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

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The Nostalgia of Pixels…Retro City Rampage [Preview]

Retro 6Nostalgia is an interesting feeling. Elements throughout our lives rekindle memories of things we knew in our younger days, and generally bring a smile of remembrance to our faces. In the world of video games, which is a relatively young world all things considered, it’s when a game presents an homage to the games of yore or outright copies them in respect. If it’s a game we’ve played at a younger, it’s going to bring that same grin to our faces as we recognize a significant gaming moment from our past. With Retro City Rampage, the game doesn’t only present small homages to the past, it outright paints itself from head to toe in shout-outs and moments of remembrance.

Retro 1Originally conceived as a way to recreate Grand Theft Auto on the original Nintendo under the title Grand Theftendo, Retro City Rampage quickly grew into something bigger. With countless pop-culture elements to pull from and dozens of games to tip the hat to, almost every aspect of the game is a nod to something. As a gamer approaching thirty who recognizes almost every one, the game’s flow kept me significantly entertained and bathed in the warm light of the days of yore. But at the same time, this excess of callbacks and references makes me worry about any younger generations picking up the game. Will they get it? While more modern catch-phrases like “more car bell” are dropped into the game, what child of the nineties is going to recognize Roger Wilco’s ship from Space Quest III in the junkyard of Retro City? But in the game’s favor, it has excellent gameplay and can be a successful experience for anyone who picks up a controller. And if any parents happen upon their kids playing the game, they’ll spend the entire time saying “isn’t that?” or “that looks just like” or “I remember that!” and it will be like a living history lesson.

Retro 7I’ve put hours into the most recent build of the game courtesy of the developer Brian Provinciano and seen a lot of its gameplay, story and secrets.

The gameplay is simple. You control a pixellated character from a top-down view who can maneuver in all directions, jump and attack. You can also get into cars by pulling out the driver or stealing one from its parking space. You’ll find additional weapons like pistols, uzis, bazookas, baseball bats, molotov cocktails and more along the way. There is plenty of mayhem to undertake. Using the joystick of the Xbox 360 controller (or PS2 controller as was offered in this build of the game) it’s quite easy to control who or what you’re shooting. The game features an adept lock-on system so you don’t have to get your angle perfect, just close to your target.

If your crime starts getting out of hand or you happen to murder someone in front of the police, your wanted meter raises on police cruises and bikes begin hounding you. To the game’s credit, the cops are more difficult to shake than any prior installment of Grand Theft Auto I’ve experienced. If the cops get on your tail during a mission, you’re going to be looping, circling, parking in alleys, and generally trying to hide yourself from the fuzz – which is no easy feat. The cops are able to zip right up to your bumper and try to ram you off the road, but if you thread enough traffic, pull of illegal u-turns and generally drive dangerously, you might just get away.

Retro 5On the note of driving, the game offers two control schemes. In one you can turn your car with the joystick and accelerate with the normal trigger, and in the other the car automatically drives in whichever direction you may be holding the joystick. I preferred the latter. It’s easy to maneuver through traffic, around (or over) pedestrians, and generally get to your destinations unscathed. The cars are all pretty solid and can take a beating without exploding, but it still pays to drive safely.

The missions throughout Retro City Rampage pull a lot from the games of yore. Your character is called simply PLAYER, in an entertainingly self-reflexive manner. The game begins when you find a job ad looking for henchmen, and you’re crime career begins in earnest. From planting underwater bombs a la Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on NES (though the heroes-in-half-shells definitely defused them) to escaping a laser-filled base in the vein of Contra, you’ll experience a lot of memories as you work your way through the game’s story. One mission has you trying to rid the local high school of a student with the name “Norris,” one letter off a certain TV-troublemaker. And throughout the city, almost every business has a sign that’s a play on game history. From “Gargle Quest” mouthwash to the “Fresh Prints” copy shop, you’ll be experiencing a lot of “oh yeah!” moments throughout.

Retro 4Along the way, the game manages to shake up its general gameplay with unique twists on what might be called mini-games. At one point, you’re helping a team not unlike the Ghostbusters rid a possessed van of spirits. To do this, you head to the local retirement home where they throw bodies out of the window and you have to “feed” these bodies to the haunted car in order to satiate its possessor. Nobody said the game would be politically correct in its mission structure. Later on, while in disguise as the town’s superhero “Biffman” in order to “offset your criminal footprint,” you’re kidnapped and lowered into a tank of crocodiles. But to save yourself you have to swing back and forth, catching henchmen from a henchmen-dispenser (every villain’s dream machine) and feeding them to the gators in place of yourself in order to stuff them and keep them from eating you.

The missions are varied and hilarious and will keep you entertained throughout from the cheesy dialogue to the hilarious situations you’ll find yourself in.

Retro 2The game also features a series of sprees in which you unleash timed havoc on the city. From a bazooka with unlimited ammo to a DeLorean that can only get up to 88-mph by running over pedestrians to how fast you can flatten fifty people in a steam roller, the challenges are varied. You’ll see skulls on your mini-map indicating where you can launch one of these challenges. The game tracks your scores and records, along with a staggering numbers of stats from “Invisible Walls Found” to “Bikeapults.” In fact, it appears that the game keeps tabs on more elements than most full retail releases to a hilarious extent. Want to know how many swimming lessons you’ve given? No problem! It’s all there. For 8-bits of sound and graphics, the game has gigabytes of stats (not literally).

Retro 3The music and sound effects are fabulous throughout. With composition that could truly be coming directly from the 8-bit era, everything from the explosions to the game’s theme song are great. Just check out the soundtrack trailer we posted a few weeks ago to hear it in action.

The aspects that linger long after you’ve shut down your console are the details. From the clever signs spotted about the city to PLAYER’s tiny little feet pedaling a bicycle.

Retro City Rampage was originally announced as a Wii title to be released by the end of 2010. But as of now the game has been pushed into next year (hopefully February) as the platform of choice is now up in the air. If you have any inkling of interest in the game, make sure you’re following it on Facebook and Twitter, and we’ll have any key updates and trailers right here at DIYgamer along the way.


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Indie? Maybe. Awesome? Most Definitely. Trine 2 [Trailer]

Trine2001

As promised it looks like the guys over at Frozenbyte have been hard as work on the upcoming Trine sequel that had everybody in the indie world in a tizzy over last E3. While the trailer doesn’t show terribly large amount of gameplay it does seem that the game’s amazing platforming action and aesthetic appeal has returned for a second time around. Additionally, the co-op gameplay is looking mighty tasty. We’ll have to wait and see how the rest of the turns out as the game’s “Spring 2011″ release date nears.

[Trine 2]

Trailer


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A Different Kind of City Simulation: Urbanix, for PSN Minis

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Ubanix, the odd arcade city building “simulation” game by Nordcurrent, is currently available to purchase on the PS3 or PSP Minis channel.

Now, I put simulation in quotations marks because while the game isn’t really a simulation it is fairly reminiscent of the old Sim City styled strategy games. Here’s what Urbanix is actually about:

Urbanix is an enhanced version of decades-old arcade hits. Player controls a tiny little tractor that has to build a town on an empty field in a given time, while avoiding the enemies. Players are welcome to complete 150 levels from 3 locations, with different gameplay mechanics and visuals. With such a variety, there will be hours and hours of faced-paced pure arcade fun!

While I’ve yet to play it, given the trailer (below) I can definitely say the game looks incredibly charming. The tractor is, if nothing else, completely adorable.

So, yeah, check out the trailer. If it seems like the kind of game for you then head on over to the PSN store on either your PS3 or PSP and buy the game. It only costs $4.99 which really isn’t all that bad (think: downtrodden voice) in this economy.

[Nordcurrent]

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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‘Joe Danger’ Demo Details, Patch Incoming

JoeDanger001Joe Danger is a fantastic game. How do I know? Well, because I read Pete’s news piece earlier this week letting us know that the demo would come out on August 17. However, that release date is only pertaining to the demo for the American PSN store. For the rest of the world, the trial demo’s release will be next week on August 25th. In other Joe Danger news, Hello Games announced that a new “feature upgrade” will be available soon after the demo’s release.

The “People’s Patch,” as the developers have named it, provides many fixes and updates as a result of community feedback. Managing Director Sean Murray claims “If you think you’ve completed the game… well, you haven’t.” Expect some huge updates for the game!

I don’t think we can recommend this game enough. Having finally played it, I can say it’s a very legitimate contender for indie game of the year. Check out Hello Games’ website for more updates.


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PSN-Bound Hoard Heading to PC and Mac

HoardBig Download’s investigatory work brings news that Big Sandwich Games’ upcoming top-down action title Hoard, originally in development only for PS3 and PSP as a downloadable title, will also see a release on PC and Mac as well.

The fantasy title has players taking on the unusual and awesome role of the dragon, as you burn knights to a crisp, siege castles and kidnap princesses and of course hoard all the treasure you can get your greedy dragon hands on. The game will pack support for online multiplayer up to four players as well.

The title is currently set for release in September via the PSN, with no word as of yet on when we can expect the PC/Mac versions. Check out more on the official Hoard website.


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Little Big Planet Stuck in Limbo

Limbo_LBPPlaydead’s acclaimed puzzle platformer Limbo has received quited the compliment from Little Big Planet by being recreated inside the game itself. Here PS3′ers were thinking they were left out on all the eerie and violent fun.

Put together by Bra2008 the user-created level, titled “Limbo, Son of the Forest”, highlights the XBLA game’s overeall feel with black-and-white silhouettes, menacing backgrounds and more.

This is just the first part of a series with the designer promising a part 2 soon.


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Shank Hits this August for PSN/XBLA, PC Release set for Fall

Shank_Release_DatesKlei Entertainment’s highly anticipated brutal side-scroller Shank will arrive in August for consoles with a PC release coming in the Fall, it was announced at the EA Studio Showcase yesterday.

Additionally, according to the game’s official site, the newly revealed local co-op campaign will be separate from the original game and tell the backstory of Shank. So far this is the revealed extent of co-op the game will carry, no online mentioned at all as of yet.

The title will run $15 and arrive on Playstation Network on August 24 and Xbox Live Arcade on August 25, with the PC version getting a much vaguer “fall release” target.


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DeathSpank released, Gilbert wants more XBLA/PSN titles with “real meat on them”

DeathSpank_ReleaseHothead Games’ anticipated action RPG DeathSpank has arrived on PSN and Xbox Live Arcade, and is now available for respective console owners to purchase and download.

Players assume the role of the wanderer DeathSpank, described as a “Dispenser of Justice, a Vanquisher of Evil, and a Hero to the Downtrodden.” Throughout your travels you search for a powerful artifact known as “The Artifact.” Forged by unknown hands for unknown purposes, both you and a mysterious, evil tyrant seek to obtain it.

DeathSpank runs $15 or 1200 MS Points. A free trial is available as well (confirmed for Xbox 360) to try the game before you buy. In related news Hothead’s veteran designer Ron Gilbert (Monkey Island series) has made some comments on the release with Gamasutra, including the hope that DeathSpank helps “open the door” for future digital titles on PSN and XBL:

“[It's] very different from a lot of stuff that’s in the download space…I’m kind of hoping in a way that it’ll open up the door to the Xbox and the PSN having more games with some real meat on them…I’m really hoping this is kind of the future of downloads, and that we can get some really good, interesting games in the download space.”