Random Games You Played Today (itch 1000+ game bundle thread)

Looks like it’s actual GameBoy resolution too if I’m counting the pixels across the top correctly. 160 wide x 144 high. I love the look! That last screen is so evocative with so few shapes and colors.

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I mean, I had to crop the screenshots as it ran in a window so they may have lost a few pixels near the edges here and there so I wouldn’t try to go for an exact count based on these images alone, but that’s cool if it got the resolution right as well. I guess it is worth pointing out that you can run the game at I believe 1x, 2x, 4x and full screen, and at 1x the window the game runs in looks to be about the same size as an actual gameboy screen. You could also disable palette switching which I believe would cause the whole game to run in the pea green shade. I left it on and ran at 4x because I am a heretic~

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Okay so I have a ton of screenshots of various browser games or games that only took 10-15 minutes to play cramming up my picture folder so I’m just emptying it all out here now just to get things neater on my end. Get comfortable, this might take a while.

Central Limit Theorem

A high score chasing arcade style game where you rotate around the central point shooting at approaching enemies that come in three different colors that represent three different behaviors in order to prevent them from hitting the center for as long as possible. They leave a path of their color behind them even when shot, and when enemies cross the path of a different color enemy they gain the behaviors of that color type on top of their own. I didn’t really care for it as a game but kinda dug it as a playable visualizer.

Out The Window

This has an all-time great game concept where a bored kid is looking out the car window during a long roadtrip and visualizing a character who has to jump over the signs as they pass by. I did that as a kid and I am glad to know that I was not alone in doing so. The game itself is pretty bad.

ZAK

A maybe ten minute long action platformer where you run and jump and hit things with a pipe for freedom. It is alright with a pretty okay boss section at the end. It falls into the category of bundle games that I’d describe as “not a bad way to spend ten minutes but I wouldn’t go out of your way to look for it.”

TimeOut

TimeOut is an odd one. More or less a fleshed out student project, I just love the aesthetic of it. It is basically a 2d noir adventure game except rendered in 3d and it looks very swell. The base story conceit has potential too, taking place in a world where time is the currency everything is paid with. The problem is that it is so limited and brief that it feels more like a proof of concept than its own fully fleshed out thing. Darn pretty though and if there is ever a fully developed follow up I’d be intrigued.

IGEO

IGEO is a surprisingly decent little puzzle game. It is a sokoban variant where your goal is to get rid of every block in a stage. Pushing two like blocks together makes them both disappear, although different shape blocks can cause different things to happen when that happens. Push two cones together and a solid block is left behind after that could block something off, push two crosses together and a single shape of your choosing is left behind, cubes and spheres do nothing special when combined but a block can be pushed into an empty space and fill in the gap so you can walk atop it (these blocks count as gone).

It is a bit looser than I generally like my puzzle games in that there is rarely a single solid correct solution, in most cases there are probably a dozen or more slightly (or very) different solutions you can figure out. It still works for me as figuring out the routes you have to push the blocks towards one another is a legitimately puzzling endeavor, and there are some cool little twists and things you have to figure out sprinkled across its twenty levels. I don’t think any non-puzzle game fan will get much out of it, but it is a neat little thing for those who are.

Gunducky Industries

A keyboard-only Starfox inspired rail shooter… except often lining up shots is too difficult so you end up flying past many enemies who can’t hit you as long as you stay far enough away from them. It is rather flawed, but I found some minutes worth of enjoyment out of figuring out how to steer the thing with the keyboard (I believe WASD controls orientation and the arrow keys controlled the camera) and the second stage (first stage is ridiculously long) has a tighter canyon environment that actually requires some steering prowess. It also eventually requires you to be able to aim and fire accurately and that’s where both the enjoyment and myself bailed.

Orbis

When a red disc comes up you swipe it to the left, and when a blue one comes up you do so to the right. That’s about it. There are a few powerups and when you get enough in a row it does ten or so in a row for you automatically at a very high speed. On a phone it’d probably be a solid way to kill a few minutes every so often. It comes with an android download so someone else could test that theory if they wanted.

Conversations With My Anxiety

This is a short visual novel about a guy dealing with his anxiety (literally as seen in the screenshot) during an awkward first date. Showing that things being awkward is fine and not the end of the world is a good thing, but it is such a slight game that it’s really hard to recommend.

Masks

A brief text adventure about being trapped in a Hong Kong university during a government crackdown on protests, which surely isn’t timely or something that’ll ever come up. What’s there is well done but it is maybe three minutes long which kinda undercuts the attempt to build dread and tension.

Kintsugi

One of six or so objects break and you have to put them back together. The thing is the pieces don’t move far from where they originally fall and when you pick a piece up it automatically smitches to the correct final orientation, so it is pretty brainless. I’d say it could be a decent little chillout experience except it lasts maybe two and a half minutes, so I have no clue who it’d be for.

ARGH-P-G

This is designed to be a rapid speed roguelike where you can speed through all fifty floors in about fifteen minutes. I gotta be honest, I could never figure out how to attack and nothing on the page really explained how. One class has a bow and arrows that are automatically fired whenever you come across an enemy, so I took that one and made it to about floor thirty before I ran out.

Arigatou, Ningen-san!

A five minute long game where you arrive in a new town and have to pet every animal there. Would have probably been better on a touch device, but even ignoring that there’s maybe five animals in the game that take maybe five minutes to find.

Try

Using puzzlescript to make a game that randomly generates sokoban puzzles is impressive as hell. The issue is that it doesn’t really care if they are actually solvable or not. That’s the point as the game is about trying and when you should stick with something or give up, but doesn’t really make for a satisfying gaming experience. The best part is that the last one it generates is always an absurd monstrosity, such as the one pictured below.

Grievance

Grievance is a just a straight short story where you click on things occasionally. It is one of those deals where there are three protagonists it jumps between in order to figure out what really happened. It was short enough that seeing what was actually going on was enough to get me through, but beyond that it doesn’t offer a ton. Not bad if you stumble upon it, don’t go looking for it.

Barrel Roll

A flying game except in this one you are give intentionally broken controls that force you to rotate (i.e. barrel roll) all the time and is an absolute disaster to try and use. I enjoy the joke of the concept but I really hated doing anything in here.

Viv and Bob

An actual gameboy puzzle game (you can download a rom and run it on actual hardware… probably) with a pretty clever twist. You have two characters with different abilities who are trapped on opposite sides of a mirror and must work together in order to solve the rooms. The thing is they see different things because of the very slightly different perspectives they have (in the above image only one of them can see the numbers on the objects and the wall that show where they go). It is a pretty ingenious idea that they only scratch the surface of as there are at most ten rooms in the game. What’s there would be a good intro stage in a bigger game, one that I hope someone actually makes someday.

TV Guide

Sort of a barely animated comic along the lines of what you may have seen on very early cd-rom “games”. You click on parts of an image to progress the story and when it ends you hit the change channel button to see another one. It’s basic and goofy but I kinda dug it.

Draw Nine

A choose your own adventure story with a mild randomization element. At the start of the story you are given nine random cards (out of three types) and at nine points in the story you have to play one of them. Some times it goes well, sometimes less well (I don’t think you can outright fail). There are a few times where you can go to one of two different places on the otherwise straight narrative path. It is kinda neat to play through a couple of times to see how things could have went differently, but that’s about it.

Lacrymo Tennis

A game where you run back and forth to hit tear gas canisters back at the police to protect protesters. The game is dreadful but that’s a damn fine theme to go with.

Acid Trip

This is a game where in concept two bars of different color spin around you and you have to shoot them when of a matching color, but it functioned so poorly that I think it might be straight busted. I ended up firing to the upper right as fast as possible while triggering a power-up every time one appeared and lasted a good amount of time. The visuals got a bit weird but can’t really recommend a game that I don’t think is even in a functional state.

Dual Pong

Dual Pong is a set of a few different Pong variants where depending on the button you are pressing when the ball hits your paddle it bounces off differently. Also most of the time there are two balls in play. The problem is that I played it in single player and the AI opponents are busted as hell. I used the same attack most of the time and it worked 70-80% of the time. Maybe if you have enough local multiplayer friends who want to play pong it could be of some worth?

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imo focus on the interesting, make a note in the spreadsheet for the remaining ones

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Online Simulator

Online Simulator is an odd bird. It is basically a mystery game, the mystery being what was going on with the person whose PC you are looking through and how to actually access most of what is on said PC. Much of it is straight bizarre, some of it is parody of computer stuff from the early millennium but a bunch of it is way out there. In particular the what I can only describe as the guy’s fetish is so strange I don’t know that it actually exists, and I usually assume that every fetish is probably real.

The thing is that within all of this madness there is some story bits in there that are dark and realistic and relevant in its look at abusiveness. It is such a striking contrast that I would love to know the intention behind it, but in truth I would love to know a lot about what lead to the making of this. What I can say is that it held my interest throughout the forty or so minutes it took me to get through it.

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Vision Soft Reset

Vision Soft Reset is proof that the curation systems in place have failed. There is literally no good reason for me to have not heard of this game before the bundle came along, for me to initially decide to not put it on my play list because it looked like it might be a bit long only for part of the description to get stuck in my head forcing me to go back and add it to my list the next day. There is no excuse for the only mention of it on SB to be in that Random Game Name topic where the idiot behind it apparently didn’t read any of the store page and decide “hey this actually sounds neat, I should maybe tell people about it.” He failed us all.

When I played Hatch or Eat Girl, both of which I thought were great, I could grasp how they had no following as they were mechanical oddities that would only ever appeal to a certain small niche. Perhaps VSR was a victim of Metrovania fatigue (TBF, not really any 'Vania in here) but unlike so many of them out there it has something new and clever to bring to the template. The protagonist here is psychic, which manifests itself in a few ways but the main one can be in how time is handled.

The planet you land on is gonna explode twenty minutes after you land, which is a bad thing. It is simply not possible to accomplish everything that needs to be done in only twenty minutes. However, since when you are playing the game you are in essence just exploring various potential timelines as a psychic you have all the time in the world to explore the world.

At this point I’d wager at least one of you is going “oh, it’s Majora’s Mask” and… that is a reasonable touch point to start from. There aren’t a ton of NPCs wandering around going through twenty minute routines, but there are aspects of the world that are time sensitive beyond the whole imminent end of the world. Certain events only occur at certain times and other objects in the world are time sensitive (if you wish to think of them as doors, they lock after a certain amount of time). The thing to remember is that things aren’t looping, these are different potential time lines. Does that make a difference?

At least a little! See there are typical save points/rooms throughout the world, but when you save at one what you are saving is that exact moment in that timeline. Every health or meter pick-up you’ve found, any changes you’ve made to the world, and the exact time you make the save are all stored at this point. As you play through that first twenty minute period all those saves are put on an individual timeline, and if you die or reload from only the most recent one then it stays on it and everything works like it does typically. Still at some point you are gonna start to run short on time and will have to go back to an earlier save point, either the initial starting “twenty minutes left” one or a more recent one. When you continue from one of those you create a different timeline that branches off from that point, and anything you previously accomplished after that point is undone. You had four hearts? Now you’re back to two. That thing you spent so long trying to activate? It is shut down again.

How is it possible to make any lasting progress this way? There is one exception: the suit you are in has all kinds of abilities you never figured out how to unlock, and surprise surprise you find data on the planet that reveals how to unlock them. Since they are in essence just data and as a psychic you have complete knowledge of what happens on all these timelines you don’t forget this when you return to an earlier point. You may be back at the starting point but hey, now you have a charged shot and will always have one. Certain bits of terrain can be destroyed by those, opening up paths to new places, etc.

What this boils down to is that it becomes at times a game of runs. You go where you can, make some progress and ideally unlock an ability and then end up resetting back to an earlier point. In my case I had a situation early on where I reached a new location with a bit over two minutes left on the clock and a decision to make whether to continue there or restart and try to get back there with more time remaining. I decided to stick with it and reloaded from that late save repeatedly as I explored around to find various numbers that needed to be combined into a code to unlock a door. In that timeline it only took me about twenty seconds to open the door, but it took a good twenty or so minutes to get the info to open said door. Of course a boss was shortly past it and while they monologued at me the clock kept ticking…

As you get deeper in these runs get increasingly complicated. I have to get certain things done within ten minutes in order to gain access to a new part of the map, but one of those things requires the activation of something elsewhere. However activating that thing removes access to a different part of the map that I also need to visit, so I have to come up with a route that takes you through these areas in the right order that you can finish in under ten minutes. Still once it is done I can save in that new area with a bit less than ten minutes on the clock, removing the need to do that specific run a second time.

The game in many ways is about using your new abilities and map knowledge to find more efficient paths through the world. New abilities open up shortcuts that let you skip many rooms on your way from point A to point B, plus there are secret paths you discover that can also link different places together. Even when not working towards a particular goal it can be useful to go back and establish a “better” save at a given location in terms of time as you never know when you may be asked to get someplace in what initially seems like an absurdly short amount of time (I stumbled upon “doors” that close after about 90 seconds from the start that gatekeep important abilities). It eventually climaxes in a grand run around most of the map, you needing much of that twenty minutes and all the abilities and shortcuts you can wrangle in order to gain access to the final confrontation. Just make sure when you are running around to remember to detour and pick up a few health upgrades…

The thing is even with health pick-ups you remain a glass cannon. I think you can get up to six hearts, and there are regular non-boss enemies that can hit for two hearts damage (which is what you start with). It raises the question of if you are psychic why would you ever even take a hit and the game actually addresses that in the very first battle. Every time an enemy goes to attack you will see a shadow of the attack a second before it occurs which basically replaces the need for “tells” before the attacks. Still even with this you will occasionally get hit by something, and while you have the ability to go back to an earlier point in the timeline in a macro sense you also can do the same in the micro as well. At the top of the screen is a meter that basically lets you rewind time, so when you bump into spikes, get shot or even die you can hold down a button that takes it back at a cost to that meter which I guess represents focus or concentration (fortunately some enemies drop focus in addition to health!) You gotta be quick though as the meter runs out fast, and if it gets low you are likely in grave danger. Similar things have been done before, but it really fits in with the whole concept in play.

(I wish I didn’t lose a bunch of my screenshots by mistake)

Now this doesn’t make VSR the best Metrovania I’ve played. The pixel graphics are fine but can’t match some of the heavy hitters, I don’t recall any of the music, it controls well enough but other games have more interesting movesets and combat to play around with, the world it creates doesn’t quite match others (although the variety of routes through it is rather strong), there’s only a few boss fights, and it’s only about five hours long. I think an argument can be made that it is the cleverest one I’ve come across though. It had an idea of what it could bring to the genre, which is basically a speedrunner mindset (in a less demanding form, a couple asks are tricky but for example on the final run I had about five minutes left over) wed to a unique-for-the-genre time system that is fully thought out and realized in a way that is sadly uncommon.

…And no one played it. No one even really knew it existed. I usually write these things some days after the fact but after playing through this over the last few days I had to come here and struggle to try and explain how Vision Soft Reset is special, a true hidden gem because letting it be unknown any longer than it has to be just feels like such a damn shame.

If Vision Soft Reset is the best game I discover via this bundle it would not be a disappointment.

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This is a great find, and a great write-up. Fantastic work.

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Clam Man

Clam Man is a comedic point and click adventure game, and that makes it tricky. Humor in games is IMO far from universal so trying to figure out if other people will find something funny I feel is beyond my ability to predict. That said, I found Clam Man to be pretty funny.

I rarely found it laugh out loud funny (although there is a song bit early on that got me) but I did find myself grinning fairly frequently while playing it. That said it is a bit soft near the middle when it has to actually stop and establish a bunch of things, and I think part of the ending was a bit of a swing and a miss, but in terms of a comedy thing I’d say it was funny enough.

Mechanically it solved the issue of obtuse puzzles screwing up the pacing in these kind of games by basically removing almost all of them. There are maybe three puzzles in the game total, with the trickiest one included being a half-joke that you have the option of just skipping if you want to. This in a sense almost “reduces” it to the walking sim version of a point and click adventure game, but I think that is a solid fit for what they were going for and being only a few hours long it generally keeps its momentum up except for the aforementioned sagging a bit in the middle.

So yeah, I liked Clam Man. Its brand of humor worked well enough for me to make it an enjoyable enough time.

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Parsnip

I think someone else wanted to mention Parsnip so I’ll just touch on it briefly. It is a short point & click adventure that makes full use of the “wholesome exterior masks dark thing happening under the surface” trope, but does so fairly well. I think what makes it work is how the lead isn’t just ignorant regarding what is actually happening around where he lives, but is also ignorant of how annoying and legitimately bothersome he is to pretty much everyone he comes across. Parsnip (the character) is pretty unlikable, but in a way that works in this context. It is a bit one note which would be a problem if it was a larger experience, but given that it is maybe an hour in length it pretty much gets its stuff in and gets out before it can wear out its welcome. Also I love the hand drawn cartoon look it goes for and dug Parnsip’s walk cycle more than I probably should have. I read that it has a sequel in the bundle that was better received but is also a visual novel and I hope it doesn’t lose the aesthetic as that would be a bummer.

Us Lovely Corpses

A visual novel about a witch who has to help someone with a monster that keeps bothering them but is really about dealing with mental illness/mood disorders. There are a lot of games in the bundle, particularly the visual novel/text-heavy genres, that are about bringing awareness or empathy to things such as this (this is perfectly fine and kinda what I’d expect to pop up in a bundle of this nature) but Us Lovely Corpses works a bit better in this regard than many included as the two lead characters read very real and legitimate in terms of how they deal with a subject matter that is often portrayed in a less realistic “this is a tricky subject but here is a solution anyways” manner. This doesn’t pretend there are easy answers, or that there won’t be bad days or worse thoughts, but it does argue against hopelessness, that even if you feel absolutely alone and that no one will understand or care about a biplolar lesbian shut-in that you are wrong, there are those out there who care a great deal about you and will support you as best they can through the dark times that come.

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The sequel loses some of the graphical fidelity, but the graphics are still incredibly charming. It just leans into the writing side much harder.

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Pendula Swing

Pendula Swing is the definition of a mixed bag. The quickest comparison I can come up with is to describe it as a Planescape: Torment without combat, which is probably best for me at least due to… reasons. Its strength is that they came up with a pretty solid scenario. The game takes place in the jazz age, but one that is made up of humans, elves, dwarves, orcs and goblins some centuries after the wars between them concluded. The thing is that many of these creatures have very long lives and were alive during them including Brialynne, the lady you play as who was a great “hero” during that war and killed the great champion of some of those races to end said war. You’ve been away from society for many centuries but you are perhaps the most famous person we see in the game, I mean there are literally giant statues of you around the city.

Many of these races are treated differently (i.e. worse) than others, in fact this is one of the main aspects of the game world and the story itself. This is a pretty strong base from which to tell a story and… that unfortunately leads to the game’s weak point: much of the writing just isn’t that strong at all. I think its heart is in the right place but given there is no combat and not really any puzzles beyond figuring out who to talk to in order to advance things it really needs the writing to stand out and it just lets the rest of the package down. There was a side quest where I talked to a local crime boss running an extortion and protection racket who decided to no longer target the weaker members of society because I mentioned that it seemed less than fair. Much of the moment to moment writing isn’t great but as shown here it extends to how things actually unfold as well. It sadly crashes at the end where the game basically gives up on the concept of “text” just to smash you in the face with the no longer subtext as blatantly as they can manage.

That makes it something that I can’t really recommend, which is a shame as I do think it does things well. The 1920s, even a fantasy version of them, feels like an underutilized setting and the version they create here is rather good, and as noted the scenario is a good one. Like I said it’s a mixed bag, but I think it might sadly be a pass for most.

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I played through Last Knight, which is basically an autorunner take on the Chase Bandicoot chase stages. I didn’t really get much out of it but there are random story bits between some of the stages and when it out of the blue gave me a choice to make… well I think that is the one thing I will end up remembering about this game.

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[speer]

See, it’s not a typo.

Speer is a puzzle platformer built around the spear mechanic from Volgarr the Viking. For those who didn’t play that game, beyond being a weapon the spear could be launched into a wall in order to form a temporary platform that allowed the player to reach otherwise inaccessible places. In Speer everyplace is an otherwise inaccessible place. What makes it a puzzle game is that only one spear can exist at a time. It is possible to scale a wall by jumping and tossing spears with the right rhythm (think the Metroid bomb jump except much much easier) but often advancing requires a bit more thought than that.

It turns out this is a very solid concept to build a puzzle platformer around. Over the course of its one hundred levels numerous mechanics are added to complicate the spearing, be it walls that are spearproof or are slippery and cause the spear to slowly descend, switches, portals, explosive barrels (and destructible walls to go along with them), trampolines and three different single use powerups. The game itself has a remarkably smooth difficulty curve, going from “this is rather simple” early on to “okay, now how am I gonna manage this?” the the end. It doesn’t get too severely difficult, but by the time you reach the fourth and final area the challenge is pretty legit.

The game isn’t too execution heavy but there are some moments where you’ll have to time a jump or aim a spear toss fairly specifically to clear a level, and on occasion if you miss you’ll have to start it over. The levels are all single screens and not too long, but on one or two occasions it was a bit irksome. Also there were some times when the hobbyist nature of the game shone through, be it being able to catch an item on a corner of a tile and have it end up seemingly levitating in the air or later on managing to come up with an approach that skips over many items or obstacles in a level. The game also maps toss and pick-up to the same button, which on a few occasions makes executing certain actions in tight spots more annoying than they likely were intended to be.

Still these are overall minor nitpicks. Speer is a pretty solid puzzle platformer that’ll likely last two to three hours and fills it fairly well. The time will depend a bit if you decide to grab the one “collectible” in each level that is generally just a bit out of the way, which generally adds an additional step on top of the existing solution. I had a good time with it and would recommend it to those looking for a game of this type.

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cityglitch

Cityglitch is a puzzle game with some nice chunky pixels.

I would say that the defining characteristic of cityglitch is how every single puzzle takes place on a 5x5 grid, which is a fairly tight squeeze. Your goal is to light up every dark purple “light me up” square by passing over them. The general flow of each puzzle is you moving as far as you want in straight line in any direction, and then the enemies or obstacles moving afterwards. It is complicated a bit by the fact that if an enemy or obstacle crosses over a lit up square it darkens once more, and the puzzle is only solved when every one of these squares is lit at the same time. In essence this means that the game is really about manipulating enemy/obstacle behavior in confined spaces.

Fortunately cityglitch does a good job of turning that into a pretty solid puzzle experience. While there are not a ton of enemy/object types there are enough introduced at an appropriate rate across the game’s 96 levels (you can skip a couple per area if you get stuck) that it keeps things moving without becoming too repetitive, although if I tried to marathon the game as opposed to playing through one area per session I might feel differently. It benefits from the small scale as even when a puzzle is tricky, and a few of them are legit tricky, at any point there are only a few moves available to you so you never feel like you are overwhelmed or that figuring it out will be impossible. Because of this I think it is a puzzle game that non-puzzle game fans might have a chance with, and that puzzle fans will dig because it’s a very well put together puzzle game.

Also I dig the bizarre pixel cityscapes that makes up the level select for each region.

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played silver grapple and it has good enough momentum physics but i got stuck so

FutureGrind

FutureGrind is probably best described as being part of the Trials/OlliOlli genre where you pretty much go through an obstacle course on a 2d plane while trying to survive to the end of the course while maybe pulling off tricks or accomplishing goals along the way. Granted this one isn’t based on a real sport but… I mean skateboarding and dirt bikes aren’t generally used how they are in those games either so whatever. Regardless I love the OlliOllie games and this… this is actually pretty well done in its own right.

Here you pilot your impossible futuristic bike-type device via grinding on a series of floating rails which wouldn’t be that hard if not for the fact that the geniuses who created this “sport” decided that if you don’t touch the right color wheel to the right color rail your bike explodes and I assume you die (fortunately only two colors per course). First time through a course you are just trying to survive and maybe set a high score (you can get a bronze, silver, gold or diamond trophy depending on your score) and each stage has two other objectives you can go after afterwards, such as performing a certain trick or reaching a certain score multiplier before the end of the course. It starts a bit easy and gets moderately tricky by the end, but compared to the apparent madness of the Trials games this would be considered a pushover.

I’m actually gonna cheat and stick the trailer in here as my description reads fairly dry and doesn’t do the game justice.

Over the twenty five or so stages in the game you are given access to a few different bike types (depending on the sponsor) that have slightly different properties. One variant will give you one with one giant wheel and one tiny wheel, and more significantly there is a bike with only one usable wheel that switches colors after each grind. You also at times have stages with orbs that send you flying if you jump into them and lights that change the color of any wheel that it shines upon. This adds variety to keep things from feeling too samey… but in truth it wouldn’t be much of a concern as IMO it controls very well and is a pleasure to just go grinding through these courses.

There is not a ton in terms of trick available. You can basically flip forward or backwards for as many rotations as you can manage, but there is a decent variety of grinds. You can jump into the underside of a rail and as long as you hold down the jump button you will grind along it, and there are a couple advanced grinds where you manage to hang you bike off the rail via a single wheel. Most of the scoring interest is focused on building and maintaining a score multiplier, and this is well considered. Every time you touch a new rail your multiplier increases by one… but if you touch one of the white “safety rails” that you can grind with any color wheel the multiplier is broken. This forces you to take slightly trickier paths through a course and being more aware of the colors at all times if you want to keep it from being broken. There is also a transfer bonus that adds 1.5 to your multiplier if you can transfer between rails without jumping. The thing is that these transfers often don’t give you a lot of air to get many rotations or flips in between, so to get a higher score you have to figure out when to get a huge leap in to get a big flip with many rotations (although you may jump over rails and hence not raise your multiplier much) and when to touch a bunch of rails and sneak some transfers in even if it means you won’t be getting any high scoring tricks for a bit. Scoring is almost entirely optional so you can just focus on survival and objectives if you want, and it isn’t as deep as what you would see in say OlliOlli, but it is a nice unobtrusive bonus for those interested in it.

I genuinely had a blast with this. I am very much into skating video games and this scratched enough of those same itches to really get its hooks into me. It doesn’t have the same depth that many of these games have, but I burnt through it fast as I legit didn’t want to put it down.

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PIZZA PARTY

I’ve been letting a randomizer pick my games for me for the last little bit and it tossed two different pizza based games at me in short order, so of course me being me I decided that this meant that I must break down which game handles pizza better.

In The House on Holland Hill you play as a pizza delivery man as he delivers to the same household over a period of time. It’s actually a clever little concept, using this as a chance to drop in on the same household and people at different points in their lives and trying to piece together how it is going. Sadly the story itself isn’t all that great and the conclusion is… really dumb. However you do get a chance to go Peeping Tom on them and spy on peoples having sex if you choose to so that’s a thing.

No I wasn’t joking, that’s a thing in the game. Anyways you never actually see the pizza in the game which is a strong negative in terms of how it handles the 'Za, but you do see how infrequently people tip as a pizza delivery person so it does share part of the pizza-related experience.

In Order A Pizza: A Visual Novel you are introducing your girlfriend to your teenage daughter from a previous marriage for the first time, and it is going poorly so you decide to order a pizza to hopefully turn things around. It doesn’t go well and you end up in a Groundhog’s Day where you keep changing the pizza order so that things go better this next time.

It can at times go poorly, and eventually reality breaks down and the god of pizza has to get involved to try and fix things. People don’t really care about that though, what they want to know is how is the pizza in the game. You are eventually given a variety of pizza customization options in order to try and craft the perfect pizza for this situation, in fact let me share my personal favorite concoction with you all.

Let me tell you, this really hit the spot. I would say this may have been the most delicious virtual pizza I have ever come across and I would definitely love to try it again someday. Because of this I declare Order A Pizza to be the king of the bundle’s pizza offerings.

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BREAKER

Breaker is a self-described blend of Breakout, Space Invaders and Ikaruga and that’s actually not too far off the mark.

I only managed to take a single screen shot and there are none on the store page, so you’ll have to make do with this. Anyways you play as a paddle that circles around enemies that appear in the center of the screen that fire off bullets all around them. The enemies and their bullets can come in one of two colors, and you can only reflect bullets back towards the center when you are the same color as them (opposite color ones harm you). The trick is that the color of the paddle is determined by which direction it is rotating around the center, when circling clockwise it’ll be one color and when going counter-clockwise it will be the other.

Like most good arcade games it starts off fairly simple with only a few basic enemies in the center that fire at most a handful of bullets at a time but it quickly ramps up and after a short period of time a randomly selected boss will appear, and this is where things pick up. Many of the boss battles take pages from bullet hell games and will launch a not insane but still sizable amount of bullets out in various patterns. These can be quite tricky to deal with, but when you defeat one you get two health back plus a solid amount of points while a new set of regular enemies, a bit stronger and more aggressive than the last set, appear in the center as the cycle resumes.

There is very little about the game out there but I believe it is solely a high score chase, and it does that very well with one caveat: the initial high score table is rather conservative. I snagged the number one spot on my second attempt and that kind of reduced my drive to play it much longer as I was now only competing against myself. I still played several more rounds as it is very well put together and pretty fun, but without a further goal I ended up putting it aside after that (there might be an actual ending or final run for all I know, but it doesn’t really telegraph that and I beat a boss actually named Breaker so that felt like a good conclusion).

That said if you are one who is self-driven to beat your own high scores in a fairly unique well crafted arcade game then I recommend this comfortably. Even if not I’d still recommend giving it a few rounds as while it is not for me personally it still gave me a good half hour plus of fun. I would recommend using buttons to rotate instead of a stick as with the latter when trying to make tiny moves to the side to switch my orientation it seemed to occasionally snap back to the other color when I released it, and when I switched to controlling it with the triggers it was no longer an issue and my performance increased.

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this runs like crap on my computer, the ‘slide screens around’ gimmick is buggy and inoperable! screens drift left with no input and eventually escape the boundaries of the game

That’s a shame, I had none of those issues so I don’t know what to recommend.

Soft Body

Soft Body is a bit different from the other games I’ve talked about as it is more “lesser known” than actually unknown. It thanks Sony in the credits, it has some actual write-ups on places I’ve heard of, it even has a couple previous mentions on SB. Still it’s not like it ever generated a lot of discussion so let’s look at it.

Soft Body is one of those dreaded “control two different characters at the same time with two analog sticks” games, except initially it isn’t fully that. To start you only have access to “soft game”, and here controlling two orbs at the same time as opposed to one is more of an ability you can choose to use rather than a strict requirement. As a default your main orb (the left stick one) can only touch empty blocks to cause them to fill in with color. There is a twirling spirit that you can touch and that has the ability to damage enemies and move balls along paths to their ultimate destination. When you touch it you gain those properties, but sometimes you are required to separate the spirit from you and have it take care of these tasks separate from you. This ends up serving as a nice way to teach you how to deal with having to account for two separate player avatars without tossing you into the deep end, and it works rather well.

Things are bolstered by the presentation which is definitely a bit minimalistic/abstract but is handled with much confidence. The comparison I want to make is to Everyday Shooter but that isn’t fair to Soft Body (Everyday Shooter has great presentation IMO) but it is in the same rough direction and I enjoyed it a great deal. There are occasional “let’s be arty” digressions that I don’t think mean anything, but they were spread out enough to be interesting when they popped up.

Playing through Soft Game ended up being a rather enjoyable twin stick dodge 'em up with enough variety to its challenges that ramped up at a nice pace that I considered that it could possibly be on the path to actually being rather great. The thing is… Soft Game ended and things took a turn.

Whether you go to Hard Game or Soft Game+ from that point forward you are dealing with two separate orbs at almost all times and… it is like the entire middle portion of the difficulty curve just isn’t there. Controlling two different avatars at the same time is always a challenge, but giving each of them different abilities adds a further degree of it on top. As I’ve stated in the past I played through ibb & obb by myself as I didn’t know it was a co-op game and thought the “joke” play by yourself on one controller mode was the primary one. That was rather hard, occasionally maddeningly so; Soft Body is worse. There are enemies that actively target you and some that will follow you around so for the entire duration of some of these stages you have to be aware of the locations of both orbs and be able to move them intelligently and I think the human mind isn’t quite built for this. Worse still since Hard Game is the more “game” one they effort put into the presentation seemed noticeably less.

I gave this a legit shot as I am a stubborn fool. I eventually got up to stage 22 out of 25 in hard game and I think with practice I could have bested it (there are no enemies, but you have to keep each orb within its own moving circle as they unevenly rotate around a central point in different directions) but I was just checked out by that point. I moved to Soft Game+ which basically remixes these stages around having the two separate orbs at all times and got through the first two of three chapters but it just started to ask too much and in truth I just wasn’t having fun anymore by that point.

So is Soft Body a good game? It is about 1/2, maybe only 1/3 of a good game… but it is the earliest section of the game. My advice is if you like dodging around stuff mostly single, occasionally twin stick style then playing through the Soft Game portion of this is more than worthwhile, just consider not continuing beyond that point.

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