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Though the name might suggest a pulsating, acid-hazed version of Oregon Trail, that’s not quite what I had in mind when I said “opposite.” Shame, but Hotline Trail is nonetheless sublime in its simplicity. The infinite biker takes clear aesthetic inspiration from Hotline Miami (or perhaps the same sources as Hotline Miami), but its immediate vibe pulls an engine-roaring 180. Instead of ratcheting up the stakes and drowning the proceedings in schizophrenic chaos, Hotline Trail’s soothing electronic soundtrack and voiceover encourage you to find a groove and lose yourself in it.
I think I might be very easy to please. A simple parody, a few jokes, an old music video, some great games made cheap. It’s Forkstarter, in which Devolver Digital CFO Fork Parker pitches to gamers as to why they should “contribute to the phenomenal wealth of Mr. Parker and usher in a new age of extravagant spending and unmitigated opulence the likes of which the video game industry has never seen.”
This is probably the most exciting game-related anything> I’ve seen in months. And yes, as the headline suggests, it’s entirely bonkers. Remember Zineth developer Arcane Kids’ Tribes-meets-Tony-Hawk thing Perfect Stride? Well, it’s just one of 30+ games (23 of which are already finished and playable) that’ll immediately be yours if you hand LA Game Space a pithy 15 of your bacteria-and-filth-ridden Human Dollars. Experimental Game Pack 01 also includes entirely new projects from the likes of Katamari Damacy creator Keita Takahashi, Adventure Time (yes, the TV show) maestro Pendleton Ward, Hotline Miami madman Cactus, Kentucky Route Zero devs Jake Elliott and Tamas Kemenczy, and sooooooooooo many more. I’m not even going to pretend to be impartial on this one. Buy it. Buy it because duh.
BOOM. Stop. BOOM. Stop. BOOM. Stop. That was the entirety of my Hotline Miami fan fiction. Do you like it? Personally, I think it falls apart a bit in the third act, but I suppose I am my own harshest critic. The reason I mention it, though, is that I imagine there’d be quite a few more BOOMs in the mix if multiplayer were part of the equation. And since some kind of divine sequel mandate writ large upon the holiest of Dorito bags demands that it show up in all games with numbers higher than two in their titles, I had to ask Dennaton’s Dennis Wedin if he and Cactus were feeling the pressure with Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number. His response? Not even a little.
You know, I never really thought about it before, but I think Proteus and Hotline Miami are videogame inverses. One’s about languidly strolling around a neon-bubblegum dreamscape paradise while the other’s about blink-and-you’ll-be-on-the-receiving-end-of-it murder in an entirely different kind of neon-bubblegum dreamscape “paradise”. They are one anther’s bizarro twin, eternally opposed but forever intertwined. Also, they’re in the latest Humble Indie Bundle together, which is neat. And neater still? Probably the fact that they’re joined by Little Inferno, Awesomenauts, Capsized, Thomas Was Alone, and Dear Esther. Yeah, eight is pretty great. Or something.
RPS’s own wayward ronin word master Cara Ellison, during a post-convention victory dinner, put it best: “GDC is where we first hear about all the stuff everyone will be talking about next year.” Maybe it’s a trend-setter, or maybe it’s just a megaphone for gentle tickles of trends that are already in motion, but the point remains: GDC tends to be pretty indicative of where we’re at. People often view E3 in that light, but the fact is, it’s a dinosaur wreathed in fireworks, frilly undergarments, and little else. E3 is a projection. GDC has evolved into its opposite: introspection. We look inward, and then we discuss. And this year – thanks to things like the renewed prominence of PC gaming, a focus on indies, and the #1ReasonToBe talk – I came away quite optimistic. That warm feeling does not, however, come without some rather glaring caveats. Same-y looking “next-gen” games. The IGDA’s insulting use of scantily clad dancers. A worrisome gulf between triple-A and indie. For each positive, there was an ugly negative.>
This year’s GDC in one word? Contradiction.>
Music man David Valjalo follows-up his exploration of the big-budget orchestral soundtracks in the mainstream games industry with a look at the other end of the scale – the super-low-budget, ultra-catchy, sometimes kitschy scores of indie darlings. He rounds up the men behind Hotline Miami, Sweden-based Dennis Wedin and Jonatan Soderstrom, two of the soundtrack artists they hand-picked, US artists M.O.O.N. and Scattle, and FTL composer Ben Prunty, to get the scoop on making music for small games and, quite often, small change.>
I dove back down Hotline Miami‘s blood-slick Slip ‘n’ Slide of utterly blissful brutality this weekend, and now it’s all I can think about. It’s a testament to the sheer refinement of its systems, I think, that it can so thoroughly hook me time and time again. But nothing is perfect – not even when it’s really, really close>. So Cactus and co are charging forward with a full-blown sequel. Will there be more breeds of dog? More types of dudes with cat-like shotgunning-your-face-off reflexes? Cats? Um, well, no one’s really sure yet. Oh, but it will have music! This has been – as we say in nigh-impenetrable videogame parlance – confirmed.
Hotline Miami now allows players to throttle their flatmates with controller cords. Either that or it’s actually possible to play the game with a controller but that seems unlikely. That’s not the only fix/addition that the update brings and there’s also a native Mac version in the works. Important additions: new environmental graphics, a bonus stage unlocked when the campaign is finished, “more gore with the Jones mask” and “the pot of boiling water has been updated”. We should compile a ‘patch note of the year’ list just so that the pot of boiling water can win some sort of trophy. The update should already be live on Steam.