Eurogamer Expo: Indie Games

Steve: Between all the crisps and the queues, we did actually manage to play some games at the Eurogamer Expo.

Mike: Well you played a snowboarding game you didn’t like and I played Saints Row 3… which I didn’t like. There was one booth full of indie games, though. It was reasonably sized, but only as big as the newsagent over the road from me. I’d love to get all angry and complain about how expos like Eurogamer should be giving more space to indie games, who need the exposure, rather than having hundreds of consoles playing Battlefield 3 and Rage. To be honest, though, I’m just happy I got to play some games I’d never heard of. So well done to Eurogamer for letting them in and for Sega and Rock, Paper, Shotgun for sponsoring them and providing the equipment.

Steve: It was certainly better than spending an hour in a queue to play Batman for three minutes would have been. Anyway, the titles available to play were varied and interesting, and quite conveniently listed on RPS. We each played about three of four titles available and we’ll be giving you our impressions. I’d like to start with Waves, a top down twin stick ball-em-up which I think we were all very impressed by. I certainly liked the music and the slow-mo ability in-game and graphics reminiscent of Geometry Wars.

Waves. Graphics. Balls.

Mike: With all of these sort-of-but-not-exactly-retro games I’m worries about long term appeal. Few of them have held my attention for long. Beat Hazard is one that did and I think that Waves could be another one. I loved the music – it’s such an important part of games and it’s great to see a game getting it absolutely spot on. The gameplay was razor sharp as well, a nice deviation from the standard fare. It’s definitely one to keep an eye on, especially if they introduce new gameplay elements and modes as they go.

On a similar note, we played Fotonica, a wire frame free running thing which played like a first person Robot Unicorn Attack. Fotonica didn’t wow me anywhere near as much as Waves did but, on the plus side, it’s out now so I’m going to throw some of my money at it and see what comes out.

Fotonica: Where it’s the 80s again.
The good bits of the 80s. Iron Maiden, not Duran Duran.

Steve: It looked interesting, but there isn’t much variation around the theme – it definitely looks like it’s clinging to it’s wireframe retro looks more than anything. For me, it’s another game I’ve played recently that could work stunningly well with different music tracks. At the minute, it’s a glorified flash game.

The other two games I was able to look at were Smuggle Truck and Really Big Sky. The former reminded me a lot of cartoony Trials HD, what with trying to balance and position your landings correctly on rough terrain, but with an added element being a truck full of people (or cuddly toys, depending on mode) which you had to try and keep in the vehicle. I quite liked this, and with the promise of community created levels, it’s quite an interesting single player experience.

I was very good at not catching the falling babies

Really Big Sky was a side-scrolling shooter which I probably would have gotten more out of but for me constantly dying. As seems to be a theme for these games, the music was very good, and the idea of enemies appearing and changing their attack patterns based on how you play is a nice touch.

Mike: I didn’t play Smuggle Truck because it sounded too much like an uncomfortable sexual position. Really Big Sky, on the other hand, I did play. Like you, Steve, I died. A lot. When I wasn’t dying, I really enjoyed it. You were supposed to build up enough points in order to break through the next layer of… something so there was this massive pressure to shoot everything that moves. That built a surprising amount of adrenaline (helped by an excellent soundtrack) but the rules for getting to the next layer of whatever it was vs exploding in a ball of fiery death monkeys seemed a bit too arbitrary for me. A nice idea and good fun, but one of those games you play round a friends house rather than buying yourself.

Most of the points are awarded for knowing what’s going on.

A game you wouldn’t play round a friends house, because it looks rubbish (he said, segueing awkwardly) was Rimelands: Hammer of Thor. Now, I’ve played some horribly generic isometric action RPGs in my time and Rimelands… was definitely one of those. Every other game I played on this list excited me or made me smile or made me dance stupidly to the amazing soundtrack… they all managed to get some sort of reaction out of me. Rimelands made me glare at the screen and wish I was dead. Or that the game designers were dead. Or that Steve was dead.

Rimelands: It’ll make you wish Steve was dead

Steve: I cry myself to sleep every night, Mike. Out of all the games there, RPS chose Pineapple Smash Crew as its “winner”, so to speak. I didn’t get to play the game, but I know our colleague who never speaks, Chris, did – if I recall the verdict was positive.

I must say, the co-op potential for the game did look promisi… wait, there’s no co-op multiplayer planned? Are you mad? It’s a bit of a disappointment, but the game does still have a nice graphical edge and seems to have a s good system set in pla… give me the damn co-op mode!

How this game wasn’t based around multiplayer, I have no idea.

Mike: I managed to trick Chris into talking about Pineapple Smash Crew. The results were a little confused. I shall transcribe the full conversation here:

Mike: Chris, what did you think of Pineapple Smash Crew?
Chris: Quite liked it.
Chris: reminded me of ……
Chris: Alien Breed.
Mike: But with Pineapples?
Chris: No, just a group of robots who really like pineapples.
Mike: This is a little confusing for someone like me, who’s never played Alien Breed
Chris: Ah
Chris: You should have.

And then he started talking about Journey. So I suppose that’s a recommendation. Of sorts.

So, to sum up:

Good Games:
Pineapple Smash Crew

Games With Potential:
Smuggle Truck
Really Big Sky

Games That Make Me Bored And Annoyed:
Rimelands: The Hammer of Thor

Incidentally, whilst Steve was writing that last bit, I bought, downloaded and played Fotonica. As Steve guessed, there wasn’t much variation on offer. Of the six levels available, I liked three of them. The good levels are great fun but the bad levels are super frustrating. They completely spoil any goodwill you had from the game thanks to the first three levels. So, you know, 10/10 for style but a 6/10 for actual achievement. 


One thought on “Eurogamer Expo: Indie Games

  1. Hey, I went too, as a cuter less hairy version of Toby! When I first saw waves I thought it looked like an upgraded version of asteroid from Atari (I might be aging myself there). It was fun to play. There were many unique features to the game that made it different, I loved the slowmo when I remembered to use it. The music was fabulous, it definately gave the game a new edge. I could see myself playing it for hours.

    I didn't play Pineapple Smash Crew but I did watch Chris play it. It looked interesting and kinda fun. I am surprised they don't have a co-op mode as the game seems like one that would lend itself well to co-op play. Without playing it I couldn't tell you how addictive the game would be. Despite its good graphics it did feel a bit like a retro game to me. I have the vague impression I'd played something similair years ago but I can't remember clearly what game it reminds me of.


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