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  1. Happy 4th of July, gamers! Or... You know, whatever day it is, for those of you not watching this on Independence Day. As gamers, what better way to celebrate the day of America's independence than with independent games? We've seen tons of indies since last year's day of independence, from that one people won't shut up about to a few that perhaps you don't even know about. So join us at Game Podunk as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Indie Games of the Past Year. Do you agree with our list? What indie games released after last Independence Day would YOU throw on this list? Be sure to tell us down below. Have an idea for a list you'd like to see us use? Leave that below as well, and we might just pick it up. Don't forget to like the video and subscribe to our channel, of course.
  2. Jordan Haygood

    Review: Shadow Puppeteer

    Developer: Sarepta Studio Publisher: Snow Cannon Games Platform: Wii U (eShop), PC (Steam) Release Date(s): January 28, 2016 (Wii U) September 29, 2014 (PC) ESRB: T for Teen Official Website Remember that scene in Peter Pan where Peter runs around the Darling children's room because he lost his shadow and is trying to catch it? If you were to take that whole "shadow with a mind of its own" shtick and make it into a game, you'd get the indie title Shadow Puppeteer. Except in this game, there's less chasing after your shadow and more working with it to get through a puzzle-platforming adventure. And while the main draw of the game -- its gameplay -- is pretty unique and fun much of the time (with a few other enjoyable aspects to compliment it), there are some unfortunate shortcomings that ultimately hurt the game in the long run. Shadow Puppeteer is a game of few words. Well, actually, it's a game of no words, if you don't count basic stuff like the title screen. That isn't necessarily a bad thing; it just makes the game rely on purely visual and audio storytelling. Which is pretty nice, actually. The gist is that this evil dude known as the Shadow Puppeteer (which you wouldn“t know from the game itself due to the no dialogue and text and whatnot) comes to a village and takes everyone's shadows with an instrument he plays save for a young boy, thanks to the guy's instrument breaking, and the boy and his shadow go on a journey to save everyone else's shadows. So, you know, a story made specifically to fit the gameplay. SEGWAY! From the moment you see the title “Shadow Puppeteer†and lay your eyes on the protagonist and his shadow, you can kinda guess that the gameplay is most likely centered around shadows. And you“d be right, of course (what, you think I“d write the previous sentence for no reason?). You play as both your physical self and your shadow, moving each separately in cooperation to solve puzzles and get through each level. Well, in single player mode you play as both. If you happen to have a friend/family member/shadow to play with, then you both control one of the two. Unfortunately for you loners, co-op is a lot more fun, and with fewer annoyances brought on by having to control both characters yourself. It gets really confusing at times and you often find yourself dying simply because you can“t keep your eyes on two characters at once. Don“t get me wrong, the game is plenty of fun thanks to the original gameplay with its clever use of shadows. It“s just that it also has plenty of not-so-fun qualities that make you question whether you“re actually having fun or not. The level designs are pretty good, but the platforming aspect can get really frustrating due to the fact that your physical self is moving within a 3D space. Not simply because of the 3D space, but because of the camera angle you“re given. When you go to make a jump, you“ll occasionally fall to your death because you can“t see where you“re going to land. It“s not something that will happen all the time, but it happens frequently enough for me to talk about how annoying it is. Another rather infuriating aspect of Shadow Puppeteer lies with the boss fights. Though this is made much less infuriating by playing with a pal in co-op. It's nice that the developers wanted to shake things up by making the bosses shadows, but it takes far too much time to figure out how to beat them. They will kill you. A lot. Especially the final boss, who might just be one of the most annoying final bosses I've ever endured. Not challenging. Annoying. But again, this annoyance is mainly apparent in single player mode, as your many deaths are attributed to the difficulty of controlling both protagonists at once. Unfortunately, your trials-and-errors will often result in you having to sit through many a loading screen. No, you seriously see a screen that says “Loading…†every single time you die. Not only are Shadow Puppeteer“s loading screens rather frequent, but some of them are quite long. Especially the ones you have to sit through as one level transitions to the next. I know, I know, “be patient, young grasshopper.†Yeah, well, in 2016, I was hoping to see fewer loading screens… Thankfully, there are still a few more positives left to talk about regarding Shadow Puppeteer. Rather than trying to impress on a graphical standpoint, the developer decided instead to make a game with a whimsical, cartoony, Burton-esque art style. And yes, I do mean Tim Burton. And to add icing to the cake, this game has just the type of gloomy atmosphere you would expect from something considered “Burton-esque. Considering that this is a game all about shadows, these two elements fit perfectly. You wanna know something else that Shadow Puppeteer“s art style and atmosphere fit perfectly with? The music. This game has a pretty beautiful soundtrack, I must say. Each song fits its accompanying level like a glove, whether it“s a pirate-themed level, a cave level, or just a simple village. And not only does the music work well with the game, but they“re just pleasant to listen to. Shadow Puppeteer“s soundtrack is almost enough to forgive the game for its downsides. Almost. Shadow Puppeteer isn“t a terrible game, but it does have some pretty jarring shortcomings that are hard to forgive. Though most of them are thanks to a single player mode that can get so frustrating that you want to hit something. Or someone. Of course, if someone else were with you, you“d be enduring fewer annoyances, since the game becomes a bit more fun in co-op mode. Regardless, Shadow Puppeteer is still plenty of fun with its original, shadow-centric gameplay. And with a whimsical art style and atmosphere that would make Tim Burton proud and a very pleasant soundtrack that works well within the game, Shadow Puppeteer wouldn“t be the biggest waste of your time. Pros: + Original gameplay centered around shadows + Whimsical, cartoony, Burton-esque art style + Appropriately gloomy atmosphere + Great soundtrack Cons: - Single player mode can be a pain when controlling two characters at once - Camera angle occasionally makes platforming a grave annoyance - Frequent, long loading screens Overall Score: 6 (out of 10) Decent It may have been plagued with some pretty jarring downsides, but with its original, shadow-centric gameplay, whimsical art style and a great soundtrack, there is plenty of fun to be had with Shadow Puppeteer. But play it in co-op if you can. It's better that way. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable code provided by the publisher.
  3. Developer: Delirium Studios Publisher: Delirium Studios Platform: Nintendo 3DS (eShop) Release Date: December 17, 2015 ESRB: E for Everyone Official Website When it comes to puzzle games, I might be just a tad picky. You see, if I“m going to play a puzzle game, I want it to be, well, puzzling. And not just by being a simple collection of generic puzzles or a Tetris clone. I want something that has tricky puzzles, but features an original and creative idea that makes it feel unique. Perhaps with great music, beautiful art design, and an interesting story. Something like, say, The Delusions of Von Sottendorff and His Square Mind for the Nintendo 3DS. So I totally did not read about The Delusions of Von Sottendorff and His Square Mind“s plot until after completing the game. But going in blind like I did actually helped the story seem crazier and more intriguing than it would have been had I read the synopsis provided by the developers, which basically spoils a lot. In that regard, I will refrain from telling you the spoilerish bits and recommend that if you end up playing the game, avoid reading up on it beforehand and instead just play it. If you want to go read up on it, though, I can“t stop you. With all that said, the story of Von Sottendorff is pretty good regardless of how much you know going into it. It“s not anything all that deep and complex, aside from the deep complexity involving the protagonist“s “square mind†and the memories within, but it“s an interesting story that adds more emotion than you would expect from a fairly silly little puzzle game. And the disembodied voice that guides the silent Baron Von Sottendorff throughout the game certainly adds some pretty entertaining banter to the mix. Speaking of that disembodied voice, the voice itself is actually presented pretty well. As soon as you boot up The Delusions of Von Sottendorff and His Square Mind, you are met with a message recommending that you wear headphones for a “full holophonic sound experience.†That message refers in part to the effect that makes the guiding voice sound as if he is talking to you while moving around a room. That panning effect is also used a bit, to a lesser extent, with sounds and certain parts of the music. There were even times when I thought I heard a noise coming from my room, but it turned out to be the game. Of course, the most impressive aspect of this game when it comes to audio is its music. The Delusions of Von Sottendorff and His Square Mind has one stellar soundtrack. Not only does each song fit perfectly with each “world“s†theme, but the songs are just plain good. Like, this is the kind of music that I wouldn“t mind just listening to. In fact, I“m listening to the soundtrack as I write this very review. I applaud Von Sottendorff“s composer for making songs that fit the gameplay experience as well as songs that are great by themselves. Bravo! Von Sottendorff also does well from a graphical standpoint. The game itself presents itself with a bit of silliness, so its unique, cartoony art style fits like a glove. And even when the game takes a few dark turns with the story, the art style still works. You can see the beauty quite easily by looking at Von Sottendorff“s artwork, such as the artwork featured in the game“s cinematics, but the art direction also helps in giving the world as a whole a nice bit of character. Which I suppose is a logical choice considering the room-shifting gameplay mechanics. I stated at the beginning that I want my puzzle games to have tricky puzzles, but also feature an original and creative idea that makes them feel unique. The Delusions of Von Sottendorff and His Square Mind certainly meets those prerequisites. Although they“re not the most mind-blowing puzzles, they do take some logical thinking to get through. The central focus of the game is the whole room-shifting mechanic, in which you move the rooms around in each level in order to get the puzzle piece and key necessary to move on to the next level. And the levels do get tougher, so don“t go thinking the game“s a cakewalk just because you passed the first “world.†But the natural difficulty progression isn“t the only thing that makes the game tough. There are a few unfortunate downsides to Von Sottendorff. For the most part, the game“s platforming is just fine. But occasionally, you will find yourself fighting with the camera in order to land jumps. It doesn“t happen too often, and you do get plenty of lives to collect, but it can still be annoying. The enemies in the game can also be pretty annoying. I really think the developer could have handled them better, as there are times where you feel cheated because the enemies can“t be avoided, and most certainly not killed. Only sometimes, though, thankfully. If you“re into puzzle games, The Delusions of Von Sottendorff and His Square Mind is a worthy addition to your collection. If you haven“t gotten into them, for $12.99, it“s not a bad place to start. The story is interesting enough to get invested into, the soundtrack is amazing, the art style is beautiful, and most importantly, the creative puzzles are actually fun to solve. It“s a great game that“ll take enough time to beat to merit the price you“re paying for it, so I recommend it. Pros: + Interesting story, especially if you go into it blind + Stellar soundtrack + Beautiful art direction + Creative room-shifting puzzles Cons: - Enemies could have been incorporated better - Camera occasionally makes platforming a drag Overall Score: 8.5 (out of 10) Great Whether you“re a fan of puzzle games or you need a place to start, The Delusions of Von Sottendorff and His Square Mind is a great one well worth your money. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable 3DS code provided by the publisher.
  4. Chances are that over the past few years, you've noticed the explosion of indie game bundles as well as the general trend that games tend to go on sale pretty quick nowadays. That's good for the gaming consumer, but Dan Adelman has shed some light on some interesting facts regarding this. Did you know that the average indie developer only makes $12,000 a year? Obviously, no one can live on a salary like that (at least not on their own), so it's not surprising that many have to do it on the side or even just as a hobby. You might not be surprised to hear that most indie games' sales come from sales as well. The aforementioned bundles as well as Steam's frequent sales have trained gamers to wait for a price that's more to their liking, thus making it harder on many indie developers who are trying to make a living and such. Of course, we all partake in sales, but if the "race to the bottom" mentality of sales continues, many indie devs will unfortunately not have the financial support needed to continue and may have to depart from development altogether. In order to help combat this, Dan Adelman and a number of indies are rallying together to not put their games on sale and asking fans to help show their support by purchasing at least one game (if not more) at full price on July 4. Afterwards, you can help further the cause by tweeting about it with the hashtag #IndiependenceDay. Even if you don't have the money to help out right now, you can help raise awareness about this by tweeting about it. In the meantime, if you can show support by buying a game or two, you can check out a full list of developers that are participating by visiting indiependenceday.org. Will you be buying any games at full price during Indiependence Day?
  5. Jonathan Higgins

    E3 2015 Hands-On: Heart Forth, Alicia

    As much as I dislike using the term "Metroidvania," I“ve become an obnoxious, snobby connoisseur of the genre. I“ve played bite-sized experiences like Xeodrifter and Cave Story, as well as much more in depth ones like Axiom Verge and Ori and the Blind Forest. If you“re familiar with my work on Game Podunk outside of Individual Values, you“re probably highly cognizant of the fact that I“ve analyzed what makes these kinds of games good and bad, and what I“m personally looking for versus what other people who approach the genre could find interesting. During my time at E3 2015, I came across Heart Forth, Alicia - A Metroidvania RPG when I was looking for something else in Sony“s booth, but I“m rather glad I found it when I did. The most important element of any game with “RPG” in the title is its story. E3 is definitely not the ideal place to judge a game“s script and truly take everything in, but I have a few things of note to address here. The way characters interact with each other reminded me of Golden Sun. Alicia and other important characters have beautifully designed faces accompanying their dialogue, while minor characters have none. And a character indicates a particular emotion with a tiny little speech balloon that emotes from them with a sigh, or fear, or something to that effect. As the story goes, Alicia is sent to undergo a trial, then a piece of the sky falls. There“s an air of mystery and intrigue in the demo that definitely has me hungry for more. Characters seem to mesh well together. Alicia doesn“t seem like a particularly demure female protagonist, and that“s nice too. In terms of presentation (outside of dialogue and more concerning the towns and environments themselves), I“m reminded a lot of Cave Story. Character designs are varied and have personality, but are tiny. I faced handfuls of enemy types instead of the game just sticking with one or two kinds in a dungeon. There were the common enemy types you see in games like this, such as slimes and bats, but every once in a while you“d get a snail-like enemy that switched sides on you so you couldn“t attack it constantly, or an enemy where the only way to kill them was to whack their own projectile back at them. Part of what makes a "Metroidvania" game interesting are the types of enemies it has, and Heart Forth, Alicia has a full buffet of enemy types. Before moving onto the fundamentals, the boss character I faced was... a duck-like creature that burrowed underground and eventually had a spikey shell that moved so fast, it was like Sonic the Hedgehog blasting up walls and across the ceiling. It almost did me in, but I survived. Score one for me, score zero for the... burrowing duck... spikey shelled... almost kinda cute... creature. And now for the most important part. How open does this open world game feel? Is there appropriate signposting, e.g. are you able to tell when you“re not meant to explore an area yet besides being obliterated by an enemy that“s obviously too strong for you? How do the attacks and other mechanics fair in an extremely overpopulated genre? Let“s address these one by one. The dungeon I explored had plenty of secrets. Solving a puzzle often veered me away from my main objective and required some extra sleuthing down a path that was completely hidden. There were plenty of switches to throw a bag you would otherwise cast aside as meaningless onto that led to cool extras that were easy to miss for most. Some more puzzles operated with box-pushing mechanics. I wouldn“t necessarily say any of the level design is ground-breaking or revolutionary, but it“s certainly competent and entertaining. I experienced three types of attacks in the demo — a soft and charged close-combat attack, as well as eventually using the Wind Spell to control a brief ball of wind that I mostly used to press switches I couldn“t normally reach. I only saw one puzzle that used the Wind Spell before the demo ended, so I can“t yet assess how clever weapons are used to actually solve puzzles in the game. All in all, though, Heart Forth, Alicia is yet another solid "Metroidvania" game I'm highly anticipating. You should definitely keep an eye out for if you“re looking to scratch that itch. It has its own identity in a genre that is certainly not without its staples. What will make this game unique is its world, characters and plot moreso than its gameplay, I think. But there“s nothing wrong with that, in my eyes. Alonso Martin is the only mind behind this game; he did everything. Does he have what it takes to outdo his contemporaries? The demo certainly has my interest piqued. Heart Forth, Alicia will release on PlayStation 4, Vita, PC and Wii U sometime in 2016. Check out the developer“s official website and Twitter for more!
  6. Jools Watsham at Renegade Kid has been teasing a new game announcement from Renegade Kid for a few days now. Today, on the third anniversary of Mutant Mudds' release, he took to Twitter to announce Mutant Mudds Super Challenge for 3DS and Wii U: One last bit of info from Jools is that Mutant Mudds Super Challenge will not replace Mutant Mudds 2. "Think of it as more of a delicious stepping stone of fun and challenge," Watsham mentioned. As aforementioned, this month's Nintendo Force offers more information on the next game from Renegade Kid, including two new world themes, as well as the one shown in the article above. We'll offer more details as they come! Be sure to check out our review of Mutant Mudds if you haven't already! Also be sure to swing by Renegade Kid's official site. Are you excited for Mutant Mudds Super Challenge? Be sure to let us know!
  7. Jonathan Higgins

    Review: Rex Rocket

    Developer: Castle Pixel Publisher: Castle Pixel Platform: PC (Steam) Release Date: August 5, 2014 ESRB: E for Everyone Official Website I first played Rex Rocket while attending PAX East 2014 earlier this year. The presentation is what initially drew me in, but the familiar, yet innovative gameplay is why I eagerly anticipated the game“s release. I knew what was coming when I booted up the game, but even still—Rex Rocket has managed to exceed my expectations. If you have fond memories of classic action games like Mega Man II or Super Metroid, I hope I have your attention. In Earth“s distant future, the player takes control of Captain Rexford or Rexanna Rocket, a former war hero who now makes ends meet by transporting scientists throughout the universe aboard the massive S.S. Montana. The game begins as the crew gets ready for another routine mission that happens to involve dangerous cargo—Terra-Oozlings. These mean, green creatures are capable of possession and all sorts of other nasty things. And while the crew is in cryo-sleep, the dangerous cargo breaks free. The scientists, soldiers and major characters you meet at the game“s beginning are nowhere to be found when Rex wakes up. And when it comes to the ship“s AI, L.A.U.R.E.N., Rex is given the advice to...well...run away. Of course, the point of Rex Rocket isn't really to run away...it“s to gun down almost everything that moves, especially if it“s green and slimy. The player must find and rescue the ship“s crew, stop that pesky AI, and take back control of the S.S. Montana. Since it“s an action game inspired by the classics, folks may think the “back of the box plot” is all there is in terms of story. I“m happy to report that there“s more than meets the eye. First and foremost, the game is very humorous. Random NPCs will make quips about “space burgers in paradise” or use a line or two from Star Trek. Main characters will get themselves out of harm“s way thanks to the versatile nature of a paper-clip. The script oftentimes left me with a smile on my face. It“s always nice to see a game that“s not afraid to have a sense of humor. Those looking for more complex back-stories and plot-points: Rex Rocket has 90 Info Nodes scattered throughout the ship that detail everything from the stories surrounding major characters, to explaining various weapons and monsters, to even Rex“s pet fish! The game“s presentation is overall very impressive. The Lego-like charm to each human character is certainly endearing, and the designers give equal attention to detail when it comes to each robot, monster or boss character as well. Part of what will make Rex Rocket stand out from its contemporaries are the things that populate the game. Classics like Mega Man became memorable because of things like character and enemy design, as well as world-building. Despite having a much smaller team behind it, Rex Rocket“s world has the potential (thanks to its humor and design) to be as memorable as any of the classics. And all the while, as you take in everything on the S.S. Montana, a phenomenal soundtrack always sets the mood appropriately. Saskrotch, the game's composer, has put together over thirty unique chiptune arrangements that channel the talents of Manami Matsumae, with an edgier tempo at times. What "edge" sets the arrangements apart from Matsumae, or even modern chiptune aficionados? Rex Rocket“s Infinite Ammo song is officially titled “MEET ME SOME-F*#%@N“-WHERE”. The game“s composer seems just as in-tune with the game as the developers. Did I mention the game was “Mega Man hard”? Castle Pixel wasn't just inspired by Mega Man II; they probably mastered it. And they“ve taken every bit of player-grooming, sometimes-maddeningly-difficult level or boss design from the past...and brought it to the modern age. There were times where I cursed like a sailor. There were times where I got almost to the end of a platforming section that made me scoot to the edge of my chair, only to fall into a slime pit to my death when my right thumb slipped off my Game Pad because it was already sweating so much from all the circus tricks I“d pulled to get to that point. I probably have neighbors who can confirm the loud scream that came from my apartment way too early in the morning when I finally smashed the Commando-Bot boss once and for all. Rex Rocket isn't afraid to take up the gauntlet that Capcom dropped when they stopped making Mega Man games for a while. This game is everything that made “old school” work—fundamentally and philosophically. The game is so hard that your “Mega Man” skills will improve as a whole by the time your journey is over. Rex starts out pretty fragile, and with minimal jumping skills. But as you defeat bosses, you“re rewarded in ways that increase your flexibility and reach (as well as your overall firepower). Health and ammo extensions can be found throughout the ship, and are often cleverly hidden. The level design moves at a steady pace right alongside you, often accounting for the various upgrades you receive. Did you find the jet-pack? The next section of the ship you explore is going to feature platforming that requires the use of double-jumping. Heck, the entire rest of the game is going to account for your new sense of reach. Indeed, there is a heavy sense of exploration at the heart of Rex Rocket. The game functions like an early Mega Man title, but instead of boxed-in levels with a Robot Master at the end, the S.S. Montana is an open space to explore, with many areas open right from the start. Each major portion of the ship is fundamentally its own level. But...there are so many side areas. Finding the more powerful weapons are going to keep Achievement Hunters occupied for quite a while, offering extended replay value. I certainly did run into a handful of problems with the game. First and foremost: the player will probably use the standard pistol issued at the beginning of the game the most. There are many weapons in Rex Rocket, but until you get the grenades towards the game“s half-way point, most of these weapons seem ancillary at best. They pack an extra punch when it comes to boss fights, but they rarely felt useful otherwise. Some of the super-hard-to-obtain weapons include a BOOMerang (that goes through walls) and an actual Grenade Launcher...but why couldn't all the game“s weapons be as unique as those, instead of a simple spread-gun or a more rapid-firing pistol? I rarely used my “Ammo” meter outside of boss fights, which is truly unfortunate. Also: Rex Rocket uses a Lives system, and that is its biggest flaw, in my opinion. The S.S. Montana features fairly-placed Restoration Points—spots you“re kicked back to when you die (and you will die a lot if you start out as unskilled as I was). I never had any qualms with where the Restoration Points were while playing through the game. It“s where the Hyper Tubes are that I took major issue with. When you run out of lives, you get a Game Over and are sent back to the starting point of the ship, near the cryotubes where you woke up. You reach the middle and later portions of the ship by way of these Hyper Tubes. I encountered only eight throughout my journey, which meant having to retrace my steps during some of the most difficult portions of the game. Imagine having to go through one or two Robot Masters“ levels again in Mega Man II every time you got a Game Over. The length between Hyper Tubes was never truly obscene, but being kicked back to the beginning (over and over again, at times) got vexing at times. I think “lives” should have been abolished in favor of something else—much like the recent Shovel Knight and other contemporaries managed to do. It certainly wouldn't make the game any less difficult; it would just remove the hindrance of needing to retrace your steps. Despite those flaws, at the end of the day Rex Rocket offered some of the most fun I“ve had in the genre after my 10-15 hour journey was complete. Castle Pixel has created a truly unique experience that feels as though they“ve married Super Metroid and Mega Man, and raised the slimy Lego-like cross-bred product to the modern age. Pros: + The perfect combination of your favorite action games + Outstanding soundtrack, charming graphics/presentation + Plenty of things to collect, and added replay value Cons: - Weapons, while plentiful, don't offer enough variety - The "Lives" system feels unnecessary (or at least unfair) at times. Overall Score: 8 (out of 10) Great Rex Rocket isn't just a game inspired by the classics--it has the potential to become a classic itself, with little holding it back. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using a Steam Key provided by the publisher.
  8. So the newest generation of home console gaming has finally finished arriving, and while the previous generation of home consoles is still on its way out, now“s a good time for us to look back at all the good it brought to our expensive hobby. All generations have their perks, and the generation in question is certainly no exception (try saying that five times fast). We had some pretty awesome technical improvements over the generation prior, whether in the form of experimental controls or a stronger focus on that thing we call “teh internetz,†and we even had some lesser-known developers rise to the challenge and provide us with some rather stellar works of art. And if I were to sit down and create a list of my top 5 favorite achievements from last generation… well, it might (and does) look something like this: #5 Motion Controls (When Done Well) Love it or hate it, motion controls happened. And while plenty of games made it look more like a gimmick and less like something that could actually enhance gameplay in any possible way, there were also games that managed to pull it off beautifully. An easy example would be first-person shooters. Well, some of them. And then there was the Wii port of the critically acclaimed survival horror title Resident Evil 4, which is what I would consider the definitive version of the game. With something as simple as pointing the controller at the screen to aim your guns, even before the days of Wii Motion Plus and PlayStation Move (sorry Kinect), it just worked. But shooters aren“t the only games that pulled off motion controls without ruining everything. Maybe it took a while to see anything truly awe-inspiring, but we were eventually introduced to Wii Motion Plus and PlayStation Move, which finally gave us the ability to swing swords ”n“ such more realistically. This, of course, allowed games like The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword to have the fluid controls they had. …Oh, don“t look at me like that! Those controls worked flawlessly for me, so you can be quiet! Look, the point is that motion controls aren“t all bad. Plenty of games pulled it off very well, which is why I have it on this list. #4 Advancement in Online Multiplayer Ah, I remember the days… sitting around my house playing Mario Party with my brothers as we called each other cheaters when someone else won a minigame… good times. But while playing with multiple people on the same console is loads of fun and all, it“s also very restricting since, well, everyone has to be in the same physical area at the same time to engage in multiplayer. All that changed, however, when some company created an attachment for the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo known as XBAND, and then later when Sega created their NetLink attachment for the Sega Saturn, and then even later when Sega included a built-in modem for the Dreamcast. The PlayStation 2 and Xbox also had online functionality, and there was a modem attachment for the GameCube, though online multiplayer didn“t really take off until the following generation. I“m talking consoles, mind you, so don“t give me that “PC master race†nonsense. And boy, did it take off. Last generation, online multiplayer became so huge that as we“re making the 8th generation transition, always-online DRM is now a problem amongst gamers. If you followed the PS4“s and Xbox One“s earlier announcements, you know what I mean. Of course, when it“s something simple, allowing us all to connect to each other over the net and playing together (with some profanity involved here and there), it“s an amazing thing. And of course it is. Otherwise it wouldn“t be on this list. #3 YouTube With all the YouTube we all watch (don“t kid yourself, you watch it), it“s hard to believe that it didn“t exist prior to February 14th, 2005. Wait, it was founded on Valentine“s Day? Huh… anyway, with its inception, YouTube opened up a new world of possibilities for gamers. Egoraptor, JonTron, PewDiePie… The YouTube gamer celebrities you might know and love were far from where they are today back before the 7th generation began. Did you know that, out of the top 100 YouTube channels, 16 of them are gaming channels? That“s a lot when you eliminate all the VEVO channels and channels that belong to things like NBA, Red Bull, and even YouTube themselves. Hell, PewDiePie alone sits comfortably at #1. Did you get that? The #1 channel on YouTube is currently a gaming channel. Yeah, you can see where I“m coming from. So whenever you watch the newest episode of JonTron, rewatch PokéAwesome for the hundredth time, or watch PewDiePie exaggerate his fear scream at another horror game, remember: none of this was around until the last generation of home consoles arrived. And so on the list you go, YouTube! Even if you are a little out-of-place compared to the others. #2 PlayStation 3 (A Little Later in Its Life) Fanboy or not, there are countless gamers around the world who will tell you about how much they love their PlayStation 3. The games are awesome, the online service is fantastic, its Blu-ray feature is incredibly convenient; there“s a lot of good to be said about Sony“s third home console. Of course, it took some time to get to the level of success it“s at today, but once it finally hit its stride, it became one of the greatest things ever for gamers. Before I get to the good, let“s take a brief look back at how this phoenix handled its earlier life before rising from its ashes. Do you remember? The PS3 was once an overpriced machine with next to nothing to play on it, and it didn“t sell very well at all. In fact, the internet had its fair share of memes dedicated to the console“s lack of games. Needless to say, the magic of the PS2 pretty much vanished once its predecessor was released. Of course, this phoenix indeed rose from all that and Sony found its spark once again. Sure, it never reached PS2 levels of success, but now it has some of the greatest games of the generation, many of which are available via PSN, which is another one of the PS3“s perks. As much as I love Nintendo and tolerate Microsoft, Sony definitely made me happy last generation, which is a valid enough reason to add their creation to this thing you“re reading. #1 The Rise of Indie Games And now we reach the top dog in all this. I thought long and hard about my favorite thing of last generation and, in the end, I couldn“t help but feel that indie games deserved it. We“ve had plenty of indies in the past, but it wasn“t until the 7th generation of home consoles that we were able to play them on the big screen. At least not like we do today. Thanks to the likes of Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA), PlayStation Network (PSN), and WiiWare (no abbreviation), our home consoles received so many fantastic independent games that I just can“t help but consider last generation the “Rise of Indie Games.†Seriously, have you played any of these indies? Last-gen gave us Journey, Flower, Bastion, Limbo, Braid, Fez, Mark of the Ninja, Spelunky, World of Goo, and so many other great games that were great without being from a triple-A developer/publisher. Many even considered Journey to be their game of the year in 2012. It“s pretty apparent by now that we have tons of extremely talented game developers out in the world who aren“t as well-known as Nintendo, Capcom, Konami, or Square Enix. And you know what? I couldn“t be happier that all this talent are making names for themselves. They deserve success, and it“s great to see that gaming has gotten to the point where creative minds can find success without as many restrictions as we“ve had in the past. And having sites like Kickstarter and Indigogo definitely helps. Indie games deserve my #1 slot of the best things of last generation, hands down. Let“s hope the current generation provides us with even more indie quality. Do you agree with this list? Feel free to let me know in the comments below.
  9. If you don't already know, Waiting for the Greenlight is a new series that focuses on games currently attempting to enter Steam by way of its Greenlight service. Similar to impressions, I give my overall thoughts on a game, and end with a simple rating (Green = Good to go, Yellow = Needs some work, Red = Too far gone to salvage). I hope you enjoy, and if you have any suggestions or games you want me to check out, don't hesitate to mention them! If you happened to watch the trailer for indie puzzle game Overlight and are now sitting back scratching your head what exactly this game is all about, you are not alone. Going in I really had no clue what the actual gameplay was like, but thankfully things turned out to be much easier to understand than I expected. Your goal is simple: two lasers shoot across the screen from opposite sides, and it's up to you to cause them to cross paths (don't worry Egon, everything will be fine). To do this you need to form paths by guiding to laser through Tetris inspired blocks, which act similarly to mirrors forcing the laser to change paths. When the two collide, the blocks disappear and you earn points. Rinse and repeat and you've got the gist of how to play (and you're still a little confused the in game tutorial does a much better job explaining everything). As of its current build you only have two modes to choose from: arcade and time attack. Arcade as you might expect, asks you to gain points to advance through a series of levels. The problem here is twofold: first, all of the levels feel rather similar to each other. I didn't notice much of any difference in either difficulty or overall block design in the six that I played (there are ten total). Second, I had very little motivation to keep playing due to the fact that there doesn't appear to be any way to lose. You might get stuck for a bit on a stage because you can't earn points quite as fast as you lose them for clearing blocks, but otherwise you can go on more or less indefinitely. For me, I like my puzzle games quick and simple to jump in and out of, and Overlight doesn't allow me to do that. It took almost half an hour just to complete the first six levels, and by that point I was rather sick of the playing. Having an option to save and quit is greatly needed, as I don't expect many will have the patience to actually play for such long periods of time. Luckily, Time Attack fairs much better. It's a no frills 5-minute dash to get as many points as you can, and much more inline with what I was hoping for. Still, the absence of a countdown timer or even a warning sound is a bit annoying and it also makes the ending of the round feel abrupt, taking away from that last minute adrenalin rush puzzle games so easily induce. Simple things such as this are ultimately the only real problems I have with the game. Additional modes are currently in the works as well, so it's good to see the developer is devoted to updating and improving the game. It's also worth noting that what I played is an alpha build, so likely many of the rough edges will be sanded down by the time the full release comes around. One area that needs very little work though is the presentation. The graphics are extremely bright and colorful, and it wouldn't be unfair to label it an epileptic nightmare. They look gorgeous, and animations are extremely smooth, and everything looks surprisingly polished for a Unity game. Complementing the graphics is an upbeat electronica soundtrack which perfectly matches the look and feel of the game. Sound effects are used surprisingly well to enhance the gameplay, getting louder and more intense the bigger the combo you get and adding a lot to the overall experience. All together it looks and sounds good enough to easily stand alongside its contemporaries in the genre, and is a huge plus to counter the negatives previously mentioned. In the end Overlight definitely has potential. The basic mechanics are solid, the presentation is fantastic, and there is ample room for it to grow, but right now it still needs some work. Neither of the two modes offer much reason to go back, and it didn't take long for the lack of a possibility for failure to cause me to burn out. I'm very eager to see what happens in future updates, and really hope the developer can manage to fix these issues, but taken for what it currently is I'm not sure it's worth your time. The Light is: Yellow The basic foundation is solid, but either a lack of polish, bugs, and/or compelling gameplay hold it back from being truly great. Needs a little more time in the oven before getting on Steam.
  10. Happy Independence Day, my fellow gamericans! Yes, that“s what I“m calling you guys today. DEAL WITH IT! So yeah, the day of independence has arrived, and what better way to celebrate than by giving independent developers some love? It“s an unfortunate truth that most indie games fly under people“s hypothetical radars, giving some truly magnificent games less exposure than they deserve. So in the spirit of Independence Day, let“s all watch the fireworks as I list 20 upcoming indie games you should have on your radar. A Hat in Time - Q1 2014 - http://youtu.be/uPnyZ5txtmE Developer: Gears for Breakfast Platform(s): PC, Mac, possibly Wii U Back in the N64 days, when Mario and Donkey Kong were making their transition into the 3D realm and a certain bear and bird came onto the scene, some kind of magic happened to the gaming world. But these days, 3D platformers have become pretty scarce. That“s what indie dev Gears for Breakfast thinks, anyway. As an answer to this shortage, A Hat in Time was born, taking deep inspiration from games like Super Mario 64, Donkey Kong 64, and Banjo-Kazooie. There, now you have no reason not to keep an eye on it. Among the Sleep - Q4 2013 - Developer: Krillbite Studio Platform(s): PC, Mac, Linux Have you ever wanted to play a game starring a baby? Oh, you have? Well, to each their own, I suppose… Anyway, in indie horror game Among the Sleep, the concept of an infant being the protagonist actually seems to work really well. Not only does the game involve reality colliding with the child“s limitless imagination, but… well, you“re a baby. Try fighting off whatever lurks in the night in that state. Yeah, it“ll be pretty terrifying for sure. Dead State - December 3 2013 - Developer: DoubleBear Productions Platform(s): PC There are plenty of zombie games creeping about, but never have I seen one quite like this. Rather than the run-”n-gun type of gameplay we tend to see a lot of in games revolving around a zombie outbreak, Dead State seems to take a more tactical approach. Tasked with maintaining a school sheltering survivors, you will find yourself developing relationships and gathering supplies, all while fighting off zombie hordes in a turn-based battle system. Not sure about you guys, but that concept sure piqued my interest. Owlboy - TBA - Developer: D-pad Studios Platform(s): PC, XBLA If this game is already on your radar, I wouldn“t be surprised. Owlboy has been in development for a pretty damn while, and could be delayed even further for all we know. But hey, the game looks well worth the wait, so we“ll just have to deal. Looking like the product of the SNES and Sega Genesis after a crazy night in Vegas, this 16-bit beauty seems to be shaping up really well. Let“s just hope we don“t have to wait much longer to experience the thing… Project Zomboid - TBA - http://youtu.be/WtEZArEji4U Developer: The Indie Stone Platform(s): PC, Mac, Linux Much like Dead State, Project Zomboid is (obviously) a game about surviving a zombie outbreak. I know, we can only get so many of those, right? This one interested me, though, so I threw it onto my radar. It“s basically an open-world, retro-style RPG of sorts where you try to survive for as long as possible in a place that was quarantined by the government with uninfected humans still in there. Man, what a bunch of jerks… Super T.I.M.E. Force - 2013 - Developer: Capybara Games Platform(s): XBLA I“ve heard some amazing things about this game from people who managed to try it out, and from what I see, it looks like it“ll be about as good as they say. Once again fitting the retro category that many indies go for, Super T.I.M.E. Force is a side-scrolling shooter that involves time-manipulation. Oh, you say that was obvious? Fine, slap the game on your radar and move on then! The Iconoclasts - TBA - Developer: Konjak Platform(s): PC You know, there are times when I feel like I“m reliving the 90s all over again. Not that I“m complaining, of course. I personally love that we see all these indie games going with a retro look. Speaking of which, The Iconoclasts looks simply stunning. It looks a bit like a cross between… well, a lot of games. *sigh* Alright, nostalgia, you win. I“ll go play the demo for this game… The Magical Realms of Tír na nÓg: Escape from Necron 7 – Revenge of Cuchulainn: The Official Game of the Movie – Chapter 2 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa - Late 2013 or early 2014 - (Click image for video) Developer: Tales of Game's Studios Platform(s): PC, Mac Remember that game, Barkley Shut Up and Jam!? Well how about the JRPG sequel to it and Space Jam known as Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden? Okay, so it was just a fangame, but still. And that very fangame is now getting a sequel of its own! Yeah, I wasn“t expecting it either. Nonetheless, it actually looks kind of interesting. Sure the title is ridiculous, but you should never judge a book by its title. You should judge it by its plot. And who doesn“t find a game involving a “powerful youngster†awakening from a “B-ball induced coma†to go on a quest to find a “cyberdwarf†interesting? The Witness - Early 2014 - Developer: Number None, Inc. Platform(s): PC, iOS, PS4 (timed console exclusive) Anyone who saw the official reveal of the PS4 (probably most of you) likely remember seeing Braid creator Jonathan Blow show off his latest project – The Witness. If you“ve played Braid, I might not even have to go on in order to persuade you. For the rest of you, it“s essentially a puzzle game with tons of exploration, set on a gorgeous island with a lot of pretty colors. I think I had a dream like this once… Starbound - TBA 2013 - Developer: Chucklefish Games Platform(s): PC, Mac, Linux, Ouya Upon looking up upcoming indie games in order to put this list together, I came across a game that Indie Game Magazine gave the award for “Most Anticipated Game of 2013.†It“s called Starbound, and I naturally felt the urge to find out more. As far as I can see, I can only predict countless hours being sacrificed for this game. With so many things that interest me, from the retro look to the ability to build things with amazing customization, I will be watching for this one. Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs - Summer 2013 - Developer: Thechineseroom Platform(s): PC, Mac, Linux If you“ve played Amnesia: The Dark Descent, you know fear. So naturally, you crave more of the stuff, right? Then you“ll be happy and/or frightened to throw its sequel – Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs – onto your radar. All you really need to know about this game is that you“ll probably want keep a spare pair of pants nearby at all times. Trust me on this. else { Heart.break() } - TBA 2014 - Developer: Erik Svedang Platform(s): PC No, I am not trying to code my way into breaking everyone“s hearts. But as the name may or may not imply, the game itself is indeed all about coding things. In fact, you will actually be coding things yourself in order to solve puzzles! So if you plan on playing else { Heart.break() } whenever it sees a release, prepare to put your brain to work. Don“t get too excited, though, as I highly doubt you“ll be able to code an entire game after your playthrough… Stardew Valley - TBA - Developer: ConcernedApe Platform(s): PC, XBLA Anyone who loves Harvest Moon will probably love this game. Anyone who loves insane amounts of customization will probably love this game. Anyone who loves 16-bit graphics will probably love this game. The point is, Stardew Valley has a lot to love, as far as I can tell. Similar to the Rune Factory games, you can devote your time to farming while also duking it out with monsters in nearby dungeons. It“s almost like if Rune Factory came out in the SNES era. That idea alone has me sold. Transistor - TBA 2014 - http://youtu.be/Ni02F7l4lAg Developer: Supergiant Games Platform(s): PC, PS4, possibly others in the future The first time I heard about this game was during the explosive Sony conference at E3 2013. I was impressed enough just by watching the video they presented, but after knowing that the guys who made it also made Bastion, I didn“t hesitate to throw it on my radar. The game looks pretty damn good. I don“t know much about this game, but let“s be honest, I really don“t need to. Shovel Knight - September 2013 - http://youtu.be/tMAelGIXfCw Developer: Yacht Club Platform(s): PC, Mac, Linux, Wii U, 3DS Swords are for chumps. All a knight really needs to combat enemies is a nice, sturdy shovel. Have you ever been whacked with a shovel before? It hurts! But more importantly, this game looks like a bag full of awesome. Continuing the retro theme the indie scene seems to favor, Shovel Knight looks a lot like a cross between Mega Man and DuckTales. Need I say more? Well, it has an 8-bit soundtrack. There, now put it on your radar. Two Brothers - Q3 2013 - http://youtu.be/8egDoNHtmhE Developer: AckkStudios Platform(s): PC, Mac, Linux, Wii U, PSN, XBLA The final game on our independent list is really, really retro-inspired. Two Brothers was basically built as a nostalgia game. No, that“s what they themselves call it. Created in the style of Game Boy games, just looking at this game makes me glad I“m able to play Game Boy games on my 3DS. Nostalgia is a powerful thing, man. Anywho, this game looks like it“ll be a lot of nostalgia-filled retro fun when it“s released, and I for one can“t wait… What indie games are you looking forward to that weren't on this list?