Indie Rundown: The Rundownening

As promised, another set of indie games… FOR YOU! Let’s take the Russia circa 1945 approach to reviewing and make a lot of smaller posts, but do a whole lot more! That’s just as good, right?

Audiosurf

The simplest way to relate to Audiosurf without actually playing it would be to open up your music player, turn on the levels display, then try to keep your finger on the top bar as you slowly move it horizontally across the screen.

Audiosurf has you controlling a little ship as it moves across a track, collecting colored blocks to form big piles of points. As the astute among you might guess, everything is controlled by the tempo and intensity of whatever song is playing at the moment. And it can be any song, any mp3 file that is more than two minutes long.

It’s actually quite fun, if you plug in the right songs. Oddly enough, the perfect songs for Audiosurf aren’t the constantly intensive ones, it’s much better to have a song that has slow and very strong parts, in order to make an interesting track. If you don’t have any good music, or if you’re looking for something different, then you can tune into Audiosurf radio, a set of four songs (and one constant) that shuffles each week.

Gratuitous Space Battles

I hesitate to call GSB a “real-time strategy game”, because there is very little player input during battles themselves. The title itself should explain the basic premise, but for the slow folk out there: you command a lot of ships, an amount that could be described as “gratuitous”, as they engage in battles in space. Go figure.

The oddity of this particular RTS lies in the fact that you have no control of the ships after you say “go”. There’s two kinds of control: you can design the ships, as the game has a shipbuilding interface that reminds me of EVE Online, and you can organize the starting formation of the ships. The only thing past that is basic pre-battle priority-setting and general rules of engagement like “escort ship X” or “Stick together”, otherwise you have no choice but to sit back and watch the havoc ensue.

Is it compelling? I’m not sure, honestly. I haven’t had time to play it extensively, so I haven’t gotten into the higher-level math of it, but I can conclusively say that it feels somewhat random at the lower levels. However, it definitely has potential, and it’s certainly an interesting idea. We will have to see.

VVVVV

Perhaps I just don’t “get” it. Maybe there’s a cultural connection there that I’m too young to understand. However, I find VVVVV‘s gameplay very, very boring.

The game is a “retro” one, with the gimmick here being the ability to reverse gravity, pushing your pixelated little character from the floor to the ceiling and back. However, this isn’t utilized as well as a game like And Yet It Moves, because the game gets its movement physics from the same era as the graphics. Your character moves at one speed, very fast, whether running, falling, or whatever. While this may seem reasonable, quite a few of the “puzzles” involve you running towards a wall, flipping the gravity, and trying to aim for a hole in said wall of spikes and pain. However, you can’t make the little person move in an arc, since the character doesn’t realistically interact with gravity. You just have to hit that magic spot between moving sideways and moving up, which turns the “puzzles” into one part figuring out what you have to do to three hundred parts trying to thread a needle from across the room while riding a mechanical bull.

And before you say, as all the other reviews have, that it has value in how difficult it is. I’m fairly sure that the other reviewers have taken a little too much cocaine today. Being “difficult” and being “poorly designed” are two completely different things. A “difficult” game has a clever puzzle that takes a lot of thinking, and perhaps a lot of head-smashing-against-keyboard, to figure out. A “difficult” game is cathartic in its completion. On the other had, a game where you’re “one pixel out and you’re dead, slipping off the edge of a platform and up into spikes.” (quoted from Gamesradar) is not difficult, it’s just being obtuse.

I can’t account for the story, but let me say this: there’s a reason why we developed new software for games, people. Use it, please.

Beat Hazard

It’s musical Asteroids.

Really, that’s it. The intensity of the weapons and the number of enemies increases with the intensity of the music. But it’s still just Asteroids a bit of the ships from Galaga thrown in.

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