Kayarath’s Adventures in Indie Games

Posted on Jun 28 2012

We’re gonna be looking at some indie games today. Thanks to Too Many Games‘ Indie Game showcase, I got to try some games that would normally be under the radar. I had no idea there were so many game developers in my local area, but they were there in force. I wasn’t able to thoroughly play through each game, so think of these as first impressions more so than reviews. Also, many of these games are still in development, so they’ll still have some growing and refinement to do, like adding tool tips for one thing. It was still cool to actually play them, because you don’t really know a game until you played it yourself.

Let’s start with Star Saver, a charming indie game being developed in New Jersey. Star Saver is a gorgeous looking game. It’s bright, colorful, and full of great backgrounds. Art wise, I’ll say it’s heads and shoulders above all the other games at the con. I really couldn’t get into it, though. It was a platformer game on the Ipad and I just don’t think the Ipad does platforming controls well. When I expressed this concern to the developers PXLPLZ, they told me that they were developing it for the Ipad because it had the lowest barriers to entry and were planning to port it over to other systems later. Hopefully they’ll get to do so, because there’s always room for another good platformer game. If I was playing it on a gamepad, I would have been golden. The Ipad just doesn’t do some types of games well.

The Ipad would be much more suited to say, an RPG fueled entirely by quick time events. Speaking of such, Saturday Morining RPG! I saw it on Kickstarter and was like, “whatever” but I tried the game and it turns out, it’s pretty cool. It’s an RPG where each attack is done with a tiny mini-game and action commands. It’s like in Super Mario RPG where timed button presses can boost your attacks. The battle system strikes the right balance between easy to understand and incomprehensible at first glance. There’s nothing wrong with a little learning curve in an RPG! It’s certainly a well thought out and, dare I say, even innovative system! Plus you can’t go wrong with running over your enemies with a bunch of rainbow striped horses.

I totally got this!

Speaking of horses, some wiseguy from the Video Game Development Club at Shippensburg University had the bright idea to cross breed Final Fantasy with My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. I think I’ll need to break it down some more. First off, there is a club at Shippensburg University about making video games. They get together, at a college, for the sole purpose of making video games. They even have a Facebook and blog! They were at Too Many Games and displayed a Final Fantasy One styled game with elements from and inspired by My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. It may appear to be simply a ROM hack with ponies thrown in but it’s not. It’s actually an independent RPG engine that replicates Final Fantasy One. The developer has hopes to develop it into a tool set that can rival RPGMaker itself! Or at least put out a free program that lets people make their own RPGs and tell their own stories.

Speaking of telling people about things (okay, that was the weakest segue in this article), I should at least mention Backward Pies‘ Dukes and Dirigibles. It’s a multi-directional (that means you can move in other directions besides straight up. Isn’t that crazy?) plane shooter set in a steam punk world. There was always another person playing it whenever I wanted to try it, so I didn’t get a good look at it. However, I should also tell you about Designs from the Deep‘s first project, Dark Flight. It’s an adventure game where you can control a duck with a sword. It was little more then a tech demo, to be honest; Dark Flight is just a tentative name. It was quite amusing to play as a duck though.

At least I can show you this picture of the game.

Speaking of games in development, there’s Walter’s game. That’s not the real name of the game; the developer didn’t think of a real name yet. Come to think of it, Walter is not the best name for a shooter protagonist either. Okay, naming things isn’t this guy’s strength, but he can make a fun top down third person shooter. You use WASD to move and the mouse to aim and shoot. You kill enemies, grab their money, and use it to upgrade your guns. You position yourself away from enemy fire and behind cover, avoid the traps that turn you into a sitting duck, and laugh at your enemies when they fall into those traps themselves (that’s a nice touch). It’s a well done combination of many familiar gaming concepts. It’s the type of game any gamer can sit down and enjoy immediately. If you want to try it out yourself, e-mail PMAWGAMES(at)LIVE(dot)COM to get in on the beta and maybe suggest a better name for the game.

Speaking of familiar game concepts, there was a tower defense game, too. It’s called Tone Def: Revenge of the SquareBots. The basic idea is that you’ve got to save the music from the Square Bots. Conveniently, their point of attack is right where you can place towers to defend with. While the graphics may be merely functional and a few things are left unexplained, Tone Def has some really cool ideas. A musical tower defense is a combination I never would have thought to make. What really makes the game is that the towers you place alter and enhance the soundtrack you’re hearing. That’s pretty cool, honestly. The use of chip tunes is also a very wise choice since it can really handle having musical layers added and removed suddenly.

Speaking of games with chip tunes, Pixel Lincoln! This is a video game where where you can defeat a pie throwing luchador with a sausage link whip as President Lincoln. Frankly, you should be sold on the concept already. It’ll come out on the Nintendo DS sooner or later, and it’ll totally be cool. What really interested me is the Pixel Lincoln deck building game. A deck building game is a type of card game where you start with a small deck of cards and add more cards to it as the game progresses. It’s a card game that simulates playing through an old school platforming game. Sadly, I was never able to try it out. From what I’ve seen of it, it looked pretty cool, too. The card game is currently on Kickstarter so you can go pre-order/pledge if you want to play a card game like no other.

Speaking of new games, do you know that the Philadelphia Chapter of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) held a game jam at Too Many Games? It’s a very simple idea. You jam twenty or so people into a few rooms during a convention and tell them to make some new games. At the end of the convention, you play and judge them. It’s an interesting idea but I didn’t really investigate them very much. The last thing a bunch of people working on a tight deadline need is a nosy person asking them questions. I did check in on them once they were done and there were some actual completed games being played. Admittedly, they appeared to be simple games but making even a simple computer game during the span of a single convention is no simple feat.

Even under the tightest deadline, they’ll still smile for a camera.

Speaking of feats, I hope you all perform the feat of checking out or even buying some of the games I mentioned here! Saturday Morning RPG is available now on Itunes, and the Pixel Lincoln Kickstarter is going strong. If you ever wanted to make your own video game, consider joining the IGDA or Shippensburg University’s video game development club. Every developer here has a website or an e-mail address where you can learn more about their games or even jump into a beta! Show them some love because there’s more to video games than Mario, Master Chief, and Max Payne…

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  • AnarchoELK June 29, 2012 at 7:49 AM

    You went to TMG? If I had known (or remembered if I did know) I would have asked you to pick me up a copy of that limited run of that NES homebrew. Thankfully I think it turned out to be kind of bad, so maybe a good thing?

    • Kanashimi June 29, 2012 at 8:45 AM

      It was on the sidebar and the convention list up for staff.

    • Kayarath June 29, 2012 at 10:04 AM

      Well the upcoming sequel, Dragon’s Leap, looks to be much better

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