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Indie Shack - Beeps, Boops, and Chirps

4/10/12 9:00am
tl;dr
  1. VVVVVV
  2. Super Mario Crossover
  3. Cave Story

Writer: Alpha Unit

Editor: Ferret75

Holy f***ing shit! Sorry for being late, fellas! Two weeks late, but nobody had the last Indie Shack handled, so I have to write this one. Like, I know we have this incredibly niche fanbase, but come on! Until we find a group of individuals that support the little guy, we're going to continue giving our support to Indie Shack. So who's up for this? Okay, let's get started with our little show, hm?

Some post editing done by Ferret75. Get outta here Ferret! Aw...

VVVVVV

Game Title: VVVVVV (pronounced as "The Letter V Six Times" or "V's")

Release Date: January 11, 2010

Platforms: Nintendo 3DS, PC

Price: $4.99

VVVVVV is one of those indie games you see quite often. It's simplistic, has a simple premise, and is, of course, styled in 8-bit graphics trying to hearken back to the distant time period of the 1980s. So if it's one of those run-of-the-mill indie games you see every so often, then what makes this game stand out? Well, plenty actually.

It's not Halloween. Get outta here! 

In the game's narrative, you take the form of Captain Viridian, who must evacuate a spaceship with his crew when the ship is affected by a "dimensional interference." The crew escapes through a teleporter on the ship; However, Captain Viridian becomes separated from the rest of the crew on the other end of the teleporter. Upon later returning to the ship, the captain learns that the ship is trapped in another dimension called um.... VVVVVV, and that the ship's crew members have been spread throughout this strange dimension. The player's goal, as Captain Viridian of course, is to rescue the missing crew members and find the cause of the dimensional interference that caused the events of the game.

The game is platformer on the surface, but in reality, it's only kinda a platformer. In "plat" games, your main ability against foes and obstacles is the ability to jump, but in the game, your "jump" is actually a gravity flip that turns your character right upside down. Similar in spirit to Super Mario Galaxy, this makes the game almost disorienting and incredibly challenging as you sorta have to rewire your brain to work against the conventions on how you time your jumps and how you flow around the environment trying to avoid lethal spikes here and there. It's a very difficult thing to do but it's very rewarding; You get this sense of accomplishment when you successfully make it past traps.

The one thing that'll either make or break the game for the player would have to be the difficulty, which makes use of the trial and error method. While I love a good challenge here and there, it can be teeth grating trying to get over a thorny hill using a trampoline or bouncing around ceiling to floor in an effort to dodge a school of rings. You'll die multiple times over the course of your journey, but rest assured, check points are extremely abundant, and you can try as many times as you want provided that you don't tear your computer or 3DS  system apart in frustration.

The graphics of the game aren't exactly stunning, and considering the amount of indie games with cheap little pixelated graphics out on the market, it's hard to give this game points in that department, but the visuals do have some charm to 'em. The captain's sprite is kinda cute and the neon colors we're fed is just pure eye candy. So if you're trying to looks at this game with a literal artistic eye, it's kinda hit or miss.

As for the sound, it's actually pretty damn good. Coming off of the game's simple graphics, we're handed some neat chiptune music, courtesy of master chiptune artist Magnus Pålsson (also known as SoulEye). And it's not your average chiptune soundtrack, this sounds are totally jizzworthy. I swear, I never got tired of the beat, not once did I want to intentionally lower or turn of the game's audio, it just meshes well with the graphics and sound. Here, give this a little listen.

Total awesomeness... My ears bled, but in the good way.

Verdict:

This game is pretty damn good. Some will be turned off by the difficulty and the trial and error set up of the game's world, but it's a simple game with a sweet soundtrack and modest graphics coupled with an okay story. It's that modest game that we kind of search for every once in while. The kind with a premise that's easy to play but hard to master. At the cheap price of $5, I give it a recommendation to those with stone-hard patience.

Super Mario Crossover

Game Title: Super Mario Crossover

Release Date: April 27, 2010 (Version 1.0)

Platforms: Flash

Price: Free

It's a pretty plain-Jane thing to do when you hack Super Mario Bros. Next to Mega Man, Super Mario is the game that screams "retro" above all. And with the abundance of of retro-style games across indie gaming's gut, what does Super Mario Crossover do to remain in the league? Plenty.

So this game is your average Mario hack and whatever. You walk to the right, smash and bash stuff in your path, all while trying to get to the eventual flag pole. Simple. Except this time, you don't have to use Mario. Want Bowser to choke on lead? Get Bill Rizer and work that sucker to death. Want to zoom past levels like a breeze? Sofia III's got your back. This game is just the average Mario game, but the addition of characters from the gaming heyday like Samus or Mega Man makes this a totally new experience from the NES original.

Mix and match! Have it your way, like Burger King! 

So what's the best part of it? The amount of content stored within the title. There's plenty of characters (each with their own unique abilities), the ability to alter the graphical presentation, and the sheer amount of options like adding cheats and challenge modes are just some helpful ways to extend your experience. You can mix and match all the options for hours and hours and hours of fun.

This game is the Super Smash Bros. of indie gaming (sorry Super Smash Land). It gets all these memorable characters from these different universes all into one satisfying package that truly leaves an impression on you. If you've ever wondered what it would be like to jog around as Ryu Hayabusa in level 1-2, here you go. Just like Abobo's Big Adventure after it, it is a gathering of 8-bit gaming's best into one satisfying flash game.

Verdict:

If you're turned off by flash games or simply don't like platformers, then this just isn't for you. If you do like either of those, prepare yourself. Whenever I get bored, I keep coming back to this game for more, it's sort of the game I play in downtime, as I do with Minecraft. And hey, it's a free flash game. Get your butt outta here and start playin'!

Cave Story

Game Title: Cave Story

Release Date: January 11th, 2012

Platforms: PC, Steam, WiiWare, DSiWare, Nintendo 3DS

Price: Free (PC), $9.99 (Cave Story+ on Steam), 1000 Wii Points (Wii), $39.99 (3DS)

We all like adventures, huh? Hero rises up and saves X from Y. It's certainly a classic formula that's been passed for a many a century. Judging from the successes of Zelda to your average Bethesda RPG, I can tell we're suckers for stories about nobodies and underdogs that somehow overcome rules imposed by fate to stop evil and save something for the greater good. Developer Daisuke "Pixel" Amaya's current magnum opus is that type of game, and it fits rather well in that spot.

Run N' Gun, baby!

I played the PC freeware version. The game was entirely in Japanese and I couldn't get the English patch to work, so here's what I could find in Wikipedia.

Cave Story takes place within the cavernous interior of a floating island. The island is populated by Mimigas, a race of sentient, rabbit-like humanoids. The player character awakens in a cave with no memory of how he came to be there. He finds a village of Mimigas, who are being persecuted by the "Doctor." I can't understand the story at all, but it seems to be okay. I'm not really a fan of the whole amnesiac thing, but this game seems to be doing it right.

The game plays like a run n' gun shooter with clear Metroid and Blaster Master influences. You hop around avoiding projectiles and baddies and you must use your gun arsenal to destroy them, too. After destroying said baddies, you can collect small golden triangles which level up your arsenal, but getting hurt may gradually lower your level. While shooting away is a very important mechanic, exploration and item collecting are far more prominent and important, as they may help you progress through the story and make enemies simpler work.

The music in the game game can be slightly repetitive at times, but most of the original soundtrack is very well composed and pretty energetic, and you may catch yourself humming some of the tunes from the game. Not one of my favorite OSTs, but it manages to be a good one, and the Mimiga village theme is a sweet little tune. 

The graphics of the game aren't anything special, but they do manage to be colorful and very, very cute. It sorta has this very chibi-like flavor that I actually came to enjoy.

One neat thing I like about this game is that while I couldn't read any lick of the Japanese text, I understood what to do, how to play, and where to go. For a game so heavily rooted in a plot line, gameplay couldn't be any easier to figure out. So it gets marks from me for being a game that could cater to any language.

If there was one aspect I wouldn't be able to commend, it would be the physics. They're a little floaty, and the traction of your character is rather poor, but they're not such a big distraction as you grow immersed in the game. I'm pretty sure later versions of the game have much, much smoother platforming.

Verdict:

If you want a neat little freebie, here ya go. There are superior versions of this game from range of devices including a retail version for the Nintendo 3DS, so if you're willing to splurge for meatier slices of Cave Story action, there are those. The physics are something I haven't come to appreciate, but neat gameplay, adorable graphics, and a couple catchy soundtracks have come to shine above that. I regret not playing an English language version, but the game is still fun regardless.

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We get plenty of this 8-bit nonsense in the indie scene. Why do we purposely enjoy these types of games? If they bring it out, we gobble it all up and eagerly await another pixelated piece of action accompanied by chip tunes. Why do we like retro styled games and why do we keep making them? Because many see the 80's as the golden era of gaming, where games were simple, cynicism wasn't as widely spread, and the internet didn't exist to ruin anything. Another theory is that 8-bit graphics are easier to draw or imitate, which also seems like a likely case. Whatever the matter, you bet we have more stuff like this down the pipe line, and while some of us are tired, others eagerly await more.

Oh, and sorry for the two week delay. Everybody was busy on their own accord and I myself had plenty of work to do. I hope the delays aren't killing this humble blog series. Indie gaming is very, very niche, and we gotta spread the word out, and this series is a minor but helpful way to do it.

Well, whatever. See ya later, guys. I don't know who has next week, but it should go fine.

Alpha Unit

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