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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