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Found 31 results

  1. Celeste Mountain looms over a tantalizing mystery, one that Madeline, our young protagonist, determines to uncover. Using Madeline's reservoir of stamina, players must navigate the treacherous terrain and dangers to discover new characters and locations. Mastering her mid-air dash will be crucial to making progress. For people who are more invested in the story than the challenging gameplay, developer Matt Makes Games has included an assist mode. Assist mode allows players to tweak difficulty to find the most enjoyable way to play through Celeste. Options range from slowing down time to pure invincibility. Celeste also caters to the hardcore gaming crowd with a unique challenge mode for the most skilled players called The B-Side Chapters. Nintendo will launch Celeste as a digital title for the Nintendo Switch on January 25.
  2. Celeste Mountain looms over a tantalizing mystery, one that Madeline, our young protagonist, determines to uncover. Using Madeline's reservoir of stamina, players must navigate the treacherous terrain and dangers to discover new characters and locations. Mastering her mid-air dash will be crucial to making progress. For people who are more invested in the story than the challenging gameplay, developer Matt Makes Games has included an assist mode. Assist mode allows players to tweak difficulty to find the most enjoyable way to play through Celeste. Options range from slowing down time to pure invincibility. Celeste also caters to the hardcore gaming crowd with a unique challenge mode for the most skilled players called The B-Side Chapters. Nintendo will launch Celeste as a digital title for the Nintendo Switch on January 25. View full article
  3. The fine folks at Robot Loves Kitty found themselves in a bit of a bind recently. For the past few years, they'd been working on a game called Upsilon Circuit, a crazy mixture of game show, RPG, and online multiplayer. The studio consists of the self-taught indie duo Alix Stolzer and Calvin Goble. The scope of Upsilon Circuit and grew to the extent that it required more members on the team than Stolzer and Goble, so the team hired additional staff. Unfortunately, the funding source that they tapped into to hire those team members pulled out before the game was ready to be done. As part of the cancellation announcement, Robot Loves Kitty put out a statement saying, “We just wanted to make this game we were both so passionate about, and we were sacrificing so much to do it. When things fell apart it left both of us feeling overwhelmingly sad, angry, ashamed, and depressed.” The lack of funding brought the entire project to a screeching halt. As of right now, the quirky indie dream that was Upsilon Circuit is no more and the gaming landscape is poorer of the loss. That being said, Robot Loves Kitty has a new project on the horizon called Super Tony Land! The indie game thumbs its nose at the Super Mario Bros. series in an adventure starring Tony, a plumber from Brooklyn who finds himself in the world of video games. Players can build their own levels, share them via Steam Workshop, and even create entire story lines! The tool set being used to give players the power of creation is called Tronics, a visual programming language that can be used to make functional robots, ships, clockwork contraptions, or even dialogue trees. It opens up some really interesting possibilities that allow for never before seen mechanics, stories, and characters. Players will also be able to make use of power-ups and a character creator to really bring their world to life. Super Tony Land should be available on PC Spring 2018.
  4. The fine folks at Robot Loves Kitty found themselves in a bit of a bind recently. For the past few years, they'd been working on a game called Upsilon Circuit, a crazy mixture of game show, RPG, and online multiplayer. The studio consists of the self-taught indie duo Alix Stolzer and Calvin Goble. The scope of Upsilon Circuit and grew to the extent that it required more members on the team than Stolzer and Goble, so the team hired additional staff. Unfortunately, the funding source that they tapped into to hire those team members pulled out before the game was ready to be done. As part of the cancellation announcement, Robot Loves Kitty put out a statement saying, “We just wanted to make this game we were both so passionate about, and we were sacrificing so much to do it. When things fell apart it left both of us feeling overwhelmingly sad, angry, ashamed, and depressed.” The lack of funding brought the entire project to a screeching halt. As of right now, the quirky indie dream that was Upsilon Circuit is no more and the gaming landscape is poorer of the loss. That being said, Robot Loves Kitty has a new project on the horizon called Super Tony Land! The indie game thumbs its nose at the Super Mario Bros. series in an adventure starring Tony, a plumber from Brooklyn who finds himself in the world of video games. Players can build their own levels, share them via Steam Workshop, and even create entire story lines! The tool set being used to give players the power of creation is called Tronics, a visual programming language that can be used to make functional robots, ships, clockwork contraptions, or even dialogue trees. It opens up some really interesting possibilities that allow for never before seen mechanics, stories, and characters. Players will also be able to make use of power-ups and a character creator to really bring their world to life. Super Tony Land should be available on PC Spring 2018. View full article
  5. Sonic the Hedgehog may have been a well known character before Sonic 2 hit the shelves, but Sonic 2 gave his series of games the momentum to continue all the way to this very day, made the Sega Genesis a must-own system for kids around the world, and set the blue blur up as the pinnacle of anthropomorphic protagonists with attitude. Game critic and Sonic enthusiast Marcus Stewart joins the show to argue for Sonic 2's inclusion among the best games period. Some people love Sonic the Hedgehog, while others find the series lacking. This week, we pit the two views head to head to see which comes out on top! Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: Sonic CD 'Take It All the Way' by Magellanic and PROTO·DOME (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR02940) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod Be sure to follow Marcus Stewart on Twitter to keep an eye on his work and tweets about wrestling: @MarcusStewart7 New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday
  6. Sonic the Hedgehog may have been a well known character before Sonic 2 hit the shelves, but Sonic 2 gave his series of games the momentum to continue all the way to this very day, made the Sega Genesis a must-own system for kids around the world, and set the blue blur up as the pinnacle of anthropomorphic protagonists with attitude. Game critic and Sonic enthusiast Marcus Stewart joins the show to argue for Sonic 2's inclusion among the best games period. Some people love Sonic the Hedgehog, while others find the series lacking. This week, we pit the two views head to head to see which comes out on top! Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: Sonic CD 'Take It All the Way' by Magellanic and PROTO·DOME (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR02940) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod Be sure to follow Marcus Stewart on Twitter to keep an eye on his work and tweets about wrestling: @MarcusStewart7 New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday View full article
  7. Gaming News:Review: Slime-San

    Indie retro platformers are a dime a dozen in 2017. Since the success of Super Meat Boy in 2010, the independent scene has become cluttered with also-ran, ultra-challenging, quirky platformers of the 8-bit variety. As an ultra-challenging, quirky platformer of the 8-bit variety, Slime-San, from developer Fabraz and publisher Headup Games, will likely fall squarely into that also-ran category, to no fault of its own. Slime-San’s titular protagonist finds himself trapped inside a worm. The reasons are unknown, but probably have something to do with the fact that it’s… ya know, a slime. Inside the worm, an entire community of slimes has developed, with NPC’s offering up quirky flavor text and gameplay modifications. Everyone seems to have resigned themselves to their fate, eternally trapped inside this volatile invertebrate, but not Slime-San. He’s going to get out, and he’s going to free everyone else in the process. Slime-San’s amusing story, but silly story made me laugh more than a handful of times. Slime-San is a fine example of what has made the platformer genre so enduring even three decades after Mario first bounced off a goomba’s head. The platforming presents an intense dance of thumbs and reflexes as each level tests your ability to flip back and forth between the numerous pitfalls and traps in each stage. Those obstacles range from enemies that chase you around the level, to lasers that rise and fall in tandem, to an ever-present red slime that acts as a timer lending some more tension to each stage. The environments inside the giant worm in which Slime-San is trapped, mainly consist of green and red surfaces. You can bounce and climb up green surfaces, while red surfaces will kill your gungy, little protagonist. You can slow time to pass through green surfaces or perform a quick forward dash to more easily maneuver through the game’s many obstacles. These abilities are key to Slime-San’s mobility, which feels tight and joyful, always keeping you on your toes without becoming too frustrating. This is greatly aided by the game’s generous checkpoint system. Death in Slime-San serves as a lesson in how to avoid it on the next run through a level, rather than a frustrating penalty. That’s not to say Slime-San avoids frustration altogether. As the game progresses, new concepts and obstacles are introduced at a steady drip. While some effectively enhance the challenge, others detract from what Slime-San does well. There are a number of puzzle levels that, when combined with the game’s already perplexing platforming sequences, serve to slow things down and create a repetitive loop that often tested my patience to its breaking point. In addition, underwater levels show up more often that they should, which is to say they should’ve been nixed completely. The underwater stages simply don’t play to Slime-San’s strengths, slowing Slime-San’s movement speed to a crawl and evoking the feeling of swimming through a bowl of Jell-O rather than zipping around tightly designed corridors. At times like this, Slime-San’s creativity undermines its tight, smooth game design. Slime-San’s best moments are challenges that require unimpeachable control, precise timing, and speed. Slime-San is designed for forward momentum, and each one-screen stage lays out where you need to go right from the beginning, so all you need to do is figure out how to get there and the quickest route to take. Boss fights break up the challenges nicely, allowing you to experiment with different techniques to take down each beast. These fights test your skills to the max, but they’re also a lot of fun. I only wish there were more of them. My biggest issue with Slime-San relates directly to the platform I played it on. The Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controllers were not designed well for someone with large hands, and playing Slime-San exasperates that problem. The game demands precise timing and thumb-work, but the Joy-Cons can’t accommodate that for someone like myself. Whereas I find that minimalist, chill games like Death Squared seem perfectly suited to the Switch, games like Slime-San and, similarly, Super Meat Boy (which also recently released on Switch) are hindered by the console’s standard input controllers. I have never wished I had a Nintendo Switch Pro Controller more than after some of the more harrowing sections of Slime-San. The lack of a real d-pad and the close proximity of the face buttons and the shoulder buttons on the Joy-Cons force my hands into a claw position that aches for about ten minutes afterwards. Listen, I know that not everyone will have this problem. Maybe I’m just old, or maybe I just have big hands, or god forbid, maybe I’m developing carpal tunnel or early stage arthritis, but playing Slime-San on Switch made me feel like my hands were falling apart. It’s a shame, because this is the kind of game that can ensnare you for hours on end as you try “just one more level” over and over until your thumbs go numb. Conclusion: Slime-San isn’t perfect, but it is charming, and provides a challenging good time for any fan of the genre. I’m glad it released on Switch, so that it’s now on all of the major platforms; PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and Steam. It’s the kind of game that fits nicely on Switch (provided you have a pro controller, or the joy-cons fit your hands perfectly), and especially benefits from the new Nintendo system’s less-congested marketplace. It’s a great game, but it doesn’t stand out from the pack of indie platformers on offer. Heck, it’s not even the most recognizable slime-themed game this year. While never quite reaching the heights of some of its predecessors, Slime-San makes for an enjoyable, but imperfect little platforming adventure. View full article
  8. Review: Slime-San

    Indie retro platformers are a dime a dozen in 2017. Since the success of Super Meat Boy in 2010, the independent scene has become cluttered with also-ran, ultra-challenging, quirky platformers of the 8-bit variety. As an ultra-challenging, quirky platformer of the 8-bit variety, Slime-San, from developer Fabraz and publisher Headup Games, will likely fall squarely into that also-ran category, to no fault of its own. Slime-San’s titular protagonist finds himself trapped inside a worm. The reasons are unknown, but probably have something to do with the fact that it’s… ya know, a slime. Inside the worm, an entire community of slimes has developed, with NPC’s offering up quirky flavor text and gameplay modifications. Everyone seems to have resigned themselves to their fate, eternally trapped inside this volatile invertebrate, but not Slime-San. He’s going to get out, and he’s going to free everyone else in the process. Slime-San’s amusing story, but silly story made me laugh more than a handful of times. Slime-San is a fine example of what has made the platformer genre so enduring even three decades after Mario first bounced off a goomba’s head. The platforming presents an intense dance of thumbs and reflexes as each level tests your ability to flip back and forth between the numerous pitfalls and traps in each stage. Those obstacles range from enemies that chase you around the level, to lasers that rise and fall in tandem, to an ever-present red slime that acts as a timer lending some more tension to each stage. The environments inside the giant worm in which Slime-San is trapped, mainly consist of green and red surfaces. You can bounce and climb up green surfaces, while red surfaces will kill your gungy, little protagonist. You can slow time to pass through green surfaces or perform a quick forward dash to more easily maneuver through the game’s many obstacles. These abilities are key to Slime-San’s mobility, which feels tight and joyful, always keeping you on your toes without becoming too frustrating. This is greatly aided by the game’s generous checkpoint system. Death in Slime-San serves as a lesson in how to avoid it on the next run through a level, rather than a frustrating penalty. That’s not to say Slime-San avoids frustration altogether. As the game progresses, new concepts and obstacles are introduced at a steady drip. While some effectively enhance the challenge, others detract from what Slime-San does well. There are a number of puzzle levels that, when combined with the game’s already perplexing platforming sequences, serve to slow things down and create a repetitive loop that often tested my patience to its breaking point. In addition, underwater levels show up more often that they should, which is to say they should’ve been nixed completely. The underwater stages simply don’t play to Slime-San’s strengths, slowing Slime-San’s movement speed to a crawl and evoking the feeling of swimming through a bowl of Jell-O rather than zipping around tightly designed corridors. At times like this, Slime-San’s creativity undermines its tight, smooth game design. Slime-San’s best moments are challenges that require unimpeachable control, precise timing, and speed. Slime-San is designed for forward momentum, and each one-screen stage lays out where you need to go right from the beginning, so all you need to do is figure out how to get there and the quickest route to take. Boss fights break up the challenges nicely, allowing you to experiment with different techniques to take down each beast. These fights test your skills to the max, but they’re also a lot of fun. I only wish there were more of them. My biggest issue with Slime-San relates directly to the platform I played it on. The Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controllers were not designed well for someone with large hands, and playing Slime-San exasperates that problem. The game demands precise timing and thumb-work, but the Joy-Cons can’t accommodate that for someone like myself. Whereas I find that minimalist, chill games like Death Squared seem perfectly suited to the Switch, games like Slime-San and, similarly, Super Meat Boy (which also recently released on Switch) are hindered by the console’s standard input controllers. I have never wished I had a Nintendo Switch Pro Controller more than after some of the more harrowing sections of Slime-San. The lack of a real d-pad and the close proximity of the face buttons and the shoulder buttons on the Joy-Cons force my hands into a claw position that aches for about ten minutes afterwards. Listen, I know that not everyone will have this problem. Maybe I’m just old, or maybe I just have big hands, or god forbid, maybe I’m developing carpal tunnel or early stage arthritis, but playing Slime-San on Switch made me feel like my hands were falling apart. It’s a shame, because this is the kind of game that can ensnare you for hours on end as you try “just one more level” over and over until your thumbs go numb. Conclusion: Slime-San isn’t perfect, but it is charming, and provides a challenging good time for any fan of the genre. I’m glad it released on Switch, so that it’s now on all of the major platforms; PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and Steam. It’s the kind of game that fits nicely on Switch (provided you have a pro controller, or the joy-cons fit your hands perfectly), and especially benefits from the new Nintendo system’s less-congested marketplace. It’s a great game, but it doesn’t stand out from the pack of indie platformers on offer. Heck, it’s not even the most recognizable slime-themed game this year. While never quite reaching the heights of some of its predecessors, Slime-San makes for an enjoyable, but imperfect little platforming adventure.
  9. Slime-san released on PC back in April, but the charming, goopy platformer about a slime with a heart of gold has released for the Nintendo Switch. The adventure is simple enough - Slime-san was living happily in the forest until one day a gigantic worm ate him! Players must help the intrepid little slime ball escape the digestive tract of the worm while navigating around hazards and making new friends who survive within the gargantuan worm. However, in order to complete his escape, Slime-san will have to conquer 100 different levels, all rendered lovingly in a retro art style. Players will be able to unlock new play styles, outfits, shaders, and multiplayer mini-games that make use of the Switch's Joy-Con controllers. Mastery of the fast-paced platforming is a must for players looking to escape the worm alive and avoid an oncoming wall of stomach acid. Slime-san uses his slime body to his advantage, squeezing through tight nooks, dashing through broken obstacles, slipping and sliding off of walls. Sliming around on the ground slows time, while dashing speeds it up. Players looking for a more competitive challenge will definitely find one in Slime-San. Fabraz, the title's developer, has added a timer to each level. Players can compare their times with online rankings to see how they measure up to Slime-san players around the world. New challenge modes like a New Game+, Speed Running, and Boss Rush can also be unlocked to up the ante. Last, but certainly not least, Slime-san features a wonderful soundtrack from over 10 different composers including the likes of Richard Gould, Adhesive Wombat, Tiasu, Meganeko, Kubbi, and Inverse Phase. It's definitely worth a listen, even if you're not a fan of platformers. Slime-san has been recognized on numerous occasions for its standout gameplay and aesthetic, including being part of the Smithsonian Arcade Selection in July. View full article
  10. Slime-san released on PC back in April, but the charming, goopy platformer about a slime with a heart of gold has released for the Nintendo Switch. The adventure is simple enough - Slime-san was living happily in the forest until one day a gigantic worm ate him! Players must help the intrepid little slime ball escape the digestive tract of the worm while navigating around hazards and making new friends who survive within the gargantuan worm. However, in order to complete his escape, Slime-san will have to conquer 100 different levels, all rendered lovingly in a retro art style. Players will be able to unlock new play styles, outfits, shaders, and multiplayer mini-games that make use of the Switch's Joy-Con controllers. Mastery of the fast-paced platforming is a must for players looking to escape the worm alive and avoid an oncoming wall of stomach acid. Slime-san uses his slime body to his advantage, squeezing through tight nooks, dashing through broken obstacles, slipping and sliding off of walls. Sliming around on the ground slows time, while dashing speeds it up. Players looking for a more competitive challenge will definitely find one in Slime-San. Fabraz, the title's developer, has added a timer to each level. Players can compare their times with online rankings to see how they measure up to Slime-san players around the world. New challenge modes like a New Game+, Speed Running, and Boss Rush can also be unlocked to up the ante. Last, but certainly not least, Slime-san features a wonderful soundtrack from over 10 different composers including the likes of Richard Gould, Adhesive Wombat, Tiasu, Meganeko, Kubbi, and Inverse Phase. It's definitely worth a listen, even if you're not a fan of platformers. Slime-san has been recognized on numerous occasions for its standout gameplay and aesthetic, including being part of the Smithsonian Arcade Selection in July.
  11. When I woke up this morning, I didn't expect to be writing about a new Bubsy game. I mean, for crying out loud, the last Bubsy game released in 1996 - that's over two decades ago! Through some kind of alchemy that doubtlessly included human sacrifices, Bubsy has a new game slated for release this year. With the aid of Billionsoft, an investment company that revives old gaming IPs with an eye to make a profit, Accolade has risen from the grave to create an all new Bubsy game. Titled Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back, the reinvention of the classic platformer has our furred hero traveling to various locales in search of the golden fleece. Bubsy returns this September on the PlayStation 4 and PC.
  12. When I woke up this morning, I didn't expect to be writing about a new Bubsy game. I mean, for crying out loud, the last Bubsy game released in 1996 - that's over two decades ago! Through some kind of alchemy that doubtlessly included human sacrifices, Bubsy has a new game slated for release this year. With the aid of Billionsoft, an investment company that revives old gaming IPs with an eye to make a profit, Accolade has risen from the grave to create an all new Bubsy game. Titled Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back, the reinvention of the classic platformer has our furred hero traveling to various locales in search of the golden fleece. Bubsy returns this September on the PlayStation 4 and PC. View full article
  13. Swedish game developer Villa Gorilla announced today that they will be partnering with publisher Team17 to bring their combination pinball-platformer to life. Yoku's Island Express offers a strangely enticing mix of pinball gameplay and platforming with pinball elements. Players take on the role of Yoku, a heroic dung beetle wh- wait, hear me out! I know video games are sometimes weird just for the sake of being weird, but this one seems weird AND cool. Yoku has arrived on Mokumana Island, a land of anthropomorphic animals, in order to take over for the old pterodactyl's mailman job. Though he thought this island gig would be relaxing, he soon discovers that Mokumana's guardian deity has fallen into a deep sleep plagued by nightmares. The slumbering god's troubled dreams create earthquakes and misery for the colorful characters of the island, even bringing down Yoku's post office. So, in order to get the relaxation he always wanted, Yoku sets off on a mission to awaken the troubled god and restore peace to Mokumana. Using Yoku's travelling ball, you know, as dung beetles do, players can help him navigate the pinball-like stages to explore the world, collect fruit, and rebuild the ruined post office. The hand-painted world of Yoku's Island Express was created by industry veterans and ex-members of Starbreeze Studios (Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons), Jens Andersson and Mattias Snygg. Andersson explained the new relationship with Team17 by saying, "with Team17 we’ve found a publishing partner that cherishes innovation and style – something we recognized way back when we played Alien Breed on our Amigas. We feel that their commitment to quality and fun gameplay is a perfect match for us." Yoku's Island Adventure will be coming to Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC in 2018.
  14. Swedish game developer Villa Gorilla announced today that they will be partnering with publisher Team17 to bring their combination pinball-platformer to life. Yoku's Island Express offers a strangely enticing mix of pinball gameplay and platforming with pinball elements. Players take on the role of Yoku, a heroic dung beetle wh- wait, hear me out! I know video games are sometimes weird just for the sake of being weird, but this one seems weird AND cool. Yoku has arrived on Mokumana Island, a land of anthropomorphic animals, in order to take over for the old pterodactyl's mailman job. Though he thought this island gig would be relaxing, he soon discovers that Mokumana's guardian deity has fallen into a deep sleep plagued by nightmares. The slumbering god's troubled dreams create earthquakes and misery for the colorful characters of the island, even bringing down Yoku's post office. So, in order to get the relaxation he always wanted, Yoku sets off on a mission to awaken the troubled god and restore peace to Mokumana. Using Yoku's travelling ball, you know, as dung beetles do, players can help him navigate the pinball-like stages to explore the world, collect fruit, and rebuild the ruined post office. The hand-painted world of Yoku's Island Express was created by industry veterans and ex-members of Starbreeze Studios (Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons), Jens Andersson and Mattias Snygg. Andersson explained the new relationship with Team17 by saying, "with Team17 we’ve found a publishing partner that cherishes innovation and style – something we recognized way back when we played Alien Breed on our Amigas. We feel that their commitment to quality and fun gameplay is a perfect match for us." Yoku's Island Adventure will be coming to Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC in 2018. View full article
  15. The folks at Lizardcube release their side-scrolling action-platformer Wonder Boy today. The vibrant, dream-like game follows the either Hu-Man or Hu-Girl as he/she ventures into Monster Land in search of the dragon's room. Unfortunately for our hero, the room isn't without its traps. The dragon curses Wonder Boy, dooming him to live in various animal-human forms. The trailer shows these forms in action: Lizard-Man, Mouse-Man, Lion-Man, Piranha-Man, and Hawk-Man. Each one has different advantages, like a fire breath attack as Lizard-Man or the ability to fly as Hawk-Man. Players will need to master each form in order to recover the Salamander Cross and remove the curse for good. As a nice added bonus, players can switch back and forth from the modern, hand-animated style or a retro 8-bit aesthetic. These changes can be made on the fly and even extend to the audio and sound effects. Wonder Boy is an old Sega franchise that had some of the strangest numbering and naming conventions, even by gaming standards. The series goes Wonder Boy, Wonder Boy: Monster Land, Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair, Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap, Wonder Boy V: Monster World III, and Monster World IV. Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap is a modern reimagining of the 1989 Sega Master System title Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap for modern consoles and possibly an attempt to revive the dormant Wonder Boy IP for a new era. Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap is available now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch
  16. The folks at Lizardcube release their side-scrolling action-platformer Wonder Boy today. The vibrant, dream-like game follows the either Hu-Man or Hu-Girl as he/she ventures into Monster Land in search of the dragon's room. Unfortunately for our hero, the room isn't without its traps. The dragon curses Wonder Boy, dooming him to live in various animal-human forms. The trailer shows these forms in action: Lizard-Man, Mouse-Man, Lion-Man, Piranha-Man, and Hawk-Man. Each one has different advantages, like a fire breath attack as Lizard-Man or the ability to fly as Hawk-Man. Players will need to master each form in order to recover the Salamander Cross and remove the curse for good. As a nice added bonus, players can switch back and forth from the modern, hand-animated style or a retro 8-bit aesthetic. These changes can be made on the fly and even extend to the audio and sound effects. Wonder Boy is an old Sega franchise that had some of the strangest numbering and naming conventions, even by gaming standards. The series goes Wonder Boy, Wonder Boy: Monster Land, Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair, Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap, Wonder Boy V: Monster World III, and Monster World IV. Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap is a modern reimagining of the 1989 Sega Master System title Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap for modern consoles and possibly an attempt to revive the dormant Wonder Boy IP for a new era. Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap is available now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch View full article
  17. Few games in the last few years exude as much charm as Save Me Mr. Tako, an indie PC title that uses a Game Boy aesthetic to tell the story of an octopus who doesn't want to fight. The tale of Mr. Tako was originally conceived by French indie developer Chris Deneos in 2014 as a way of honoring the 24th anniversary of the Game Boy. Since then, Deneos has fully committed to seeing the project through. As a pixel artist, Deneos really manages to create expressive and interesting visuals within the constraints of the chosen Game Boy style. The entire project has been constructed using Unity, which surprisingly manages to mimic the Game Boy visuals quite well. Fully titled Tasukete Tako-San: Save Me Mr. Tako, the platformer mashes together the spirit of the Kirby and Legend of Zelda franchises to weave a compelling world full of aquatic and land-based denizens and enemies. Players can absorb and use over fifty different powers from enemies as the titular Mr. Tako to help battle enemies and explore a large, non-linear world. The story of Save Me Mr. Tako centers around Mr. Tako, an octopus sent to fight humans in the great Octopus-Human War. One dark night, his unit attacks a human ship at sea. Mr. Tako doesn't want to fight humans and just wants peace. The octopi soldiers shove a woman into the sea to drown, but Mr. Tako dives in after her, saving her life. A sea fairy, seeing this act of bravery, gives Mr. Tako the ability to breathe outside of water in exchange for never hating another human. To bring an end to the war, Mr. Tako must brave the dangers of both the sea and land, and if that isn't the most adorable thing, I don't know what is. Deneos, working alone, is striving to add as much content to Save Me Mr. Tako as possible. The solo indie developer estimated earlier this year that the game was about half done, with over thirty levels, six towns, fifteen side-quests, and five hours of gameplay. The completed version of Save Me Mr. Tako will include the expected story mode alongside some form of multiplayer mode as well as a boss rush mode. Back in April he still hoped to finish work on Save Me Mr. Tako by the end of 2016, though that seems unlikely with about two weeks left in the year and no official release date announced. While the release date of Save Me Mr. Tako remains unknown, those who find the trailers and screenshots intriguing can download a free demo to see what the finished game will be like. The game is currently only on track for a PC release.
  18. Few games in the last few years exude as much charm as Save Me Mr. Tako, an indie PC title that uses a Game Boy aesthetic to tell the story of an octopus who doesn't want to fight. The tale of Mr. Tako was originally conceived by French indie developer Chris Deneos in 2014 as a way of honoring the 24th anniversary of the Game Boy. Since then, Deneos has fully committed to seeing the project through. As a pixel artist, Deneos really manages to create expressive and interesting visuals within the constraints of the chosen Game Boy style. The entire project has been constructed using Unity, which surprisingly manages to mimic the Game Boy visuals quite well. Fully titled Tasukete Tako-San: Save Me Mr. Tako, the platformer mashes together the spirit of the Kirby and Legend of Zelda franchises to weave a compelling world full of aquatic and land-based denizens and enemies. Players can absorb and use over fifty different powers from enemies as the titular Mr. Tako to help battle enemies and explore a large, non-linear world. The story of Save Me Mr. Tako centers around Mr. Tako, an octopus sent to fight humans in the great Octopus-Human War. One dark night, his unit attacks a human ship at sea. Mr. Tako doesn't want to fight humans and just wants peace. The octopi soldiers shove a woman into the sea to drown, but Mr. Tako dives in after her, saving her life. A sea fairy, seeing this act of bravery, gives Mr. Tako the ability to breathe outside of water in exchange for never hating another human. To bring an end to the war, Mr. Tako must brave the dangers of both the sea and land, and if that isn't the most adorable thing, I don't know what is. Deneos, working alone, is striving to add as much content to Save Me Mr. Tako as possible. The solo indie developer estimated earlier this year that the game was about half done, with over thirty levels, six towns, fifteen side-quests, and five hours of gameplay. The completed version of Save Me Mr. Tako will include the expected story mode alongside some form of multiplayer mode as well as a boss rush mode. Back in April he still hoped to finish work on Save Me Mr. Tako by the end of 2016, though that seems unlikely with about two weeks left in the year and no official release date announced. While the release date of Save Me Mr. Tako remains unknown, those who find the trailers and screenshots intriguing can download a free demo to see what the finished game will be like. The game is currently only on track for a PC release. View full article
  19. Back in 2008, developer DICE took a major risk on a game called Mirror's Edge. It tackled one of the most difficult genres, the first-person platformer. At the time, many in the gaming community considered platforming from a first-person perspective to be the bane of many games and the idea of constructing an entire game around that concept seemed ridiculous. Despite that, DICE pushed ahead and made their game a reality. It starred Faith Connors, a female protagonist of color, as a Runner, one of the few people able to travel outside of an oppressive government's near omni-present surveillance. Using Faith's parkour skills, players had to traverse environments that made use of a shocking, gorgeously clean aesthetic. It was at times clumsy and disorienting, but functional and it gained a major following. Does Mirror's Edge hold up eight years later? Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. This episode contains some explicit language. Outro music: Mirror's Edge 'Clear Reflections' by Sir_NutS (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03003) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday View full article
  20. Back in 2008, developer DICE took a major risk on a game called Mirror's Edge. It tackled one of the most difficult genres, the first-person platformer. At the time, many in the gaming community considered platforming from a first-person perspective to be the bane of many games and the idea of constructing an entire game around that concept seemed ridiculous. Despite that, DICE pushed ahead and made their game a reality. It starred Faith Connors, a female protagonist of color, as a Runner, one of the few people able to travel outside of an oppressive government's near omni-present surveillance. Using Faith's parkour skills, players had to traverse environments that made use of a shocking, gorgeously clean aesthetic. It was at times clumsy and disorienting, but functional and it gained a major following. Does Mirror's Edge hold up eight years later? Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. This episode contains some explicit language. Outro music: Mirror's Edge 'Clear Reflections' by Sir_NutS (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03003) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday
  21. Back in 2008, developer DICE took a major risk on a game called Mirror's Edge. It tackled one of the most difficult genres, the first-person platformer. At the time, many in the gaming community considered platforming from a first-person perspective to be the bane of many games and the idea of constructing an entire game around that concept seemed ridiculous. Despite that, DICE pushed ahead and made their game a reality. It starred Faith Connors, a female protagonist of color, as a Runner, one of the few people able to travel outside of an oppressive government's near omni-present surveillance. Using Faith's parkour skills, players had to traverse environments that made use of a shocking, gorgeously clean aesthetic. It was at times clumsy and disorienting, but functional and it gained a major following. Does Mirror's Edge hold up eight years later? Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. This episode contains some explicit language. Outro music: Mirror's Edge 'Clear Reflections' by Sir_NutS (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03003) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday View full article
  22. Feature: Review: Klang

    If there’s one lesson that 10 years of singing, instrument-playing, and dancing have taught me, it’s that the show must go on. The number of people I’ve seen take “break a leg” beyond pure metaphor, and still soldier on, genuinely astounds me. No matter the error, no matter the number of botched notes, or missed steps, you power through a performance with all you can, for surely the alternative is always worse. For a game so wrapped up in the power of music, it’s odd to see Klang (developed by the one-man team at Tinimations and composed by EDM guru Jordan Aguirre AKA “bLiNd”) take so much of its ethos to heart, and yet stumble on that one key point. As the cybergoth-inspired rave warrior, you’ll fight and headbang your way towards defeating the evil Soundlord Sonos in a world absolutely soaked with neon and musical minutia. Levels, many of which feel like they’re ripped from the stages of your favorite rock venue, pulse with each distinctive track’s beat. Streetlamps shaped like clef notes hang above your head as you dash on by. Each track helps to define the rhythm of combat or exploration. Enemies gather around you to lob carefully synchronized attacks, while a directional meter lets you know when to strike it back. Giant soundwave attacks demand you either leap or slide your way to safety, and it all comes together in the game’s later stages to create a beautiful maelstrom of action. The music is, as advertised, an amazing and eclectic mix of hard-hitting EDM and more tranquil house music beats. BLiNd’s work might not be for everyone (to say nothing of the genre as a whole), but the marriage between Tinimations’ aesthetic and composer Jordan Aguirre’s infectious rhythms are undeniably beautiful. Rather than a simple backdrop, the soundtrack plays a vital role in determining movement during combat and exploration. The heady thud-thud-thud of a classic EDM beat, coupled with a damaging force field that blinks on and off of a wall, dictates how you must traverse upwards using a classic wall jump maneuver. Much like a music aficionado might use a song’s rhythm to guess what’s coming next (think the “drop” in nearly any EDM song), so must the player, learning to duck and leap away from the next attack, or avoid the deadly searchlights of stationary enemies. The problem begins (and for the most part, ends) with how Klang’s gameplay manages to detract from the success of this marriage. Even for fans of gaming’s most difficult genres and franchises (twitch shooters, Dark Souls), Klang is an astonishingly difficult, often frustrating experience. What issues Klang’s demo had could easily be chalked up to an unfamiliarity with the game’s mechanics, but spread out over the two to four hours of available content, those issues become omnipresent. Even on the game’s lowest difficulty, and employing a “reflex mode” that briefly slows down time when taking significant damage, Klang’s frantic action and occasional one-hit kills proved to be way too much to handle. While the game is great about putting you back in the action almost immediately, you’ll die so often that it won’t feel like it matters, putting you in the position of getting frustrated, and thus unable to concentrate, leading to more deaths. While taking on one of the game’s bosses, I found myself stuck between his constant attacks, a deadly pit of energy behind me, and a continuous gust of wind that threatened to push me into it. I had already gotten used to the mechanics of leaping and ducking to avoid massive soundwave attacks from this boss, but while the game does give you a fair bit of health, all it took was one mismanaged jump (while also deflecting regular attacks) for me to lose my momentum and get swept into the pit. If it’s not the pit, it will be one of the countless, twitchy “security cameras” you must run by without being spotted once for fear of being zapped. If it’s not the cameras, it might be the rapidly dissipating platforms that only solidify once you’ve executed one of 30 precarious jump-deflect combos. If it’s not any one of those things, it will be some combination. You will die. Incredibly often. And as beautiful as bLiNd’s music is, as much as I’m dying to listen to it all over again, you will grow so familiar with the first 10-20 seconds of each track that they begin to lose their luster. Klang almost certainly plays to the kind of gamer that enjoys a ludicrously demanding experience. Unfortunately, the game’s unforgiving nature will likely sour the experience for anyone who doesn’t seek out such a thing. One of the worst things a musician can do is stop their performance after making one, or even many, simple mistakes. Acknowledging and walking back on a commitment always seems less impressive than powering through an understandable, if human, error. You won’t find room for any error, much less human. Beyond the split-second reaction times, its level design is also occasionally flawed. During a boss battle that incorporated cones of vision (and one-hit deaths for being seen), three raised platforms above the boss’ head felt like indicators that aerial attacks wouldn’t work. This turned out to be completely false. Aerial attacks were the only method, but the level design, plus a rapidly shifting enemy cone of vision, plus an unforgiving checkpoint system quickly turned the battle into something as frustrating as it was inventive. Klang’s brilliant soundtrack and unique brand of action platforming would come across as a much more cohesive package if we were able to appreciate it at length and as a whole, rather than gritting our teeth and praying for a checkpoint. For those who do feel up to the challenge, beyond the normal difficulty setting, beating the game unlocks a “Nightcore” mode (maybe don’t Google that) that allows you to play at an even higher difficulty. Conclusion: Klang still carries a sincere sense of recommendation, if only based on its incredibly inventive style and incorporation of music. We don’t often get a game, indie or otherwise, that has the courage to tackle music with such ingenuity. Tinimations’ and bLiNd’s passion shows in every single beat, but their own concept gets too caught up in its own noodling to allow for lesser players to enjoy it to its fullest extent. Klang was reviewed on PC and is now available on Steam. View full article
  23. Review: Klang

    If there’s one lesson that 10 years of singing, instrument-playing, and dancing have taught me, it’s that the show must go on. The number of people I’ve seen take “break a leg” beyond pure metaphor, and still soldier on, genuinely astounds me. No matter the error, no matter the number of botched notes, or missed steps, you power through a performance with all you can, for surely the alternative is always worse. For a game so wrapped up in the power of music, it’s odd to see Klang (developed by the one-man team at Tinimations and composed by EDM guru Jordan Aguirre AKA “bLiNd”) take so much of its ethos to heart, and yet stumble on that one key point. As the cybergoth-inspired rave warrior, you’ll fight and headbang your way towards defeating the evil Soundlord Sonos in a world absolutely soaked with neon and musical minutia. Levels, many of which feel like they’re ripped from the stages of your favorite rock venue, pulse with each distinctive track’s beat. Streetlamps shaped like clef notes hang above your head as you dash on by. Each track helps to define the rhythm of combat or exploration. Enemies gather around you to lob carefully synchronized attacks, while a directional meter lets you know when to strike it back. Giant soundwave attacks demand you either leap or slide your way to safety, and it all comes together in the game’s later stages to create a beautiful maelstrom of action. The music is, as advertised, an amazing and eclectic mix of hard-hitting EDM and more tranquil house music beats. BLiNd’s work might not be for everyone (to say nothing of the genre as a whole), but the marriage between Tinimations’ aesthetic and composer Jordan Aguirre’s infectious rhythms are undeniably beautiful. Rather than a simple backdrop, the soundtrack plays a vital role in determining movement during combat and exploration. The heady thud-thud-thud of a classic EDM beat, coupled with a damaging force field that blinks on and off of a wall, dictates how you must traverse upwards using a classic wall jump maneuver. Much like a music aficionado might use a song’s rhythm to guess what’s coming next (think the “drop” in nearly any EDM song), so must the player, learning to duck and leap away from the next attack, or avoid the deadly searchlights of stationary enemies. The problem begins (and for the most part, ends) with how Klang’s gameplay manages to detract from the success of this marriage. Even for fans of gaming’s most difficult genres and franchises (twitch shooters, Dark Souls), Klang is an astonishingly difficult, often frustrating experience. What issues Klang’s demo had could easily be chalked up to an unfamiliarity with the game’s mechanics, but spread out over the two to four hours of available content, those issues become omnipresent. Even on the game’s lowest difficulty, and employing a “reflex mode” that briefly slows down time when taking significant damage, Klang’s frantic action and occasional one-hit kills proved to be way too much to handle. While the game is great about putting you back in the action almost immediately, you’ll die so often that it won’t feel like it matters, putting you in the position of getting frustrated, and thus unable to concentrate, leading to more deaths. While taking on one of the game’s bosses, I found myself stuck between his constant attacks, a deadly pit of energy behind me, and a continuous gust of wind that threatened to push me into it. I had already gotten used to the mechanics of leaping and ducking to avoid massive soundwave attacks from this boss, but while the game does give you a fair bit of health, all it took was one mismanaged jump (while also deflecting regular attacks) for me to lose my momentum and get swept into the pit. If it’s not the pit, it will be one of the countless, twitchy “security cameras” you must run by without being spotted once for fear of being zapped. If it’s not the cameras, it might be the rapidly dissipating platforms that only solidify once you’ve executed one of 30 precarious jump-deflect combos. If it’s not any one of those things, it will be some combination. You will die. Incredibly often. And as beautiful as bLiNd’s music is, as much as I’m dying to listen to it all over again, you will grow so familiar with the first 10-20 seconds of each track that they begin to lose their luster. Klang almost certainly plays to the kind of gamer that enjoys a ludicrously demanding experience. Unfortunately, the game’s unforgiving nature will likely sour the experience for anyone who doesn’t seek out such a thing. One of the worst things a musician can do is stop their performance after making one, or even many, simple mistakes. Acknowledging and walking back on a commitment always seems less impressive than powering through an understandable, if human, error. You won’t find room for any error, much less human. Beyond the split-second reaction times, its level design is also occasionally flawed. During a boss battle that incorporated cones of vision (and one-hit deaths for being seen), three raised platforms above the boss’ head felt like indicators that aerial attacks wouldn’t work. This turned out to be completely false. Aerial attacks were the only method, but the level design, plus a rapidly shifting enemy cone of vision, plus an unforgiving checkpoint system quickly turned the battle into something as frustrating as it was inventive. Klang’s brilliant soundtrack and unique brand of action platforming would come across as a much more cohesive package if we were able to appreciate it at length and as a whole, rather than gritting our teeth and praying for a checkpoint. For those who do feel up to the challenge, beyond the normal difficulty setting, beating the game unlocks a “Nightcore” mode (maybe don’t Google that) that allows you to play at an even higher difficulty. Conclusion: Klang still carries a sincere sense of recommendation, if only based on its incredibly inventive style and incorporation of music. We don’t often get a game, indie or otherwise, that has the courage to tackle music with such ingenuity. Tinimations’ and bLiNd’s passion shows in every single beat, but their own concept gets too caught up in its own noodling to allow for lesser players to enjoy it to its fullest extent. Klang was reviewed on PC and is now available on Steam.
  24. Review: Chariot

    For those of you that aren’t old enough to remember, there was once a mysterious video game feature called “local co-op” that dominated every gaming system known to man (except PC). For a long while, family and friends could bond by sharing a couch and enjoying the finer aspects of jolly cooperation. Then the internet happened and it seemed like the ways of local co-op would be lost forever to the ravages of time. With the rise of internet co-op, precious few video games even bothered to include the option to play with a physically present friend. In the midst of local co-op’s Dark Age*, a beacon of hope signaled that some developers still revered the old ways. Frima Games’ Chariot champions local co-op, emphasizing teamwork and creative problem solving. In fact, if it has one major drawback it is that such an emphasis is placed on the local co-op that playing through Chariot in single-player can feel a bit hollow. Chariot was reviewed on PlayStation 4. Chariot is a platformer that relies on increasingly complex puzzles built into its levels. Creatively making use of deceptively simple mechanics is required to progress. Players can sling a rope to either side of the chariot with one button and pull it forward or let the line grow slack with two others. Combine the rope mechanics with jumping and that constitutes the core of the player’s puzzle-solving arsenal. To further complicate matters, these mechanics are applied in different ways depending on the various environments players will encounter. The introductory caves give players a great opportunity to grasp the basics, but each new area, like the frictionless ice caverns or the lava-filled magma grottos, present their own unique challenges. Each level is fairly open and allows for a great deal of exploration. Intrepid players will be rewarded with valuable loot as well as precious item blueprints. Blueprints allow a friendly skeleton merchant to create useful items and upgrades for the chariot. Certain blueprints, like the royal lantern upgrade, are required to make progress into other areas of Chariot. To find the most powerful items and rarest treasures, players will need to grab a friend to play by their side. Many will be impossible to obtain for solo players. Co-op is the soul of Chariot and it is only when playing co-op that the full potential of Chariot shines through. There is no online co-op option; players will need to be physically present with each other. While it is possible to complete the game alone, it will be less frustrating to tackle the core story with a friend. During my solo time with Chariot, there were numerous instances when I wished I had a co-op buddy to provide backup on some of the trickier platforming challenges. When I was playing co-op, everything seemed to fall into place and, while there were still a number of falls and slip ups, everyone seemed to have a great time. I have mixed feelings about Chariot’s enemies. Called Looters, the small pool of antagonists don’t constitute a direct threat to the player; they’re only interested in stealing treasure from the chariot. At worst they pose an annoying inconvenience. Each player has an attack that can be used to fend off the attackers, either a sword or a slingshot depending on the choice of character. The problem is that Looters almost feel obligatory, as if Frima felt they had to include enemies because a platformer needs them otherwise it isn’t a real platformer. I can see why they might want to include enemies as a way of amping up the tension in tricky areas and to make the two characters feel distinct. It would have been a bold decision, but I think Chariot would have benefitted from a complete lack of enemies. The combat itself isn’t thrilling or complicated; most situations where enemies appear can be solved by standing on the chariot and mashing the attack button. These instances felt forced and broke the sense of flow that I had derived from the Looter-less sections. It wasn’t a huge problem, but it was a source of irritation. On top of satisfying exploration and mechanics, Chariot tells a simple story about a princess who, along with her fiancée, seeks to inter her father’s remains in a royal sepulcher**. The problem is that her father’s ghost haunts the wheeled coffin, aka the titular chariot, and demands a more suitable resting place as well as a hoard of treasure worthy of his kingly station. Chariot does a number of really refreshing and interesting thing with its simple premise. It is a welcome change of pace to see a leading lady in a platformer. This is clearly important given that I had to spend five or six minutes explaining to my six-year-old nephew/co-op buddy that the main character was, in fact, a woman. That really shouldn’t have to be so alien a concept as to invite a child’s incredulity. Chariot also succeeds in being an amusing, if not laugh out loud, experience. The voice acting for the king is perfectly petulant and demanding and, while it can get grating after repeated platforming failures, generally left me with a smile on my face. I’m somewhat tempted to dig into an analysis of Chariot’s messages regarding death and acceptance, but that can wait for an article all its own. Suffice it to say that there are more complicated and interesting things going on beneath Chariot’s surface than its friendly and cheerful exterior would imply. Chariot’s aesthetic perfectly complements its content. Though the premise, to be perfectly blunt, is to find a place to bury the protagonist’s dead father, Chariot manages to sidestep how potentially disturbing that could be by implementing an aesthetic that feels friendly and inviting. Colors really pop and every environment feels distinct. It has a painted, fairy-tale feel, as if it was adapted from a children’s bedtime story. The layered score lulls players into a state of zen as they make progress and roll the chariot on toward the next sepulcher. For those of you that aren’t old enough to remember, there was once a mysterious video game feature called “local co-op” that dominated every gaming system known to man (except PC). For a long while, family and friends could bond by sharing a couch and enjoying the finer aspects of jolly cooperation. Then the internet happened and it seemed like the ways of local co-op would be lost forever to the ravages of time. With the rise of internet co-op, precious few video games even bothered to include the option to play with a physically present friend. In the midst of local co-op’s Dark Age*, a beacon of hope signaled that some developers still revered the old ways. Frima Games’ Chariot champions local co-op, emphasizing teamwork and creative problem solving. In fact, if it has one major drawback it is that such an emphasis is placed on the local co-op that playing through Chariot in single-player can feel a bit hollow. Conclusion: Chariot is a great indie title that is best enjoyed with a friend or on a date night with a significant other. It emphasizes teamwork and problem solving with a minimum of violence. It is a great game for kids and adults alike as the challenges require some brainpower, but not to a frustrating degree. It also raises some introductory themes that deal with death and could lead to interesting conversations with children old enough to tackle such issues. I’m always a fan of games that take relatively simple mechanics and use them in stimulating ways. Chariot does this exceedingly well. It is a lovingly crafted, beautiful platformer that can be appreciated by all ages. Chariot is currently available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It will be coming to PC at an as yet unannounced time. * Fun fact: I’m guilty of perpetuating a common misconception regarding the time period that people have frequently termed Europe’s Dark Age. In fact, it was not nearly as devoid of activity, learning, or progress as people tend to believe (see beginning of The Importance of the Middle Ages). Or, for those of you with less patience for academic writing, here is a Cracked article. ** Chariot deserves credit for teaching me that I have been mispronouncing ‘sepulcher’ for years.
  25. Feature: Review: Chariot

    For those of you that aren’t old enough to remember, there was once a mysterious video game feature called “local co-op” that dominated every gaming system known to man (except PC). For a long while, family and friends could bond by sharing a couch and enjoying the finer aspects of jolly cooperation. Then the internet happened and it seemed like the ways of local co-op would be lost forever to the ravages of time. With the rise of internet co-op, precious few video games even bothered to include the option to play with a physically present friend. In the midst of local co-op’s Dark Age*, a beacon of hope signaled that some developers still revered the old ways. Frima Games’ Chariot champions local co-op, emphasizing teamwork and creative problem solving. In fact, if it has one major drawback it is that such an emphasis is placed on the local co-op that playing through Chariot in single-player can feel a bit hollow. Chariot was reviewed on PlayStation 4. Chariot is a platformer that relies on increasingly complex puzzles built into its levels. Creatively making use of deceptively simple mechanics is required to progress. Players can sling a rope to either side of the chariot with one button and pull it forward or let the line grow slack with two others. Combine the rope mechanics with jumping and that constitutes the core of the player’s puzzle-solving arsenal. To further complicate matters, these mechanics are applied in different ways depending on the various environments players will encounter. The introductory caves give players a great opportunity to grasp the basics, but each new area, like the frictionless ice caverns or the lava-filled magma grottos, present their own unique challenges. Each level is fairly open and allows for a great deal of exploration. Intrepid players will be rewarded with valuable loot as well as precious item blueprints. Blueprints allow a friendly skeleton merchant to create useful items and upgrades for the chariot. Certain blueprints, like the royal lantern upgrade, are required to make progress into other areas of Chariot. To find the most powerful items and rarest treasures, players will need to grab a friend to play by their side. Many will be impossible to obtain for solo players. Co-op is the soul of Chariot and it is only when playing co-op that the full potential of Chariot shines through. There is no online co-op option; players will need to be physically present with each other. While it is possible to complete the game alone, it will be less frustrating to tackle the core story with a friend. During my solo time with Chariot, there were numerous instances when I wished I had a co-op buddy to provide backup on some of the trickier platforming challenges. When I was playing co-op, everything seemed to fall into place and, while there were still a number of falls and slip ups, everyone seemed to have a great time. I have mixed feelings about Chariot’s enemies. Called Looters, the small pool of antagonists don’t constitute a direct threat to the player; they’re only interested in stealing treasure from the chariot. At worst they pose an annoying inconvenience. Each player has an attack that can be used to fend off the attackers, either a sword or a slingshot depending on the choice of character. The problem is that Looters almost feel obligatory, as if Frima felt they had to include enemies because a platformer needs them otherwise it isn’t a real platformer. I can see why they might want to include enemies as a way of amping up the tension in tricky areas and to make the two characters feel distinct. It would have been a bold decision, but I think Chariot would have benefitted from a complete lack of enemies. The combat itself isn’t thrilling or complicated; most situations where enemies appear can be solved by standing on the chariot and mashing the attack button. These instances felt forced and broke the sense of flow that I had derived from the Looter-less sections. It wasn’t a huge problem, but it was a source of irritation. On top of satisfying exploration and mechanics, Chariot tells a simple story about a princess who, along with her fiancée, seeks to inter her father’s remains in a royal sepulcher**. The problem is that her father’s ghost haunts the wheeled coffin, aka the titular chariot, and demands a more suitable resting place as well as a hoard of treasure worthy of his kingly station. Chariot does a number of really refreshing and interesting thing with its simple premise. It is a welcome change of pace to see a leading lady in a platformer. This is clearly important given that I had to spend five or six minutes explaining to my six-year-old nephew/co-op buddy that the main character was, in fact, a woman. That really shouldn’t have to be so alien a concept as to invite a child’s incredulity. Chariot also succeeds in being an amusing, if not laugh out loud, experience. The voice acting for the king is perfectly petulant and demanding and, while it can get grating after repeated platforming failures, generally left me with a smile on my face. I’m somewhat tempted to dig into an analysis of Chariot’s messages regarding death and acceptance, but that can wait for an article all its own. Suffice it to say that there are more complicated and interesting things going on beneath Chariot’s surface than its friendly and cheerful exterior would imply. Chariot’s aesthetic perfectly complements its content. Though the premise, to be perfectly blunt, is to find a place to bury the protagonist’s dead father, Chariot manages to sidestep how potentially disturbing that could be by implementing an aesthetic that feels friendly and inviting. Colors really pop and every environment feels distinct. It has a painted, fairy-tale feel, as if it was adapted from a children’s bedtime story. The layered score lulls players into a state of zen as they make progress and roll the chariot on toward the next sepulcher. For those of you that aren’t old enough to remember, there was once a mysterious video game feature called “local co-op” that dominated every gaming system known to man (except PC). For a long while, family and friends could bond by sharing a couch and enjoying the finer aspects of jolly cooperation. Then the internet happened and it seemed like the ways of local co-op would be lost forever to the ravages of time. With the rise of internet co-op, precious few video games even bothered to include the option to play with a physically present friend. In the midst of local co-op’s Dark Age*, a beacon of hope signaled that some developers still revered the old ways. Frima Games’ Chariot champions local co-op, emphasizing teamwork and creative problem solving. In fact, if it has one major drawback it is that such an emphasis is placed on the local co-op that playing through Chariot in single-player can feel a bit hollow. Conclusion: Chariot is a great indie title that is best enjoyed with a friend or on a date night with a significant other. It emphasizes teamwork and problem solving with a minimum of violence. It is a great game for kids and adults alike as the challenges require some brainpower, but not to a frustrating degree. It also raises some introductory themes that deal with death and could lead to interesting conversations with children old enough to tackle such issues. I’m always a fan of games that take relatively simple mechanics and use them in stimulating ways. Chariot does this exceedingly well. It is a lovingly crafted, beautiful platformer that can be appreciated by all ages. Chariot is currently available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It will be coming to PC at an as yet unannounced time. * Fun fact: I’m guilty of perpetuating a common misconception regarding the time period that people have frequently termed Europe’s Dark Age. In fact, it was not nearly as devoid of activity, learning, or progress as people tend to believe (see beginning of The Importance of the Middle Ages). Or, for those of you with less patience for academic writing, here is a Cracked article. ** Chariot deserves credit for teaching me that I have been mispronouncing ‘sepulcher’ for years. View full article