After another couple long weekends spent with a few hundred excellent games, the first eight selections of this year’s Fantastic Arcade have just been announced, each of which will be given the full arcade-cabinet overhaul (as above, from last year) and put on public display for all Fantastic Fest & Arcade-goers in Austin, TX from September 18th to 21st.
Once again, the games have been selected by the operators of Austin indie collective JUEGOS RANCHEROS (aka Adam Saltsman, Jo Lammert, Rachel Weil, Wiley Wiggins & yours truly), with some of those games also serving as public tournaments throughout the festival’s five days — full information on each follows below.
Developer: Kyle Reimergarten
The next major game from Kyle Reimergarten — creator of Fantastic Arcade 2013 selection (and one of my overall top 2013 games), Fjords — Banana Chalice is a tunnel shooter about cats, bananas and monsters, with all of the off-kilter and lo-fi home-spun charm that by now has become his signature. Reimergarten promises as much mystery and magic out of Chalice as he brought to Fjords, which is to say, a lot.
See more posts about: Asteroid Base, Banana Chalice, Ben Esposito, Boneloaf, David OReilly, Donut County, Fantastic Arcade, Fotonica, Gang Beasts, House House, Kyle Reimergarten, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, Mountain, Push Me Pull You, Santa Ragione, Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon, Tiger Style
For the February meetup of Austin’s indie game collective JUEGOS RANCHEROS, local developers Tiger Style took to the stage to give the city the first look behind the curtain at their upcoming game Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon.
The game — a sequel to the 2009 iPhone original Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor — is set to expand on the first with an even larger and richer world, which again layers super approachable web-slinging and insect-eating mechanics over the deeper, unspoken mysteries of the locations in which it takes place, left for the player to delve into and uncover of their own accord.
To help give everyone everywhere equal opportunity to prepare to piece together those mysteries, we present here full video of the night’s proceedings. Above you’ll find a complete walkthrough of some early levels that introduces many of the mechanics you will remember from the first, as well as a number of new features, including one that changes the content of the game based on the time & weather around you in the real world.
And, at top, Tiger Style co-founder Randy Smith gives some background on the locations, magic & secret societies which inspired the fiction of the game, which will be followed by some additional new material appearing on Tiger Style’s own blog soon… along with more information on the game itself, which you can find right here.
[This post is re-blogged from Venus Patrol sister-organization JUEGOS RANCHEROS, our local Austin indie game collective.]
The original was one of the first best games released on the App Store, and now we’re giving Austin the first look at its return: join us next Thursday, February 6th, at 7:00PM at Austin’s North Door, as JUEGOS RANCHEROS presents an evening with local indie studio Tiger Style, as they pull back the curtain on their forthcoming game Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon.
Here’s the lede buried in that last post: alongside the new Android release of Waking Mars, Austin indies Tiger Style have also launched a brand new and greatly enhanced Windows, Mac and Linux version of the game. The new version (which has also just gone live on the App Store as a ‘Director’s Cut’ update) smooths over some of the rough patches on the the original iOS release, and adds full, professionally acted voice work to the game’s cut scenes.
If you haven’t yet played the game, a brief introduction: coming from the same team that brought you the recently-mentioned Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor, Tiger Style’s taken that same approach to incredibly intuitive and approachable touch mechanics (or, in the PC/Mac case, mouse/keyboard & new controller support) and created a complex adventure that takes place under the surface of Mars, where protagonist Liang has just discovered new life.
Your goal in the game is to continue to restore that life to the cave system, in effect, well, “waking” the planet, by creating biological/botanical “machines” that self-sustain its areas: plants watering and seeding new life, and its fauna feeding off of and reproducing based on those flora.
Waking Mars is at its best when it gives you just enough control to creatively construct those “machines”, engendering a strange sense of personal pride, and while its story isn’t as playfully subversive & “below the surface” as in Spider, it’s still an incredibly compelling ride throughout.
Probably not coincidentally timed with this new Gamasutra feature from the studio, or the imminent PC/Mac/Linux debut of their sophomore effort Waking Mars, Austin indies Tiger Style have just announced that their iPhone and iPad debut Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor will be going free for both platforms through November 8th.
The game was one of my final major recommendations in the twilight of Offworld back in 2009, where I called it one of the iPhone’s first “unmissable experiences”. Happily, the game’s lost none of its vitality in the past three years — it’s still one of the device’s best, for its expert mix of casual arcade-like approachability laid over a thoughtful intriguing story that’s only there for those who choose to look for it.
If you haven’t already, grab the iPhone version here, or the iPad version here (which includes an exclusive same-screen multiplayer mode), and, if you like what you play, I’m sure all involved would appreciate an upvote on their Greenlight campaign to bring Waking Mars to Steam.
Every month, as part of the regular monthly meetings of the Austin, TX independent game community JUEGOS RANCHEROS, we do a very casual & chatty rundown of the ten or so games from the previous month — both local and global, and both indie and occasionally a bit-bigger-budget — for the audience, to give people — especially those curious onlookers from outside the indie community itself — a look at what they may have missed.
In keeping with the tongue-in-tobacco-packed-cheek tone, we call these run-downs A Fistful of Indies, which are be presented here on Venus Patrol for your reference, each fully-annotated, -linked, and off-the-cuff blurbed, in addition to their home on the JUEGOS RANCHEROS site.
See more posts about: A Fistful of Indies, AtomicDoom, Closure, Connectrode, David Kanaga, Deep Plaid, Distractionware, Ed Key, Eyebrow Interactive, Hexagon, Hunger Games: Girl on Fire, Journey, JUEGOS RANCHEROS, Lone Survivor, Messhof, Offspring Fling, Proteus, Retro Affect, Superflat Games, Surprise Bullfight, Terry Cavanagh, thatgamecompany, Tiger Style, Vlambeer, Waking Mars, Yeti Hunter
The geographically diverse team behind Tiger Style’s Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor, together in one “room”.
[From top left: programmer Jon Whitmore, musician Scott Barber, animator Jen Cha, musician Jef Drawbaugh, lead designer/director Randy Smith, artist Theron Jacobs, artist Amanda Williams, lead engineer David Kalina, designer Julia Tabor, artist Brennan Carr, sound designer Ethan Greene, and programmer Rick Tossavainen]
In a rare happy accident, Apple approved Tiger Style’s recently lauded debut iPhone game Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor [App Store link] well before anyone had expected, which had the unintended side effect of putting the game in players’ hands even before the studio had finished their promotional trailer.
That wait, at least, is now over, as above, which gives you the best showcase yet of the game’s fantastically illustrative style (provided in part by Austin’s own Amanda Williams) and playful mix of action mechanics over top its underlying adventure.
On the latter part, designer Randy Smith has just published a post-mortem of the project at Edge, where he explains of the game’s interweaving of narrative goals:
One of our test levels had a shot glass and liquor bottle on a lonely table, which generated more response than we anticipated. Who was drinking here all alone? What were they depressed about? This grew into a decision that the story shouldn’t be the spider’s but the environment’s, whose history would be revealed through set dressing…
This is a dead story, one you cannot change but only discover through exploration. Often in games, stepping into your character’s shoes leaves you wishing you had the interface for countless actions you’d take in real life. As a spider, your lack of interest and ability to affect the story is natural, and you fill the role your character would in real life: you leave the house covered in cobwebs.
See my earlier review for more on just how well that worked, but really, there’s almost no excuse to not simply take the plunge. You will not regret it.
Say what you will about all the advances and unique opportunities iPhone gaming has brought with it — indie dev accessibility, previously unimagined levels of direct touch-control — but one area that’s still essentially untread is story: an engrossing narrative behind all our quick-burst prods, flicks and pokes.
At first glance, Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor [App Store link] — the debut game from Tiger Style, a collective co-founded by former Thief designer Randy Smith and Midway/Ubisoft/Ion Storm developer David Kalina — follows suit. But just first glance.
At its core, Spider is the game you’d expect from any led by an arachnid star. As you start your micro-epic journey through the titular Manor — one that takes you from its front porch, though its foyer, down into the bowels of its plumbing and up, finally, through its attic and out — you’ll be doing what it is spiders do: ridding the long-since abandoned house of its insect infestation by building cohesive shapes out of your finger-flicked threads.
Three or more interconnected silk strings linked around — or in the path of — the bugs will snap a web into place, where they’ll be caught and ready to be eaten and converted into more silk in your bank to spin further webs.
Taken just on this level, the game’s an absolute success: Tiger Style have managed to make simply moving through and exploring its environment fun in and of itself, and to make a rewarding skill out of building tight, precise shapes from the hooks each room gives (or denies) you.
But it’s in the course of this very simple pleasure that you — if you’re paying attention, anyway — begin to realize that the house was abandoned perhaps more quickly than you’d originally thought, and that its inhabitants left behind the story of a lifetime, literally: clues to who they were through the generations, and why, perhaps, they left. (more…)