Retrograde motion is defined as “the motion in the direction opposite to the movement of something else.” If you were to implement this into a rhythm game, how would you do it? Should you ask a room full of developers, you would be bound to get a room filled with varying results, but perhaps one of the most unique approaches would be that of the LA-based developer 24 Caret Games.
Rhythm-based games were all the rage a few years ago, but recently have seen a decline in popularity, which can largely be attributed to the oversaturation of the market in such a brief period of time. Along comes Retro/Grade, which promises to shake things up by implementing a pleasant blend of gameplay elements and meshing together genres to create an enjoyable experience, and one that completely caught us by surprise at PAX East.
I played with the Playstation 3 controller, using the D-pad to move up and down, and the X button to gather my projectiles. Armless Octopus EIC, Mike Wall chose the guitar peripheral which seemed to work just as well.
The reveal of Bit.Trip Presents: Runner2 was a bit of a surprise to me. Gaijin Games’ head honcho Alex Neuse assured me that the studio’s next game would be “something totally different” from the Bit.Trip series way back at PAX Prime 2010. Also, the story concluded rather soundly with the release of Bit.Trip FLUX. Despite these details, it’s hard to complain about there being another Bit.Trip game. After playing the first 19 levels at PAX East, I can safely say we seem to be in for the good kind of trip.
Gaijin hasn’t done much to alter the core formula of what was the most successful game in the series with its sequel. It’s an auto-scrolling platformer with a small plethora of moves to remember. What begins as simply jumping over pits eventually evolves into kicking through obstacles and sliding under ledges. The demo build builds your arsenal slowly, teaching the player the tricks they’ll need to survive one at a time. Anyone who has played a Bit.Trip before can tell you that the later levels can be complex and challenging, sometimes maddening, so this gentle curve is welcome.
Runner2 isn’t just more of the same, though. Some of the core moves have new twists that add to Commander Video’s repertoire. You can now jump while sliding and kick while jumping, which were sorely missed in the original. The level design will expand to include these wrinkles as well. There are new moves as well, though their functionality isn’t finalized. The Commander can now dance for point bonuses and a timed-button pressing minigame is housed within Sonic the Hedgehog-esque loops. Read more
“We’re going to kill monsters. There will be blood. We’re going to torture them.” That was the mantra behind Arkedo Studios’ Hell Yeah!, a game that would look right at home on Nickelodeon if the network turned a blind eye to the game’s ocean of blood.
Hell Yeah! isn’t a high concept, pretentious game looking to change how the world feels about games or life. Studio Head Camille Guermonprez said the bloodbath was designed around one simple question: “How fun can it be to kill a monster?” The developer is quite candid about the inspirations for his Metroidvania adventure. “We wanted to make a video game. The stuff that made us want to make games.”
Hell Yeah! is set in a cheerfully demented version of hell where Ash, the prince of the underworld who also happens to be a skeletal demon rabbit, has gone on a monster-killing rampage because the tabloids have posted risqué pictures of him. It’s an escapist fantasy born out of months of tedious contract work where Arkedo had limited freedom. It was a stifling environment for a studio designed around being creative and taking risks. “The project was based out of frustration,” Guermonprez said, recalling the doldrums of the contract days. “We’re happy to have been frustrated. It was worth it.” Read more
We had a meaty preview for Shoot Many Robots back during PAX East 2011. Now, a few months later and another PAX attended, the guys from Demiurge Studios had a whole new mode to show off and lots of new details surrounding the game’s release. I had a chance to get my hands on the new Survival Mode at PAX Prime, and once again walked away impressed with this cooperative run ‘n gun shooter.
The Survival Mode will be of the now often-used ‘Horde’ style, pitting you against waves of increasingly difficult robots that must be destroyed. The mode will be integral in moving up in the RPG elements of the game. Your robot slaughter will facilitate loot and nut drops that will get you set up with more powerful gear, as well as currency that will let you buy anything else you might be missing from your arsenal.
A recent trend in game design shows that not only can dying be fun, but it should. Games like Super Meat Boy encourage us to take on intense challenges through failure and frustration because of that succulent little splat and the short time it takes to get there again. An upcoming 2D platformer by the name of Battleblock Theater continues this trend and adds the opportunity to off your friends—over and over again—while cooperating in order to reach a common goal.
In a nutshell, Battleblock Theater is a series of races set in multiple labyrinths decorated with triggers and traps, a combination likely to bring kinetic thrills and sudden death—but we like that, right? With cooperative and competitive modes, expect the same multiplayer madness you get from games like New Super Mario Bros. Wii and The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure. Do you help your friend up the ledge, or do you knock him off? Even in two-player co-op, which I tried at PAX East, the game was gushing with equal amounts of fun and insanity. It was undeniably a Behemoth game.
Growing up, I was always a huge fan of the Metal Slug series. The cooperative elements paired with cartoon-like demeanor offered a fresh quality to the run-and-gun shooter. Despite the number of sequels it spawned, it unfortunately never caught on well with Western audiences. Fortunately, developer Demiurge Studios has taken that formula and placed their own influence on it.
Shoot Many Robots opened with my character, P. Water Tugnut, dressed in eccentric outfit and stationed in a mobile home while waiting out the eventual robot apocalypse. I could almost smell the stench of my RV as I lingered over a filthy toilet which served as a storage container as well, allowing me to change a number of items on my character, including head gear, clothing and armament. The comedic influence shined through as I selected a pair of tight leather chaps that allowed me to dash across the floor quickly and a football helmet which displayed the description “Makes you run faster. Why? We’re not quite sure.” Read more