Tagged: indie

Sony’s Unties label brings Indie games to Mobile, Consoles, PC

Sony's Unties label brings Indie games to Mobile, Consoles, PC

Here’s a little morning irony for you: while one arm of Sony refuses to budge on cross-platform online play in games like Rocket League, another arm is helping bring indie titles to mobile devices, PC, and even the “rival” Nintendo Switch. How’d this all happen? USgamer’s Mike Williams summed it up pretty well this morning:

“Sony Music reached into its animation subsidiary Aniplex to create and publish to [sic] mobile games in Japan: Fate/Grand Order and Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story. The former is a smash hit in Japan and just launched in North America a few months ago. The latter title is also doing really well for Sony Music.”

That surprise success has spawned a new publishing label for Sony Music Entertainment Japan, Unties. The group’s goal is to find and release unique independently-developed games on an array of platforms and not just PlayStation.

“The name ‘Unties’ comes from the thought ‘to unleash the excellent talents of unique game creators all over the world’,” reads the press release translated by Gematsu. “And setting creators free from the various shackles of game publishing, named from the intention of realizing publishing that is freedom of production without restraints.”

It all looks and sounds very fallopian to me and I’m going to have to delve into that through therapy some day but despite my personal hangups, the lineup makes for a diverse start. There’s Tiny Metal, a colorful RTS game reminiscent of Advance Wars which is fitting as it’s the one title announced for the Nintendo Switch as well as PlayStation 4 and PC.

Sony's Unties label brings Indie games to Mobile, Consoles, PC

There’s Deemo Reborn for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR, an expansion of the recent Nintendo Switch version which itself is based on the 2013 mobile rhythm game. Last Standard looks to be a one-on-one fighting game played from the third-person, over-the-shoulder perspective with an emphasis on learning how each weapon functions and how best to dodge, parry, and counter it. No platforms have been named yet but given the action in this brief trailer it could work just as well as a touch-based phone game as a console fighter. Finally, there’s Merkava Avalanche which has been on Steam Greenlight since last November. It’s a peculiar one, looking like a 3D brawler where teams of gold plated, two-wheeled, robotic centaurs grapple and joust against one another in vast environments.

All of this is happening in Japan to start so the details are a little hard to discern at the moment. But the news of Sony publishing games on non-PlayStation platforms couldn’t go unreported, even by this dormant blog.

Achieving: 200 Miles followed quickly by a Satisfying Death

I’d been working my way towards Mile 200 in The Flame in the Flood since January but after a hospital visit, weeks of feeling terrible and then a Disney vacation I didn’t get to finish it off until just this past weekend. There are 6 parts in total if you want to watch a longer leg of the journey but it really wraps up nicely in the final episode above.

After hitting the 200th Mile *DING* I decided to end my run as spectacularly as possible by dying from 10 simultaneous afflictions… amid a bear attack *DING*. Then I remembered that there’s a Director’s Commentary mode so I started a new game, listened to some early dev talk and managed one last Trophy for staying on the river for 10 miles without stopping *DING*.

Achieving: Tales of Pointless Self Reward retold in brief posts whenever we feel like it.

Get A Good Bundle of Indie games for $2 from Itch.io

 

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If you ever pondered to yourself “what are these indie games people are always talking about?” then itch.io has an amazing answer for you this week. “A Good Bundle” contains 151 DRM-free indie games with all proceeds being split 50-50 between the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood. The motherload of 151 titles goes for $20 with tiers at $2 for 89 games and $8 for 125 games.

The $20 tier is where indie favorites like Proteus, Gone Home, Catlateral Damage, The Novelist and Read Only Memories sit but there’s plenty of good, weird stuff at the lower levels. For $8 you get Hero Generations and Metamorphabet which already justifies the price for me but even at $2 there are gorgeous Finji titles, Pioneers and Depression Quest to check out. A lot of these games can even be played straightaway in your browser.

If you happen to be that hypothetical person wondering what’s up with indie games and you hypothetically wound up on this site, then A Good Bundle would make for a good primer on the bewildering and gargantuan indie scene at whatever price you pay. But don’t ponder it forever, the deal ends Tuesday, November 29th.

My Top 20 from the Independent Games Festival 2016 (Part 4/4)

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Here it finally, finally is! After being delayed a few months thanks to work, poor health and a vacation, I’m finally ready to run down my Top Twenty games from this year’s Independent Games Festival. I’m going to write a little bit more about each game than I have in the past so I’m breaking it down to five games per post over four days. So in no finer order than alphabetical, here are the final five games in My Top Twenty of the Independent Games Festival 2016.

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Peter Panic by Heckle Inc.
I was already sold on a pixelized successor to WarioWare but Peter Panic ties the microgame action together in the most unexpected way possible. In hopes of bringing stage theater back to his hometown, Peter sets out on a quest to recruit the townsfolk by performing odd and bizarre tasks all themed and scored like a musical.

For real, a cast of Broadway performers sang the songs and voiced many of the characters in the game. If that weren’t peculiar enough the game features the first voice performance by Iron Galaxy frontman and “friend” of Giant Bomb, Dave Lang as well as an upcoming level designed by Deadly Premonition director, SWERY65. It is all up my alley but, unfortunately, it’s an iOS exclusive for now.

Shadow Shooter by Masasuke Yasumoto
It seems like there’s at least one highly specialized, augmented reality game in my IGF picks every year. For 2016 it’s Shadow Shooter from Masasuke Yasumoto whose previous creation, Phantom Window, was in the running last year. Utilizing a very custom-made “Electric Bow” that projects a 360-degree world in front of you, the player has to spin around to find approaching enemies and then line up a shot, pull the bow and let the luminous arrows fly. I stand almost no chance of playing this myself but it makes for a fantastic presentation.

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Super Rude Bear Resurrection by Alex Rose
I have been known to enjoy a “masocore” platformer in the past but in the last few years I’ve grown pretty far away from the sub-genre. So what’s one of these games doing in my IGF picks? Super Rude Bear Resurrection promises “a super tight masocore platformer that anyone can beat” and that demands a closer look.

Thanks to some gameplay reminiscent of IGF 2015’s Life Goes On, every time you die in Super Rude Bear your dead body remains where it fell. Can’t clear a field of spikes by making the precision wall jumps? After enough attempts your dead bodies will create a perfectly safe path over the spikes. It’s a brilliant spin on platforming tropes that’s even more appealing here than in Life Goes On.

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Symphony Worlds by Empty Clip Studios
Empty Clip Studios is on a mission to conquer music. In between their work on ports and game engines they’ve spent years turning music into gameplay. Most recently was Symphony released on PC in 2012 which turned your own music library into an endless top down shooter that took place on a single screen.

Building on that experience, the follow up hopes to pull your songs apart and create entire worlds. In Symphony Worlds your songs create the terrain, the weather patterns and the ebb and flow of the action as you work to free the music. You’re not just blasting enemies to the beat here, there’s strategy, resource gathering and base building involved. The terrain is deformable, the time of day passes as you play and the enemies can target your own base while you’re out picking off their defenses.

It is immensely ambitious and as such it’s taking a good long while to create. Whatever shape it ultimately takes I’m totally on board for this.

Tacopocalypse by Cherry Pie Games
What more can I say, what more can I need than this? It’s Crazy Taxi plus Tony Hawk plus tacos in an apocalypse. Getting the tacos to the drop off is just part of the fun, especially when some destinations require driving up the sides of buildings. Pulling off mid air tricks while driving and hunting for collectables boosts your score to unlock new rides, paint jobs and ultimately new cities.

Tacopocalypse is still in very active Early Access so a lot will be changing but it’s already shaping up like a glorious love letter to the extreme sports and arcade driving games of the 90’s. I can totally get behind all of that!


And there we have it, another year of hundreds of IGF hopefuls whittled down to just twenty that I think are especially special. Of course, that’s just me. Critical darlings like Undertale, SUPERHOT, Cibele and Her Story were among those 775 entrants but for me it’s all about flat shaded polygons, roguelike tendencies, gameplay loops I can beat my head against and even a few VR experiences I think are crucial. Let me know what YOUR top picks are in the comments.

And if you need a refresher, jump straight to Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. I also wrote a few pre-Top Twenty posts that highlight even more games that were in the running.

My Top 20 from the Independent Games Festival 2016 (Part 3/4)

igf2016

Here it finally is! After being delayed a few months thanks to work, poor health and a vacation, I’m finally ready to run down my Top Twenty games from this year’s Independent Games Festival. I’m going to write a little bit more about each game than I have in the past so I’m breaking it down to five games per post over four days. So in no finer order than alphabetical, here are the next five games in My Top Twenty of the Independent Games Festival 2016.

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Home Improvisation by The Stork Burnt Down
Though it’s grown a bit more nonsensical since its web-based debut, Home Improvisation remains a hilarious excursion in my favorite new genre: Mundane Excitement. It would probably be simpler to play in VR with those fine Vive motion wands but the awkwardness of rotating on individual axes and trying to shove IKEA-style furniture together is just perfect. Throw in multiplayer for up to 6 and you have a totally accurate recreation of the strife of putting together furniture in real life.

Job Simulator by Owlchemy Labs
The time for poignant, meaningful and insightful VR experiences will come. Here at the launch of all three major VR platforms what we need is the ability to microwave a CD, throw a hotdog into the streets and gobble donuts. These simple recreations of everyday activities are what will help acclimatize people to VR while being unexpectedly hilarious. The fact that there’s a story behind all this is even sillier.

The year is 2050 and human jobs have been replaced by the cold mechanical efficiency of robots. In a sort of museum setting you embody JobBot and reenact what it was like to work in an office, be a chef or run a convenience store so that the children of the future will never forget. I don’t know how long it can sustain the laughs but I desperately want to immerse myself in Owlchemy’s colorful, irreverent and terrible future vision of our everyday life.

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Objects in Space by Flat Earth Games
Don’t ask me why but the concept of running a spaceship like it were a submarine — staring at readouts instead of out port windows — is captivating. Maybe it’s the next step after my time with FTL and maybe I’ll just be terrible at it. The setup is that you’re a space trader piloting a tiny ship that you customize all the way down to the batteries and component adapters. You can go weapons heavy, focus on speed to outrun opponents or spec for stealth and disappear off of enemy radar.

It seems debilitatingly frantic when things heat up in the demo footage revealed so far. But like any good roguelike it’s the satisfaction of threading the needle and surviving what looks like the gnarliest, most unforgiving conflict that has me intrigued.

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Overcooked by Ghost Town Games
This game looks like such fun that I couldn’t wait for the Top Twenty to write about it! If you don’t feel like clicking one tiny little link though, here’s the gist of it: 1-4 players team up to manage the food orders pouring into the kitchen. Grabbing, chopping, cooking and delivering dishes would be best accomplished by delegating tasks to individuals but half the fun looks to be scrambling around and accidentally (?!) stealing ingredients or half finished dishes.

Adding a whole other layer of chaos are the numerous stages. There’s the standard restaurant kitchen with its checkerboard tiles and bright lights but things escalate to a pirate ship with countertops that sway back and forth, a haunted house with poltergeists that rearrange work surfaces and even a pair of food trucks barreling down the road. It has that charmingly colorful and UK indie vibe I liked so much in Flame Over and I can’t wait to see and play more.

Overland by Finji
By now you should be able to tell why I’d take a liking to Overland by its visuals alone. Stark, flat shaded and set on little floating chunks of terrain, I could simply look at this game’s randomly generated landscapes all day. Playing, on the other hand, is anything but pleasant.

Set in a modern world ruined by some catastrophe, you play turn-based strategy a la X-COM combined with the risky resource gathering of a roguelike. Forget plasma rifles and jump jets, your concerns are outmaneuvering enemies just to grab hold of a can of gas or a toolbox. Befriending survivors adds more turns and unique traits to your repertoire but eventually you’ll have to make the hard choices. Do you risk all your fuel to reach a promising, far off destination? Who do you leave behind when there’s no room left in your hatchback?

It looks fantastic in both visuals and gameplay and if I were putting these IGF games in some kind of ranked order Overland would be right near the top. I cannot wait to see more of it later this year!


Check back tomorrow for Part 4 featuring five more extremely awesome games from the Independent Games Festival 2016! Or use these links to jump straight to Part 1, Part 2 and Part 4. Don’t miss out on even more great games from the IGF by reading my posts leading up to the Top Twenty.