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

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Speaking of Slam Bolt Scrappers’ New Volcano Level… [PAX]

Volcano-City

While Peter covered most of the basics in his preview of the brand new Slam Bolt Scrappers Volcano level, unfortunately, he didn’t have a video at the time to actually show it off, mostly because it was on my video camera and I was off to check out more games for our awesome PAX coverage. Now that I’ve finagled some down time however, I was able to upload and post a short 2 minute clip of the hectic/crazy fun that is the newest edition to Slam Bolt Scrappers’ already impressive gameplay line up. Enjoy!


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Creating a World in Bastion [PAX]

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I covered Bastion a small bit a few days ago in our run up to PAX. Back then I knew little about just what the game was and what it was going to offer beyond some small details given by developers Supergiant Games. Luckily for you (and me) I’ve just returned from my first play through preview of the game and have come away not only impressed, but also with many more details than I originally had.

To begin with, Bastion is not an action RPG like Deathspank or Torchlight, like I had originally assumed it would be. While the perspective is the same, the combat, items, loot, and everything in between is all different. This is an action RPG that plays completely different from the archtypes we’ve been given over the years by the bigger developers.

But before I begin explaining the combat, item usage, leveling, or anything of that matter, I have to explain the narrator a bit. The narrator in Bastion is unique. While he explains things as you go throughout the story, the way which the game uses the narrator is quite astonishing. You see, the narrator, while scripted, is not necessarily bound to any sort of path. He’ll explain things as things happen depending on whether you do them or not. It’s a really fluid narration experience and one that the developers promise will be included in an integral way to shaping the world.

Speaking of shaping the world, if you’ve yet to read my introductory post, you’d be interested in knowing that the world of Bastion has been completely destroyed. In fact, when you wake up, you’re on a lone island surrounded by nothing. It’s only as you walk (which the developers hinted at is a special property of you) that the world gets rebuilt. Eventually you’ll make your way to the town where you can actually rebuild the town yourself, deciding which buildings go where.

Anyway, back to the combat. While Bastion looks like it would probably borrow many ideas from Diablo, in reality the game is not quite as fast as that. It’s a much more methodical type combat filled with various weapons and combos you can perform (although I didn’t get to see any). Additionally, the game’s enemies aren’t loot laden, as with other action RPGs. In Bastion, the enemies drop crystals instead. Crystals are sort of currency which can be used to upgrade or enhance your weapons, and skills.

Finally, when you level your character up, instead  of receiving a simple stat upgrade or a new skill, you’ll instead be offered something called “perks.” Perks are unique skill enhancements that can have a number of good and bad effects depending on what you get. I wasn’t able to see very many of these perks, unfortunately, but it’s still a unique system that deviates from the traditional action RPG, which, in a way, makes Bastion all the more desirable.

Bastion is not set to be released until 2o11, unfortunately, however the developers are currently looking to partner up with Microsoft, Sony, and all of the various big name PC digital distributors for a release later next year. Until then, you’ll have to survive off our own previews.

PAX video




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Bosses versus Blocks: Slam Bolt Scrappers [PAX]

Slam_Bolt_PSN_ExclusiveI’ve been following Slam Bolt Scrappers closely this year, having first played it in a hallway at GDC, then in the glowing light of Sony’s booth at E3 and just now in Fire Hose Games’ own booth on the PAX show floor. Each time I’ve played the game a single thing has remained consistent: pure fun.

This time around, there were several additions to the game that hadn’t been shown before. First up were power-ups. While the top of the screen is still populated with multicolored beasts you need to pummel in order to gather more building blocks, there are now golden beasts that give power-ups. You can get the Comet, which will give you a powerful dash attack, the Shield, which will make you invincible, and the Thief, which allows players to pull blocks out of their opponents base in order to steal them. The bigger the chunk they’re attempting to steal, the longer it takes to pull it out. And while you’re carefully prying your goods from the other team, you’re completely unprotected and can be easily beaten up. But to steal a hefty block is sure going to be something to swing power in favor of the thieving team. Eitan Glinert, head of Fire Hose Games, also mentioned that they are toying with a “Hulk” style power-up in which you grow huge and green and can pound on your opponents base with your bare hands. This one is still up for discussion.

One of the new modes we tried out today was that of the cooperative campaign. This mode can be played with 1 to 4 players, and each level is a little different. Our first exposure was to a boss fight against an enormous robot that attacked us with lasers, threw snow drifts on our tower, and altogether tried to kill us. The fight involved both building a structurally sound base with large weapons to attack, as well as turning off the boss’ shield, which was designated by a giant red contraption in his chest. With a combination of deactivating the boss’ shield, clearing snow from our tower, and building clever attacks. We were victorious in destroying the boss. But it was a frantic and fun battle, much different than the versus mode we’d seen in the past.

The other level we tried out took place inside of a volcano, with our team controlling two towers that were placed on a weighted scale. Put too many blocks on one side and it dips into hot lava, killing yourself. We were surrounded by two AI-controlled towers and giant flying hens with sword-wielding riders trying to kill us. It was a lot to balance, but hectic fun with the local co-op. After taking down the challenge on normal, we tried out the mode’s highest difficulty called “Snowball’s Chance” which not only was a play on the popular “not a chance” phrase, but also added, indeed, snowballs to the level. So we had to clear snow, battle off enemies, balance our towers, and altogether stay alive. And we did. It was chaos, but it was that enjoyable chaos that makes you want to try all over again once it’s done.

The game is going to release with four main characters, two beefy builder-types and two scrawnier characters, one being a female. Through gameplay you’ll be able to unlock more as you go. Since the developers know that some characters will never touch the campaign, like many Smash Bros. players, all elements of the game will be unlockable in battle mode.

The game also features some hilarious quirks, such as the option to turn on “beverage mode.” This mode you can play with one hand while you cradle your beverage of choice in the opposite hand. It’s a great way to take on chaos while you’re quenching your thirst. All-in, the game’s growth continues to be exciting and it’s scheduled to hit PSN early next year. They haven’t revealed how many levels will fall into the campaign, but we should be hearing more soon.

For now, to keep you excited, here’s the latest gameplay trailer:


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A Post About a Blob [PAX]

Blob 2I really wish that E3 was about two weeks long, because then I might have had a chance to have seen everything. Case and point is a new platformer from Drinkbox Studios called Tales from Space: About a Blob that was tucked into the Sony booth back at June’s uber-conference. Luckily, they’re making a bigger showing at PAX and Geoff and I will be heading over to check the game out on Saturday. We’ll have a full preview up this weekend with more information about the game.

But to give you all a taste about this upcoming game headed to PSN next year, here’s the trailer. To me, it’s like Gish meets Katamari Damacy. But watch this and see if you can form your own comparisons:


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Playing in Rewind with Retro/Grade [PAX]

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Wow, this is easily the most interesting game concepts I’ve ever heard of and, by far, the most interesting shmup I’ve ever seen. Retro/Grade is doing things that I’ve never before seen done in a game. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that Retro/Grade is going to do for shmups, what Braid did for platformers.

I know the title might seem a little confusing at the moment and it’s because it’s actually a pretty confusing concept. Imagine, if you will, that you’re playing a typical side-scrolling shmup. You’ve just completed the game and everybody is happy at the end. Now imagine playing through a rewind version the exact same game. Every shot you take, every move you make (bet that song is playing in your head now), and every enemy and boss you’ve destroyed you are now rewinding to play again backwards. This is what Retro/Grade is all about.

Here’s the story:

Rick Rocket has just saved the universe! Unfortunately, the massive destruction he left in his wake has caused a temporal anomaly that has reversed the flow of time. The player must assume control of Rick’s spacecraft and fight through the epic space battle… in reverse! Retro/Grade is an innovative game that fuses the white knuckle thrills and over the top visuals of a shooter with the broad appeal of a rhythm game. Players are forced to dodge enemy projectiles while positioning the ship to be in the correct place to fire their lasers when their shots come back to them.

The game is not due for a release until sometime in 2011 on the PSN, so, unfortunately, you’ll have some waiting to do until you can actually get your hands on it. However, the game will be on hand at PAX and we plan on getting a lengthy preview together for you to enjoy.

If you have any particular questions you want asked about the game, now’s the time to ask before we sit down with the developer tomorrow.

Trailer


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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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Joe Danger Gets New Levels, YouTube Support and a Contest!

JoeDanger001Great news for Joe Danger fans — even if only 10% of you completed it –  developer Hello Games as released the first ever free patch for Joe Danger, and it’s a biggun’!

First, and we’ll start with the most exciting news, Joe Danger now comes with two exciting new levels entitled: The Death Box and Death From Above (it wouldn’t be a dare devil game without tons of death!). You can check out the levels at the developers website. Needless to say they both look really solid and really challenging.

Next, in order to celebrate the new “Level Showcase,” Hello Games is throwing a contest. Basically they want you to make your best target tracks and then send them to Hello Games. The winners will be highlighted in the showcase as well as receive some sort of nifty prize, although nothing concrete has been announced.

Finally, Joe Danger now has YouTube support! You can now record your favorite replays and then upload them directly to YouTube’s massive database of internet meme’d videos. This is fantastic news for those of you who are really into creating elaborate Joe Danger levels and want to show them off a little more.

It’s great to see developers continue to support their games with new and interesting ways long after the game’s initial release. This is why we love indie developers.

[Contest Information]


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Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess Now Stealing Princesses on Xbox 360

MonstersStolemyPrincess

Hit PSP Mini platformer, Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess, has finally landed on the Xbox 360 by way of the Xbox Live Indie Games channel. The title is available right now for the low price of only 240 MS points ($3).

Never heard of the game before? Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess is a funny little platformer, developed by Mediatonic,  that originated on Sony’s Playstation Mini distribution channel. The game is accurately described as a “vertical” platformer. What this means is that you’ll be constantly jumping up via various platforms to reach the primary monster of each level.

The game was definitely one of the highlights of Sony’s premiere indie distribution channel and Im sure the game will find an equivalent amount of success on Microsoft’s.

Trailer


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Tower Defense and Action RPG Genres Collide in Dungeon Defenders

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Ah the convergence of genres, truly this is the last frontier of traditional gaming. When a game can successfully take two completely unique genres and merge them into a completely new genre, you know you’ve left your mark on the video game historical landscape. Trendy Entertainment attempts such a feat with their new game Dungeon Defenders, a game that combines the best about the tower defense genre and the best about the action RPG genre.

Dungeon Defenders turns the tower defense genre on its head and adds a degree of depth seldom seen in a digital title,” said Jeremy Stieglitz, development director of Trendy Entertainment. “There is meaty character leveling and customization, awesome loot drops and plenty of team-oriented defensive strategy to manage, but then you have this action-packed wave-based standoff that gets continually more intense. It’s as deep as it is instantly fun.”

Dungeon Defenders is set to launch with 4 player local or online co-op where each person can play as one of four distinct classes. Additionally the game will ship with 15 different arenas and bosses for you and your compatriots to overcome.

Dungeon Defenders will be available on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 (XBLA/PSN?) as well as traditional PC digital distribution outlets: GamersGate, Direct2Drive, Steam and Impulse.

No hard release date has been given, but rumors have it that we can expect this to be out before year’s end.

Trailer


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Angry Birds Flinging Itself onto the PSP

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You know, we really don’t talk about Sony’s PSP Mini service enough. Despite being ripe with indie games, for some reason we’ve just been completely oblivious to the happenings going on over there for some time now. But don’t worry, we are working on remedying that content gaf very soon. In the mean time, we do have some choice news for anybody curious as to what all this Angry Birds nonsense is.

Developed by Rovio Mobile, an independent developer that focuses on mobile games (primarily Symbian and iOS), Angry Birds is a fun “flinging” type game where your object is to use various types of birds to knock over structures. The game is quite addictive and is, surprisingly, much more difficult that you’d imagine it would be.

Now, with the help of publisher Chillingo, it looks like the game is heading to Sony’s PSP Mini channel where the game will be available on the millions of PSPs sold around the world.

Angry Birds currently sits at the top of the iOS charts and shows no indication of slowing down in the near future.

No word yet on price, but if Angry Birds follows other iOS to PSP ports, then you can expect the title to be anywhere from two to four times the iOS cost.