and constantly swinging my mouse around in circles became painful and repetitive after awhile.
Koshutin’s newest project, Highfleet, seems to share some things in common with Hammerfight: mid-air duels in a dusty, lovingly-rendered world. Instead of floating ships with melee weapons, however, it looks as though you’ll be piloting more traditional aircraft and engaging in dogfights not dissimilar to Vlambeer’s Luftrausers (but slower-paced). From browsing the game’s Facebook page and Twitter, it looks like there will be a lot more to the game, too, like an overworld map and ship construction. Could be really cool (and a lot easier on my wrists).
No release date for the game has been announced.
Tower 57 is a gorgeous twin-stick shooter that’s being Kickstarted right now. The game’s developers are paying a lot of attention to graphical detail – as you (and possibly a friend) blast your way up the titular Tower 57, it seems like you’ll be admiring Cyangmou‘s superb pixel art only as long as it takes to destroy it into lots of itty bitty little pieces. One for the fans of the Bitmap Brothers and their classic shooter, The Chaos Engine.
More information (and plenty of fun animated gifs) are available on the Tower 57 devlog.
Serpentes is a fantastic take on the classic Snake game where you eat fruit to extend your length and have to avoid running into walls or yourself. Created by Benjamin Soulé, the developer behind those great Pico-8 carts, Serpentes adds a clever twist to the formula: fruits are given a number of random properties each time you play that are unlocked by collecting them. As you can see in the above screenshot, half the screen is taken up by a grid that displays the properties of each fruit. Collecting a fruit once will unlock the fruit’s score, followed by the length the fruit adds to your snake, followed by a negative effect, followed by a positive one. Finally, if you collect enough of one fruit to make it to the final, fifth column, you can unlock some powerful, permanent effects like a tail that shoots lasers, as well as a few tricky mini-games that can boost your score astronomically.
It captures the spirit of the original Snake perfectly by making the player the architect of his or her own demise, and then dials it up to eleven. Once you’ve reached the fifth column, collecting fruits adds some serious chaos to the play area, and a good short-term memory and reflexes are required to keep it manageable without running down the timer. You’ll constantly want to glance over to the right to figure out which fruit to collect, but that distraction can mean life or death as the game progresses.
The only thing marring Serpentes as it currently stands is an occasional crash bug that involves the laser not being able to find its target (possibly because it was killed by something else). It kinda sucks because when you have the laser, it means you’re doing pretty well. Thankfully, the timer is short and you can try a free demo to see if it ruins your play experience. The demo is like the full game except that you can only select one snake power on the title screen instead of two. Hopefully, this bug will be fixed sometime in the near future.
UPDATE: The bug has been fixed in version 1.1, which you can download from the same link!
Band Saga is a musical roguelike—basically it generates action roguelike dungeons based on its own Genesis-like FM sequencer, which can then be played through. You can generate levels based on importing your own MIDI music, or by composing music within the game (which can be shared with a text string online with other players). Also interesting is that you can change a song while playing through the dungeon based on that song, which would then affect the dungeon you are in. And as you can see from the trailer, the animation is also very nice.
I interviewed Rekcahdam to get a more in-depth look into how it all works, read it under the jump!
Do you remember sitting in front of the TV on Saturday mornings with a big bowl of sugary cereal, watching the latest adventures of Proton Rider (Intern) Ace Ferrara as he fought off the Dino Menace? Wait – what? That was never a real Saturday-morning cartoon? Developer Philipp Seifried sure could have fooled me with his announcement trailer for the upcoming Ace Ferrara And The Dino Menace.
Described as “a space combat simulation game featuring mystery, romance, cat-augmentation, electronic brains, the Dino Wars, a scientific genius, his niece and her dog Ranger and a heartfelt appreciation for 80s sci-fi cartoons,” Ace Ferrara And The Dino Menace places players in the role of the titular Ace Ferrara, who has managed to gain an internship working with his heroes – the elite Proton Riders. Inspired by classic space-dogfighting games like the Wing Commander series, the game will offer a campaign of objective-based missions, with the story progressing through briefings and downtime interactions on board the Proton Riders’ flagship, Discordia. Philipp Seifried (the game’s sole developer in charge of “graphics, code, music, writing and cat-petting”) aims to launch the game on iOS devices this spring, with planned releases for Android, PC, and Mac following not too long after. You can keep up with the game’s development through its DevLog on TIGForums.
Hit the jump for some early gameplay footage and screenshots of Ace Ferrara and The Dino Menace.
You play a samurai wielding a sword and a gun in a small arena, and the first player to 10 kills wins. The fast paced gameplay will feel familiar to anyone who has played Towerfall’s versus mode, though Samurai Gunn is more focused on close-ranged combat as your bullets are limited and easily deflected.
There’s not a great deal of content for the 15 dollar price tag, with nothing but the basic versus mode and a co-operative survival mode. However, the game has a great deal of polish put in to it and part of the fun is discovering the subtler mechanics, like changing stances or playing dead– or just tapping the up button in the post-game scoring to make it look like your character is laughing.
The game also has phenomenal sound design, with excellent music by Doseone (which was released as an EP with added vocals), and a different voice for each character.
After nearly a year of open beta, Path of Exile has finally reached version 1.0. The release will conclude this chapter’s story and bring with it a slew of new features, including a prestige class, the Scion, which is unlockable by beating the game in Normal Difficulty. It’s also available on Steam for the first time.
Path of Exile’s itemization and passive skill tree impressed me when the open beta first began, and since then it seems like Grinding Gear Games has made good on their promise to continue making improvements and expanding their ambitious multiplayer modes. And it’s free-to-play still, so if you’re a fan of ARPGs, there’s no reason not to try it out – PoE is supported entirely by the purchase of cosmetic effects and account improvements (extra character slots and stash tabs).
Set on the border of the fictional communist country of Arstotzka, Papers, Please puts you in the shoes of an Arstotzkan immigration inspector, approving and denying entry to a long line of hapless travelers each day. This entails shuffling documents around with your mouse and highlighting discrepancies in them, such as mismatched passport information or photo identification. With each passing day, your time limit remains more or less set, but the number of possible discrepancies you need to be aware of increases, ramping up the challenge.
This is a lot more exciting than it sounds, since your entire family is counting on your paycheck and a good day on the job will barely allow you to cover the necessities of living. Even when you’re 99% sure that someone has the right papers, it’s always a tense moment as they walk out the door and you listen for the familiar click-clack of a costly citation paper being printed out. But what elevates Papers, Please above a game jam novelty (far above) is that there’s a lot more going on than what takes place in your cramped inspector’s booth – politics, violence, moral ambiguities, and even humor pass through along with the people, and as you keep playing you start to realize how much power you have in your little role. It’s not long before your decisions begin to extend beyond your family’s sustenance (although that remains paramount).
It’s a bizarre premise for a video game, but it works very well, thanks to some great design on the part of creator Lucas Pope. The myriad details and keen audiovisuals bring the small booth of the immigration inspector to life, and from behind the dull counter top I felt more like a spy than in most of the spy-themed action titles I’ve played. Glory to Arstotzka(?)!
Back in December of 2012, my radar lit up when a prototype gameplay video of something called Enemy Starfighter hit the web. I hadn’t heard of it before then, but I immediately knew it was something I had been waiting my life for: a dogfighting space simulator with an integrated “planning phase” akin to that seen in early Rainbow Six games. Select the ships for the job, customize their weapon loadouts, designate their targets, and begin the assault – then jump into the cockpit of the wing leader and engage the enemy directly. It all seemed like a game I would dream up while playing Wing Commander or Homeworld when I was younger, and it was real.
Today, Enemy Starfighter has come quite a way from that original prototype video. It is still far from complete, but developer Mike Tipul has seen fit to show us its current state in a new teaser trailer and several new screenshots over at the game’s website. Enemy Starfighter is the debut game for Tipul’s one-man dev studio Maurader Interactive, and he has been working on it non-stop for the past year. Both the intense dogfighting and the beautiful planning phase that we saw in the original video have been polished, and larger ships have been unveiled, including capital ships, carriers, and even beam frigates.
For the finished project, Tipul is planning to inject a bit of a roguelike element into the game by means of a procedurally-generated campaign. Players will be tasked with leading the Empire’s Harbinger Fleet from system to system, crushing any and all Federation forces that lie in your way. Every time you start a new campaign, the game will generate a new galaxy for you to conquer with different systems, different enemy forces, different missions, and – hopefully – different emergent stories for you to tell of how you crushed the Federation beneath your heel.