Kalimba is one of those games that you will refuse to put down until you’ve finished the current level. “Come on…I have to be able to beat this!” you’ll say as you restart again and again. It’s also a lot of fun.
Eight levels and a boss battle were available in the pre-release beta, and already the challenge and fun on display has proven this is going to be a game to watch for. Originally known as Project Totem, this puzzle-platformer from Press Play features both single-player and co-op modes in which you guide two (or four in co-op) differently colored totem pieces through psychedelic worlds. The graphics are all made out of stark, thick lines and bright colors and are mostly made up of triangles. The “trixelated” art style almost made me wish I was still in school so I could draw these characters in the corners of my notebooks.
Beginning puzzles range from the challenge of having to move both characters simultaneously to avoid two sets of obstacles at once to making sure the right-colored character moves through the right-colored barriers. There are all kinds of other challenges that are introduced as you move through the colorful worlds, as well as mini-game rooms where you can try to improve your skills. In the eight levels available, more kinds of challenges and obstacles continued to build at a nice pace, with seemingly new gameplay additions coming in on almost every level.
The first boss battle was a real wild ride too. While still using the same gameplay mechanics, it throws everything on its head to make the platformer’s more laid-back puzzle vibe turn into almost a SHMUP-style action game.
5th Cell made their name with fairly cutesy games like Drawn to Life and Scribblenauts. Both handheld games with a kid-friendly art style and gameplay that encouraged creativity. So when they revealed their first XBLA game and it turned out to be a third person shooter, we were certainly surprised.
What we weren’t surprised about was the fact they had decided to do things a bit differently. Drawn to Life was a fairly traditional action platformer but it stood out by letting players draw characters and objects that inhabited the world. Scribblenauts is a fairly simple puzzle game in theory but has endless possibilities thanks to players having the whole dictionary at hand to help them complete levels. It’s because of these unconventional takes on traditional game ideas that we fully expected 5th Cell to put their stamp on their third person shooter, Hybrid.
In Hybrid players do not have direct control over their characters movement, not in the traditional sense anyway. While the right stick does move your camera and onscreen aiming reticule, the left stick will only move you around while on cover. To move from cover to cover, you’ll have to point the camera at the cover you want to go to and hit A, at which point you can strafe among other things. It sounds like it might over-complicate things for no reason but in reality it takes third person shooter gameplay and makes it a bit more tactical.
We don’t want to get too bogged down on the minutia of controls and such. Instead we asked some of our writers who took part in the recent beta to tell us about their experience, check out what they had to say below.
When I arrived at Haunted Temple Studios, the cab driver gave me a smug look. I’d asked him to stop one door over from a strip club at what looked to be an abandoned construction area. The gears in his head were turning and his face read “this kid just doesn’t want to admit he’s going to Dreamgirls.” He continued to prod me about being in the wrong location, but my trusted iPhone assured me this was the address Jake Kazdal, founder of Haunted Temple had given me. I wandered into the construction area hoping this was the right location. The glitz and glamor of the neighbors distracting the average onlooker from the amazing gem inside an unmarked building next door made arguably the perfect metaphor for an indie studio’s plight in the industry. Inside this large open, warehouse of a building, Jake and his team were putting the finishing touches on Skulls of the Shogun, literally hours after rescuing the game from a flood.
Have you ever wanted to design a videogame without having to learn all that pesky computer science? Well, the folks at Robomodo have your back. The studio behind the recently announced Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help get funding for their latest game, Bodoink, a wacky pinball/pachinko hybrid for Kinect. By raising the money without having to rely on a publisher they’ll be able to retain creative control of the game, and they’ve decided to pass much of this control on to the project’s backers (namely, you guys). We spent some time this week with Robomodo lead designer Patrick Dwyer to talk about Bodoink and the Kickstarter (listen to the interview here), and to give the game a try.
Video games have long made life after death a very diverse drag to say the least. From the loose, graphic interpretation of Dante’s Inferno to less disturbing (yet no less tragic) fates of those in Final Fantasy X doomed to monsterhood without a summoner’s sending. Haunted Temple Studios thankfully is making death a lot more enjoyable.
The tone is set very early in the demo build here at Fantastic Arcade. Fallen samurai general Akamoto finds himself missing one of his swords and waiting in a line outside a temple for entry into the afterlife like a Jersey Shore cast member awaiting for entry into an A-list Hollywood party. His prospects look about as promising as he discovers most of whom he’s in a crowd with will never get in and are being tricked into calmly waiting what will never happen to maintain order. This revelation predictably angers the deceased general whom sets off in recruiting other to fight their way into the underworld and also confront a mysterious imposter. The story it its core taps inspiration from revenge tales but mixes that serious storytelling into a more light-hearted universe.
Three of our favorite games last year were Blur, Snoopy Flying Ace and Hydro Thunder Hurricane. While all three titles received critical praise and similar review scores, two were heavily marketed (Blur and HTH), two were licensed properties (Snoopy and HTH), two were budget XBLA titles (Snoopy and HTH), and unfortunately only two sold well (Snoopy and HTH). SkyDrift is poised to launch next week on Xbox Live Arcade and hopes to replicate the critical success of its progenitors.
At first blush, SkyDrift feels like the offspring of Blur and Hydro Thunder Hurricane. The game plays very similar to Blur, Mario Kart, Diddy Kong Racing et al. Player’s race against their opponents using various weapons to gain and maintain the lead. The game adds a few elements along the way to expand the formula, such as reverse maps and elimination races, but it’s largely stuff players have seen before. Which isn’t to say SkyDrift doesn’t execute this formula well, far from it, the game just isn’t all that original. We haven’t played the entirety of the game so we aren’t going to rule out a few potential surprises that change our tune.