N8 R8S 8: Ludum Dare 34 Part 1

Ludum Dare #34 is in full swing with it’s TWO concurrent themes: Growing and Two-button controls. Over the next few weeks I’ll be diving into a random selection of this jam’s games and giving my brief thoughts on each, all the while ranking them from 1-8 according to my personal whim and unseasoned taste. When the Jam comes to a conclusion, I’ll also be taking a closer look at the winners to find out just what makes a great jam game. Without further prelude…

1/8 Neon Junk Collector – While visually stimulating, this game barely worked for me. The two-button control scheme was interesting and collecting smaller blobs to keep your larger blob growing is a well-tested gameplay mechanic, but the two combined into a clunky mess of vaporwave space trash. When I finally got the controls down, I was terrible at the game. Not sure if that’s because it was a hard game or because I just suck.


2/8 Escape of the Alien Invader – The only procedurally generated game on the list – which is saying quite a lot for a jam game. Lots of placeholder art for what I imagine could be a neat addition to the realm of ‘roguelike-ish’ games out there. Weapon upgrades were fun and the gameplay – while simple – was still challenging. A few glitches in the level-generation process, but a decent jam game, to be sure.


3/8 Dead Silence: A Walk in the Park – If it weren’t for the fact that this game had me laughing the entire time I played, it would have been ranked lower than the other two so far. You play a killer snowman who chases victims around and eats them… or something. It really had nothing to do with either of the possible Ludum Dare themes, but the ridiculous screams of the innocent villagers was enough for me to ignore the many flaws.


4/8 Gravity – Essentially an Asteroids-style game but without the ability to actually move your character independently. Instead, you place ‘black holes’ (attract objects) and ‘white holes’ (repel objects) around the field of play. You need to move your crazy-looking celestial being icon around space, avoiding asteroids and collecting spaceship parts all using this mechanic. I had fun playing the web version and it controlled quite well. I was killed when I accidentally touched the edge of  the map, and felt no compulsion to play again. The two-button controls scheme was solid and I like the idea (repel and attract), but I think it could be implemented in a different type of game to give a unique and generally better experience.


5/8 Fight or Flight – A highly-simplistic top-down shooter with smooth controls (space to aim, click to move and shoot) and some really nice lighting effects and sound/music. I could easily imagine these mechanics transferring over to a more complex game in which I’m not simply navigating my way through a linear maze. Nothing negative to say, but since it was so basic, there’s not much in particular positive to say, either.


6/8 Delta Swing – Left-click to shoot, right-click to use your grappling hook. A really smooth 3D game in which you’re constantly moving forward. After playing this prototype, I really like the idea of a 2 button first person game. It’s pretty exciting using the grapple to navigate the world while keeping the spiders, ants, and bees at bay. I didn’t notice the mushrooms growing all over the map until I read the description, but this is a neat jam game that met both of Ludum Dare’s themes. Hopefully this will turn into something more polished!


7/8 Immune – Intuitive 2-button controls with some solid graphics and a killer background song. And all of it available in your browser! The game was fun and the difficulty ramps up as your little infectious blob gets larger and larger. I can easily imagine this game getting some more work and detail and becoming a significant web or mobile game. Met both of the jam’s two criteria.


8/8 Growing Sakura – An impressively difficult puzzle game with two-button controls and a theme around growth in a hexagonal grid. This game comes with 40 levels and I struggled for several minutes with just the first 4! I usually imagine myself as a pretty decent puzzle-solver, but Growing Sakura had me stumped in more than one spot. And it was the kind of stumped that didn’t feel unfair or annoying. These levels can be solved – and it’s a good feeling solving them.


So that’s all for this week. I’ll be playing another 8 this coming week and will update N8R8 accordingly. Cheers!

follow n8 @UncleEggma

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