Rock, Paper, Shotgun - email@example.com (Nathan Grayson)
You have infinite money, right? I mean, you look like the sort, what with your snazzy diamond-encrusted cane and hat/jacket ensemble knitted entirely from Kickstarter bonus swag. That in mind, what’s one more delightfully promising project to throw a worrisome amount of cash at? Because seriously, Night in the Woods has all the makings of quirky, wildly inventive greatness – with a hint of sincere humanity thrown in for good measure. Also, anarchic, mailbox-busting cats. The fact that the story-based adventure looks uniquely gorgeous certainly doesn’t hurt, either. Oh, and it’s from one of the minds behind ageless indie darling Aquaria. Bouncy, bobby, meow-y video below.
The Humble Bundles keep on rolling, with a new 'pay what you want' indie mega-bargain arriving mere weeks after the last one wrapped up. The new Humble Introversion Bundle packs four games from English indie Introversion: hacking sim Uplink, RTS Darwinia, its multiplayer sequel Multiwinia, and Cold War 'em up Defcon.
The Bundle also includes two Introversion tech demos, the procedural city generator used in Subversion and a voxel-based destructible building demo. As Subversion is on indefinite hold, it'll be nice to get a good look at some of it at least.
The Bundle has already outsold Xbox Live Arcade's Darwinia+ within 41 minutes on sale, Introversion revealed on Twitter.
As ever, all games come DRM-free, but you can activate them on Steam if you fancy. And, as Humble Bundle tradition dictates, you can choose how you divvy up your money between the developers, organisers, and the Child's Play charity and the EFF.
I'd heard lovely things about Aquaria, the beautiful underwater adventure for PC and Mac. It was an underwater 2D throwback of a game, an action-adventure with mysterious new-agey music and a good story. But I haven't play it on the computer. I've played it on my iPad, for which it went on sale last night. It's handled the transition well, with just some manageable control issues.
Aquaria lets you control an underwater nymph named Naija who can swim through a massive underwater world filled with colorful aquatic animal and plant life. She narrates her own story of conflict and re-discovery. The game plays like a mix of Metroid, Zelda and old shooters.
From Metroid and its imitators the game gets its massive world, a network of caves and temples waiting to be explored. The game's grand map is filled in as you do this, just like in the classic Nintendo series. And, as in Metroid, many areas are initially locked off, but Naijia gains powers that make formerly bocked passages accessible.
From Zelda the game gets both its core puzzle-solving mechanic—the learning and playing of magical songs—as well as its old-school tendency to not give away its puzzle solutions or even aggressively point the player where to go next. From shooters it takes the fact that Naija can convert to a non-singing magical form that can blast underwater enemies.
The game warns players early on that they can be lost, a fact that will either entice you or ensure that Aquaria is not your kind of iPad game. You have to figure a lot of things out yourself and you may find yourself swimming through the world wondering what to do next, stopping at various exotic spots and tinkering with the environment, singing various songs, poking and prodding until you get the eureka of progress. That kind of old-school style and lack of hand-holding suits a game that also asks the player to do things like collect food items to collect recipes. This is a throwback indeed.
It will mostly be taste that determines if this game is for you, though eager gamers should be warned that there is a control problem: namely, the fact that human hands are not transparent. You will need to tap your fingers both near and far away from Naija, depending on whether they want her to sing, dash, cling to walls or what have you. You'll also need to play two-handed when it's time to convert her to her energy form and shoot bad guys. This means that the player's hands can never just cover one area of the screen; they'll need to repeatedly interfere with the view of the action, pressing various parts of the screen. The more you play, the more you get used to this, but the big-handed among you may find this frustrating.
The game has depth and charm. It looks wonderful (see the iPad launch trailer in this story). Control concerns aside, it's really a matter of whether you want an old-school adventure that won't hold your hand. On the iPad, there are few alternatives to choose from, for better or worse. This one would be a good pick.
It's an indie game geeksplosion as the woman behind the Plants Vs. Zombies music teams up with the programmer for Xbox Live Arcade's Spelunky to rap about their shared love of Magic: The Gathering.
This is the sort of video I would normally avoid, but the sheer indie gaming power contained within (coupled with Laura Shigihara's overwhelming cuteness) stayed my hand. Sure the music steps all over the lyrics as two of the softest rappers of all-time wax lyrical about Magic cards, but it's Laura and Andy Hull, plus Plants Vs. Zombies designer George Fan, Aquaria and Spelunky creator Derek Hu (shirtless, no less), Paul Hubans with a mouthful of tinfoil, and Team Meat's Tommy Refenes flaunting his sweet Super Meat Boy cash.
Laura sent the video our way, along with some words.
"I was randomly inspired to make a Magic: The Gathering rap video, so I asked my friend Andy if he wanted to work on it together (he's the Spelunky Xbla programmer). We wrote and performed the lyrics together, George Fan helped us film the scenes at TIGJam (a yearly indie game dev event), and I produced the song/edited the video afterwards. It's pretty silly and very nerdy (hopefully there are some Magic players out there who will get all our references), but we had a lot of fun with it."
The iPad version of the game includes new gameplay and a bit more visual polish. This version is also the result of one amazing collaboration between Alec Holowka (Paper Moon, Marian), Derek Yu (TIGSource, Spelunky), Adam Saltsman (Wurdle, Canabalt) and Andrew Church (Aquaria PSP).
This week in indie gaming brought with it another round of insightful interviews, including chats with Nathan Fouts (Mommy's Best Games) and Alex Holowka (Infinite Ammo) about their upcoming games--Serious Sam Double D and Marian, respectively. To put it another way, fans of Explosionade and Aquaria can get an interesting peek into how the talented developers each work their magic. Interabang Entertainment rounds things out with some words about developing Super Comboman at the first Indie Open House.
If you're looking for some indie-retro-chic to horse around with this weekend--and like free stuff--I'd recommend checking out the 2D deathmatch title, Gibbage. Gibbage was the first title created by Size Five Games ("Ben There, Dan That!" and "Time Gentlemen, Please!"), and is free to download from the developer's website this weekend. Yep, they're the same guys that used to call themselves Zombie Cow Studios.
Without further ado, here are a few of the best indie stories of the week:
My favorite bit of media this week is a trailer for an upcoming mobile game by Halfbrick Studios (Fruit Ninja Kinect), named, quite awesomely: "Machine Gun Jetpack." The entire game--which stars Halfbrick's recurring hero, Barry Steakfries--can be played with one finger. The fun part is how Halfbrick's going to make players use that single digit in a variety of ways.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - firstname.lastname@example.org (John Walker)
Perhaps you need to hear some good news. Here’s some now. You might remember we told you about the Humble Indie Bundle. (We really did. Could people maybe stop emailing us about it now? Please?) You can get World of Goo, Aquaria, Lugaru, Gish and Penumbra Overture, DRM free, for whatever price you choose. It’s $80 worth, at the price of your choosing. And now it comes with Samorost 2 as well! You can choose what proportion of what you pay reaches the two charities the project is supporting, Child’s Play and The Electronic Frontiers Foundation. And that’s not the good news. The good news is they’ve so far, in one week, been voluntarily paid $1,066,880, with 31% of that reaching the charities. Even more, Aquaria, Gish, Lugaru HD, and Penumbra Overture have now pledged to become Free Software – i.e. their source code available for anyone to use in any way they wish, published under GNU licenses.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - email@example.com (Alec Meer)
Media reportage still has it that Radiohead’s pay-what-you-want experiment a couple of years back was somehow a disaster. Independent gaming has roundly proved the lie: more devs than we can keep up with have offered PWYW deals recently, so clearly something’s going right. It’s good news for gamers too. The Humble Indie Bundle, though, is yer bona fide motherlode. World of Goo, Aquaria, Lugaru, Gish and Penumbra Overture: a collection of the last few years’ finest indies, yours for however many groats you think you can spare. Phenomenal, basically. Better still, a third of the proceeds go to Child’s Play and the Electronic Frontier Foundation apiece. Well, by default, You can request that the whole lot goes to charity if you like. Games and kindness: a winning and natural formula (and one that the shrieking anti-games media will never, ever cover.) The deal’s over here, and below the cut is a knowingly rubbish half-rap to promote it. (more…)
How much would you pay for a copy of World of Goo, Gish and three additional games that don't prominently feature black blobs dripping with indie cred? Thanks to the Humble Indie Bundle you pay exactly "whatever."
Wolfire is offering a five game bundle that includes Aquaria, Penumbra: Overture, Lugaru, Gish and World of Goo at a pay-what-you-want rate. These cross-platform games are DRM-free and run on Mac, Windows, and Linux, so no one need complain. (Okay, OS/2 users, you can complain about being left out.)
In addition to letting indie game enthusiasts name their price, Wolfire and the participating indie acts are letting buyers send their contribution directly to charity, Penny Arcade's Child's Play and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, specifically. Give it all to charity, divvy it up evenly, whatever!
The fun and the good vibes from doing good are free, so be hasty with the purchase.