It’s a proper movement now. A conscious move away from photo-realistic textures and complex lighting towards crude blocky sprites and “chiptunes” (music composed to sound like it is being played on an old game console).
Indie games are channelling the spirit of a video-game era gone by, specifically the late 1980s and early 1990s. Games from that time were filled with deviously, difficult game design and frantic action.
The blocky graphics and beep-filled sounds of the time were a result of the technical limitations of yesteryear’s game consoles. But for the finalists at this year’s Independent Games Festival in California, US, from 28 February-4 March, it’s a legitimate art style worth imitating.
From a satire of the early 1990s “beat ’em up” (a video-game genre that involves the wanton pummelling of waves of enemies) to a modern reworking of the 1980s’ “roguelike” scene (a type of role-playing game featuring randomly-generated dungeons), we round up the best of this new retro:
http://messhof.com/nidhogg/, price and launch details to be announced
It’s a dramatic, tension-filled two-player fighting game that uses swords. Each player is dropped into a trap-filled level and must make his away across it. Standing in the way is…the other player. The game hides a surprisingly layered combat system over its simplistic graphics, and is one of the few games that’s as fun to watch as it is to play.
RETRO CITY RAMPAGE
www.retrocityrampage.com, Xbox/Wii, release date to be announced
It describes itself as “a parody of the open-world game”, one that takes “modern game mechanics and mashes them into an authentic 8-bit experience”. There’s an epic story, lots of driving action and merciless lampooning of just about every classic video game released.
SUPER CRATE BOX
All ‘Super Crate Box’ cares about is your high score. There’s no endgame, no progression, no narrative—and no cost. Just wave after wave of enemies dropping continuously from the top and increasing amounts of chaos as you attempt to dispatch them. It’s a devastatingly effective drip-feed of addictive gameplay, and it takes less than 10 seconds to get into it. Look out for the pounding chiptune soundtrack, and the lovely pixel art.
It’s a compact homage to the unpredictable “roguelike” games of the 1980s. Pick a character, enter a dungeon and confront its evils. An average game lasts 10 minutes, and no two games are alike. Add in a complex “unlock” system that gradually reveals new characters, levels and enemies and you have a game you can play for months (it’s free!) in 10-minute-sized morsels.
www.bittripgame.com, approx. $8 (Rs2,000), Nintendo Wii
‘Bit.Trip Runner’ is the chiptune ‘Guitar Hero’. It has an original soundtrack from the games of the early 1990s, with classic Nintendo-era controls (Jump! Duck!). At its heart, it’s a traditional platformer, albeit one with boss battles against giant robots.