Tatsunami’s Hanano Puzzle is well designed and difficult. It reminds me of Sokoban but with significant differences: switching block positions, complications brought on by color requirements and gravity. It’s a challenging game I’ve found both enjoyable and frustrating.
The in-game instructions (selectable between English and Japanese) are to the point and explain the basics of how to get the colored blocks to touch their corresponding flowers to complete its 50 levels. Some early levels are also both basic and varied enough to teach new concepts without using any clues or hints to hold your hand.
Some have wondered, in the TIGForums’ Feedback, why the difficulty can go a bit up and down between some levels. Tatsunami, however, explained it as a design choice to “stimulate the player’s motivation.” What do you think?
HACK9 by wahiko is a relatively old Cave Story inspired platformer that is more difficult than it should be. I liked the basic gameplay and the variety of music, but grinding shouldn’t be a core requirement for getting through a Metroidvania. Additionally, there is so much Japanese dialogue in the game that it’s easy for players of other first languages to not know what to do next.
For months it sat ignored on my hard drive after I gave up on exploring the game’s world, since I couldn’t unlock any areas beyond the default availability. However, one dedicated player (nintendofan100) made a video walkthrough, with aid of some helpful comments on the Indiegames.com Blog post on HACK9, which has made the game much more accessible and has allowed me to appreciate the game more.
The video at the top, however, isn’t part of the walkthrough linked before but was chosen to present how confusing the game’s language and design barriers can be and because it contains the game’s audio (unlike the walkthrough).
Okay, here’s a game Tim W. deemed “too violent and insensitive” for the Indie Games Blog. So it’s just PERFECT for here!
From what I gather Final Breaker is a game about chopping up a dance troupe with an exploding knife in a cardboard box factory. At first I was surprised to see something so violent and angsty come out of Japan, but then I remembered what Japan was. (Exploding Knife Sim is a thriving sub-genre over there. I swear, look it up.)
Unfortunately, The game’s link now points to a page I’m guessing says something like “obviously we had to take this down” in Japanese. So you’ll just have to keep that anger pent up inside for now, ’cause that’s healthier than playing violent video games, read the studies.
UPDATE: Forum gentleman “Painting” was kind enough to upload the game to his Box.net — you can play it here. Spoiler Alert: It is not very good! Tim W. also updated the YouTube page with more information, but it’s nothing scandalous, I’m afraid.
Trouble Witches Neo! is notable for being one of the few doujin games that’s been granted a worldwide release (on XBLA), thanks to developer Adventure Planning Service and publisher SNK Playmore. The original game, titled Trouble Witches, was developed for the PC in 2007 by the independent Japanese team Studio Siesta, and was ported to the arcades (as Trouble Witches AC) before this new version hit XBLA earlier this year. Neo! adds two new characters to the game (one as DLC), as well as additional play modes.
The core mechanic in this cutesy danmaku shoot ’em up is a Magic Barrier that catches bullets and slows them down. Killing the enemy that fired a caught bullet destroys the bullet and releases gold coins that you can collect for score and spend at the shops that appear twice in each of the six stages. At the shops you can purchase MP upgrades, lives, or spell cards that temporarily augment your firepower and give you even more score.
It’s a simple system that’s easy to learn and fun to play with. Xbox 360 owners who enjoy the genre should check it out, as it’s a pretty rare occurrence that a doujin game sees a release like this.
Blade Buster is a new homebrew NES shoot ’em up by the doujin group High Level Challenge. The game is based on the two time attack modes from the 1990 Turbografx-16 vertical shoot ’em up Super Star Soldier, in which you try to achieve the highest possible score in either 2 or 5 minutes. So there are only two short stages in the game, with the boss battles at the end of each one. Aside from the standard enemies, boxes, and gems, there are various hidden bonuses you can get for extra points.
It’s always nice to see a high-quality homebrew title come out for the NES, and Blade Buster certainly fits the bill, with nice graphics and music, and fun level design. The game also runs very well on FCEUX, my NES emulator of choice, putting lots of fast-moving sprites on the screen with almost no slowdown or flicker. Check it out if you’re a fan of NES homebrew or shoot ’em ups!
TIGdb: Entry for Blade Buster
Eyezmaze has released another charming “Grow” game! Grow Valley is the sequel to Grow Island, which was created to introduce prospective students to the curriculum of Shibaura Institute of Technology. Valley introduces a fast-forward feature to the series, which is a welcome addition (as charming as the animations are, it can get a little tedious watching them over and over again).
For those new to the Grow series, they’re simple puzzle games that you solve by clicking panels in the right order. It sounds dull, but the games are actually quite creative and fun to play. By studying the interactions between the panels you can usually narrow down what the correct solution is.
TIGdb: Entry for Grow Valley
After 2 years, the prolific Ikiki has finally re-emerged with a sequel to one of his earliest games, the 2003 run n’ gun Teppoman. Teppoman 2 (second from the top) has all the hallmarks of a great Ikiki release, from the protagonist’s skillful acrobatics to the charming thick-line pixel art style with which he renders his apparently nude characters. The levels, which are small but get quite challenging, can often be circumvented in multiple ways and are filled with secrets for players who are willing to hunt around and can make use of the many moves available to them. Every fifth level of the game is a boss fight, after which the game will end unless the player has collected the requisite number of bananas that are scattered across the levels, sometimes in well-hidden recesses (for the first boss you need at least 5 bananas). Definitely a solid entry to Ikiki’s vast catalog of games.
Although pretty much all of his games are worth checking out for one reason or another (if not for the depth, then for the humor), if you’re new to Ikiki, I’d recommend playing Nikujin or Hakaiman, my personal favorites. Nikujin, in particular, has become a cult favorite for its imposing difficulty and fun game mechanics (it’s the ninja game where I feel most like a ninja while playing). Check out Daiz play the game about as well as anyone could hope to in this video.
Along with Teppoman 2, Ikiki released another game, Nozumou (first from the top), in which you control a sumo that has to defeat smaller sumos while avoiding larger ones. I’m not sure I’ve figured the game out entirely, but it seems very simple. Press “Shift” to start the game.
Controls for Teppoman 2:
Arrow Keys – Move
Shift – Jump
Control – Attack
Down – Open chests/pick up items
Jump on Wall – Wall Jump
Double-Tap Left/Right – Dash
Dash + Jump – Long Jump
Dash + Immediate Jump – Glide (can be used to skim across water)
Dash and Turn – Skid
Skid + Jump – High Jump
A – Discard weapon
J – Suicide
(Source: Tim W., via the IndieGames.com blog)
TIGdb: Entry for Teppoman 2
There are many match-4 games out there and some are more diverse than most, but -R- (download from Vector) has a unique mechanic added to it to make its puzzles more interesting: the screen can be rotated to allow the blocks to fall into new positions. The objective is to clear the screen of blocks through a combination of dropping in new blocks and of rotations.
The shortest number of moves necessary to beat a stage is tauntingly displayed to the right (solving stages becomes more difficult with each progressive level), but there is no punishment for not attaining the shortest score, which is clearly part of what MithrilWorks had in mind for the -R- experience. The game was designed to be as non-confrontational as possible. The pleasant music, the soft color scheme, and the lack of restrictions remove many of the tradition conflict and tension mechanisms relied upon to pull in the player. However, t isn’t as though there is no challenge to the game: trying to solve some stages can be frustrating, especially in the last two levels.
Although the instructions in the readme and the included pdf manual are in Japanese, the in-game text is in English. As for the controls: S drops blocks and is use to select in the menus, Z rotates the screen (in combination of use with the arrows) and it is cancel in the menus, A brings up the block selection wheel that is navigated by the left and right arrows, X and C can rotate the wheel (but I found them too fast), and W brings up a scroll of past movements that can be selected to undo past attempts. Also, if you enjoy the music the OST with a bonus track is available.
“hey dorks. this game? well. it rules.” –Super Joe
Houkai Mura by Peposoft (developers of Sennyuu and Minishooter RS) is also known as Houkaimura, Breaking Town, or as MrPodunkian calls it, “the most Japanese game”. It plays much like Ghosts and Goblins, with a double jump and similar controls, but with some modern appeasements, such as infinite lives. The variety of weapons you can find in the game is incredible; the video shows very few of them. The bosses and stages are pretty hard, although some weapons make them easier than others. I had a lot of fun with it, although its difficulty may not be to everyone’s tastes.
I learned about this game on one of MrPodunkian’s indie game livestream nights, and watched him attempt to play through the game from start to finish. It took him hours, and he must have died several hundred times. I thought surely it can’t be that hard, but I tried it and died even more than he did. Nonetheless, I couldn’t put it down until I had made my way through the entire game.
Unlike many games with a variety of weapons (like Gunstar Heroes and its “Lightning + Chaser” heat-seeking laser gun) there’s no best weapon; they really did a good job at giving every type of weapon uses in some situations, but not having any weapon absolutely required for any situation; there are no very overpowered or very underpowered weapons.
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)