The Rocky Balboa-esque boxing theme and pixel art are what got me to try out Punch Club, a management game from Lazy Bear Studios. On the surface, the idea of moving direct control away from the fighting seems like a bad one, but it’s satisfying to see your training pay off as your character punches, kicks, and blocks on his own. Outside the ring, it’s all about efficient management of time and money – you want to spend each day training and sparring to improve your chances of winning, but your character also has to buy food and gym membership, which means taking on construction and pizza delivery jobs to make ends meet. Making things more difficult is the fact that your three main stats – strength, agility, and stamina – actually drop a little bit at the end of each day. Just like in real life, it takes sustained work to keep your physique in good shape.
The biggest problem with Punch Club is the skill system. When I played the game, its three main build paths were very imbalanced. Initially, I went with a strength build, called the Way of the Bear, and found halfway through that I had hit a wall against the agile opponents whom the game heavily favors. The intent behind strength characters is that they get fewer opportunities to punch, but can end matches quickly if they can string some hits together. In practice, unless your agility stat is comparable to your opponent’s, you probably won’t land a hit at all. The Way of the Tiger, on the other hand, allows you to focus solely on agility and a little bit of stamina, learning counterattacks that use your opponent’s strength against them. The supposed weakness of agility – damage potential – ends up not feeling like a handicap at all. And the stamina-focused Way of the Turtle is apparently even harder to succeed with than Bear.
It’s a shame, because the interplay between the resource management and fighting works well fundamentally. If you were given more interesting and well-balanced choices in terms of designing your character and his (or even her?) story, it could have found a permanent home on my phone (where I think this game is best-suited). As it is, one time through is enough for me.
I’ve been wildly interested in ants since an early age, and have often wished that there were more games that allowed you to take control of an ant colony, such as the classic SimAnt, or 2008’s Ant Rush. So I was especially excited earlier today, when Formicarium crawled onto Kickstarter.
Billing itself as a strategic simulation game, Formicarium allows players to “become the invisible mind guiding an ant-hive through difficulties and dangers.” Drawing inspiration from other titles such as Dwarf Fortress and The Sims, the game aims to simulate a procedurally-evolving world where insects and arachnids struggle to survive the environment, and each other – with the player guiding their own colony of ants.
Similar to Dwarf Fortress, the colonies or “hives” of Formicarium will consist of multiple “cross-section” levels, extending downwards from the surface. Chambers will need to be dug, food will need to be stored, and new ants will need to be be birthed. All the time, the player will need to keep an eye out for potential dangers from the surface, including antlions, spiders, bees and wasps, and more.
Formicarium is being created by a team of just two people. The development side of this duo is Konrad Feiler, whose history as a mathematician and software engineer is being put to good use developing a procedural world, filled with all manner of bugs behaving in realistic manners. On the design side, artist Dorota Orlof has provided an incredibly eye-catching style, bringing each of the game’s “characters” to life through a clean and colorful approach.
So far, the duo has a working prototype of Formicarium, and they are now moving to bring the project to full fruition as a game on both mobile devices as well as PC and Mac. To reach that goal, the Formicarium Kickstarter campaign is aiming to raise just a modest $20,000. If the idea of being the overseer of a virtual ant colony – struggling to survive in a procedurally-simulated world of competition and danger – appeals to you, head on over to the Kickstarter page for Formicarium to learn more and pledge. You can also keep an eye on the game’s website and Twitter for more news, and even vote for it over on Steam Greenlight.
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.
Michael “brog” Brough’s 868-HACK is a hacking-themed roguelike on iOS that eschews exploration for focused, single-screen tactics. In the game, the player must traverse 8 levels, called “sectors”, filled with data – either points, which are used for scoring, or progs, which are used for defense against the enemies that are summoned to stop your intrusion. Enemies come in four types and move in simple patterns that are easy to exploit in small numbers but quickly become deadly in diverse mobs.
There’s a lot to like about 868-HACK, like the fun theme, the obvious risk/reward mechanisms, and the innovative zapping attack that hurts and stuns enemies. Figuring out how to use zapper and prog to clear out large groups of enemies is extremely satisfying. In many ways, 868-HACK distills the roguelike experience down to the parts where you’ve been dropped into a room full of monsters you’re not fully prepared for and each move is potentially life-threatening.
The free, Windows version that was made for 7DRL is called 86856527 and is still available for download, but the changes for iOS are well worth the $5 price tag, in my opinion. A port of 868-HACK to PC is also planned, but there’s no release date yet.
This is a guest post by offal.
After years of releasing engaging short-form games, prolific digital artist Aliceffekt is nearing completion of his first independent commercial project, Hiversaires, for iOS. Committing himself to full time development at the beginning of February, Aliceffekt has worked solo on the game, handling design, code, art, and music.
This is the first official trailer for The Witness, a first-person puzzle game by Jonathan Blow and his new team. It was shown today at a Sony press event where they unveiled the PS4, the only console that the game will launch on. The other two launch platforms for The Witness are PC and iOS.
Avernum: Escape From the Pit is a remake of Avernum (1999), which itself is a remake of Exile: Escape From the Pit (1995), Spiderweb Software’s very first RPG. Built on their latest game engine, Avernum: EFTP retains the original’s storyline and environments, but revamps the graphics, interface, and certain game systems. On top of that, it adds some new characters and areas to explore.
The game is available for Mac, Windows, and iPad.
TIGdb: Entry for Spiderweb Software
The teaser trailer for Warballoon Games’ Star Command has landed, giving us a glimpse into the fantastic pixel art of their upcoming spaceship-management game.
Star Command allows players to take control of a starship in humanities distant future. Players build their ship, staff and manage their crew, explore the galaxy, battle other species, discover far off worlds and attempt to control the universe.
The game is scheduled to launch this summer on iOS and Android devices, but the developers have plans for a future, “Ultimate” PC version as well, which would include “all the campaigns, all the expansions, [and] possible multiplayer.” I can not wait!
I’m not too in touch with the mobile market (see what I unintentionally did there?), but here are a handful of recent iOS releases that caught my eye:
Super Crate Box iOS – Vlambeer’s popular action game has made its way to iDevices. I’m pretty impressed with how they handled the controls, especially after the 1.1 update. It treats the buttons almost like they’re sliders, and once you get used to it, 90% of the deaths feel like your fault. The screen even scrolls to let you see crates that might be hiding under your fingers.
Fingle – An IGF Best Mobile Game finalist, Fingle plays kind of like Twister for your phalanges. A neat idea that should make for some steamy family gatherings!
Puzzlejuice – Asher Vollmer’s new puzzle game combines Tetris with match-3 and Boggle, and apparently those pieces fit together quite well (I swear I’m not doing this on purpose). Creating rows will turn the squares into letters, which can then be connected into words to make the blocks disappear. Multipliers are granted for spelling, but can also be extended by matching colors and making more letters.
A cool concept in and of itself, but the execution is what drives it home. A slick magnifying window pops up as you’re spelling words and overall, the interface feels very polished. Art direction by Greg Wohlwend (Solipskier) is as good as expected. (EDIT: You should also check out the soundtrack, by Jimmy Hinson. Had my audio turned down, so I didn’t realize how nice it is.)