Reviews

I <3 LAGS Volume 1

Just yesterday I let you all know about the LA Game Space Experimental Games Pack that is available for a limited time, and promised to talk about some of the games soon. It turns out soon is now.

I wouldn’t really say these are reviews, more like views.

Alphabet

Alphabet was created by Keita Takahashi and Adam Saltsman – both exceptional designers in their own right. Takahashi is the mind behind the brilliant and absurd Katamari Damacy, and Saltsman has previously given us Canabalt and Hundreds, whose elegant and striking designs have been cloned on both mobile platforms.

Alphabet is a platformer/racing game where your goal is to get your collection of letters across the landscape and to the finish line. The trick though is that each letter corresponds to a letter on the keyboard, and most keyboard will only allow for a small number of simultaneous key-presses. Holding down the key will make that letter run, releasing the key will make it jump, meaning that once you have more than four letters under your control it can get hard to keep all the little anthropomorphic characters moving.
Thankfully there are power-ups in the shape of fruit, which transform all the letters into whichever letter touched the fruit, meaning that often the quickest way to proceed is to send one forward scout out to grab the fruit so you can move the rest as a herd.

It’s a cute little game, with a charming rendition of the alphabet song for the soundtrack, but to get the most out of it you’re going to need someone else to play against in good-old-fashioned hot-seat style to bring a little competition to the game.

* * *

LA Death Disk

LA Death Disk was created by Beau Blyth, with music and sound by Roger Hicks and Robin Arnott respectively. In keeping with the head-to-head stylings of his other game, Samurai Gunn, Beau has created a 2 or 4 player deathsport game reminiscent of the ancient Tron arcade game with graphics straight out of the Streets of Rage.

The controls are simple, but there’s still a level of mastery to the game which will seperate the men from the piles of ash littering the ground.

* * *

a (MOTH) in RELAY

a (MOTH) in RELAY by jonCates + Jake Elliott (Kentucky Route Zero) is a difficult game to explain properly. On the simplest level it is a text adventure concerning a programmer, her system and a glitch in the form of a moth (the figurative ‘bug’), with accompanying glitched-out black and white visuals, but it’s obvious that there’s more to it than that. The text is a mixture of narrative prose, dialogue and programming terminology (or at least faux-programming terminology, I’m too much of a layman to tell the difference), that seems to be spliced together in a Burroughs Cut-Up style, but I’m unsure if it’s all pre-determined or generated in real-time; Certainly the hundreds of endings the game appears to have and the hundreds of save game slots it provides suggests there is a huge depth to this story if you’re willing to plumb it fully.

We’ll cover more LAGS Experimental Games in the coming days.

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