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

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Dizzy With Excitement… And Yet It Moves WiiWare [Review]

ayim1I’m going to attempt to talk about platform-puzzler And Yet It Moves without making a single rotation-based joke – you know, the likes of ‘this game spun me right round’ or ‘the concept flipped me on my head’. This will be quite the challenge, as I do love a terrible pun.

When And Yet It Moves was released on PC back in spring 2009, I fell immediately in love. Revolving (ouch, strike one) around rotation of levels, it oozed clever puzzles and charm throughout. A WiiWare version was just released, which offers even better control, and once again I am in love. You should be too, and here’s why.

GAMEPLAY

Over a variety of different environments and obstacles, players control a paper cut-out man who is a rather flimsy individual. Get crushed by falling rocks, drop from a great height or mistime a jump and he’ll explode into a crumpled mess.

He’s got a little trick up his sleeve, however, that’ll leave your head spinning (oops, strike two). Holding down button 1 on your Wii Remote, and the entire world will freeze in place, allowing you to tilt the controller and change which direction is down. Soon walls become floors and previously unpassable obstacles are easily navigated.

Make no mistake, it’s a lovely concept and works so damn well. The original PC edition allowed our guy to spin the world through 90 degrees – however, with the Wii version it’s possible to stop the rotation through the entire 360 degrees, adding so much more depth to the idea. It works flawlessly too, with the pausing mechanic so easy to use.

ayim2For the first 30 minutes or so you’re brought slowly into the idea, but soon the puzzles really come into their own. Momentum before and after each pause is retained – hence, if you were falling quickly before the pause, you’ll continue to hurtle towards the ground afterwards too, and probably end up going splat. Balancing airtime with momentum is the core trick, and it’s highly enjoyable to see certain puzzles in motion.

It’s fascinating to see just how many different ideas developer Broken Rules has managed to come up with off this one seemingly simple concept. The action never feels too repetitive and is consistently challenging from start to finish. There are tons of checkpoints located throughout each level, so it’s not too frustrating when you find a particular tough section.

If I had to suggest one area that needed improvement, it would be the landing angles. While the new 360 degree rotation is great, it can also be rather harsh at times - land on a platform at too great a slope, and you’ll simply slide straight off it and probably to your doom. Sometimes you’ll land on a platform believing the hero will definitely be able to stand on it, only to watch him slip off the edge.

STYLE

And Yet It Moves has such a wonderfully unique look to it. The majority of visuals appear to be made of paper, with crumpled backdrops and surroundings with ripped edges. Even the main character is a cut-out black and white sketch. Certain other objects are given lovely texture that appear quite lifelike – for example, I’m pretty sure the rocks and boulders are in fact textured with images of real stones.

ayim3There are a wide range of different areas to play through, from leafy treetops to underground caverns. The game stays constantly pretty throughout and is easily one of the best looking games on the WiiWare service.

The soundtrack is at times hilarious, but in a good way! Many of the noises you hear are in fact human noises, from the bop-bops to the strange yet awesome death noise. There’s barely any music as such, but it’s interesting stuff none-the-less.

STORY

There doesn’t appear to be a story, although the strange turn the game take around three-quarters of the way through does make you wonder about what exactly is going on. It all gets rather psychedelic… but I won’t spoil that for you.

OTHER

The game last for around 2 1/2 hours, and after that there are achievements to bag, highscore boards to top and speed runs to attempt. The WiiWare version comes with three extra levels over its PC counterpart, all of which follow suit with everything else on offer.

At 1000 Wii points ($10), And Yet It Moves should have a place on your Wii. If you thought it was great the first time around, prepare to fall in love all over again. Flippin’ brilliant (third strike, you’re out).


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Machinarium Announced for WiiWare

Machinarium_WiiWareGreat news everyone, Machinarium is finally coming to consoles. While the game hit a road block trying to land on XBLA and is still in negotiation with PSN, XGen Studios has announced alongside Amanita Design that the ‘about a robot’ title is being prepped for a WiiWare release.

XGen, the team behind the well received WiiWare title Defend Your Castle, will be handling the porting duties of Amanita’s multiple award-winning point-and-click puzzle adventure game. No release date or pricing details were included in the release so we’ll just have to twiddle our thumbs and wait for more info. Ah shucks.

You can check out more on Machinarium on the official site for the game and purchase the title on PC and Mac via Steam. Or stick around and read our interview with Amanita’s Jakub Dvorský if you’d like.

[Press Release]


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Best of DIYGamer: August 30 – September 5

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Welcome back to Best of DIYGamer as we highlight the top content on our site for the week wrapping on September 5. Along with the rest of the usual goodness, our big pile of PAX previews are included below in case you missed any of the coverage and want to catch up. Check out our Mobile Monday and XBLIG Thursday features as well.

Spotlight Games

YouTube as a Point and Click Adventure: Howard Glitch
Getting Out of Work with Means of Escape
Reckless Squad: A Convoy-based RTS
Pirates of New Horizons‘Volcano Island’ Dungeon

Previews

A Great Day for Science! Ray Ardent: Science Ninja
Cause We Got a Great Big Convoy… Reckless Squad
Sticks Where You Want Them: Age of Zombies [PAX]
Afros Have Never Looked Betta… Frobot [PAX]
Bosses versus Blocks: Slam Bolt Scrappers [PAX]
You Little Rascals… Raskulls [PAX]
Creating a World in Bastion [PAX]
96 Pixels of Violence: Retro City Rampage [PAX]
The Shmup as a Backwards Rhythm Game… Retro/Grade [PAX]
Painfully Difficult Simplicity: Shibuya [PAX]
Bursting with Innuendo: Fowl Space [PAX]
Shifting Between Planes in Plane Weaver [PAX]
Buckets of Blood Means Nothing in The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile [PAX]
Erin Robinson and Her Puzzling Bots [PAX]
Runic’s Got Another Hit on Its Hands with Torchlight II [PAX]

Reviews

Fish Squid Time Machine Vs Fish Fish Bang Bang
Say What You See
A Game Based on THAT Hoax… Balloon Boy
Out of the Frying Pan… Radiangames Inferno

Free Games/Downloads

Ghosts Attack, a Decent Story Driven FPS on iOS for Free
Numen: Contest of Heroes Demo Released
Amnesia: The Dark Descent Demo Arrives

News

Frobot Landing on WiiWare Q4
Super Meat Boy Release Date Revealed for XBLA
Din’s Curse Gets Face Lift, Update Released
Comic Jumper Dated, Part of “Game Feast”
Recettear Redux: Steam Version Announced with Pre-Order Discount
IndieCade 2010 Finalists Revealed
Gratuitous Space Battles Expansion Announced


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Pirates of New Horizons Fact Sheet Released, ‘Volcano Island’ Dungeon Revealed

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Exit Strategy Entertainment has passed along a fact sheet for their upcoming platformer Pirates of New Horizons, giving us some updated release target info along with some other new details.

A prototype of the game is currently being finalized and prepped for release, it will serve as a way for the developers to gauge the viability of putting in the time and resources it would take to make a full version of the game. It will be available for free through browsers as well as a download for both PC and Mac. Of course, if you’ve been tracking the title you already knew all this. So let’s get to some of the new stuff.

Now targeted for release in late September/early November, the prototype will put players in control of space pirate Annha after she’s defended herself from a hostile alien attack. Forced to land near a remote island due to a busted-up ship, she’ll have to find a way to repair her vessel as well as solve mysteries around the island in order to collect gold and jewels.

The version of the game will contain three different levels (30-45 minutes of gameplay) and includes usable items like the compass, grappling hook and kharma bombs. Purchasable upgrades and side quests are also teased in the fact sheet.

Exit Strategy has also pulled the curtain back on the “Volcano Island” dungeon for the game, which plays host to lava, aliens and a bottomless pit waiting to swallow anyone who slips up. The team has confirmed that the dungeon will be one of the three different levels included in the nearing prototype version of the game. Check out the new screenshots:

vulcano_island_entrancevulcano_islandvulcano_island1vulcano_island2vulcano_island3vulcano_island4vulcano_island5vulcano_island6vulcano_island7vulcano_island8

If you’re looking for more literature on the game, may we suggest our Pirates of New Horizons interview?

[Pirates of New Horizons]


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Here’s a Couple of Candid Retro City Rampage Videos [PAX]

RetroCityRampage001

Seeing as how we know you guys love video content so much, we were able to take a couple videos on the show floor at PAX showing off a couple of Retro City Rampage’s more unique areas.

The first area is a simple casino/gambling area. This is just a video showing off the slot machine. In addition to this there is also a match the cards type game. It’s nice to see that the developer is putting large amounts of extra content into the game, as playing through just the story can get old.

And then in this second video is an area that’s supposed to be a spoof off the original Zelda game. Brian (the developer) had originally thought nobody had done it, but unfortuantely, upon arriving it had already been completed by one of the other PAX attendees. What’s supposed to happen here is that you’re supposed to be given a sword by this guy in the cave. Kind of a bummer, but it still shows that there is extra stuff to see and explore in this ever expanding 8-bit game.

[Retro City Rampage]


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96 Pixels of Violence: Retro City Rampage [PAX]

RetroCityRampage001Retro City Rampage has been a work of over seven years, though its retro inspirations reach far deeper into the past than that. Brian Provinciano first conceived the idea as way of bringing Grand Theft Auto to the Nintendo Entertainment System with a version he called Grand Theftendo. But as time passed and the idea got bigger and bigger, Retro City Rampage evolved into the chaotic, reference-heavy game it is today.

You play as “Player,” a nameless character who is tasked with various missions around an open world, top-down city. You’re given full range of motion to unleash your chaos, and can even jump on people’s heads and over cars to maneuver. But if you start bringing down pedestrians, the cops are going to be chasing you down in close quarters, and they’re almost relentless. Killing so many people also triggers a “spree” counter that will rate you on the amount of destruction you just wrought upon Retro City. The controls are tight, as you move your car by switching the direction it’s moving and run around in the direction you’re facing. Bullets fly where you need and I didn’t have any trouble staying alive in shoot-outs.

The open part of the city is full of collectibles such as loot bags, cell phones and hidden weapons. This is also where you get your missions and start unique, weapon-specific spree challenges. The city is also full of bars where you can order “Milk” to drink…and get drunk. Or you can change up your hairstyle to one of over thirty different varieties at a barber shop in town, with more to be unlocked along the way. The key to unlocks is finding unique information around the cities. One example Brian provided was for finding The Simpsons phone number hidden in the game world. From there you can unlock the Homer Simpson haircut, decked out on your 8 by 12 pixel main character. All-in it’s a hilarious amount of customization for such a tiny protagonist.

All the store names and billboards around the city are plays on pop-culture of the past thirty years, and gameplay elements all give a wink and a nod to games of yore. There are green masked men that exit from green vans that aren’t officially Mutant Turtles, but truly look like certain Mutant Turtles. You can also hide yourself inside of cardboard boxes and hobble about sneaking past cops and other undesirables a la Metal Gear. For anyone who’s spent more than the last ten years gaming, they’re going to be full of smiles. But the game is fun enough for those who won’t “get” everything to still enjoy themselves.

The game also features a full-mission story mode in which your character partakes in various heinous acts around the city. The one that I played a demo of consisted of partaking in a bank heist, where I had to literally exit the bank holding a bag of cash over my head. A lot of people died along the way, and the cut scenes provided perfectly cheesy story to fuel things forward. The developer aims to have a total of around 40 missions in the final game. Compounded with the spree challenges set about the game world, there is a lot to do in Retro City.

There are mini-games throughout the world too, such as a memory game played with spade cards (Super Mario Bros. 3 anyone?) as well as a spinning match game in which the prizes are instant-death, instant-damage or a shield power-up. I was able to snag a shield power-up without much trouble, but the fact that one of the shield elements was a bomb, I killed myself with my own shield within thirty seconds of winning the mini-game. Geoff snagged a video of this event, so I’m hoping we’ll be able to drop it in right…HERE:

The game is aiming for a December release on WiiWare, with uncertain other platforms snagging the game around the same time. It certainly packs a lot of punch for a game whose protagonist can fit in a ninety-six square pixel box.

[Retro City Rampage]


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Afros Have Never Looked Betta… Frobot [PAX]

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When we initially covered Frobot way back in November of last year, Frobot was a rather simple puzzle-esque Smash TV type game. It was quite simple to explain because it was a relatively simple game. After months of redesigning and a completely remade game, however, Frobot has undergone some serious gameplay changes that not only make the game better, but also longer, meatier, and an experience that is definitely worth paying for.

As I mentioned above, Frobot has been completely remade. This entails many things, but first and foremost is the level structure. When we initially covered Frobot the game’s puzzles were always restricted to a single screen. Meaning you would go into a new screen solve the puzzle and move on. In today’s Frobot, however, the game’s entire level structure has been changed from the single level structure of the past to a multi-roomed dungeon, similar to a Zelda temple. Puzzles can now stretch across multiple rooms and backtracking is something that occurs quite frequently.

Of course, with a new level structure that contains backtracking and multi-roomed puzzles, you’d expect there to be some sort of map system so that you wouldn’t get lost. Unfortunately, there isn’t one. While the developer assured me that the game wouldn’t need one being that each level was primarily only 10-12 screens each, the fact remains that having a map probably would have been a nice asset to those of us that are less directionally inclined.

Despite that, however, the game continues to look incredibly solid as a WiiWare title. A number of new additions have been added which include collectible hairpieces — where attaining them is a puzzle unto itself — which will allow you to upgrade your various Frobot equipment. For example, the once timed bombs can become remote or proximity mines, the dash can be upgraded so that you can destroy enemies via dashing into them, etc. This is a worthy addition to the game that really can bring a whole new level of replayability to to thee game’s original sterile levels.

Of course, as a WiiWare game the title also comes with a death match styled competitive mutliplayer. I was able to test this out with the developer and it’s actually pretty good. The multiplayer version is 4-player co-op and comes with 10 maps and 2 additional items — on top of the single players arsenal — the grenade, and shield. The grenade is actually the more useful of the two in my opinion, as you’ll be able to toss the grenade over walls and other objects in order to hit the other players. This is actually one reason why the grenade is exclusive to the multiplayer version as apparently the AI was having a hard time understanding the concept of throwing a weapon over an object.

Of course, the bad news is that the multiplayer is local only. No online multiplayer will be shipped with the WiiWare copy. Additionally the game is only initially planned for release on to the WiiWare. While there was a PC version in the works initially, it appears to have been pushed aside to ensure the WiiWare version was the primary version. A PC port (Steam, Gamersgate, D2D, etc.) is being planned for a later release should the WiiWare version do well. Additionally, should a PC version get made the developers are continuing to assess whether or not to add online multiplayer.

Frobot is still scheduled for Q4 of this year (they’re shooting for October) onto Nintendo’s WiiWare digital distribution platform. No pricing has yet been announced.

Screenshots



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IndieCade 2010 Finalists Revealed

IndieCade_Finalists

A little over a month ahead of the event, IndieCade 2010 organizers have announced the 32 finalists for the annual festival that fancies itself the Sundance of gaming.

All finalists in this year’s awards are eligible to win each of the 12 categories being presented this year: Jury Award, Aesthetics, Fun/Compelling, Gameplay Innovation, Technical Innovation, World/Story, Vanguard, Sublime Experience, Wildcard, Documentary, Sound, and The IndieCade 2010 Honorary Trailblazer Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Some familiar names and plenty of relative unknowns as well. Titles you’ll probably recognize include Limbo, VVVVVV, Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess and Fatale among others.

IndieCade 2010 takes place October 8-10. The full list of all the 32 games complete with links and descriptions:

11066 – The Game (Preloaded / Channel 4, United Kingdom): A historical game commissioned by Channel 4 (UK) to accompany its two part documentary series on the War of 1066 and the battle for Middle Earth. A simple, fun strategy game that leverages causal gameplay elements and beautiful design while providing its audience with interesting information and knowledge about the War of 1066. 1066 – The Game was created by Preloaded, the developers behind Super Me and other social change game projects.

A Slow Year (Ian Bogost, USA)A Slow Year is a collection of four game “poems” for the Atari Video Computer System, one for each season, about the experience of observation and awareness. A Slow Year stakes out a deep and interesting design problem, searching for engaging and meaningful interactivity outside the traditional reaches of modern gameplay and typical genre design. Ian Bogot is a professor at Georgia Tech, and co-founder of Persuasive Games, creator of Airport Insecurity and a series of news games for the New York Times. Ian is also co-creator of IndieCade featured Cruel2BKind. A Slow Year was featured in the 2010’s Independent Game Festival (IGF) at the Game Developers Conference.

Auditorium (Cipher Prime, USA)Auditorium is an audio puzzle game where you convert light into sound, creating an explosion of orchestral music. Its addictively simple mechanic consists of manipulating icons to deflect light into a target on each level to generate bursts of music. The game has a flexible design, allowing for a range of solutions to each puzzle. Available for PC and Mac, and now iPhone, Auditorium was created by Philadelphia-based Cipher Prime.

B.U.T.T.O.N. (Brutally Unfair Tactics Totally OK Now) (Copenhagen Game Collective, Denmark):B.U.T.T.O.N. is a four-player, one-button party game played with Xbox controllers on the PC. The game has a WarioWare style mechanic consisting of short mini games in which players must stand back and rush the controllers to press the “right” button, although which button that is not always clear! Created by Copenhagen Game Collective, winner of the Most Fun Game at IndieCade 2008, B.U.T.T.O.N. was a hit at Gamma IV and at IndieCade’s E3 Showcase.

Bit.Trip Runner (Gaijin Games, USA): The fourth Bit.Trip game developed by Gaijin Games for WiiWare, Bit.Trip Runner features music from Anamanaguchi driving an energetic and exciting rhythm action platforming game. The game features awesome Boss Battles inside 50 challenging levels, and provides a visually impressive experience and auditory treat. Bit.Trip Runner provides addictive and fun, while exploring interesting interaction and puzzle spaces inside the realm of synaesthesia.

Blue Lacuna (Aaron Reed, USA)Blue Lacuna is among the largest text-based interactive stories ever produced, a full-length novel and adventure game in one. Blue Lacuna is rich with deep, beautiful writing, and a vast story world with emotional depth and meaningful player choice. Blue Lacuna is a triumph in prose-based interactivity from Aaron Reed, the writer and designer of Whom The Telling Changed, and a PhD candidate at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Cargo Delivery (Cat in the Sky, Brazil)Cargo Delivery is a skill-based puzzle game revolving around the adventures of Rufus. To achieve his goal of having a nice sailboat to call home, Rufus must sail a freighter with loads of cargo. The churning seas, which cause cargo to topple overboard, and numerous obstacles along the way, must be overcome for Rufus to earn enough money to realize his dream. The delightfully quirky graphics combine well with the cartoon physics, and make this an adventure worth taking. Created by Santo Andre, Brazil based Cat in the Sky.

Castle Vox (Sillysoft, Canada)Castle Vox is a new turn-based strategy game from SillySoft, developers of Lux and American History Lux. Castle Vox brings the engaging multiplayer social play and strategy of Diplomacy and Axis and Allies to the digital realm of turn based strategy. A fully realized digital board game, Castle Vox takes advantage of the computer medium to ease and finesse many of the mechanics of classic social strategy board games, and wraps them into a well designed, approachable and entertaining package.

Continuity (Ragtime Games, Sweden): A well-designed and mechanically clever mashup of a simple platformer with classic sliding puzzle gameplay. Continuity has a strong aesthetic design, and simple, refined, and well-balanced gameplay. Top notch attention to design details such as audio allow the simple pleasures of the mechanic to be presented at the forefront of the IGF-winning, addictive and entertaining game developed by Elias Holmlid, Dmitri Kurteanu, Guy Lima Jr., and Stefan Mikaelsson, aka Ragtime Games, a student team at Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg.

Creaky Old Memory (DADIU, Denmark)Creaky Old Memory puts players in the role of Tatiana, an elderly Russian lady who must journey through the nooks and crannies of her self-fabricated house in order to reveal the truth about her own past. The game cleverly blends multiple modes of gameplay as you first must collect different paintings to assemble a picture of Tatiana’s life, and then must search these paintings for hidden clues to unlock the deeper mysteries of the story. Created by a team at the National Academy of Digital Interactive Entertainment in Copenhagen,Creaky Old Memories’ deftly designed aesthetics are well integrated into the story and mood of the game, and help bring genuine meaning to the puzzle-based interactivity.

Every Day The Same Dream (Molleindustria, Italy): Made for the experimental gameplay project themed “Art game”, Every Day The Same Dream is an attempt to translate a well known narrative about daily routine and white collar alienation into a playable form. Only by finding subtle deviations from the repetitive, looping levels can the player free the character from a meaningless eternal present. Designed by progressive game design collective Molleindustria, Every Day the Same Dream is a short, intellectually engaging experience that brilliantly captures the feel and tone of modern art film and art games, while cutting these recognizable ideas to their core concepts. This is Molleindustria’s first game to be selected for IndieCade.

Faraway (Steph Thirion, USA): Created by Steph Thirion for the Gamma IV showcase, Faraway is a one-button game where you swing your way through space, finding and connecting star clusters to create the most complex constellations you can. Faraway’s simple but lovely and iconic visual design lets the tightly designed interactions and gameplay take forefront. Steph Thirion is the creator of Eliss, winner of the Auteur Award at IndieCade 2009.

Fatale (Tale of Tales, Belgium)Fatale is an interactive vignette in real-time 3D inspired by the biblical story of Salome and the play about her by Oscar Wilde. Developed by Tale of Tales, the creators of IndieCade 2009 finalist The Path, and 2008 finalist The GraveyardFatale is a living tableau that allows you to freely explore many poetic, historical and literary references to the ancient legend, while bringing it relevance to a contemporary audience.

feelforit (Chris DeLeon, USA)feelforit, developed by “Game-A-Day” virtuoso Chris DeLeon, is a small art toy for iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone that exploits the affordances of the device’s accelerometer to create an abstract, spatialized metaphor for how we navigate our lives. By rotating the phone, you manipulate an interactive sculpture whose characteristic properties and rule sets are revealed to you as you play with it. This is the IndieCade debut of Chris DeLeon, a Carnegie-Mellon grad who is currently a master’s student in Georgia Tech’s Digital Media program.

Fractal (Cipher Prime, USA): Go over the top with this new audio puzzle game. Listen as the game reacts to your decisions, taking easy-to-learn, hard-to-master gameplay to new extremes. Fractalis played on a hex grid, and leverages simple, engaging puzzles to generate beautiful procedural audio. Created by Philadelphia-based Cipher Prime, Fractal is a rewarding and compelling auditory experience.

Gentleman of the South Sandwiche Islands (Taylor & Gray, USA): Created by a team of students in USC’s Interactive Media program, the Gentlemen of the South Sandwiche Islands is a lovingly-crafted board game in which gentlemen callers compete for the attentions of Lady Ashley by strategically crossing bridges to get her alone on of a series of small islands. A comedy of manners translated into a board game, the story, the surreal, Victorian art-style and its questionable 200-year history provide a backdrop for a devilish and highly entertaining game of absurd logic. Funded by Jim Taylor through Kickstarter, Gentleman of the South Sandwiche Islands is a great indie design story.

Groping in the Dark (Team Arex, South Korea)Groping in the Dark is a lyrical interactive narrative that tells the story of a kidnapped girl’s decision and attempt to escape her captors. The player progresses through the narrative by manipulating phrases of Korean text to unravel the story. The kinetic typography creates an almost mystical experience, turning letters into images and images into meanings. With its alternative to traditional visual representation in games, Groping in the Dark transforms a game into interactive poetry. Created by Seoul-based Team Arex.

Humans vs. Zombies (Gnarwhal Studios, USA)Humans vs. Zombies is a moderated game of tag where all but one player begin as humans, wearing bandanas on their arms and able to defend themselves with socks from the zombie horde. The horde is generated by the randomly-selected “Original Zombie,” who can tag human players and turn them into zombies, who wear bandanas on their heads. Humans will need to rely on cunning and teamwork to survive the zombie apocalypse and complete challenging missions organized by the game moderators. Created by Gnarwhal Studios, Humans vs. Zombies is a played in neighborhoods, military bases, and over 600 colleges and universities around the world and was featured at this summer’s Come Out and Play. It is part of IndieCade’s Outdoor and Pervasive Games track.

Limbo (Playdead, Denmark)Limbo is a hauntingly beautiful black and white “horror” platform puzzler, released to widespread acclaim this summer on the Xbox Live Arcade. The game is set among the rooftops of a mesmerizing macabre world that draws you into its dark narrative. The narrative, the story of a young boy trying to find his lost sister, is reinforced by a tightly designed film noir style that also expands the interesting, well implemented 2D platforming puzzle challenges. Created by Denmark’s Playdead, Limbo is a stunning example of the quality and experience that can be created out of careful attention to detail and delicate integration of the many different elements that make up a game.

Miegakure (Marc ten Bosch, USA)Miegakure is a platform game where you solve puzzles by exploring the fourth dimension. An inventive approach to spatial puzzle design and problem solving from Marc ten Bosch, Miegakure creates engaging and maddening puzzles from the mathematics and theory of a fourth spatial dimension. Miegakure was featured at the IGF, and at IndieCade’s E3 showcase, and is a stunning technical and design achievement, which educates and explores fourth dimension mathematical theory without requiring a PhD in math or physics.

Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess! (Mediatonic, United Kingdom)Monsters (Probably) Stole my Princess! is a vertical platformer which you take control of the super sexy aristocratic demon known only as “The Duke” in a fantastical world where chasing down giant yet adorable monsters is the business at hand. The game borrows from classic platformer mechanics, embellished with frantic gameplay, novel power-ups, strategic moves, and delightful macabre-cartoon aesthetic. Created by the UK’s Mediatonic as a PSP and PS3 Mini, the game is also now available on Xbox Live.

Recurse (Matt Parker, USA): An installation commissioned by the NYU Game Center for its “No Quarter” art game exhibition, Recurse has a simple, embodied mechanic: a video camera transforms the player’s body into a giant cursor. Crystals grow where the body intersects with objects on the screen. Players must grow Crystals in green zones while avoiding growing them in red zones. The zones shift intermittently to create new challenges. A digital game about movement in physical space, the Recurse’s distorted “funhouse mirror” encourages players to forget themselves as they twist and stretch their bodies in order to get a high score and effect the game’s abstract world. Created by New York-based artist/developer Matt Parker.

Retro/Grade (24 Caret Games, USA)Retro/Grade is an innovative PS3 game that fuses the white-knuckle thrills and over the top visuals of a shooter with the broad appeal of a rhythm game. The developers at 24 Caret Games have deeply explored their central idea of a time-reversed space battle through tight game mechanics and polished UI and user feedback. Retro/Grade is visually engaging, attractive, and leverages its aesthetic and auditory beauty to craft an addictive and entertaining user experience.

Sixteen Tons (Nathalie Pozzi and Eric Zimmerman, USA)Sixteen Tons, inspired by a folk song about a mining company town, is a gallery installation in which four players move heavy sections of steel pipe on a colorful grid. This simple gameplay is complicated by the social interaction of a mechanic in which players bid to hire other players (using real cash) to move their pieces, enacting the game’s central themes of debt bondage and forced labor. Created by architect Nathalie Pozzi and independent game designer Eric Zimmerman, Sixteen Tons was originally commissioned by the Art History of Games conference in Atlanta (February 2010). Its presentation at IndieCade is sponsored by the NYU Game Center.

Socks, Inc. (Jim Babb/Data Played, USA)Socks, Inc. is a family-oriented alternate reality that combines web 2.0 co-creation and adventure within an imaginary world entirely populated with sock puppets. Dubbed by its creator “World of Sockcraft,” players socialize within an imaginary Willy-Wonka-style factory, role-playing the story of their sock puppet. A player completes missions by creating storytelling content with their puppet and distributing it via video and still images. As a part of IndieCade, Socks, Inc. will host a sock puppet creation workshop, where participants can create an avatar, an account, and play through the first missions. Socks, Inc., created by New School Master’s Student Jim Babb/Data Played, debuted at ARGfest 2010 in Atlanta, and is part of IndieCade’s Outdoor and Pervasive Games track.

Solace (One Man Down, USA)Solace is an interactive aesthetic experience utilizing dynamic audio and “bullet hell” overtones to provide a unique perspective on the five stages of grief. One Man Down, a design team from Digipen Institute of Technology, has produced impressive visuals and audio to build a fully realized mood space for the game. Solace does not settle on traditional gameplay inside this environment, but explores “bullet hell” mechanics to reinforce the mood and message of the game.

Spirits (Spaces of Play, Germany)Spirits is an action-puzzle game for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad with a Lemmings-style mechanic in which players manipulate the wind to guide name-giving Spirits towards each level of the game world. The wind, which is both helpful and uncontrollable, can serve as the player’s friend and enemy at the same time. The game’s unique atmosphere is created by a combination of beautifully hand-drawn graphics and a music track comprised completely of orchestral musical instruments. Created by Berlin-based Spaces of Play.

Tic-Tac-Totum (Jesse Fuchs, USA)Tic-Tac-Totem is an “open source” tabletop game that uses the traditional game elements of dice and poker chips in clever and novel ways. The game rules, which consist of mini-games that determine the outcome of a Tic-Tac-Toe game, are presented and constantly modified via wiki. This is the IndieCade debut of developer Jesse Fuchs.

The Cat And The Coup (Peter Brinson, USA)The Cat and the Coup is a documentary game in which you play the cat of Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh, the first democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran. You observe and coax Mossadegh through the events of the coup as the cat, knocking over objects on the Prime Minister’s desk and scratching him. With its striking visual style and engaging mechanic, The Cat and The Coup brings a completely original novel ach to documentary gameplay. Developer Peter Brinson is the creator of IndieCade exhibited Meanwhileand a member of the team that created Waco Resurrection.

The Games of Nonchalance (Nonchalance, USA): An epic, immersive, poly-media, real-world adventure. Four episodes of interactive content lead participants on a journey through the fabric of San Francisco and discover the threads of a narrative woven into the city’s past and present. Currently running in San Francisco, The Games of Nonchalance received the “Best of the Bay” SFBG 2009 award. Nonchalance’s Scoop!, a live pirate radio news game, was featured at Come Out and Play 2010. This is their debut game as part of IndieCade’s Outdoor and Pervasive Games track.

Trauma (Krystian Majewski, Germany)Trauma takes you into the subconscious of a young woman who survives a car accident as you explore her dreams and memories. The game has a compelling aesthetic and interaction design that involves navigating 3D photographs using a novel, gesture-based interface, drawing you intuitively into its narrative dreamspace. Trauma is a quintessential next-generation adventure game, an emerging genre among indie developers. Created by Polish-born, Cologne-based design student Krystian Majewski.

VVVVVV (Terry Cavanagh, Ireland): In VVVVVV, you play as the fearless leader of a team of dimension-exploring scientists who are separated after inadvertently crashing their ship. A high energy, cleverly designed platforming experience from Terry Cavanaugh, creator of Don’t Look Back and Self Destruct, VVVVVV deeply explores its central gravity-reversing mechanic through smart, interesting puzzles and a strong world and environment, supported by simple but compelling visual design and awesome music.

Congratulations to all those chosen as nominees for this year’s festival. Here’s some of the coverage we have to offer on these games thus far:

Bit.Trip Runner Review
The Future of Gaming: Continuity [Interview]
Fatale; Biblical Indie “Gaming” at it’s Height
Cipher Prime Launches Audio-Puzzle Fractal
Limbo Review
GDC 2010: Miegakure Preview
XBLIG Thursday: Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess
Playing in Rewind with Retro/Grade [PAX]
GDC 2010: Trauma Preview
VVVVVV Review


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Retro City Rampage is What GTA Would Have Been Like in the 80s [PAX]

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Have you ever wondered what it would be like to take some of your favorite modern games and mash them into the retro stylings of the 80′s console systems, a la NES? I know I have. Games like Assassin’s Creed, Mass Effect, and Red Dead Redemption are all games that I’ve wondered how they’d play in retro fashion. It just so happens that developers Vblank Entertainment have beaten me to the punch on at least one occasion bringing a decidedly retro look at what GTA might have been were it created in the 1980s.

Despite its looks, Retro City Rampage is, in fact, a modern game. The game has actually taken many of the gameplay concepts that have been pioneered by the likes of Grand Theft Auto and mixed it with a very retro style that will have any old timer videogame fan drooling.

Even looking beyond the game’s unique graphics, what lies underneath seems to be a wealth of gameplay that truly does stand the test of time. While the game looks retro, it certainly acts like a modern game in that action will be buzzing everywhere complete with ample amounts of open world mayhem.

I guess, the thing that really makes Retro City Rampage so glorious looking however, is the fact that beneath it all, it’s a simple parody of what games like GTA are striving to achieve (realism). Retro City Rampage is not realistic, it’s not trying to impress up0n you a deep, dramatic story with real life consequences for your character. Instead, it’s a parody story based in a retro world, with tons of modern gameplay. What else could you ask for?

We’ll have more to update with our hands on impression of the game just as soon as we hit PAX this Friday. Also, if you’re lucky, we might just be giving away some choice collectibles courtesy of the guys at Vblank Entertainment.

Trailer


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Super Meat Boy Release Date Revealed for XBLA

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Team Meat have revealed via Twitter that their highly-anticipated indie platformer Super Meat Boy will arrive October 20 on Xbox Live Arcade.

We knew already that Microsoft has a timed exclusivity deal with the game, which will be short I’ve been assured by the developer. The game should see release on WiiWare as well as PC via Steam and Mac sometime in the weeks to follow the 360 release.

The game is the marquee release for Microsoft’s new ‘Game Feast’ promotion, which would seem to want to build on the ‘Summer of Arcade’ success in another season. Good start putting SMB up at the forefront.

No pricing news as of yet but that and all other pertinent info as it comes.