Just as the last 2 times, N8 is R8ing a wonderful bunch of Ludum Dare games – this time picked more or less at random. Even though the jam is officially over and the votes have all been cast, I’m still digging through the hundreds and hundreds of games that have been released. Next week I will be playing the top 8 games from the jam and the compo, so look out for that!
1/8. Lawn Mower Fight – You’re a lawnmower (the machine, not the person) and you gotta mow more grass, hay, and ascii characters than all the other little lawnmowers. There are powerups that make you mow better. The three levels are all easy. It’s a neat game! It’s got an explosion sound! Definitely a mark of progress for a developing developer!
2/8. Golden Rush – You take control of a golden fish and swim around a small, linear passageway. The fish is animated so fluidly, kind of like a straight up 4 real fish. Seriously looks good. The movement (which is really all there is to this little experiment) is smooth and feels really nice. I would love to play a version of this when it’s actually a fleshed-out game. But since there are other games in this jam that are just plainly more ‘game-y,’ I don’t have more to say.
3/8. Agropolis – A click-and-drag growth game with very little to it in turns of objective. You grow your plant-like structure higher and wider as you get new types of blocks that have different growth patterns. A peaceful game, which would be far more interesting with some type of basic objective. All-in-all, though – it’s a little lacking compared to some of the other games in this selection.
4/8. Milgram – A pretty silly little story game where you have to follow instructions by pressing two buttons (cute lil’ rip on the jam theme there.) There are three endings to discover and they’re all pretty obvious and I’m not really sure what the point is in terms of morality or meaning, but I like games like this, even when they’re this basic. The voice acting is kinda bad, but hey. And I was worried it was just a corny rip on the Stanley Parable, but it gets a pass cuz of memes. Just what the world needs more of.
5/8. Kubble – A turn based puzzle-platformer (though platformer isn’t really the right word) with a pretty snazzy synthy background track. I found this short game pretty difficult at times, but when it wasn’t difficult, it was realllly easy. So it was in this weird spot of being hard for the wrong reasons and easy in a way that wasn’t really fun. Twice, I won a level without really understanding how or why. I really like the turn based concept, and though the game was pretty cool, there wasn’t much more to it after level 2.
6/8. Personal Valley – One of the cool things about playing all these jam games is that you get to see all the talent that is out there. A game consists of so many moving parts – the sound, the music, the static graphics, the animations, the gameplay, the story. All of these little pieces combine into something that can be tremendously beautiful. And even though that’s not quite what I’d call this little game, it is the game that made me think about it. This game is such a little slice of fantasy with the ambient music and gentle pixelated graphics. Even though there isn’t much to it in terms of gameplay (I played the pre-finished version), it does bring you a feeling of having your own little ‘personal valley’ to spend some time in.
7/8. Drought – Peaceful little puzzle game with some wonderful atmospheric music that reminded me a good deal of the music from English Country Tune. The game consists of tile placement. You place water, dirt, grass, and seeds which grow into trees with fruit. It’s not at all complicated or difficult. Honestly speaking, I was having a stressful day when I tried out Drought, and though I didn’t find the gameplay intensely exciting or even very compelling, it relaxed me and brought my mood up in a way that kind of surprised me. It’s cool how something so plainly nice can come out of a game jam.
8/8. Orb Lords – A two-button pinball game in which the only way is up. Hitting left shift and right shift will flick flippers as you’d expect, but doing so has the interesting side effect of turning on/off orange and blue coins, boosters, and warp pads. The game is over when you reach the top of the board, and the objective is to either do this as quickly as possible or pick up as many coins as possible on your way up. Easy to get into and challenging to do well – just as pinball has always been. Though it did get a little janky with the ball physics at a time or two, Orb Lords is good shit for a jam game and definitely worth the play.
I’ve got nothing else this week except to say that I’m also hosting a discussion group for ‘thoughtful’ games that will be taking off this week. The idea is to play a game once every 2 – 4 weeks and discuss, criticize, and understand it better as a form of art – kind of like a book club might. We’ve got a (quite barren atm) subreddit set up for this and we’re looking forward to finding out how this goes!
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