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For the term "crystalides".

Cyberpunk Java phone game Crystalides coming to iOS, Android

I’ve been pretty hot on Onipunks’ Crystalides for a while now. It was one of my top picks from the hundreds of IGF 2012 finalists, and for good reason. Let me remind you again that the amazing looking game you see in this new trailer was designed to run on a java-enabled Nokia handset. Wonderfully animated pixelart abounds with more RPG systems than the entirety of Final Fantasy combined all themed around a cyberpunk world.

But the best news that came out of this latest look at the game was a little back-and-forth I had with Onipunks on twitter. After being called out as “Shawn of GameLuv?” — the first time anyone has done that in this site’s six years — the team confirmed that Crystalides would be coming to Android and iOS. They even specified Winter for Android but we know how slippery release dates can be on mobile platforms so I’ll just be happy knowing I don’t have to buy an old Nokia phone to play the game.

Why develop for an archaic platform like java-based phones in the first place? In the spirit of the demoscene where coders cram as much gameplay, animation or graphic pizazz into as few kilobytes as possible, Onipunks says “we made Crys[talides] on Java phone just for challenging”.

My Top 20 from the Independent Games Festival 2016 (Part 1/4)


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. For those just now stumbling onto GameLuv, let me fill you in.

I’ve long appreciated that the IGF posts every one of the hundreds of entrants it receives every year. It’s a great place to see what hot new indie games are about to blow up or to simply find inventive new games to check out. In 2012 I finally stuck it through and examined every single entrant resulting in a massive post of my top twenty picks. Somehow I’ve managed to repeat the process every year since.

Why twenty? Out of 500+ entrants 20 is a comparatively tiny number and with only a trailer or unpolished demo to go by it’s impossible to list these in ranked order of excellence. Nevertheless, each of these twenty games has something special to offer, be it gameplay, setting or style. This year saw another record-breaking number of entrants, 775 to be exact, and from that I first narrowed it to 99 picks before hacking and slashing all the way down to twenty. So let’s go!

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 first five games in My Top Twenty of the Independent Games Festival 2016.

Yes, it’s reductive and not all that accurate but I can’t help wanting to call Aerobat this year’s Lutrausers. It’s only because they both have outlandishly cool styles and innovate on traditional shmup action. In Aerobat your ship can either propel itself through the air or fire weapons, but not both at the same time.

Using only the mouse you’ll build up speed, blast high into the sky and then weave through swarms of enemies, picking them off as you freefall dangerously close to death. I’m probably never going to be good at the game but it’s worth watching just to gawp at the visuals. Everything moves ultra fast and smooth with dazzling parallax effects and mesmerizing, billowing laser blasts.


Amazing Discoveries In Outer Space by Cosmic Picnic
You may remember this one from my Good Ol’ Games post just a few days ago. When A.D.I.O.S. first appeared in the IGF it was little more than a peculiar tech demo but now in full release on PlayStation 4 there’s a promising interstellar game to see. Randomly generated 2D solar systems full of planets, stars and asteroids sit between you and your distant home.

While there’s no combat involved there’s plenty of peril. It’s been likened to roguelikes Spelunky and FTL where snap decisions lead to satisfying victory or sudden, utter defeat. Managing fuel and trajectories will get you from planet to planet to keep your ship gassed up with natural resources as you hunt for star data that eventually points the way home. It looks simple but it’s an immensely complex simulation of stellar forces that seems both fun and terrifying to explore.

Astroneer by System Era Softworks
Serving as a 3D counterpart to A.D.I.O.S. on this list, Astroneer is the next most mysterious and promising space exploration/peril simulator. For starters it has a wonderful art style with flat shaded, faceted polygons and a wonderfully vivid color palette. Animation is quite the sight as well — a rarity for a survival game — with a bounding exuberance in every step, low gravity leap and heart-clenching death scene.

On top of that is the promising open-ended gameplay where you mine and terraform diverse planets, build facilities to survive and develop new technology and even play with others. All this from a super small team of only four developers. My only fear is that it will launch too close to the similarly massive space explor-athon, No Man’s Sky. Given enough time, though,  I’ll always come back to sci-fi space peril!


Block’hood by Jose Sanchez, Gentaro Makinoda
Picture a thriving town in SimCity and click to zoom in 3 or 4 times on a city block. This is the scale at which Block’hood operates but it’s no less demanding and interconnected than a sprawling metropolis. That’s because each block you place has specific needs in order to produce a unique resource. Trees need water to generate oxygen; things only get more complex as you move up the economic and ecologic hierarchy.

The goal is to build a beautiful neighborhood that’s also sustainable. The risk is decay and obsolescence which jeopardize neighboring blocks unless they’re removed or augmented. Things are so interconnected that the main mode of the game is the freeform Sandbox where everything is unlocked straight away. As your neighborhood grows in complexity so does the challenge and even without a goal or time limit there’s plenty to focus on.

It doesn’t hurt that the flat shaded cubes lock together to create a sharp, modern visual style. From a flat white plane you’ll create cozy “green” houses on a hillside or towering vertical cities. It’s the visual look of LEGO blocks designed by IKEA with just a subtle touch of animation as wind turbines turn and water slowly undulates.


C-Wars by Onipunks Studio
This one has been kicking around in the IGF so long that it’s changed almost completely. It was also originally in the works for Java-based cellphones! Thankfully, that old game of Crystalides is much more accessible on modern PCs as C-Wars.

Now described as a “pixel action horror game with strategy, rogue-like flavor” C-Wars feels more like a run through FTL than simply a series of turn-based battles laid out in linear fashion. Each run doles out a random set of characters, stories and missions and challenges you to make the tough calls on when to fight, what gear to go after and more.

C-Wars is now in Early Access release on Steam where it continues to change to the general confusion of those interested in the game. Previous demos were much more feature-packed but the latest build is apparently more reserved. Personally, I loved what I saw in Crystalides more but I’m still invested in seeing where C-Wars goes. It hasn’t been abandoned by any means but it may eventually evolve into a game I’m less excited to finally play.

Check back tomorrow for another post featuring five more extremely awesome games from the Independent Games Festival 2016! Or use these links to jump straight to Part 2, Part 3 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.

IGF 2016 Spotlight on: Those Good Ol’ Games

As I continue wading through the 775 entrants in this year’s Independent Games Festival, whittling my way to a highly polished list of the Top Twenty, I thought I’d highlight some of the categories I’ve been filing games into. Today’s post features those repeat offenders, the games I’ve pinned my heart on year after year and maybe still haven’t bought.


Affordable Space Adventures by KnapNok Games and Nifflas’ Games
Along with past IGF favorite, Hex Heroes, Affordable Space Adventures is one of the very, very few Wii U games I’m interested in. It combines 2D, physics based puzzle solving with FTL-style system management. And it’s got that asynchronous design where one person is on the Gamepad while the other is playing on the TV. I’m up for playing either role and I love the combination (and separation) of the various mechanics.

Amazing Discoveries In Outer Space  by Cosmic Picnic
Also known as A.D.I.O.S., this one was just a mysterious demo in the IGF 2015, promising a 2D universe with realistic outer space physics. It launched just last month in February but I haven’t yet picked it up.


C-Wars/Crystalides by Onipunks Studio
This one’s been an IGF favorite every year since I started this thing in 2012! It’s been kicking around so long that it’s changed almost entirely and was originally in the works for Java based cellphones. I’m still not sure if C-Wars’ final mix of 2D, grid-based strategy will be as appealing as Crystalides’ original promises but I remain hopeful and excited even four years later.

Captain Forever Remix by Pixelsaurus Games & Future Crayon
Originally entered into the IGF 2012 as Captain Jameson (as an expansion of the already addictive web game), Captain Forever Remix has kept me on the line for almost the entire duration of my IGF series. I finally pre-ordered it in 2015 and poked at it a little in Early Access but I’m still holding out for the final build.

Distance by Refract
Distance started life as Nitronic Rush and was one of my favorite, oldest IGF entries all the way back in 2012. The DigiPen student project has gone on to become the much more gorgeous looking Distance but I’ve always felt it was missing the San Francisco Rush inspiration that I loved so much in Nitronic Rush. Nevertheless, one of these days I’m going to pick up Distance and give it a fair and complete shake.

Mini Metro by Dinosaur Polo Club
Two years running, Mini Metro continues to captivate me with its super simple style and its abstract gameplay based on plotting ever more complex subway routes. It’s like a living subway map and even when I’m failing miserably it looks great.

Prison Architect by Introversion
For the longest time I was sold on Prison Architect by its logo alone which was the only thing submitted in the IGF 2012. I eventually bought into it on Early Access and have spent close to 50 hours building miserable prisons and watching my grand architectural designs be foiled by bathroom knife fights and cafeteria outrage.

Submerged by Uppercut Games
Another 2-year contender, Submerged instantly won me over with its promise of non-combat exploration based around a drowned world. It was a little clunky but it packed enough mystery and intrigue to elevate me over any shortcomings. I even translated the made-up language in the game!

SUPERHOT by Superhot Team (in 2014, then 2016)
Superhot hit the IGF in 2014 when it was still in its basic web demo version and it still floored me. The concept that “time only moves when you do” puts an astounding spin on bullet time making it a true mechanic and not just a cheat in a typical shooter. It’s back again in the IGF this year and out now in a full, expanded and totally crazy release which I’m waiting to pick up soon… ish.

My Top 20 from the Independent Games Festival 2015 (Part 1)

Here we are again. It’s early in another new year and I’ve gone through all of the entrants in the Independent Games Festival. There were 639 games entered for 2015 and I wound up with a “short” list of 93. From there I hemmed and hawed for a while and ultimately decided on just 20 that I think are the specialest. Today I’ll post the first ten (in alphabetical order) and finish it up with another post tomorrow.


Against the Wall by Michael Consoli
It may not have been on my Top Twenty list last year but I am all about it in 2015. I played the alpha version again, climbed as high as I wanted to and said “enough, enough now”. I need to know that whatever happens next is final release before I go any higher.


C-Wars by Onipunks
What looked so fascinating in Crystalides has been refined and distilled into C-Wars and… I’m not sure I’ll love it. The demo build is very rough but it holds the same pixelart cyberpunk vibe I’ve been into since 2012. It’s now equipped with an FTL vibe where you choose to confront or avoid conflict, a leveling systems and a peculiar real time strategy combat mechanic. It’s still promising but far removed from what I was originally so in love with.


Captain Forever Remix by Dean Tate and Brian Chan
I first discovered Captain Forever in 2012 and obsessively played the web demo version but never bought into the expansion. This has been corrected now that I’ve pre-ordered the reimagining that is Remix. Crazy new art accompanies what will be a deep, terrifying hole of frantic ship building and salvaging. Everything I loved about the original with a hopeful glut of new stuff on top.


Chained by DigiPen Team Those Guys
I’ve found my mini trend of the year and it’s ‘gameplay mechanics that help as well as hurt’. In the case of Chained it’s a ball and chain attached to your character that you use to demolish your way through an already distraught dreamscape. The modeling and animation are fantastic while the platforming sections are augmented just enough by the ball and chain physics to be interesting.


Cosmonautica by Chasing Carrots
When they say a “fresh, funky and funny blend of space trading and life simulation” they look to deliver. It’s The Sims in managing your crew’s needs and making sure your ship has all the rooms they need. It’s also got a Spreadsheets in Space economy and FTL’s real time terror combat that I love to hate. Soon as it’s out of Early Access, I’m all in.


The Curious Expedition by Maschinen-Mensch
I told myself I wasn’t going to get into more procedurally generated, roguelike adventures but The Curious Expedition has super sweet pixelart. Thankfully, it’s top-down, hex-based perspective and party management are equally enticing. Like Gods will be Watching you have to manage your crew’s emotions as well as the external forces threatening to end your expedition with each move. It also looks like you can discover dinosaurs!

Donut County by Ben Esposito
I do-nut what to say about this one. You control a hole that gets bigger as it swallows up colorful scenery and ridiculously cute critters. Very much what I’d call Noby Noby Boy meets Katamari. It looks perfectly, magically insane.


Fort Meow by Rhys Davies
It’s like Angry Birds in reverse. You’re the one building forts out of furniture to provide solace for a young girl from needy, clingy cats.  Between waves you can scavenge the house for new items — some provide unique bonuses, some are just hefty — to fend off an increasingly persistent array of felines. It’s a downright pleasant experience from the art to the adorable cat animations to the endless purrs you hear on the game over screen.


Hero Generations by Heart Shaped Games
I came across the beta of this game years ago on Facebook and played a ton of it. Not long after the beta was taken down and promises were made that Hero Generations would reemerge. I’m still waiting (but it’s finally very close).

The concept is simple and grand: each square you move on the map is a year in your life. Youth, middle age and elderly phases have their own benefits and drawbacks. You’re out to maximize your time adventuring (and pillaging and fighting) while also winning over a quality mate. Because when you die you take over as your child with inherited strengths, weaknesses and inheritance. It’s roguelike, terrifying and awesome. I can’t wait to play it again!

Hex Heroes by Prismatic Games
Much like the FPS/RTS mashup, Savage, Hex Heroes aims to do some unique stuff with co-op. Potentially a Wii U game I’d buy a Wii U for, the player with the GamePad is given a top down view of a strategy game style map. They command up to four other players on the TV who have their own roles to play; be it combat, resource gathering or dispelling the fog of war over the map. I doubt I’d ever get together with enough people to make it work but it’s a fantastic idea and I’d love to see it happen.

Where are they now? Catching up with my Top 20 from IGF 2012

Going through all the entrants for the 17th annual Independent Games Festival this year got me thinking: This is the fourth year I’ve done this and some of these games I’ve seen every year while others I’ve lost track of. So I went back to my bookmarks archive and quickly checked in with some of my top picks. I’ll do a separate post this week for each year I’ve been at this so let’s start at the start, IGF 2012.


Causality Flux – Their homepage has never expanded beyond some placeholder imagery surrounding the same trailer they submitted to the IGF. It’s one of those games that looked promising but probably isn’t going to resurface. This happens a lot and it’s the No.1 pitfall of going through all these IGF games.

Crabiton – After launching on iOS in 2011 and being one of the last iPad games I was interested in, Two Lives Left are now bringing the space munching game to Kinect for Xbox One. With Kinect able to track fingers in a very crab-like manner it seems a perfect fit.

Crystalides – One of the games I was most excited about started out in 2011 as a Java-powered cellphone game. Since then the project has been retired with the universe and some of the gameplay I loved retooled into C-Wars. It’s been Greenlit for Steam and continues development after a Kickstarter fully funded it in 2013.

Fader – One of the first “controlling different stuff on two halves of a screen” games I ever saw and it’s still not out. The combination of art style and music are why I’m still holding out for Fader. The latest from developer Chris Makris’ twitter is “I move like molasses”. Glad to know it’s still in the works.


Leshy – I’ve played a lot of “rolling ball puzzle/platformers” over the years so if you see one in these lists you know it’s something special. While an expanding and contracting ball doesn’t sound like much the developers nailed the sense of scale even in this short demo and it blew my mind. I’ve followed up with some of the team because I think about Leshy a lot but unfortunately the project never went any farther. Shame, but at least we can still play the demo and dream!

Nitronic Rush – That other DigiPen game I just mentioned, it’s as close to San Francisco Rush as we’re going to get. Much of the team has gone on to make Distance which looks similar but, to me, feels even more about survival than the classic Rush vibe Nitronic held to. Both are fabulous in my book though.

Nous – Another DigiPen team game like Leshy and Nitronic Rush, Nous was a great 4th-wall-breaking twin-stick “shooter” with some great moments. Brett Cutler, Nous’ designer, is now at 17-BIT working on Galak-Z which makes perfect sense from what I’ve seen of it and Nous.


Project Zomboid – The game has come on by huge leaps since 2011 but it continues to be an Early Access affair. Once it’s content is certified “Released” I’ll jump back in but since my first blush with the game I’ve put it anxiously on hold.

Proteus – The visual wonderland of Proteus wowed a lot of us in 2013. It’s continued making the indie hop from platform to platform. Ed Key, one half of the game’s creators, continues to blow up my twitter while simultaneously exploring the U.K.’s outback. The lucky bastard.

Red Rogue – Possibly the web-based game I’ve spent the most time with. At a moment when all I wanted were roguelikes, here comes an adorable, side-scroller with mysterious loot, adorable (but gory) animations and a fantastic, muted color palette.

Treasure Adventure Game – This was one of the first times I’d heard a 2D game referred to as featuring an open world and it captivated me. Turns out what they meant to say was it’s ‘just like Metroid’. The soundtrack has persisted much longer as a personal favorite though. And much like Spelunky, the pixelart original has been redrawn “as originally envisioned” and is working its way towards a full, expanded release as Treasure Adventure World.