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Indie Nation: Zineth

4:00 PM on 11.03.2012 // Patrick Hancock

80% Jet Grind Radio, 20% Pokemon

Jet Grind Radio is my favorite game of all time. I don't care that people think it no longer holds up -- its place is solidified in my mind as number one. It's a decade old and still has more style and better character design than most games today.

Zineth is very much inspired by Jet Grind Radio. It's stylish, it's clean, and oh yeah, you skate around the environment. Zineth also has a bizarrely addicting, yet simple, Pokémon variant. My only wish is that this wasn't just an experiment and was instead a full-fledged game.

Zineth controls a bit funky with a mouse and keyboard, so I recommend connecting a controller and playing with that. You need to repeatedly tap a button to gain speed, which sounds tedious, but it cements you into a rhythm and feels surprisingly natural with the skating animation. The best addition to the controls when compared to something like JGR is easily the ability to rewind time. Sometimes in JGR, you overshoot something or don't get a wallride quite right and it's a bit tedious to start over.

Rewinding time, however, solves that in an instant.

It's such a small addition that alleviates so much frustration. Any slight mistake that would otherwise set you back five minutes can be fixed immediately. It's a good example of how just one design decision can impact a game in an incredible way.

The other big addition, and a reflection of 21st-century pop culture, is the cellphone. There is no actual pause button -- instead, you access the menus through your in-game cellphone. "That's hardly neat, Patrick," I can hear you drone, "even Grand Theft Auto IV had an in-game cellphone!" To that I say sure, it probably did. But did it also have KILLER APPS? Probably not!

You can check your honest-to-goodness Twitter straight from the game.

But wait there's more! Why not tweet a nice picture straight to your millions of followers? You're welcome, millions of followers.

Now, onto the Pokémon-esque minigame app that's also on the phone. Scattered across the map are NPCs that you can challenge in a creature-on-creature battle via your phone. It's very simple: your dude will shoot automatically on a regular interval and your job is to evade their shots. You can also get in close and perform a melee attack for bonus damage. You'll also level up and distribute stats to improve your monster.

It's simple, it's satisfying, and it's pretty damn fun. In fact, that's pretty indicative of this entire package. Zineth is such a wonderful game; it's the Jet Grind Radio of a new generation, albeit in bite-sized form. Is the music as good? No way. Does it have spray painting quick-time events? No, but in their stead are cellphone apps like Twitter and a Pokémon-like game. For an "experiment," I'd say this was a rousing success.

Download Zineth here.

Patrick Hancock, Contributor
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Watching and playing competitive games like Dota and StarCraft take up most of his time. His three favorite non-video game things in the world are space, dinosaurs, and puppets. So if there we... more   |   staff directory

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