“Vertiginous Golf is a physics-based, first person exploratory mini-golf game, set in an alternate, steampunk-infused world where life on the ground is enveloped in permanent smog, constant darkness and never-ending rain. Players chip and putt their way around courses floating high above the clouds with complex machinery and Victorian-era décor, as they slowly discover what the hell is going on in this peculiar place.”
That’s a helluva thing. While the big news is Vertiginous Golf’s “community driven” debut on Steam Early Access, all I care about is the “exploratory mini-golf”, Burnout-style aftertouch control, and gilded automaton hummingbird. I’ll pass on it for now but I’m keeping my eye out for the “final release” headline.
What’s the deal with golf anyways? It’s the one genre of games I never tire of being completely terrible at.
The next oddly compelling, strangely soothing worktime simulator is upon us and it is the whimsically titled ‘Warehouse and Logistic Manager’ from UIG and app2fun. Out today on Steam for $15 (and 20% off through March 4th), the sim takes the Shenmue forklift minigame to astoundingly realistic heights. Inexplicable controls and vague mission objectives are sure to abound as you try your hand at a job that requires an accredited license in real life.
Oh, and there’s also a $3 DLC pack called Hell’s Warehouse that pits your forklifting skills against armies of the undead. Watch for this one to pop up on your favorite ‘Let’s Play’ YouTube channels soon! … But not mine, I’m too busy with 3DO games.
Microsoft’s Xbox Live Service Status page is a great fist-stop when you’re having problems with anything relating to network activity on an Xbox console. Before you dig into DNS settings or power cycle dusty equipment stashed behind your TV, start by making sure the service itself is working.
It’s also a good place to remind yourself of how many services, apps and features Microsoft provides access to; my finger got tired scrolling through the gargantuan list! There’s the ubiquitous stuff like Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube but amid the sprawling 110 entries are things like Ameba TV, providing curated kids’ entertainment, a handful of anime streaming services, music video repositories, all the streaming radio apps I forgot about, and of course, the Pizza Hut app.
It’s worth looking through if just to remind yourself of all these online services.
Horray! That weird, Swedish, horror (?), mystery, app thing — Year Walk — is coming to Steam on March 6th. I was always interested but assumed it would run very poorly on our first gen iPad. Then we got rid of the iPad altogether so I couldn’t even delve into that equally puzzling “companion app” that was released alongside the game. Better yet, the game will be… better, with these enhancements:
New locations within the game
Integrated encyclopedia about the mysterious myths and creatures encountered in the game
Steam Achievement Puzzles
… and more!
No word yet on price but at least I’ll finally have the chance to play this!
Playing Jackbox Games‘ new mobile title, Word Puttz, I was certain the letters they gave me in this tutorial stage were a knowing setup. I was wrong. The purveyors of the classic You Don’t Know Jack series (hosted by Cookie Masterson. Get it now?) have applied their clever word play to the word game genre with Word Puttz. …word.
It’s Scrabble on a minigolf course, a design choice that repaints the traditional square board in new layouts while adding other gameplay wrinkles. Coins tempt you to run off of the direct course, tubes redirect your word train into perplexing corners, and word limits force you to plan ahead. There’s also this evil mechanic that locks your letters in place as you build words. On your way to spelling SHEATHES, for example, you’ll be locked in at SHE, SHEAT, SHEATH, and SHEATHE, being issued new letters to fill in your hand as you go. If things go bad you can remove any letters you laid down previously but you don’t get them back and the letters issued at each stop count against your limit for that stage. I’m seventeen stages in and it’s getting downright strategic.
Being a mobile game there are naturally hooks for in-app purchases. Hearts regenerate over time and you lose one if you quit out of a stage. Hints, shuffles and power-ups come in short supply. There are cheaper packs to refill these consumables but the $4.99 option buys you a less sleazy game. I’m no wordsmith and so far I haven’t run into a need to pay, despite one of the stages being cheekily titled “The Pay Wall”.
It’s a nice spin on the crowded word game genre, one that makes you think in new ways and, for a change, doesn’t require you to lure in friends and family as competitors. It’s available now for free on both Android and iOS.
Praise thee the black and green gods of Microsoft marketing for this one! I’ve been trying to love using the SmartGlass app on my phone as a surrogate remote control for the Xbox One but it’s just not right. I need buttons to push on a dedicated, low-power slab of plastic, not a tactile-less touch screen that shuts itself off every two minutes. And forget yelling at the Kinect; every time I unpause I miss the next few lines of dialog as I have to tell the thing to “Stop. Listening.” to get its screen-hogging display to fade out.
That’s why I’m super happy to see this oopsy-daisy slip on Amazon Canada that promises a slender new Xbox One Media Remote coming March 4th at roughly $23 U.S. I have long endorsed wireless remote controls on every console that’s offered them and will promptly pick this one up too whenever it’s released.
Following a game as it goes in and out of the IGF year after year is a funny thing. I have a hard time keeping up with the games and their developers in the intervening 11 months so I usually end up assuming the game has completely burnt out. And if it doesn’t run again the following year? Oh, forget it, total disaster; complete implosion.
That’s where I was at with Lantana Games’ Children of Liberty. After watching it grow over the course of two years I expected the worst when I didn’t see it entered again for the upcoming Independent Games Festival. So I was more than surprised to see the news yesterday announcing a slew of familiar actors lending their voices to the game’s up-til-now placeholder cast.
Ashly Burch (“Borderlands 2,” “Hey Ash Whatcha Playin’?”) as Sarah; Sarah Elmaleh (“Skulls of the Shogun,” “Gone Home”) as Ally, Margaret Gage, and others; Sean Chiplock (“Dust: An Elysian Tail,” “Freedom Planet”) as Doug and William Dawes; and Chris Rando (“Dance Central 3,” “Codename Cygnus”) as Joseph, the Lieutenant, and others.
In addition, the game includes Ed Mace (“Heroes of Newerth,” “Tiny Thief”) as Samuel Adams; Chris Ciulla (“Fallout: New Vegas,” “Dissidia 012: Final Fantasy”) as Benjamin Church and others; Cyrus Nemati (“Quest for Infamy”) as Royal Governor Thomas Gage; Billy Nichols (Structure Gaming) as Samuel Prescott; and Geoffrey Campbell (Captain of the New England Patriots Endzone Militia) as Paul Revere.
I admit, I don’t know many of them by name but those credits are mighty impressive. I’m also happy the game didn’t explode and even happier to hear that it’s coming to Steam (albeit in Early Access) this Spring. A quick primer on the game itself: it’s a 2D stealth adventure in a 3D world set in Colonial Boston just before the American Revolution. Ya know what, here, this probably requires some visual explanation.
NOTE: This post best viewed at GameLuv.com as it’s full of embedded music
I know it sounds weird but… I had a hard time with music last year. Hell, even I don’t know what I mean by that and I’m the one writing it. One thing’s for sure, I am officially over listening to orchestral scores outside of the medium they accompany. Where I once enjoyed listening to scores from the likes of Star Wars and Medal of Honor I have no need for them anymore aside from periodic nostalgia.
I really came to love the challenging and dense remix/mashups from Truxtonbut none of those were released in 2013. They also aren’t technically from a game even though they incorporate dozens of game tunes that I know and love. Also not from 2013 is Dungeons of Dredmor’s soundtrack by Zath which was basically the soundtrack of my summer.
One legit 2013 soundtrack that brought me back to the game repeatedly was Plants vs Zombies Adventures’. In fact, the music was the only reason to spend more than a cursory fifteen minutes with that atrocious Facebook game. It plays close to the original game’s style but goes in a wonderful jazz-lounge-creep direction of its own. Being a Facebook game it’s impossible to give proper credit but at least there’s this great 9 minute YouTube compilation so you can listen without having to play the game.
This one is a tad disingenuous as it was out in 2012 but hit a few platforms in 2013. Regardless, classic PC composer Chris Huelsbeck returns alongside another classic, the Giana Sisters. The game lets you swap between a cute and dark version of the same level as you use the sisters’ different mechanics to proceed. Likewise, the music seamlessly fades between two versions of the same theme, both of which — all of which — are filled with vintage Huelsbeck guitars and melodies.
I was excited for Star Command from the moment I saw its pixelated Star Trek bridge crew years ago. Making the move from iOS to Android I finally had a chance to play it and found its soundtrack was just as much fun. Marius Masalar’s playful orchestrations that punctuate the frantic battles turned out to be even more fun to listen to.
While the radio stations in Grand Theft Auto V wore out their welcome within a week (at which point I turned them off entirely), the collaborative original works by Tangerine Dream, Woody Jackson, The Alchemist, Oh No, and DJ Shadow have become favorites. Subdued but punchy, playful but dark, it fit the highs and lows of the main game’s trio and their mad world perfectly.
What got the most playtime of all, as you can see in the ridiculous Last.fm chart above, is Eirik Suhrke’s soundtrack to Spelunky. Not only did I play a ton of the game throughout the year, I’d turn on the music seemingly at a moment’s notice. It’s fun, playful and flirts with the sound of the 16-bit era without explicitly sounding chiptuned. It’s atmospheric and catchy and, most importantly of all, holds up after endless repeat plays.
A couple of honorable mentions go to Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed’s vast soundtrack of remixed and rearranged hits from Sega’s entire catalog. Hearing that Shinobi medley was a treat and seeing Burning Rangers brought back to life was a thrill even if the game itself is a boring kart racer. Also of note are the tracks ‘Hope Prevails’ from State of Decay and ‘Capital Territory – Gran Soren’ from Dragon’s Dogma that would defuse the tension after surviving another night, be it against a town of zombies or a battle with a dragon.
Darting to Club Nintendo this morning after the reveal of that super sweet Luigi sculpture (which still isn’t on the site) I noticed Nintendo was offering a humble little game called Starship Defense at a discount. I somehow missed this on DSiWare back in 2010 but it’s a quaint, stark looking tower defense game published by Nintendo and developed by Pixeljunk proprietor, Q-Games.
How did I miss this!? Oh, it was on DSiWare, that’s probably how. Anyone out there played it by chance? I’m intrigued but still pretty cool on tower defense games.
We got an Xbox One over the weekend thanks to Maxx and so I’ve been spending my morning digging into the Xbox.com FAQs for all the console’s peculiar functionality. I got up the section about snapping the Activity Feed when I spotted the screenshot above. Weird, those games between Forza and Kinect Sports Rivals sure do look like Xbox Indie Games. We know that retail Xboxes can be used for development and that Microsoft has a “vision for enabling everyone with an Xbox One to be a creator” but this makes it look much farther along.
I googled Marble Maze: Best Ever Edition and happened upon the YouTube channel of sinih8r who has posted clips of Marble Maze, a game called Beat Drop and another called Reflex Demo. All of these are a familiar thirty seconds long, the same length as the more recent Ryse: Son of Rome Game DVR clips on their channel. Along with a quick glimpse of a Gold-only multiplayer menu, the Marble Maze clip points to the Xbox Gamertag HalcyonTribble whose profile sports the Kinect Launch Team badge.
Put it all together and… well, it could just be a series of internal test software that loads faster than full-sized retail games. Or it could point to the fantastic possibility of Baby Maker Extreme on Xbox One! I really do hope it’s a sign that Microsoft is much closer to an Indie Games-sized effort on the new Xbox than they’ve let on about. Also, I really wanna play that Beat Drop game, it looks pretty rad.