Last week I bounced from page to page on the Ludum Dare site, just selecting 8 jam games at random to play, rate, and present to you. This week, I was a little more selective in my choices in that I picked games out arbitrarily and played ones that seemed interesting from a first glance. For this reason, the games I played this week were undoubtedly of a slightly higher quality than the ones from last week. Just something to keep in mind.
1/8. Burger Run – This game is so simple it’s kind of hard for me to say much about it. You run and jump, and you’re on a treadmill. You get hit with burgers as you go and those slow you down. But if you just hold the run key down and constantly jump, you can run forever. So there is no real challenge. You just listen to the catchy song, hold the right arrow down, and tap on the up arrow as you watch your crazy looking giraffe dude run infinitely. It’s silly. It’s not the worst jam game I’ve ever played. But it’s… it’s… Well. Watching this gif is just as good as playing the actual game… So there…
2/8. Source Tree – A music game, with similarities to Stepmania or DDR, but with only 2 buttons. Which is as easy as it sounds. The music is quite lovely and it got me in a game groove, but for the most part I was just tapping the keys to no real rhythm because the game didn’t keep pace the the music that well and it didn’t punish me for not paying attention. The growing plant is totally irrelevant. The game just went on forever after I finished one song, so I didn’t really play much after that.
3/8. Urbo – I don’t know what a ‘win-state’ is in this little click game, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun or good or anything like that. It’s simple int that you choose one of two possible societal directions (like education or health) and then your city grows. I’m not sure how your choices affect the gameplay, but I assume there was some sort of link… At one point as I was playing, I clicked off the screen for a minute and 15 new city tiles popped up all at once when I clicked back in. I had no idea what I was doing pretty much the whole time I was playing. I just kept choosing health, education, and sometimes wealth but I couldn’t notice it having any effect. Still, it was very pretty, smooth, and a solid entry. No quit button tho.
4/8. American Excess – Excellent sound and visual detail. A fairly cute game but truly hilarious. The controls are a bit gimmicky, in my mind – but they worked for sure and were challenging to work with at times. The theme was right up my alley but the actual mechanics and aim of the game didn’t really have much to do with the anti-consumerist message that seemed to be at the center. Altogether a fun game with fun visuals and audio. Favorite line from the game spoken over the intercom: “Mr. Costello, can you please come to the front desk. Your vibrator has been repaired successfully”
5/8. noa noa – First thing you’ll notice are the amazing 3D animations and the super-fun music and sound effects. This game feels so polished and smooth, even if it is only a 2-button jam game. It takes the form of a classic Tamagotchi-style virtual pet in which you have to play simple mini games, shop for accessories, and show love to your little creature. It has stats that are all affected by how you interact with it and how well you play the mini-games. Though I never actually owned one of those little plastic eggs back in their hey-day, I had a lot of fun with this one. Unfortunately, I grew impatient with the repetitive ‘exercising’ minigame and left my little pet at the virtual SPCA along with the millions of forgotten ’90s Tamagotchi. Still a great jame entry.
6/8. Seeds of Sky – Upon beginning, I dug myself into a hole and was left trapped. Restarting, I found myself in a pretty well-made homage to Starseed Pilgrim. The platforming is smooth for the most part and I only encountered one or two little bugs in which I would either phase through a wall or glitch out one of the goats that ram you off edges. I actually played through the whole thing and enjoyed it completely. The growth mechanics weren’t nearly as in depth as Starseed Pilgrim, but with 48 hours to complete the game, that’s to be expected. Not without its flaws, but a good entry.
7/8. GROWEES – Visually impressive hexagonal tile-based Othello game in which you play through 10 levels where you’re objective is to swap all tiles of one type out for tiles of another type. The gameplay is extremely simple and plays the same way as many games that have come before – such as Reversi or the good ol’ flash game Hexxagon. I could see this working really well in its current state on a mobile device, or as a more fleshed out puzzle game in general. Relaxing atmosphere, calming music. Easy. Very solid entry despite its simplicity.
8/8. Conga Master – Two-button controls masterfully utilized in what is probably the most fun Ludum game I’ve played so far. Worm your way in and out of all the people on the dance floor as your grow your chain of conga liners. It’s just the right level of challenging as you work to keep your momentum up and your chain growing. The music is catchy and the pixelated graphics offer the perfect level of goofy flashiness. I was happy to play this game a time or two again after I lost the first time. More music, dance floors, and maybe an extra mechanic or two would make this game stand up to a huge portion of the small titles out in the ‘real’ world already.
Check back next week! I’ll be playing one more round of jam games before the end of LD 34 and the finalists are announced.
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