PAX East’s Indie Showcase was a smoking hotspot of activity this weekend. Here’s what you may have overlooked, and why you should be singing a different tune.
Lunar Enigma's lock-and-key path-finding puzzle may look deceptively simple on first glance, but a quick run through a handful of levels professes otherwise. Inspired by late 80s tile-based Chip's Challenge, Lawnmower Challenge asks players to mow a plot of grass in the least number of moves. The plots, divided into squares and broken into sections with wooden fences, are studded with mower-impassable perils such as rocks and mud. While players can walk over the muddier areas, seeds must be collected and used to cross them with the mower. Keys scattered in the grass grant access to locked areas, and all item collection moves without the mower still go towards your step count.
What makes this iOS and Android title irresistible is its fresh and clean approach to one of the more classic game puzzles. That and the relaxing, smooth jazz soundtrack is just the clear and heady mix needed to push the noodles of your brain through the more grueling 500-move levels. The game is expected to release later this year.
Despite the incredibly appetizing title, Drinkbox Studio’s upcoming XBLA title is deliciously packed with allusions to Mexican folklore, the country’s culture forming the backbone of its story. Players control a luchador (a Mexican wrestler) in possession of a magical mask that amplifies his strength and grants the power to transform into a chicken with Chicken Magic. This hero is out to save his beloved from the King of the Dead, who has kidnapped and whisked her away to the underworld.
This brawler’s charm is its powerful eye candy – it’s evident the designers took pains to not only make this game look like a Mexican fairytale, but to feel like one as well. Coupled with a set of classic fighting controls is the ability to swap the environment between the World of the Living and World of the Dead. Guacamelee is a sensory treat, and a unique twist on the fighting/platformer marriage. Also, that Chicken Magic bit? Hilarious.
Super Crate Box
Super Crate Box has been out for a while, but it deserves another plug due to its decadent simplicity and addictive gameplay. This old school-style arcade shooter with tight, challenging maps has been given a bit of makeover. Vlambeer’s cheeky addition of new, playable characters from other high-profile indie titles only adds to the games charm. Now players can mow down walking skulls with grenades as Super Meat Boy or a Minecraft Creeper. Super Crate Box can and should be snagged on PC and iOS – preferably the later, as this game is excellent crack for long commutes and doctor’s office waits.
Girls Like Robots
Popcannibal hits the nail on the head with Girls Like Robots, a game that requires players to arrange characters in squares based on the relationships between them. The premise is simple, yet grounded firmly enough in reality to produce something relatable and, frankly, darling. All characters are portrayed as faces – Girls, Robots, and Nerds. Girls like Robots, but hate Nerds and become angry when they are close. Nerds love Girls, but prefer to be placed on the edges of puzzles, or they get angry. Robots like girls, but if they are surrounded on all sides their emotional circuits overload and they become confused. Nerds hate other nerds. As the levels ascend and the placement-puzzles become larger, there are more rules of attraction. Proper placement earns Happiness Points, which the game reminds us, tongue-in-cheek, is temporary and fleeting. Navigating a social minefield has never been so much fun.
Akin to Super Smash Bros, Ronimo Game’s PSN brawler lives up to its name. In a distant future robot armies are tirelessly embroiled in battle, with the Awesomenauts mercenary group standing tall at its center. This frenetic blend of the MOBA and 2D scrolling genres brings six players together to duke it out for glory across a score of foreign worlds. Its late-80s cartoon-style aesthetic packs a pinch of the nostalgia factor, making this modern game feel like an ancient arcade classic. Why go for Awesomenauts? Nothing ramps up your blood pressure like a lightning-paced brawler set to an exquisite sternum-rattling soundtrack of intergalactic dubstep. May 1, PSN – mark your calendars.