noitu love 2: devolution

i’ve been playing noitu love 2 this weekend. the original noitu love bored me before crashing in the last stage; joakin sandberg has obviously learned a bit since then. i’m pretty sure he learned it making chalk, elements of which are in evidence here: level design focused around a single new mechanic per stage, the gradual teaching and layering of those mechanics, and mouse control. the mouse is the closest thing the pc has to a control pad (three obvious verbs that anyone who’s used a pc will be able to intuit) and i want more twitch games to take advantage of it.

where the game falls down is the bosses (disappointing, considering konjak’s obvious love for them), who often have often adhere to patterns of two or three attacks with huge but consistent damage areas and huge but consistent blind spots. which usually means that you take a lot of unavoidable damage the first time you fight a boss but can beat that boss taking next to no damage the next. which is disappointingly unbalanced.

but it is gorgeous! i said that konjak loves bosses: this is evident in the attention he puts into building and animating them, into staging their encounters to be every bit as grand and memorable as they are in his mind. each seam of this game glows with love for old mega drive action games, and playing it is a lot like i imaging sitting across a table from joakin sandberg shouting “do you remember that one game? yeah!!” would be.

you found the grappling hook pro

this is great: businessweek posted a direct-download link to messhof’s you found the grappling hook, and messhof changed the file to a special “pro” edition of the game that involves rooting out terrorists from businessweek’s offices to fuck with them.

i hadn’t played the actual game since the first release, so i took this as an opportunity to play through you found the grappling hook 1.5. like many of messhof’s games, it’s a methodical exploration of all the possibilities surrounding a few basic mechanics (mostly the titular grappling hook). design is sharp enough you’ll cut yourself if you’re not careful.

made in wired

dong at engrish games posts about the english version of junpei isshiki‘s made in wired, a take on warioware that’s focused on japanese shooters. (the title is a play off of the series’s japanese title, “made in wario”.) the premise is to complete a series of games that are only a few seconds long each. the reason you can do it is because you already know how.

if warioware is a dictionary of all the verbs in the videogame language (and it is: see the gamer’s quarter issue 8, mega microcosms), wired is a lexicon of all the verbs known to anyone who follows j-shooters, suggesting that even within the genre there is a common language that is widely understood and shared by players.

enigmario

enigmario is a rad hack of super mario bros. that replaces koji kondo’s melodies with smart chip remixes of tracks from enigma’s mcmxc a.d., essentially giving the game a totally new soundtrack. that the musical selections actually feel appropriate is the best part: the author clearly gave much care to tone and context. and at the same time it’s a distinct shift in tone from kondo’s clear notes of adventure, peril, and victory. there’s a somber quality to the new soundtrack, a warmth that’s frayed at the edges, a relief that’s being consumed by anxiety.

it’s a fascinating exercise. in the same way that poets and playwrights repurpose older, widely-known stories and themes in order to create a kind of intertextuality, romhackers and game developers continuously return to super mario bros.: a known story with known mechanics, thematically resonant and wholly incorporated into the contemporary vocabulary of videogames. everyone who is making a platformer is having a dialogue with super mario bros.

enigmario is apparently based on an earlier hack called “super catholic bros.”, which is disappointing.

lesbian spider-queens of mars

pixel sundays! new regular feature or irregular new feature? time will decide!

so, the story behind this: friend and comrade owen also goes to videogame school. one of the concepts that his team rejected was “lesbian spider-queens of mars”. when i’d heard that, i knew that i would have to make the game.

i drew this while working on your electronic arms, which uses mono-color sprites. i like it because the two color limit forced me to make silhouettes do a lot of my work. as for the game, i havn’t gotten around to making it yet. time!

neko games

rock paper shotgun has drawn a small spotlight on yoshio ishii, who is probably best-known for the neko games but also crafted the revelatory cursor*10. nekogames is one of my favorite unsung developers, so it’s nice to see some attention. note the gamesetwatch feature mentioned in the post was written by me.

also, clysm (seiklus, also a generally chill individual) posted a tribute to shawn noel. i remember i’d been playing shawn64’s last game, which is full of such fierce energy, when i heard he’d killed himself.

karoshi 2

three years ago, the gamer’s quarter published a feature on game concepts that, simply for sheer vehemence, needed to be made. my favorite was wes’s “suicide salaryman”: an open-ended game in the manner of grand theft auto in which the player’s goal was to kill herself in as many ways as possible. jesse venbrux eventually made the game as a puzzle platformer.

karoshi (“death from overwork”) is, for the most part, a traditional puzzle platform game. (i do like that the suicide salaryman is occasionally given a gun but not allowed to point it at himself.) karoshi 2 is one of the most intelligent games i have played in a long time.

standard bits

mark johns’s standard bits was apparently developed for kokoromi’s gamma 256 event (alongside jiji’s wonderful dive and jason rohrer’s much-celebrated passage), but for some reason it’s taken me this long to discover it. the concept behind gamma 256 is low-res game design; standard bits is a game about pixels. plenty of games USE pixels; standard bits is about them.

it evokes adventure on the vcs and probably a thousand other things just by its nature.

we must make the games we wish to play in the world