Indie game news, reviews, previews and everything else concerning indie game development.

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Frobot Gets an Official Release Date

Frobot-Logo1It’ll be time to get funky this holiday season, because the disco-stylings of Frobot will be hitting the WiiWare channel on December 20th.

We’ve covered the game several times (Early Preview, GDC 2010, PAX 2010) and have been waiting for it to come out forever. When it hits the service in two weeks, it’ll be at the price point of 1000 Wii Points. A free demo will be available that same day.

The game is inspired by the original Zelda, which you’ll see from the inspired level design (room to room dungeons). We’ll do a full review as soon as the game is available.

Check out the latest trailer:


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Fancy Yourself an Artist? Win Some Retro City Rampage Loot!

RCR NESIf you have any artistic inklings in those hands of yours, then you may want to take a few minutes and enter a Fan Art contest that Retro City Rampage is holding.

All you’ll need to do is “Draw a Retro City Rampage scene with a the PLAYER carjacking a flaming DLX-88 sportscar with his sweet light gun!”

Contest winners will receive a signed copy of a Retro City Rampage NES Cartridge. All entries must be submitted by December 6th and winners will be announced on the 13th.

For me, with the artistic talents of a drunken three year old, I’ll pass. But you have a real shot at this.

Check out the official page for the full contest rules and regulations.


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Cave Story DSiWare Released Today

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Heads up for all of you who own a DSi (not DS Lite) Cave Story has been released for the system. While I can’t vouch for how good it is, if it’s anything like the WiiWare version this is certainly a title you’ll be interested in checking out. Also… it’s Cave Story. Come on.

The game should be available right now (or very soon) for 1000 DSi points or $10, if my Nintendo points to USD conversion is accurate.

[Nicalis]

Trailer


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Top 10 Break Out Indie Games of 2011

Monaco 6

Check out our Top 10 Break Out Indie Games of 2012!

This is easily one of my favorite posts of the year. In fact, since about June I’ve been looking forward to crafting this piece. Last year I came up with a similar list of games and, while they weren’t all correct, I’d say I nailed at least 4 and a half of them:

  • Super Meat Boy
  • Joe Danger
  • Max and the Magic Marker
  • Shank
  • Puzzle Bots (the half point for being in PAX 10)

Not too bad of a percentage, if I do say so myself.

So, while you may be pondering what indie games are even being released next year, allow me to thrill you with my predictions for 2011′s break out indie games.

(Alphabetically)

Bastion

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I’m sure, as you’ve probably surmised by now, that I’m absolutely in love with Bastion in both gameplay and artwork. Just check out my glowing preview from this past year’s PAX 2010 to get a good indication of my thoughts on the game.

Still, despite my personal opinion, it also makes sense that the mainstream media and consumer would be interested in the game. It’s very polished, offers a unique storytelling mechanic, and is overall an easy sell for people on both the Xbox 360 and Playstation Network. In fact, I’d be surprised if Bastion wasn’t picked up as an exclusive for one of the two consoles.

[Super Giant Games, Trailer]

Faraway

Faraway001

Faraway was a game that I wasn’t able to play until this past year’s IndieCade and remains the only mobile game on this list. While I’ve no doubt there will be many popular indie mobile games next year, I believe Faraway stands out above everything else I’ve seen thus far in it’s unique, almost ambient, styled gameplay.

Oh and for those who took that as “yet another art game” I assure you that Faraway tries to do nothing than offer itself as a fun, addictive mobile game, of which I believe will absolutely capture the minds of attention of mobile gamers everywhere.

[Steph Thirion, Video]

Fez

Fez001

Is anybody really surprised Fez is on this list? Fez is a game that was originally promised in 2010, but, unfortunately was pushed back to 2011. No matter though, the game has long been awaited by mainstream press and consumers alike.

The game itself features a unique puzzle platforming type gameplay that has you shifting the world around in order to move Fez in and around obstacles. It’s certainly a unique angle to take on a game and one that seems to resonate with all kinds of gamers.

[Polytron Corporation, Trailer]

Monaco

Monaco 4

Monaco. There’s so much to say about this game and only a couple of paragraphs to say it in. Coming out of nowhere at the 2010 IGF to win the grand prize was certainly a good start to what has been an amazing year for the game and its owner.

Today, Monaco is constantly reported on the mainstream press and maintains a stronghold on the consumers’ eye for 2011. Now if we could only figure out what platform the game is due to come out on we’d be set. Look for Monaco to be one of the premiere indie games next year.

[Pocketwatch Games, Trailer]

Retro City Rampage

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Okay, so Retro City Rampage is still “planned” for a release in 2010. I can see the official reports that were listed a couple months ago. However, I have it on good authority that this game may be slipping to early 2011.

Regardless of when it actually ships, though, Retro City Rampage will be the must-own WiiWare release of the year. There’s not many of them each year, but I can guarantee you that this will be one of them. It has enough open world action, combined with classic video game satire/humor to make any old school gamer sit up and take notice.

[Vblank Entertainment, Trailer]

Slam Bolt Scrappers

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Born out of MIT’s Gambit game lab, Slam Bolt Scrappers maintains its place as one of the most interesting PSN games of 2011. When the game isn’t trying to be a Tetris-like puzzle game, it’s trying to be an action game. It’s absolutely insane. The best part is that the game seems to mesh the two genres so perfectly. It’s chaotic, yes, but fun as hell.

Of course, obviously the game has a lot going for it and because of that the mainstream and common gamer has seemed to take notice. When it ships in early 2011 this could be the PSN game everybody compares themselves too.

[Fire Hose Games, Trailer]

Spelunky (Xbox 360)

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Who wouldn’t have guessed this game would make the list? While it’s not necessarily an original game, Derek Yu is updating the graphics and adding enough new features to it so that it will certainly feel like a fresh new game.

Of course, that’s not to say it wouldn’t sell were the game not being revamped so much. Spelunky is arguably one of the most popular PC indie games, up there with the likes of legends Cave Story and Knytt. When this game hits XBLA next year, expect it to make waves.

[Spelunky World]

Spy Party

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I’ll be honest. I don’t know a terribly large amount about this game. I wasn’t able to play it at PAX and I, unfortuantely, have not been able to talk to Chris (the developer) about it. What I do know, however is that the game constantly had an incredibly large crowd surrounding the Chris’ PAX booth at all times. If that’s not indicative of success I don’t know what is.

But aside from all that, the game does have a fairly unique premise in its spy/assassin party premise. The one thing I could see holding this game back is a niche release on PC. We’ll have to wait and see what kind of distributing support the game gets in 2011.

[Spy Party]

Tales from Space: About a Blob

AboutaBlob002

Fresh from new developer Drinkbox Studios, About a Blob is destined to be the other exclusive PSN game that has people talking. From the onset the game immediately feels like a sort of 2D Katamari, but with oodles of charm and a character who you’ll immediately fall in love with.

Recently picked up by Sony’s indie funding initiative, expect a decent amount of marketing to be used on this game, not to say the press isn’t already aware because we most certainly are.

[Drinkbox Studios, Trailer]

The Witness

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Two words: Jonathan Blow. The second game from the legendary creator of Braid – arguably one of the greatest indie games ever created — The Witness immediately has a different feel to it. That’s not to say it won’t be as good however. If we know anything about Jonathan Blow it’s that he knows how to create an interesting game premise.

Of course, being that the game is being created by none of than the same guy who created Braid, you can bet the mainstream media won’t let this one go without showering it with tons of press.

[The Witness]

And that’s it! Those are my picks for 2011′s break out indie games. Note that I’m not necessarily saying they will be the best or most fun. I have no way to indicate if these games will actually be any good upon release. However, given their status right now I’m feeling pretty good about my predictions.

Did I leave one off? Do you have another game you think will do better? Let me know in the comments!


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New Round of WiiWare Demos Coming… for a limited time

BitTripFate01_copy

There are many reasons why we here at DIY HQ don’t necessarily believe that the WiiWare is the best place for an indie developer to launch the game of his/her dreams. It has nothing to do with the popularity of the system, or the fact that the Wii tends to market itself to a younger audience. It has everything to do with the way Nintendo handles the channel. Minor things like demos are simply not offered… well at least not in the capacity we’ve come to expect from Microsoft, or even Sony.

Well, the good news is that Nintendo has decided to offer up additional demos for four more games: And Yet It Moves, Jett Rocket, Bit.Trip FATE, and ThruSpace. The bad news is, as with the last time, these demos are only for a limited time… for some reason.

Beginning on November 22nd, these four games will have downloadable free demos available to anybody who wants them. After some odd amount of weeks the demos will be gone. No rhyme or reason to it, but if you’re interested in these games and haven’t bought them yet, now will be your chance to check them out.

In the future, I would hope that Nintendo offers up a more permanent solution to offering demos on more titles for an indefinite period of time. There are already plenty of reasons why a developer should avoid the WiiWare, the lack of stable demos should not be one of them in this day and age.

[WiiWare]


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Indie Links Round-Up: Around the World

Indie_Links

This week’s Indie Links have us looking at an ambitious project along the usual interviews, previews, reviews and such. Have at it.

Indie Games! The Big Video Project (Pixel Prospector)
“Well well… The Big Video Project is finally here! Let’s create something awesome together: Big videos purely made of 6 sec video clips of indie games!”

Cthulhu Saves The World – First Look (IndieNerds)
“These days you don´t often get the chance to play a game in the JRPG style that was so popular on the 16 bit consoles. So when I finally got my hands on the first playtest version of “Cthulhu Saves The World” I had high hopes and expectations. Now after having spent over an hour with Cthulhu I got a pretty good impression of the new title – it’s gorgeous!”

Family Of M.U.L.E. Creator Donates Papers, Games To ICHEG (GameSetWatch)
“The family of noted PC game developer and M.U.L.E. creator Dan/Dani Bunton (1949—1998) has donated a variety of materials documenting the industry pioneer’s life and career to the International Center for the History of Electronic Games (ICHEG) at Rochester, NY’s the Strong National Museum of Play.”

Boldly Going: Artemis’ Thomas Roberston (Rock, Paper, Shotgun)
“Artemis: Spaceship Bridge Simulator – the most Star Trekky game ever made, despite not being a Star Trek game. Following our discovery of this new gaming life and new sensation, I chatted to its creator, Thomas Robertson about why, how, inspirations, future frontiers and South Africans.”

Joystiq Indie Pitch: Kosmo Spin (Joystiq)
“This week we talk with Simon Flesser, half of Simogo, the team behind the adorable Kosmo Spin.”

Review: The Ball (BigDownload)
“Tripwire is rapidly becoming known as a publisher of former mods, and their latest release falls straight in line with that perception. The Ball, a former Unreal Tournament 3 mod that was a finalist in Make Something Unreal, has finally be released on Steam as a stand-alone project. While it’s a fun, visually stunning, and relaxing game, it suffers from a number of problems that keep it from rising above its mod roots. Make no mistake: this is a fantastic indie game that many can enjoy. There’s just a number of issues that keep it from achieving the heights that it aspires to.”


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Indie Links Round-Up: Slow Motion

Skulls_of_Indie_Links

Once again, Indie Links brings us tremendous content and coverage from across the web. We get some indie pitches, interviews, reviews, opinions and of course a little bit of controversy.

The Indie Supper-Singing Spectacular (Alec Meer/Rock, Paper, Shotgun)
“So many wonderful indie games, so little unwonderful time. How is RPS to cover them all? Well, making their devs do the hard work for us is a start. A few days ago, we put out a call on the Twit-witter-wotter: tell us, indie developer man/woman-person, in around 100 words, why we should turn our sentinel gaze upon you. So some did. Here’re the funnest entries received, or at least those that came closest to fulfilling the mandate of “incredigood words.””

Sense of Wonder: Indie-fying Japan (Jeriaska/Gamasutra)
“The Tokyo Game Show’s annual Sense of Wonder Night brings together a selection of independent and experimental games from around the world. In October of 2008, PlayStation Network title PixelJunk Eden by independent developer Q-Games was chosen as a showcase finalist.”

Microsoft: new 360 dash helps indies (Fred Dutton/Eurogamer)
“Microsoft has answered concerns that the recent Xbox 360 dashboard update marginalises Xbox Live Indie Games, insisting the new set-up will work better for independent developers.”

Indie Review: A House in California by Cardboard Computer (Jeff Mattas/Shacknews)
“A House in California is a surreal trip through childhood memories that have been filtered through the opaque lenses of time and nostalgia.”

Opinion: Design Diversions – The Games as Art Debate is Dead, Long Live the Games as Art Debate (Andrew Vanden Bossche/GameSetWatch)
“‘Design Diversions’ is a biweekly new GameSetWatch-exclusive column by Andrew Vanden Bossche. It looks at the unexpected moments when games take us behind the scenes, and the details of how game design engages us.”

Redefining a Genre: Skulls of the Shogun Aims to Add Accessibility; Keep Depth (John Laster/XBLA Fans)
“The following article is based around an email interview conducted by our team with Jake Kazdal, CEO of Haunted Temple Studios. For the uninitiated, Haunted Temple Studios is currently developing Skulls of the Shogun for Xbox Live Arcade for Spring 2011 release.”

Preview: Bitejacker (Mike Rose/IndieGames)
“If you listened to this week’s IndieGames podcast, you’ll have heard us talking about an IGF entry called Bitejacker – a zombie survival shooter based on the indie gaming show Bytejacker. There were barely any details available, and we wanted answers!”

Review: Nimbus (James Murff/Big Download)
“There’s a fine line developers walk when making games with clear, focused objectives. On one side of the line is boredom, where the game is too simple and too repetitive to offer any sort of meaningful gameplay to the player. On the other in confusion, where the simplistic and entertaining core mechanic is lost amidst feature creep as the developer tries to make the game more varied and interesting. Right in the middle is the sweet spot, where a game is fun, easy to learn, and offers a great amount of variety despite its adherence to a singular mechanic. Nimbus is one of these games.”


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Fate Has It In For Me… BIT.TRIP Fate [Review]

BitTripFate001

BIT.TRIP Fate is the next installment of the wonderful BIT.TRIP series of games by Gaijin Games. I don’t recall just when the series began, however, our own Peter Eykemans reviewed BIT.TRIP Runner not too long ago. The reason why I bring that up is because, despite having the same series name, the two games aren’t entirely similar. Each has it’s own “story” and gameplay type. For example, BIT.TRIP Runner was a game about running through various levels, BIT.TRIP Fate however, is something else entirely… a shmup.

So, sit back and relax while you take in the newest BIT.TRIP game and all its glory as you read this review.

Gameplay

BitTripFate002

Commander Video can't deviate from the line.

As mentioned above, BIT.TRIP Fate is a shmup. However, while at first glance it may seem like a fairly standard sidescrolling shmup with Wiimote-pointing controls, the whole genre gets turned on it’s head by a unique “on-rails” sort of gameplay. What I mean by this is that, despite it being a sidescrolling game, you’re stuck to a line that Commander Video can’t deviate from. If the line goes up, you have to go up as well. This method brings about a whole level of strategy to the game that otherwise wouldn’t be there. Suddenly you have to tactically use the line to avoid various enemies and bullets that are coming at you.

Of course, the flip side of this is that, sometimes you’re just screwed. While the method is certainly unique and brings some fun gameplay, it can be frustrating to know that no matter what you’re about the get a face full of bullets and there’s nothing you can do about it. Removing the control from the player is often an aggravating experience.

Now, as with most shmups, BIT.TRIP Fate allows you to upgrade your weapon in order for it to become bigger, badder, and even more “killy.” It’s a simply process: everything you kill in the level will drop an item that you can pick up. No matter where you kill them the item will float down or float up to your line so that you’re able to collect. After attaining a certain amount of them Commander Video will be “upgraded” to various levels termed “Ultra,” “Mega,” “Giga,” and so on in that manner. With each new mega or ultra rating you’re weapon will get bigger and more powerful.

Additionally, and this is quite unique amongst side scrolling shmups, with each new ranking Commander Video will be able to take another hit of damage. of course, getting hit will instantly downgrade you to the next lowest rank. So, for example, if you’re at the “Giga” rank and you take a bullet, you’ll be downgraded to “Extra.” The method works for what it is, but, as I mentioned previously, it can be quite frustrating to lose an entire rank when you get to one of those places where there’s no way you’re dodging a bullet.

One more thing that really bugged me about BIT.TRIP Fate was that the game had no set “check points” within each level. So, while getting through the level was fairly easy enough, figuring out the boss patterns could be quite challenging. Unfortunately, should you die you’ll have to start all over again from the beginning of the level, which is exactly the same as the first time you played it and moves along at a slow pace. After dying a couple times on a boss you’ll definitely have reservations about beginning the process over again.

Finally, yes both Super Meat Boy and Mr. Robotube make an appearance in the game as special weapons that last only a limited amount of time. I won’t spoil what exactly they do, but they come with three other BIT.TRIP robots each of which enhance your weapons for a limited time.

Style

As with other BIT.TRIP Games, BIT.TRIP Fate proves retro still looks good.

As with other BIT.TRIP Games, BIT.TRIP Fate proves retro still looks good.

BIT.TRIP Fate’s artistic style is decidedly retro, as with all the series’ games. It’s colorful, blocky, and overall looks really good. I don’t believe anybody expected anything more or less than that. Gaijin Games proves, once again, that the retro style fits in perfectly with modern consoles such as the Wii.

The music, however, is where BIT.TRIP Fate really shines. With each successive rank the techno music gets better and better. Additionally, whenever you kill something the song works in a little “bing” to add even more flavor to the already great music. Of course, the flip side is that with each successive hit you take the music will get flatter and flatter to the point where, just before you die, you’ll hear no music at all. It’s a nice affect and one that really brings BIT.TRIP Fate to life.

Story

I don’t recall any sort of story line and I honestly don’t know if there is an overarching storyline across all the various games.

Other

The game comes with support for the either the nunchuck attachment or the classic controller attachment. My suggestion? Go with the latter. It makes the entire game far more enjoyable. To expand on that even further however, I recently received a Nyko gun attachment that really made the game all the more enjoyable. So if you have one I strongly suggest playing with that.

Bottomline, BIT.TRIP Fate is another solid entry into the BIT.TRIP series of games by Gaijin Games. If you’re a fan of the series and, more importantly, a fan of shmups then I’d suggest giving this most recent addition a look-through. It has enough content to last for a while, offers a unique take on a tired genre, and is generally more fun than not.

BIT.TRIP Fate is available on the WiiWare channel for the Nintendo Wii for 800 Nintendo points ($8).

[Gaijin Games]


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No Plans for a Super Meat Boy 2

SMBdegrade

I know the first game has just released onto it’s first of three planned platforms, but Edmund is already chatting up about the sequel to their already smash hit game: Super Meat Boy. And when I say “chatting up” I really mean shooting down as he has confirmed that neither he nor Tommy wants to create a sequel to their beloved franchise and possibly tarnish its image.

Here are the reasons given by Edmund:

  • It’s bad to over explain and over develop characters like the ones in super meat boy.
  • We feel like we did it right the 1st time.
  • The book is left open. (They, and PC users can expand without making a sequel)
  • It would mean we are just doing it for money.

Of course Edmund goes a little more in depth with his reasons and I recommend checking them out if only for the fact that you can see that these two guys are stand up developers who are more interested in creating a unique experience than cashing in at every opportunity.

Of course, that said, Super Meat Boy is already kind of a “sequel” to the original Meat Boy flash game. Check and mate Mr. Edmund.

[Team Meat]


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No Super Meat Boy on Wii in November

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Wii owners can count themselves as a casualty of the development process today as it looks like their own version of the spectacularly made Super Meat Boy platformer will make it out in time for the end of November as was originally planned. <insert frowny face here.>

As always you guys can blame Nintendo for this one. As many of you know, for WiiWare titles the game can not exceed 50MBs, probably due to the Wii’s small hard drive and reliance on SD Cards to store games, which would make any excessively large file kind of a pain to use.

Still though, Team Meat has said their goal is to get it to 39 MBs, for whatever reason, and they didn’t count it out of getting a December release so there is a chance you’ll be able to get your “Meat” on before the end of the year.

[Team Meat, Twitter]