Friday, July 30, 2010

Game Pick - Mind Jolt

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A couple of weeks ago, Game Jolt put on their Indie Games Demake Competition (where I entered Hold Off Brownish-Yellow). The entire competition was a really great success in my eyes, and it made me feel as though Game Jolt is back on the rise once more.

If you're interested, GameJolt is holding a Weekend Jam through August 6th to the 8th, and it's open to anybody who is crazy enough to make entire games in a single weekend. I made Vatn Squid for the very first Jam held by GameJolt.

BUT, what I really want to talk about was a game that unfortunately didn't get completed in time to participate in the Demake competition. This game is called MindJolt, made by the very talented creator of Flood the Chamber, Matt Scorah.

Do you want to know what is really awesome about Mind Jolt? It isn't truly a demake, but more of a reinterpretation of one of my most treasured, most overlooked, and best written games: Mind Shock.

A Pseudo-Review

I'm deeply honored by Matt's work on the project. He has paid such a great deal to the nuances and details of the story that when I loaded it up for the first time, I was in tears of joy! The certain subtleties of the events and abstract characterizations were played out perfectly, and even better than I could have ever hoped to accomplish in the original. I had no idea that anyone could have caught so many of the ideas that were only hinted at once or twice in my version.

Matt also kept one of the most specific highlights of Mind Shock alive: the Vector based drawing of virtually EVERYTHING in the game. This may seem like something trivial, but when you do it right, you can tell the preciseness achieved using the original Vector style, and I've always felt that to be one of the greatest features of this series.

But, this is where the greater majority of the similarities between the games begin to fade, and Mind Jolt becomes its very own, very unique, and very well crafted endeavor.

If you compare the visual style of the games, you can tell that Matt's version feels a lot darker, and certainly more mysterious an threatening than the brighter version I had made. There also seems to be this very clever, and somewhat ruthless nature to the pounding that the enemies receive. BOOM-Boom-Ba-Boom!

The gameplay has also GREATLY changed. Matt took the shmup elements from Mind Shock (and allegedly Vatn Squid) and pushed them to their limit. There are no signs of Static Shock (the pendulum swinging gameplay), and there are a couple of bosses that reflect the gigantic bosses you were required to maneuver through in the original. To sum it up, the chunks of armor from the Boss Shock mode were combined with the Shmup Shock gameplay, and fleshed out in many different ways.

One of the biggest, and possibly most 'controversial', differences between Mind Shock and Mind Jolt is the pacing.

Mind Shock is a very fast paced game that is split into 4 different chapters, each one lasting about 3-10 minutes depending on how good you are at dodging things. You have the opportunity to quit at any time and come back to complete the next chapter. You are also pretty nimble during the fight; you will lose a little speed by shooting, but it's still fast enough to avoid a bulk of your worries.

However, Mind Jolt is a different story. Matt provides, what I affectionately cursed while playing, a 'deadly death gauntlet.' Your endurance will be challenged; this is no exaggeration. You have to conquer 20 separate and increasingly difficult waves of enemies, all in the same sitting. By all means it's doable, but my first play through took me about an HOUR of REAL time to beat. Needless to say, I was exhausted, but it feels so worth it. I got a lot of gratification out of finally winning it, like many older games that require such stamina (i.e. Battletoads, Super Ghosts 'n Ghouls, etc). Matt's version also pushes the speed hindrance to its max, providing a VERY noticeable difference between your movement during fire and while released. This is by no means bad, but very interesting. It puts more skill requirements into the player's hands, and demands that they think twice before simply laying waste to the enemy.

For the record, I enjoyed Mind Jolt's gameplay over my own.

One very good treat that I also enjoyed was the ability to compete for a best completion time. (Mine at the time of writing is 45 minutes and 8 seconds. I DARE YOU TO BEAT IT!)

Overall, Mind Jolt is a very strong game that stays undeniably true to its inspiration but is also ripe with amazing visuals, gameplay, and story of their own merit, and is more than worth the 'deadly death gauntlet' to complete, if not only for the shear pleasure of saying you were able to do it.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

suteF - Screen Dump

Sorry for the huge delay on a new post. I have been busy at work, so hopefully these 'enigmatic' shots will make up for it:

A visitor?
A friend?
Grass?
A Fetus?
Where's the TV?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hold Off Brownish-Yellow



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I've finished my first game since Vatn Squid. This was my contribution to the GameJolt IndieGames Demake Competition. The game I chose to do for this was a game called Hold Off Red by Matt Thorson, the gentleman responsible for Jumper, Give Up Robot, and a hole slew of others.

On the surface, my decision to demake Hold Off Red may seem strange to most everyone I talk to; it's a fairly old game (first finished in 2005, then remade as a flash project in 2009) and it isn't one of his best known games (I don't recall reading too much about it on games blogs when he re-released it). HOWEVER, I just get this, vibe out of the game that I really haven't gotten out of too many other games. Ever.

To sum up Hold Off Red, you play as a heart, stationary in the middle of the play-field and unable to move, that has to fend off Woes by shooting them. There's RPG elements and strategy involved galore (you have a bunch of different 'ultimate attacks' you can choose from, all with nice advantages and disadvantages).

But that's not why I really like Hold Off Red.

I'm very likely reading into it a little too much, but on the surface, the game appears to be just that description above. But, why Woes? Why even a Heart? The symbolism just kind of strikes me everytime. I always feel that Hold Off Red is a game about hopelessness, or at least a representative of all of the things that make us feel hopeless. You can't really win. All you can do is try to stop as many Woes as you can before you're eventually completely overrun and have no chance to survive. It's just... so damn BLEAK.

What's even more special about this is the fact that a narrative that interesting doesn't get in the way or consume the gameplay at all. It is companioned with it; bold enough to peak your interest, yet subtle enough that you can only think about it at key moments.

If you haven't played Hold Off Red, you at least need to try it. It's not really for twitch-shooter guys or anything, but the difficulty curve is really nice, though it takes just a tad bit to get into it. Oh, just go PLAY IT already.

And for you retro enthusiasts, you should play mine. It's fun in it's own right, and surely not for the same reasons Hold Off Red is. I tried to stay as close to faking the specs of a GameBoy as I could. There were really only a couple of things wrong with it that don't jive with the GameBoy style, but I felt I did a good job.

Concerning my other projects, they're still on, and I'm going to post about them here pretty soon to make up for the week I missed. Thank you readers, and thank you Matt for making such a wonderful game! It has truly inspired me since I first came across it so long ago!