My name's Ben. I'm pretty quiet but really easy to get along with. I've been playing video games since I was a little kid, watching my brother play the NES and sometimes playing with him. The first game I ever beat was Super Mario RPG, and that's when I developed a love for video games.
Games that I thoroughly enjoy:
Shadow of the Colossus
EarthBound and Mother 3
Demon's Souls and Dark Souls
Persona 3 and 4
Mega Man Legends
Super Meat Boy
Super Mario RPG
Team Fortress 2
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
Beyond Good & Evil
Dragon Quest VIII
Final Fantasy IV, VI, VII and IX
Mega Man 2
Other things that I thoroughly enjoy:
Studio Ghibli films
Eels (the band... and the animal I guess)
Michael Crichton books
Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns
Krazy Kat comics
Today, while updating the archives for the Cblog Recaps, I came across this post from a few years ago. I wasn't really around Destructoid when these "10 things you didn't know about me" blogs were a thing, but I thought it might be fun to try and bring it back and give the newer members a chance to share some things about themselves (actually, Rammstein made one last year, but it seems like the idea didn't really take off after that). I hope this post might inspire other people to do the same, because it's always fun to learn more about the lives of other Dtoiders. So here goes. Here are ten things you probably didn't know about me!
10. When I was a kid, I really wanted to be a marine biologist. Or a "marin bilolojist" even (I found that written in one of my journals from elementary school). I would ask for a bunch of books about fish and the ocean, and spent a lot of time learning the names of tons of sea creatures and reading about their behavior and stuff. I still think it would be a cool profession, but for some reason I decided to pursue English in college instead, and now I can't find any jobs at all. I did take an Oceanography class in college, which counted for a GE requirement, and it was pretty interesting. My interest in the ocean still remains with me today. I find whales and cephalopods to be invariably fascinating. It even inspired me to write a blog post about underwater levels (which I love)!
9. Now that I'm an adult, I really want to work in the video game industry. I would like to be a writer for a game developer, or perhaps a gaming journalist (how would that sound, Destructoid? Eh? Ehhh?). I'm finding it very difficult to break into the industry, though. I've been applying for jobs as a QA tester, thinking that would probably be a good entry level option, but I haven't heard back from anyone yet. Unfortunately, I don't have any testing experience, so I'm thinking that might be holding me back. I'm determined to keep trying though, because this is what I would really like to do with my life.
8. I'm still pretty much a kid at heart. I partake in a lot of activities which some people would consider childish. Playing video games, of course, is a good example, although it's pretty clear that adults make up a large portion of the gamer population as well. I also still enjoy watching cartoons, either going back to shows that I watched as a kid to see if they're still entertaining (I actually bought Courage the Cowardly Dog on DVD recently, because I still really love that show), or checking out newer cartoons to see what's popular these days (Adventure Time is a good one). I tend to be pretty apathetic towards many of the more adult-appropriate activities and interests, such as drinking, smoking, politics, gambling, or whatever else it is that adults like to do.
7. Although it wasn't the first game I played, I'm pretty sure Super Mario RPG is the reason I became a gamer. My brother and I rented it one day and played through the entire game together in a few days. I'd played other RPGs before that; we had Dragon Warrior for the NES (aka Dragon Quest) and Final Fantasy II for the SNES (aka Final Fantasy IV), but for some reason, Super Mario RPG really just blew my mind. We returned it, and a few weeks later I asked my brother if he wanted to rent it again. "But we already beat it," he said. "I know, but it was so good!" said I. I rented it again anyway by myself, and played through the entire game again. I tried to find as many of the game's hidden gems as I could (that game had a TON of hidden content!), which was a new habit for me then, but now it's something that I do for almost any game that I love. It remains to this day one of my favorite games of all time, and I still go back and replay it occasionally.
6. I used to play RuneScape, and I actually enjoyed it. I was introduced to the game by a friend from middle school who had moved away, and we used the game to stay in contact with each other. So it was nice to be able to play with a friend, especially one that I couldn't see anymore at school. Eventually he moved on from the game, but I kept playing it every day, and got several of my cousins to play it with me as well. I think that my time with RuneScape may have been the only moment of my gaming career where I was slightly addicted. I played it for hours on end every day for about a year or so. I don't do that with games anymore. Even other MMOs like World of Warcraft, I'll only spend a reasonable amount of time with them. Anyway, I stopped playing RuneScape several years ago and have no desire to ever play it again, and now it's sort of an embarrassing admission these days to tell other gamers that I played it. Oh well. I enjoyed it at the time anyway. As long as I was having fun, right?
5. I'm an extremely quiet person in real life. I wouldn't say that I'm shy though. I don't mind getting up and singing karaoke at a bar or giving a speech in front of a bunch of people (both of these things involve saying words that are written in front of me, interestingly). I also joined the drama club in high school to try to prove to people that I wasn't shy (that was my reasoning as a high schooler), and performed in several plays. But for some reason, I have never been able to converse easily with people or start many conversations. I'm not exactly sure why. Usually I just feel like I don't have anything really important or interesting to contribute to a conversation, but I will chime in when I do have something to say which I think is interesting or relevant. My quietness has led to innumerable awkward silences, even with family members or close friends, and I'm sure I'm not very impressive during first dates or interviews (my lack of a relationship and a job would probably confirm this). Anyway, I've grown to accept that it's just how I am, and my friends and family seem to be accepting of it as well. None of them ever point out that I'm being quiet anymore, which is something that I HATE when people say to me.
4. I'm gay. I hesitated including this one. I dunno, I kinda feel like maybe it's neither here nor there. I don't really talk about it very much though, so I figured it was probably something that a lot of you didn't know about me. Though I try to come off as a typically very happy person, this fact has actually contributed to a lot of depression in my life (and still does, even though I've accepted it and told my family and everything). I won't go into all of that here though. It is what it is.
3. I'm usually several years behind when it comes to playing new games or getting new consoles. I've never bought a console the year it came out. I've owned an NES, SNES, N64, Gamecube, Wii, PS1, PS2 and PS3, and I acquired all of them probably at least two years after they were released. This also means that I always tend to be late when it comes to playing the next best game, so while everyone is talking about Mass Effect 3, I'm busy playing Red Dead Redemption and Bayonetta. I'm always playing catch-up with other gamers. However, on the positive side, I always get everything at a discounted price!
2. I listen to video game soundtracks in my car. This one might not be very surprising to some of you. I've expressed my love of video game music many times in the past. About a third of the music in my Winamp is from video game soundtracks. I've also copied a lot of that music to CDs so that I can listen to it on the road. The soundtracks for Okami, Katamari Damacy and Bastion are a few of my favorite CDs to listen to while driving. I've also got the soundtracks to Catherine, Persona 4 and Bit.Trip Complete in my car, all of which came with the games, as well a physical copy of the Super Meat Boy soundtrack, which I purchased. Sometimes I drive with the windows down and video game music blasting, and try to gauge the reactions of passersby.
1. I chose Balrog for my avatar because Destructoid introduced me to Cave Story and the world of indie games in general. The first time I'd heard of Destructoid was when I stumbled across the Top 50 Videogames of the Decade article somehow, and was surprised to find that I'd played very few of the games on the list. This led me to check out a variety of awesome games which pretty much changed my current taste in gaming, and Cave Story was the first one (because it was free for the PC, easiest to obtain). I was blown away by how great the game was, and even more blown away that it had been created by a single person! This led me to seek out a bunch of other free indie games, and I found a ton of excellent games, which in turn led me to create my 5 Freeware Indie Games You Should Play series which got me started in the community here. So I figured Balrog would be a perfect avatar for me here, since Cave Story was the first thing I played upon discovering Destructoid, and it had a great influence on my current gaming habits and opened up a whole new world of gaming for me. Also, Balrog is just a really cool character.
Matt Thorson is a relatively well-known name in the indie game world, having created the Jumper series and worked with Tom Sennett to make RunMan: Race Around the World (both of which star characters that made special guest appearances in Super Meat Boy). He has, of course, worked on plenty of other games as well, two of which I particularly enjoy.
Give Up, Robot and its sequel, Give Up, Robot 2, are brutally difficult platformers (in the same vein as games such as Super Meat Boy or VVVVVV) which you can play right in your browser, for free! In both games, you control a robot with a grappling hook, and must make your way through rooms filled with various obstacles and traps, all the while enduring taunts and sarcasm from an unseen, GLaDOS-like robot overlord.
The first game is fairly straightforward, and even though it's not really necessary, I'd recommend starting with this one first if you plan on playing both. Give Up, Robot features a traditional-looking robot grappling its way through some kind of crazy, multicolored disco-laboratory. The game features 50 stages which become progressively more difficult at a steady-ish pace, and can become so frustrating towards the end of the game that you might just want to give up. In fact, that's what you're being told to do throughout the entirety of the game. As you progress through the game, a mysterious robotic voice advises you to "give up, robot!" whenever you complete a level, and then laughs at you or gives you a sarcastic compliment whenever you fail. The robot overlord is clearly trying to be discouraging, but its biting remarks are enough to make you never want to quit playing. Can't make it past a particularly excruciating level? You could just call it quits and give up, but that's exactly what the asshole robot wants you to do! I died hundreds of times during my first playthrough, but I never wanted to quit playing because I couldn't give the game the satisfaction of defeating me. I ain't giving up, you metallic bastard!
The original Give Up, Robot was an excellent game by itself, but then, only four months later, Matt Thorson gave us Give Up, Robot 2, improving upon the original in many ways and creating one of the finest platformer browser games out there. The second game features a strange-looking, unicycle-like robot grappling its way out of the laboratory and through an outdoor landscape on its quest to get revenge on the antagonizing robot overlord. In addition to more varied obstacles and traps, there are now coins to collect, jetpacks to grab and, best of all, boss battles! There's also a lot more humor in the sequel. In addition to the dickish comments from the robot overlord (which always tend to make me smile, even if they are infuriating at times), there are other new characters which say things to you whenever you grapple them, such as clouds which seem to be having an orgasm ("That's the spot! Harder!") and rockets which don't enjoy being touched ("Get it off! F&@*!"). Once again, the levels can become unbearably difficult. But this time you have even more incentive to not give up, because for every 20 levels you beat, you get to finally confront the son-of-a-bitch robot overlord in a boss battle and take him down a peg. These moments are extremely satisfying!
While I always enjoy playing a good indie game, I usually tend to overlook a lot of browser games because they're often hosted on sites with advertisements which won't allow you play the game fullscreen. But for some games, I'm willing to look past these annoyances because they're too good to pass up. The Give Up, Robot games are definitely worth your time if you enjoy intense platformers, so don't let the Adult Swim Games website and advertisements deter you. Give these games a shot, but make sure you ignore the advice in the game's title and don't give up!
I was first introduced to Rayman during the late '90s. I'd asked for a PlayStation for Christmas one year, and in addition to getting the two games that I asked for (Spyro the Dragon and Tomb Raider), my parents decided to get me an extra game as well, one that I'd never heard of before. I wasn't sure how I felt about Rayman by looking at the case; the guy on the cover looked very strange and goofy. I put Rayman to the side for a while, and instead busied myself with the adventures of Spyro and Lara Croft. Once I'd finally exhausted those games, I decided to give Rayman a try.
I went into the game with very low expectations. On top of having never heard of Rayman before, the graphics were not 3D like the rest of the PlayStation games I'd played, and the super cheery, bright colors seemed to be a little over-the-top to me.
Once I finally got to actually playing the game, however, I quickly found that I was enjoying it a lot more than I expected. Sure, the graphics weren't 3D, but never before had I seen such beautiful 2D environments in a game. Before Rayman, I'd only played pixelated games on the NES, SNES and Genesis, and then jumped to the not-as-stunning-today-as-they-were-back-then 3D games on the original PlayStation. I was super impressed, then, with the smooth, beautifully-crafted 2D artwork found throughout the world of Rayman. The backdrops seemed to give each level incredible depth; in particular, the later levels in the Cave of Skops really blew me away. The backdrop made the cave seem like it was utterly huge and endless, and I'd start to think I'd never get out of it.
I got used to the silliness of Rayman pretty quickly. Soon I was playing the game with an endless smile on my face. The crazy face that Rayman made to scare enemies and the silly dance he did at the end of each level never failed to make me laugh. I also really loved that Rayman did a little dance with each of the bosses after he beat them, as if to show they were good guys now. The different themed worlds were delightfully crazy, and were always throwing the most unexpected things at me. I'd be jumping on pencil erasers, riding mosquitoes, trying not to get impaled by razor sharp musical notes, fighting giant saxophones and so many other things I never thought I'd be doing in a video game, and it was always so much fun because I never would have thought of such things myself.
What's even more amazing to me was that, despite the happy, colorful, youthful nature of the game, it was actually surprisingly challenging. Each new world seemed so much more difficult than the last. The second half of the game can be a true test of your skills as a gamer. In fact, I have a confession: I've never beaten Rayman without using a cheat to gain more lives. I die so many times in the Blue Mountains and onward that I don't think I'd ever be able to beat the game otherwise.
Despite the difficulty (or maybe in part because of the difficulty), Rayman quickly became one of my favorite games growing up. A few years later, they made a sequel to Rayman. It was a 3D sequel, so I was intrigued to find out how they would translate the ridiculous world of Rayman into the third dimension. I played the sequel for a little while, but found that a lot of the charm and silliness that I remembered from the original game seemed to be lost in the sequel. The game was fun enough, but for some reason it didn't really feel like Rayman to me. It felt like they took the character of Rayman and placed him in an entirely different world. After that, I decided not to play the third game in the series. Then they began making a series of Rayman games featuring rather obnoxious little things called Rabbids, and I decided that the Rayman franchise was officially over for me. I still had the original game to return to if I ever wanted more Rayman in my life.
And then suddenly they announced something that I never expected to see. They were going to be making a new Rayman game, and it was going to be a 2D platformer like the original, and the story would focus on the origins of Rayman. I was officially excited about Rayman again!
Rayman Origins definitely did not let me down. In fact, I might say that I like it even more than the original. There are so many things about this game that I was excited about. I was very happy to see characters from the original game make a return, such as Moskito and Betilla the Fairy. There were other returning characters that I didn't really know so well, such as Globox and the Teensies from Rayman 2, but they fit in really well with the world of the game, and I began to really like them. I'm just glad they decided not to include a single Rabbid.
The artwork is even more impressive and breathtakingly beautiful than the environments from the first 2D Rayman; you can tell that a lot of love and effort went into creating each level. I never grew tired of admiring the scenery, and I'd often get distracted by a particularly beautiful set piece. I have to say that the ice levels with various sliced fruits frozen into the glaciers are my favorite areas of the game, as far as visual appeal goes. The glaciers just look so beautifully serene and delicious! The soundtrack is also super awesome and humorous. I loved all of the ukelele tracks and the silly vocals. The gurgly song that's played during the underwater levels always makes me smile.
The silliness from the first game is back in full force, with the eccentric level design and quirky soundtrack. You'll find yourself jumping on babbling forks, swinging from long beards, running from spiky citrus fruits and other crazy stuff. I'm also glad to see that Rayman's excellent dance moves are back, and that the bosses all have happy endings, which reminded me of the dancing bosses from the first game. It's one of the happiest, silliest games you can find.
And just like the original, the charming nature of the game is in no way an indication of the game's difficulty. Taking away the lives from the first game was a good idea, as I ended up dying just as many times in this game as I did in the original. The difficulty steadily increases as you traverse the different worlds, leading to some especially challenging final levels. Then there is the final world, the Land of the Livid Dead, which you must unlock by mastering all of the other levels you've already played. I'll just say this about the Land of the Livid Dead: it gives some of the more difficult levels in Super Meat Boy a run for their money.
In short, I can't recommend Rayman Origins enough. In my opinion, it embodies the Rayman franchise perfectly. If you never played the original game and want to know what Rayman is all about, this is the game to get. I like to think that the game is so appealing because of its return to the 2D platformer model. We see so few games like this nowadays, and Rayman Origins happens to be quite possibly the best looking game in the genre. They didn't go the Nintendo route and try to make a 3D game in a 2D plane, they went all out with two dimensions. A return to beautiful, quirky artwork, charming humor and satisfying difficulty is just what the Rayman franchise needed. It's a triumphant return of everything that made the original Rayman game great, and it somehow improves on those things to make for an even better Rayman game!
I seek thee within the mechanical forest.
Thy lair lies guarded by metallic monkeys,
protected by robotic rabbits and bionic bats.
Machinery meets Mother Nature,
and I must best both of them
lest I never meet thee.
once within thy fortress of flowers and firs
we are finally met face to face.
Behold! Thy body of birch, so beautiful.
Thy helmet of hazel, so heavenly.
Thy legs of larch and thy oaken orifices tempt me so.
I stand in amazement as I ponder thy form.
send forth thy gift of leaves,
thy razor-sharp foliage,
to cut me from my reverie.
It pains me so, but I must proceed.
Fear not the flames I send thee,
for they are a symbol of my burning passion.
O Wood Man,
thou art oft maligned and ridiculed
for thy wooden form and thy leafy weapons.
But thou art not universally despised,
for there is one who appreciates thy leafiness.
There is one who adores thy woodiness,
and that lone soul is me.
Lately, Destructoid has been all abuzz with kittens. I'm hearing about them everywhere, and I always think, "Oh, how fun! I love kittens!" I'm always left disappointed, however, because there are never actually any kittens anywhere to be seen, just some half-naked women with various video game paraphernalia covering their naughty parts. Boooring.
What gives, Destructoid? You promised me kittens, and so far you have not delivered. I thought it might be best, then, to take on the job myself and provide the Destructoid community with all of the adorable video game kittens that it's been yearning for. Therefore, I present to you all my top 10 list of video game kittens, of the actual feline variety! Enjoy :3
10. Nago from Kirby's Dream Land 3
Kirby acquires a slew of new friends to help him out in his third Dream Land adventure. One of them is a cute, fat calico cat named Nago, who rolls Kirby up into a ball and walks around by rolling him like a ball of yarn. How cute is that? He also comes with his own set of abilities to use whenever Kirby acquires an enemy's ability, just like the rest of the friends, so it's fun to see what all Nago can do with the various abilities. Growing up, my family had a fat calico cat named Callie (creative, I know), so I always had a soft spot for Nago whenever I played this game.
9. Pura from the Crash Bandicoot series
Unlike the rest of the kittens on this list, Pura is a tiger cub, so he's more of a wildcat than a domestic pet. That doesn't stop him from being an overly adorable kitty though. In Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped, Coco can ride on Pura's back during her levels, and in Crash Team Racing you can choose Pura as a racer. Needless to say, Pura was always my first choice to race with. His adorable meowing sound effects always make me smile!
8. Blinx from Blinx: The Time Sweeper
So, I haven't actually played this game, as it received a lukewarm reception which left me hesitant to pick it up, but I cannot deny that Blinx is one adorable kitty. With his big, bright eyes, cool goggles, huge collar and fuzzy pink fur, I have to admit that I wanted to play the game just based on his appearance. Blinx is the only titular character on this list, even though he is not the only titular feline video game character. I wasn't about to let Bubsy anywhere near my list, Klonoa might be based on a rabbit or a dog even though I think he looks like a cat, and I wasn't sure if Ratchet really counted, being a fictional species that happens to look rather feline, so Blinx won the competition.
7. Jeane from No More Heroes
Jeane is the most realistic kitty on this list, although she's not exactly an important character by any means. While taking a break in his room from killing assassins and being a general badass, Travis Touchdown can show his softer side and play with his pet kitty, Jeane. You can feed her, wave a toy in front of her, or pet her as she lays on your stomach. Jeane is undeniably adorable, mewing softly whenever you play with her, and rolling over on her back so you can rub her belly. She makes me want to go out a buy a kitten to play with on my own!
6. Spitz from the WarioWare series
Spitz and his partner Dribble are the cat and dog cabbie duo that run the Diamond Taxi service in Diamond City. They drive a taxi that's able to float on water, fly into outer space and more, and they often tend to pick up supernatural passengers. Although Dribble is the driver, Spitz seems to be the brains of the duo. Their minigames are usually Sci-Fi themed. I always pick one of the two of them when playing multiplayer games, because look how adorable they are in their blue coveralls, wearing goggles and helmets! Also, their level in Smooth Moves is by far my favorite, because of the super happy soundtrack!
5. Meowth from the Pokemon series
Meowth, that's right! I won't lie. Meowth's position on this list is based almost entirely on his depiction in the anime. He doesn't have much of a personality in any of the games (although he is charmingly goofy in Pokemon Snap), but since he originated in video game form, it felt appropriate to include him. In the anime of course, he is part of the villainous Team Rocket trio, and he's one of the few Pokemon in the show that can speak English, having taught himself the language in an attempt to appear more sophisticated to a swanky female Meowth that he had the hots for. He's one of my favorite characters in the show due to his personality, although sadly I don't believe I've ever used him in the video games.
4. Cait Sith from Final Fantasy VII
During my first playthrough of Final Fantasy VII, Cait Sith was consistently in my party as soon as he joined the team at the Gold Saucer. I was immediately drawn to his adorable character design. A cute little black cat atop a huge, lovable Moogle? Yes, please! Unfortunately, his limit break was a little lame, and I never understood how exactly he attacked things with megaphones as his weapons, but I always used him nonetheless. Then I found out what he really was, just a toy controlled by a member of Shinra, and I liked him a little less. It's sort of difficult to determine Cait Sith's true character after that revelation, whether he is trustworthy or not, and whether he is controlled entirely by Reeve or contains some hint of artificial intelligence as well (why would he make such a big deal about sacrificing himself at the Temple of the Ancients if they could just send along another one?). In the end, though, I still think he's the most adorable team member in all of the Final Fantasy series, even though I don't usually use him to fight anymore.
3. Xiao from Dark Cloud
Xiao is actually a stray cat that the hero Toan discovers and rescues from the Divine Beast dungeon. After being given a magical potion, she suddenly transforms into a human form, with a tail and long ears, and joins Toan on his quest as a member of his party. She's very optimistic and loyal to Toan for rescuing her, but also very timid. I found her to be relatively weak, unfortunately, although her slingshots were sometimes useful in picking off long-range enemies, and of course her jumping abilities were necessary for navigating the dungeons. Her position on my list is due mainly to the idea behind her character design. How cool would it be if your pet cat could magically turn into a human and talk to you? Well, maybe that would be really weird, but it would be interesting to hear what they have to say about you!
2. Evil the Cat from Earthworm Jim
I needed to include at least one sinister kitty on this list, and who better to fill that spot than Evil? Evil the Cat is a manifestation of pure evil, and rules over the planet Heck, a place which is eerily similar to our stereotypical visions of Hell. During the boss fight with Evil, he steals Earthworm Jim's suit, rendering him quite useless and leaving him only with the ability to jump. Once you regain your suit, you must then defeat each of Evil's nine lives before he can finally be vanquished. Although he is so thoroughly evil, he can sometimes be seen licking his fur or playing with a ball of yarn, making him as adorable as he is evil!
1. Cats from the Animal Crossing series
I tried to pick just one for this list, but I couldn't. There are so many great feline characters in the Animal Crossing games, it's impossible for me to choose a favorite! My gut instinct was to go with Blanca, because of her hilarious and creative minigame where you have to draw a face for her. The possibilities are endless, whether you want to draw her all bug-eyed, crazy looking, super angry or just normal, and it's even funny just to see her walking around with no face at all (and somewhat shocking the first time you encounter her)! But I also have a soft spot for Rover, the very first character you meet who introduces himself on the train to your destination. I like that he has a name typical for a dog, even though he is a cat. Rover can be a bit too talkative and nosy, however, which is slightly annoying but also rather endearing. At least he's not as bad as Resetti. And then I remembered Bob. Who doesn't love Bob the cat? He's a super chill male cat with purple fur and a flowery dress, so basically he's awesome in every way. I never had him in my town though, which makes me sad. I did have plenty of other cool cats in my town however, including the equally chill Punchy, the super sweet Kiki and the very sassy Monique. In short, I don't think any list of awesome video game animals would be complete without an Animal Crossing character, although it may be difficult to pick just one!
So what did you think? Were there any glaring omissions that I forgot about? Were you expecting half-naked women and are therefore thoroughly disappointed? Let me know in the comments!
Hello friends! It's been a while since I've done one of these. Many of the games I've listed this week are rather popular, so some of you may have already played most of these, but I figured they all deserved to be mentioned.
Also, just a heads up, if you enjoyed Momodora which I mentioned a few blogs ago, they've since created a sequel, Momodora II. It's quite excellent, though very similar to the first game.
Yes, I've written about pretty much every Locomalito game now, I know. It's just... he's such a wonderful developer, and he represents everything that I love about the indie game world. I also said I wasn't going to write about Hydorah until I'd beaten it. Well, I lied. But I've played this game so much now that I feel confident in recommending it, even though I may never actually beat it. Hydorah is a horizontal shoot-'em-up which is heavily influenced by classic shoot-'em-ups from the '80s. The game seems to be aimed at the most hardcore fans of the genre, and as such is extremely difficult. Levels are relatively short, although they are packed with enemies and attacks flying from every direction. One hit means death (unless you have a shield), so you must be very careful and precise in your flying while being sure to take down most of the enemies in your path. There are various power-ups that you can find by killing enemies, and every defeated boss gives you a new weapon. When selecting a level to play, you also select which weapons you would like to use in that level, so you can't use all of your weapons at once. You also have a limited number of saves, so use them wisely! The game is all about learning from your deaths, so don't be afraid to die, but also try not to be too reckless. The game's graphics and soundtrack are both phenomenal, with colorful, interesting enemy designs, strange and beautiful landscapes, and an absolutely awesome soundtrack! The difficulty level may be discouraging for some, but somehow I just keep coming back to try it again. I love a challenging game!
Umbrella Adventure is a beautifully hand-drawn and hand-animated adventure platforming game. It offers a massive world to explore, as you take control of a gopher in his journey to recover all of his stolen cakes. Your only tool to help you on this journey is an umbrella, which can be used in many different ways, from floating on water, to gliding through the air, to hanging off of hooks and warding off pesky insects. New skills are learned as the game progresses. The game features many challenging platforming and puzzle-solving elements, as well as a few mini-games. Trying to collect every cake adds to the game's longevity, although it's not required. I really enjoyed the game's charming humor and strange cast of characters, and I especially enjoyed the game's ending, it was very heartwarming. The graphics are really the defining feature of this game; all of the hand-drawn, black and white art is beautiful and very impressive! The original soundtrack is excellent as well. The only drawback is that many of the areas look very similar to each other, so it's sometimes easy to get lost. Although considering how much work must have went into drawing all of the scenery, I definitely don't blame them for reusing many of the same background elements for different areas.
Saut is a platformer where your only means of movement is jumping. It was created in a week for GameJolt's Minimal Contest held in 2009, but has since been tweaked and remade to fix some of the problems it experienced due to its short development period. It's similar to the popular browser game Canabalt in many ways, although it's different enough to not seem like a copycat. The goal of the game is to make your way to the end of each level solely by jumping, and try to do so with as few deaths as possible. Timing and rhythm is key to successfully traversing the platforms. You can stop moving at any time to catch your breath and think about your next move, although sometimes it's best to keep up your momentum. The game is played with only one button (which can be any button you choose to use, by the way) to make your character jump. Holding down the button results in longer jumps, while tapping the button gives you shorter jumps. The game contains 15 levels divided into three different areas, and many different obstacles are introduced with each level. The graphics and settings are very beautiful and imaginative, consisting of silhouettes against various colored skies, and the jazzy soundtrack is quite excellent! The platforming could be difficult for some, but if you keep at it you should be able to finish the game in no time at all.
Within a Deep Forest is a platformer set in a world very similar to Knytt, its successor which I've mentioned previously (actually, you can see the Knytt's village in the tutorial level!) You play as a ball (yep, a ball), which is the only thing capable of stopping a bomb set by Dr. Cliché, a bomb which will freeze the entire world rendering it devoid of life (best story ever?). You must track down Dr. Cliché's underwater laboratory, which you can do by traveling the world and finding various new ball types with special abilities. The ball's movement mechanics make for some very interesting and challenging platforming. Luckily, you don't roll around as much as you would expect a ball to, but rather you must control the ball's bouncing to reach high platforms and maneuver through obstacles. You'll come across different ball types, such as the rubber ball which can bounce very high, the glass ball which is fast but fragile, the iron ball which is heavy, and more. Each time you die, you'll return to the last checkpoint and can choose which type of ball you'd like to be, or you can press spacebar to pop yourself if you want to choose a new type of ball right away. The graphics are very charming, with beautiful landscapes and strange creatures around every corner. The soothing soundtrack and great sound effects are also very nice. If you enjoyed Knytt and haven't played this one yet, you should definitely check it out!
Seiklus is perhaps the oldest indie game that I've written about, released in 2003, and has been quite influential in the indie game world (Nifflas [see above] has cited it as influence for his games, for example). The game's story is very subtle. You take control of a man who has just been separated from his lover by a falling meteor, and you must somehow make your way back to her. You are tasked with collecting various colored wisps and treasures as you explore the vast, colorful landscapes. The game is a platformer, but to me it was more about exploration. The platforming never presented much of a problem, although some areas of the game required some puzzle-solving skills in order to progress. You can't really die in Seiklus. There are a few areas with hostile creatures, but if you come in contact with them, you are just brought back to the entrance of the area, so it's never really much of a setback. The graphics are very simplistic, but offer a very interesting and beautiful world to explore, full of many surprises and hidden areas to discover. The soundtrack is fun, but at times seemed a little out of place to me. For example, the track played throughout the underground cavern and sea areas just didn't fit very well with the setting, in my opinion. That's only a minor problem, of course. The game as a whole is very relaxing, although at times you might find yourself wandering around aimlessly. It takes a while to figure out exactly what the game is all about, but it's worth it in the end.
And there we have it! I hope you enjoy these games. See you next time!