TLDR - I highly recommend this product to anyone who has an interest in the videogame development process and/or the indie scene. I give Super Game Jam an 8/10.
Episode 1 - Navigator
I was interested in this project since launch. The only reason I didn't buy in earlier was the mixed opinions I have been seeing here and there. Some saying the project doesn't live up to expectations and other saying it goes above and beyond them. After a long time and many moments of "I'm going to buy this now" and then "On second thought I will wait", I finally bought Super Game Jam. I watched the first episode and played the first game I am very happy so far. The documentary portion was great. I really liked the personalities involved (Richard Boeser – dev of Ibb and Obb and Jan Willem Nijman - 50% of Vlambeer) and felt they had good chemistry, it was interesting, not as personal as I would have liked (Indie Game: The Movie nailed it), Sound and music were great aside from some bumping around in the background and the cinematography was up there with the likes of 'Free to Play' and 'Indie Game: The Movie'. The game that I watched these two guys make in 48 hours was really cool. The control were tight, visuals enthralling and I really loved the concept and I'm glad Nijman pushed the racing + companionship idea so hard.
Overall, I found watching the back and forth, creative process between these two devs who had never worked together before to be really fun and even inspiring especially after playing the game and seeing just how much they accomplished in 48 hours. For this review, I don't think I can give it a numbered score but I will say that I enjoyed the first episode immensely and would recommend it. I cannot wait to watch and play the rest of this (I cannot think of a word to describe this other than the very broad term of 'Project').
Episode 2 - Blossom
The second episode started off with something I wasn't expecting. The two new devs (Dominik Johann – former dev of Might and Delight and Christoffer Hedborg – Artist and dev for Super Stress-Out) sat down and watched a video message from the previous two devs whom gave the new duo their theme to work with. I really like this idea of passing on ideas from game jam to game jam, dev to dev. After receiving the message the two developers brainstormed the theme, which was gardening. The brainstorm sessions that occurred in the first episode as well are great. They give a cool look into how a game is conceived. I don't want to give a recap of the whole episode so I will just point out a few likes and dislikes I had with this episode. Much like the first, this episode had two devs with great creative chemistry, wonderful cinematography (especially those creative/scenic transitions/montages), music and flow. This episode did a great job at showing the stress and uncertainty that the two underwent during the final hours of the jam that wasn't all that present in the first episode. The only downside to this episode has to be, how hard it was to follow the creative process. I could barely understand what the game was shaping into until the end of the episode. This is probably the way the devs felt as well but I still felt pretty lost at times. This episode was certainly good but missed a major element that kept me engaged throughout the first.
The game was a little more abstract and harder to understand than the first. What I got from it was that it is about survival in an endless space with a home planet that is destined to die. The art, music, sound design, gravity and steering of the home planet were all stellar but the goal of the game was hard to comprehend. Even without a concrete goal, the game was still enjoyable enough to play through numerous times.
The second part of this project was good, not as good as the first but nonetheless very enjoyable. I can't wait to watch and play the next Episode of Super Game Jam.
Episode 3 - Catch of Death
Let me start off by saying this is by far my favourite episode of this project so far. What made this episode and contributed to the greatness of the first 2 is the amazing chemistry between the 2 devs chosen. I cannot give them enough praise for their choice of devs. These two guys, Sos Sosowski and Adam Drucker are ♥♥♥♥ing hilarious. They are the perfect match. They both have very comical personalities that had me laughing aloud very often. This episode was filled with comedy and I'm very glad the project makers noticed this and focused on this. Along with the hilarity, this episode also had the same wonderful overarching features that previous eps had (e.g. Music, cinematography), a great brainstorm segment, very memorable quotes from both devs and a nice change of tone for the entire project. This episode felt crazy, hilarious and gloriously ragtag. These guys seemed like the best of friends from start to finish and their ridiculous ideas, funny communications and strange workflow made this episode extremely enjoyable.
The game is as ludicrous as the devs behind it. It is basically football without rules or reason. A ♥♥♥♥fest of button spam and desperately trying to find where my character is and who my character is among a variety of other deranged characters in a world built by a 4 year old wielding nothing but a box of crayons and the kitchen wall. It's incredibly hard to understand what is going on but I had so much fun with this game. My playtime was also vastly extended by the inclusion of all the builds leading up to the final working game. Broken but fun.
This episode is beyond amazing. Enough said.
Episode 4 - Torr
This episode featured a dev who I was really looking forward to seeing. Jonatan Soderstrom, who made Hotline Miami, one of my favourite games. Jonatan was accompanied by Martin Jonasson, who made Rymdkapsel. This developer duo did not have the chemistry that previous duos had. Even though Martin was upbeat and happy most of the time, Jonatan looked uncomfortable and bored most of the time and was very quiet for the better part of the episode. I'm not saying I don't like him or disrespect him because he seemed bored but it did have an impact on how much I enjoyed this episode. Another factor that I missed was the creative brainstorming at the start of each episode. There didn't seem to be much a brainstorm and that kind of disappointed me as these creative session have been super interesting in past episodes. Flaws aside this episode featured the best cinematography so far. The use of Bokeh in a lot of shots made for some beautiful scenery and cool interview sets. The music in this episode was also some of my favourite from the project. Finally I found the creative process really easy to follow even without the brainstorm at the beginning. I understood every decision they made and why because the devs explained what they were doing as they went forward. This episode was a bit of a letdown but the expertise in cinematography and the still enjoyable premise of the project made it fun to watch anyway.
Review coming soon...