Last year at PAX East, Capybara’s Super T.I.M.E. Force was the game that had me wetting myself with anticipation. I was lucky enough to play the newest build this year at PAX and was taken aback by the new time control and strategy elements. The game hasn’t changed. You still play as a member of the elite time travelers force known as the Temporal Inevitability Manipulation Experts – or T.I.M.E., the big changes in this game are the balance and new features. Last year, when your character died you were automatically returned to the start of the level. It kept the game hectic and fun as you plowed through enemies with the gatling gun, sniper or shield character. Now that the game is closer to release on XBLA, it is clear that our temporal experts have a lot more control of time than we were lead to believe. When you die, you now have full control of rewinding time and spawning a new character in whatever location that you like. Deaths are clearly marked with red skulls on the timeline so that you can focus on saving past instances of yourself.
The ability to control your spawn point in the timeline adds a ton of strategy and that’s needed with the new time constraint to each level. Each level now features a time limit along with a certain number of lives. This limit can luckily be extended by picking up time bonuses throughout the level. The new version also featured a brand new super funky fresh Lizard with sunglasses character. This newest member of the force is all about melee combat and can even scratch and reflect bullets. The game also boasts a brand new co-op mode so that this intense and fun shooter can be shared with a friend.
Super T.I.M.E. Force is shaping up to be a huge hit for Xbox Live. It’s instantly fun and over the past year the team has added more depth, challenge and multiplayer features. Super T.I.M.E. Force is expected to be released for XBLA Spring 2013. You can stay up to date on the game by checking out Capy’s official blog.
The Indie MegaBooth is returning to PAX Prime later this month. PAX Prime will be held in Seattle, WA on August 31st – September 2nd and the MegaBooth will be there with 30 indie studios and 30+ indie games. It’s great to see that the success of the PAX East Indie Booth will extend to PAX Prime as well. The PAX East booth had 17 developers and featured amazing games like Super Time Force, Monaco is Mine, Snapshot, Guacamelee, AirMech and many more. The exact lineup of games for PAX Prime is still a mystery, but I have on good authority that you can expect games like Mark of the Ninja, Splice, Eets: Munchies, Offspring Fling, The Bridge and many more to be a part of the Indie Megabooth. Keep up to date with the the Indie Megabooth by checking out their official website. Hopefully, they’ll have a cool scavenger hunt again.
Gaijin Games is bringing us a sequel to one of their most popular games with BIT.TRIP Runner 2…and *gasp* the art style has drastically changed. CommanderVideo is now in full 3D and the blocky pixel graphics of BIT.TRIP past are nowhere to be seen. Everyone can debate this choice in the comments section, but I believe that the change is for the better after having played the game in all its eye-popping glory!
Runner 2 features the same basic controls and mechanics of the first game, but feels even more charming because of the new graphical look. Dropping the now cliché style of many indie games, 8-bit sentiments, Runner 2 attends to a smoother and more vibrant feel – if anything, it’s easier on the eye. I remember playing the original Runner and find that my eyes would go haywire afterwards due to the amount of concentration required to succeed. Of course, you can play the game blind as has been showcased before now, so you may not see that as an excuse – but I’m just happy to report that as a man who tends to stare at the screen, Runner 2 isn’t burning my eyes out so much.
Though the original Runner was full of joy and character, the backgrounds and foregrounds in Runner 2 feel as if they are are brimming with even more charm. Of course, the star of the show, CommanderVideo is now much more impressionable and a bit of a show-off too. He not only runs, but moonwalks, skips and simply exudes more personality than he ever did in the original. I still love him though, despite his newly found ego, in fact I may just love him a little bit more. Best of all, his rainbow cloak is as sleek as ever and obtaining it is as challenging and therefore rewarding as it has ever been.
I could probably rant on a little bit more about Runner 2 but in all honesty, the only major changes (at least so far) are showcased in the gameplay you can already see. From being able to get hands-on with the game, I can confidently say it already plays great and the music sounds fantastic. This sequel looks to be a natural upgrade of the franchise; it’s more polished but doesn’t mess much with the original formula and that’s just fine with me.
At PAX East last weekend, Supergiant Games didn’t have anything new to show off so they figured they would display Bastion‘s first every prototype, long before it became the game you know today.
Bastion has become well-known for its smooth isometric gameplay, the landscape that evolves with every step and that voiceover. Of course, like every game there was a stage when Bastion was just an ugly duckling – yet to become the more attractive and more recognisable swan. It was this that Supergiant Games showcased at this year’s PAX East which was held just last weekend.
If you didn’t attend then you wouldn’t have been able to see Bastion’s first ever prototype which was playable on the show floor. Just in case you did want to see how it looked in its very early stages though, there is a gameplay video of it running and the screenshot above will give you a pretty good idea.
“This playable build was made just four weeks after Amir and Gavin founded the studio. In spite of its simplicity and placeholder art, the prototype does showcase some of the ideas and mechanics we ended up refining and using in the final game. We also like showing just how rough these things look when they start off”, writes Supergiant on their latest blog post.
From the same minds that came up with Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack comes the Mexican-inspired brawler, Guacamelee. Guacamelee stood out as one of the funniest games at PAX. The gameworld itself is pretty ridiculous. You play as a Mexican luchadore wrestler (and sidechick) who can turn into a chicken, switch dimensions, and meets up with a goat, who bosses him around.
The game is described as a Metroid-vania game with action mechanics. The demo at PAX was pretty short, so I wasn’t really able to unlock many abilities, but there was a lot of solid beat-em-up action. One of the coolest things about the game is that it can be played in 2-player co-op on the same screen for the entire story.
The game controls are simple to pick up and play, and the special moves are executed like they are in Super Smash Brothers – with a simple directional and button press (Up + B for an uppercut). The game already has a great mix of platforming and combat sections. There was even a boss battle with a giant skeleton. One of the abilities that was shown off in the demo was the dimension switching mechanic.
The ability to instantly switch between parallel (but similar) worlds really piqued my interest and there were some cool platforming mechanics that revolved around it. It was also really cool to see that this dimension concept applies to combat as well. Enemies can exist in an alternate dimension (and appear as silhouettes) and can attack you, but are invulnerable to your attacks unless you switch to their dimension. When you have multiple enemies in multiple dimensions, things can get crazy.
The mechanics and humor of Guacamelee made it a really solid experience. There’s a lot of interesting mechanics in this game and it has a lot of potential if everything comes together. I’m really looking forward to exploring this crazy Mexican open world. That flaming pumpkin is hilarious.
One of our most anticipated indie games of 2012 is the charming puzzle platformer, Snapshot from Retro Affect. In Snapshot, players take on the role of Pic a robot that can capture objects in photos and reposition them around the environment to solve puzzles and progress through the game’s 5 worlds.
The PAX timed demo allowed players to play through the first few levels of the game. After playing through the first 9 levels, I can tell you that Snapshot’s 3+ years of development have been well spent. Snapshot is exactly the type of game that I get excited about. It has the nostalgia and feel of old 16-bit platformers on the Super Nintendo, but throws in an incredibly innovative gameplay mechanic and higher resolution graphics and special effects.
Retro Affect was kind enough to show me some of the later levels and the world map. The world map acts as a gallery for all of your pictures, medals, and achievements. Players will be travelling through lush forests, night-time levels, and snow covered landscapes in 2-3 months when the game hits Steam and the Playstation Network.
Xbox players will have to wait since there is no deal in place with Microsoft. David Carrigg of Retro Affect indicated that the game was built to port to all platforms and would be ready for Xbox when, “Microsoft comes calling.” Hopefully by now, Microsoft has picked up the phone.
Here I am at the Retro Affect booth trying to fill out my indie passport – I completely forgot about it 2 booths later.
Andy Schatz’s IGF Grand Prize winning Monaco was available to play at PAX in both single-player and multiplayer co-op. Monaco is a 2D stealth-action heist game played from the overhead perspective, but it plays completely differently in single and multiplayer. In single player, you can be a more strategic, stealthy and methodical thief, whereas multiplayer co-op is smash-and-grab chaos. The game is fun in both modes, but I definitely prefer to try and remain undetected rather than run around with shotguns blazing.
One of the most distinctive elements of Monaco is its incredibly vibrant visuals and graphics. The game’s colors are super saturated and give the game a cool neon glow. The other element that does not come through in still screenshots is the game’s awesome line-of-sight mechanics and graphics. The gray floor plan of a building is revealed as you move around each level.
Straight from the Netherlands comes Awesomenauts; a 2D platforming team-deathmatch game (with some RPG elements thrown in for good measure). Said game is nearly done and headed to PSN on May 1st in North America and will be released on XBLA and PSN (everywhere else) on May 2nd.
The premise of Awesomenauts is simple. It’s the future and two robot armies are at war and it’s up to the Awesomenauts to tip the scales in one sides favor. Of course this whole premise is just an excuse to hold multiplayer battles so that you can blast your friends online and off.
Every battle in Awesomenauts is drop-in/drop-out. Before entering battle, you’ll have to select one of the Awesomenauts – each come comes with their own unique abilities and upgrades. Clunk is the lumbering dreadnaught, Leon is a sneaky chameleon ninja, Froggy G is quick with mad hops, Sheriff Lonestar is a good overall soldier, Voltar acts as a medic and Yuri the monkey can lay mine traps and has a jetpack! The build at PAX only had a few ‘Nauts unlocked too!
After selecting your character, you’ll have to equip/select 12 abilities for the match. These abilities are unlocked/purchased by accumulating Solar (the game’s currency). Solar acts as both experience and currency – you will accumulate it by killing enemies and can collect it throughout each level. You can purchase/unlock new abilities at your Base and players’ current level is displayed next to their name above their character.
When your Awesomenaut is ready, a giant spaceship will summon your dropship and you’ll plummet to the planet’s surface. You can move the dropship and collect solar on the way before you land inside your base. This mechanic keeps respawn times very short while still keeping players off the battlefield. The game is a hectic frag-fest with other players and computer controlled robot minions or AI-controlled Awesomenauts. Every level has several tiers and routes to each team’s base. The key to victory is overwhelming and destroying enemy turrets that act as gatekeepers and block your path into the heart of enemy territory.
Awesomenauts is already an entertaining multiplayer experience and features a great variety of soldier classes with an cool toon-inspired art style. Keep an eye out for this strategic and hectic multiplayer game in May.
Penny Arcade and Zeboyd Games are ready to talk about and more fully unveil the next episode in the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness series, so if you’re heading to PAX East you could be amongst the first to get a good look at Episode 3.
Many fans of Penny Arcade and their Precipice of Darkness series were disappointed back in 2010 when it seemed that there would be no more entries. Alas, good fortune fell upon their laps when Zeboyd teased late last year that they were actually developing the next episode in the series. Now, with the oncoming of PAX East, PA and Zeboyd are happy to start revealing the game in full with screens and details and soon a trailer.
However, if you’re heading to PAX East yourself this coming April 6-8th, then you could be one of the fist people to see the game in action and to even question the developers themselves. You’ll want to head over to Booth 678 to see the first glimpses of the game, plus, Penny Arcade’s Jerry Holkins and game producer Jeff Kalles will also join Zeboyd game leads Robert Boyd and Bill Stiernberg in a panel on Friday, April 6th at 9:00 pm where they’ll reveal behind the scenes footage of the game’s development.
Episode 3 will of course adapt many of the traits associated with Zeboyd Games, who PA’s Holkins says have “mastered the Throwback RPG as an art form”. Turning the other way to face Zeboyd’s Robert Boyd, he says that they’ve “taken elements from various classic RPGs and fused them with our own ideas of how a fast-paced turn-based RPG should play.”
Precipice of Darkness Episode 3 will of course continue the chronicles of Tycho Brahe, scholar of Apocalyptic Studies turned detective, and his volatile, probably entirely human partner Jonathan Gabriel. As the spectre of unspeakable evil threatens New Arcadia – and the world as we know it – the Startling Developments Detective Agency must unravel the mystery and find a way to triumph! With a cunning evil Doctor, a series of Unexplainable Thefts, a Mysterious Book of Power and Enigmatic Supernatural Forces, the ever escalating perils on the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness challenge the heroes to their very core!
On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness Episode 3 will be released this coming summer on Windows, Mac, XBLIG, iOS devices and Android. More information on the game can be found on the official website.
Gaijin Games have unleashed the first pre-alpha footage of Runner 2 – the follow up to Bit.Trip Runner – and things are looking familiar but more 3D.
Bit.Trip Runner is a pretty addictive and rewarding game and by that we mean it was rather challenging. It was nothing that couldn’t be conquered though; you don’t even need the ability to see to play it! Commander Video has since become an indie icon with his rainbow trail and series of dodges, ducks and kicks. After having worked on other Bit.Trip games, Gaijin Games now return to Runner to deliver a similar rhythm-based experience in the sequel and they’ve been working on it long enough to have something to show.
In this first pre-alpha footage, Gaijin forewarn that there is no animated background or particle effects, they don’t mention the absence of Video’s cape though! Presumably that is yet to added too. Speaking of the the Commander, you can see that he is no longer 2D, now having been fully fleshed out into a 3D model – everything else is looking a lot smoother too.
Gaijin will be off to PAX East to show off more of Runner 2 and apparently it will look better than this preliminary footage, so if you’re going be sure to look out for it!