Zineth by Arcane Kids is about robot skating, zines, virtual pets (à-la Pokemon), and twitter. Sound great? It is.
You play a guy with a robot skate suit as he whizzes about the city and surrounding desert attempting time challenges, doing jobs for a zine publisher, battling Monster trainers via phone, and doing miscellaneous tasks. You can also access your twitter account in game, if you are so inclined.
While it is meant to be played with a 360 controller, I had no problem with my mouse and keyboard. It is available for Mac and PC.
When I first found this game online I avoided it because of the simple graphics and the fact it was about speed and had a bit of a platforming element. Those are two things I am very bad at. When I finally downloaded it I was surprised to find myself enjoying the tutorial, and then when it came time to play the game itself, I was pretty amazed.
The graphical style is absolutely charming, being simple, clean and colourful. The music and sound are nothing memorable, but at the same time they don’t get annoying after one play, so that’s a plus. The game world is cool, with a somewhat sinister note beneath the sugary sweet exterior - posters state “stay inside”, people talk only via phone, and the zine itself seems to be lamenting the fact that people are unable to disconnect from technology.
But above all, the gameplay is fantastic fun. Whilst skating, you traverse the world by clicking to gather speed before jumping, wall skating, using ramps and rails, and taking advantage of gravity. The most useful (if not the most exciting) mechanic is the rewind button. If you miss a jump you can go back and try again immediately. The music also plays backwards when you do this, which is a small but fun detail that just shows how much effort went into this game, even though it was originally just a proof-of-concept.
It’s a shame it’s not a full retail length game - an eight hour main quest and some side missions, a bit more depth to the world and plot - because even I, who buys games about three times a year, would be willing to pay the big money for that. Download it and see what I mean.
Go to the Zineth website to find links for PC and Mac downloads, and also the websites of the team members of Arkane Kids.
Zaga-33 is an exercise in how minimal a roguelike can be. Originally developed in seven days, it’s a nice example of how minimalism and depth are not mutually exclusive. There’s a strong focus on movement and evasion. To succeed requires the ability to accurately predict how the enemies will behave and a little bit of luck.
There are five single-use items and seven enemies. Every attack does one point of damage, and every enemy has two HP. The score is the number of levels traversed (plus a bonus on game completion). That’s about all there is; the mechanics are very tight.
Windows / OS X: http://mightyvision.blogspot.com/2012/04/zaga-33.html
There is also a paid iOS version, should you desire the “Zaga!” intro sound to be ever at your side.
NetHack and Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup are really good rougelikes. They’re also really complicated. Brogue goes back to the original Rogue and takes things in a slightly different direction, almost a minimalist one. Every monster type is unique and must be fought differently. There are no classes, only the equipment you find and the way you use it. Lighting and different terrain types can be taken advantage of (either by yourself, or the enemies). There are Indiana Jones style traps. There are organic dungeon designs with lakes, and pools of lava, and rickety bridges between cliffs.
The control scheme has also been simplified, This is a good thing. One key can be used to quaff potions, read scrolls, zap wands, etc. You can also use a mouse for movement, combat, and getting more info on symbols.
It’s also really pretty. The lighting system casts various hues on things with fire and sunlight, water ripples, and fire pulses. And it’s still rendered using text and ascii symbols.
A good first roguelike, but enjoyable for fans of the genre in general, too.
Windows / OS X / Linux: https://sites.google.com/site/broguegame/
Unfortunately named, but excellent nonetheless. Fast paced platforming along the lines of N or Super Meat Boy. With stealth! Lots of emphasis on manipulating hostile robots to push buttons and block lasers. I does require you to make an account for the level editor and online high score table, but it’s not a big deal. Easily the best free platformer this year.
Pacman meets rogue. The enemies all have interesting behavior and will interact with each other as you run around collecting dots. If you’re not quick, chaos will ensue in your absence.
Lots of thought went into balancing the game. You can grind against walls to move faster and smash over enemies. But too much grinding, and the heat will make you explode. You can make use of the looping game board to shoot enemies on the other side of the screen. But your bullets can will also loop around and hit you in the back, an unsatisfactory outcome. Unless you have the key, which doubles as a shield, which enemies can steal.
Windows / OS X: http://nyarlu.net/blog/videogames/forget-me-not/