Ironclad Tactics, when a game has that weird flavor that you think you sorta like but you don’t really know if you like it but like…

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For a long time I had an idea for a strategy game. It would be a steampunk reimagining of the civil war with steam powered mechs. Maimed soldiers would have their amputated limbs replaced with steam powered prosthetics and the mechs would be like walking land-based versions of the ironclad battleships that made their first appearance in the civil war. The idea always resonated with me strongly so when I saw Ironclad Tactics in the steam store that featured that exact premise I was both devastated and intrigued. Someone had already made the idea I was never really going to get around to! I had to check it out.

Ironclad Tactics is a really unique game if nothing else. It combines a deck-building card game with real-time tactics. The turn phases of draw, deploy, attack, and move are put on a timer that doesn’t stop. It’s easy to never even realize the game is turn based. You draw infantry, mechs, mech parts, and tactics cards and deploy them on one of 4 lanes. The ultimate goal is to march your mechs all the way down to your opponent’s side and score victory points. The whole thing has the wonky vibe of an unfamiliar genre and I had to play the early missions over a few times before how all of the mechanisms worked together fully gelled in my mind.

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I felt uncertain about my feelings about the game for most of the time I was playing it until 6 hours passed and I finally looked up and realized I had played through the entire main campaign in almost one sitting. I was still convinced the game was merely alright but I still had this hunger to play even more. I clicked on the online match making and was far more devastated by being unable to find a game than I anticipated. I don’t love the game, but ok games don’t make you wanna keep playing like this. It’s like getting far too used to eating nothing but a can of beans for most of your meals. I don’t really particularly enjoy beans, but I’m getting hungry and I keep ignoring all of the boxes of pasta  and cans of soup in my pantry and go straight for the beans every time. There’s an expansion that lets you play through the Franco-Prussian war I’m thinking about getting. It might be interesting to mix it up a little, you know, try some kidney beans instead of pinto.

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What I bought during the Steam Indie Spring Sale

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What I bought during the Steam Indie Spring Sale

When I found out that there was a Steam sale occurring while I was at PAX East my first reaction was to fall to my knees and sob into the concrete floor of the expo hall. When I finally got home and discovered that the sale was week long and not just for the weekend though I was overjoyed. These are the games I added to my steam library and will never get around to actually playing:

Continue reading “What I bought during the Steam Indie Spring Sale”

Check This Out at PAX East!: Dive Kick

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Check This Out at PAX East!: Dive Kick

**Every night this weekend I showcased an indie game I demoed while at PAX East. Friday night I talked about Swimsanity. Saturday night I talked about Slam Bolt Scrappers**

“Everyone loves fighting games right? No! Why? Cause there’s all this bullshit you have to get through to get to the awesome part of a fighting game,” said Dave Lang as he explained Dive Kick at the Giant Bomb panel. Continue reading “Check This Out at PAX East!: Dive Kick”

Check This Out at PAX East!: Slam Bolt Scrappers

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Check This Out at PAX East!: Slam Bolt Scrappers

**Every night this weekend I showcased an indie game I demoed while at PAX East. Friday night I talked about Swimsanity. Sunday night I talked about Dive Kick**

Take Puzzle Fighter, mix it with Super Smash Brothers and you have Slam Bolt Scrappers. Continue reading “Check This Out at PAX East!: Slam Bolt Scrappers”

Check This Out at PAX East!: Swimsanity

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Check This Out at PAX East!: Swimsanity

**Every night this weekend I showcased an indie game I demoed while at PAX East. Saturday night I talked about Slam Bolt Scrappers. Sunday night I talked about Dive Kick**

Swimsanity is a new multiplayer underwater twin stick shooter being produced by Decoy Games. It’s a back to basics shooter that although might feel familiar is an excellent execution of the genre. Continue reading “Check This Out at PAX East!: Swimsanity”

FREE STUFF: Street Fighter x Megaman v2

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FREE STUFF: Street Fighter x Megaman V2

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This time without gems!

Street Fighter x Megaman v2 is an update to is an update to a fan made game Capcom released to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Megaman and Street Fighter. The game features classic Megaman gameplay but with Street Fighter characters serving as bosses instead of an assortment of robot masters. Continue reading “FREE STUFF: Street Fighter x Megaman v2”

Review: Dead Pixels

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Dead Pixels Review

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An 8-bit Ammo Hording Sim

There is an inherent and basic drama to needing more than you have. This is the element that appeals to me the most about zombie fiction. I enjoy reading about people scavenging in old department stores and pharmacies, siphoning gas from abandoned cars, and looking at ordinary mundane places and imagining how it could be refitted as a safe haven against a hostile world. It’s not the end of the world, but the rebuilding of it that thrills me. Zombie games usually focus on the more visceral elements of the zombie genre. Left 4 Dead has you blasting holes in heads and running for your life. The Walking Dead focuses on the social drama of the scenario, having you navigate heated arguments and making tough decisions involving the lives of people that have become an adopted family to the player and dealing with their inevitable loss.  But Dead Pixels is about making the most out of what you have. It’s solving the problem of having to cross a street filled with 30 zombies when you only have 10 bullets and then figuring out how to cross the next one with what you have left over. Continue reading “Review: Dead Pixels”

Check This Out: FTL Faster Than Light

Check This Out: FTL Faster Than Light

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FTL Feel The Love

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Have you ever dreamed of captaining your own starship?  Have you ever wanted to scream at your crew “Reroute power from the forward thrusters, I want the shields at full power!” or “Security team to the engineering deck, we’re being boarded!”?  If you have, then you might want to check out Faster Than Light.

Faster Than Light is one of the first Kickstarter funded games that has actually come to fruition and the results are promising.  The game itself is a starship captain simulator rogue-like.  The game has you leading a starship crew in ship to ship battles and exploring strange new worlds.  You must also make decisions through text based encounters that greatly affect your mission.  What makes Faster Than Light special though is the amount of detail in which it simulates being a starship captain.  You have to carefully balance the power distribution amongst the ships various systems and order your crew around the ship repairing various necessary systems or operating different stations in the ship.  You also have to handle things like leaks in the hull or fires starting on the ship in the middle of a battle.

The game also has many rogue-like elements.  The game is designed to be played through in a few hours, with a new galaxy and set of encounters being randomly generated each time you start the game.  This allows each play through to feel like a fresh new experience.  You also start a new character each time you play that develops differently depending on what resources are spawned nearby on the new map.  The game, keeping in the rogue-like tradition, is also supposed to be very hard and has a permadeath system that doesn’t allow you to reload your save file if you die.

The premise of playing as a starship captain is criminally underused in games.  The only main stream game I can think of at the moment that does this is Mass Effect and even that is a bit of a stretch.  For $10, you should definitely check out Faster Than Light.  You can either buy it on their website at http://www.ftlgame.com/ or on steam.

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What the Critics are Saying:

 

“Don’t ignore FTL because the art is simplistic or because it looks like it’s essentially ‘spreadsheet gaming.’ It’s one of the best indie games in years, and easily one of the most rewarding strategy games in recent memory. You’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t punish yourself with FTL. ” -Gamesradar

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“Time spent in Faster Than Light does not equal the time passing in the world outside. What felt like a quick 30-minute game before going to bed turns out to have been an epic four-hour session that has left you cold and alone in the early hours of the morning.” -Eurogamer

The Art Gallery: Loved

The Art Gallery: Loved

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The Only Game That Has Actually Hurt My Feelings

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Are you a boy or a girl?  You’re wrong.  And that’s how Loved: a short story by Alexander Ocias begins.  Loved is a short platformer where you play a small creature that is berated for disobedience by a mysterious condescending voice.  Although it was just text on a screen written by someone I have never met before I couldn’t help but take the constant insults personally.  The music, messages and visuals create an atmosphere that feels oppressive but teases freedom if the player looks for it.

I would love (HAH!) to go into more detail about Loved but part of what makes it so compelling is the confusion the player feels and his personal exploration of the game.  Talking too much about the game before playing it would ruin the experience so take a few minutes and play through it first here: http://www.alexanderocias.com/loved.php  And make sure you play it twice.  Go on, I’ll wait.

Done?

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//SPOILERS***

Continue reading “The Art Gallery: Loved”

Check This Out!: Intrusion 2

 

Check This Out!: Intrusion 2

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What Happens When Physics Intrudes on a Perfectly Fine Game of Contra.

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Intrusion 2 is a retro-style side scrolling shooter that spices up the traditional genre with its use of physics.  Enemies ragdoll, bridges wobble, ropes dip when you hang from them but the biggest contribution the physics add to the game is that it results in a very interesting animation style.  Every character moves with a noticeable weight that at first seems off putting but quickly becomes endearing.

The game recently released on steam and has a demo available.  The demo didn’t immediately hook me and the controls for the dire wolves(!) were a little frustrating (why can’t wolves walk backwards?! I don’t care if it would make the game too easy! [ok, I care a little bit]. )  But the encounters quickly ramped up and before I knew it was I was shooting airdropped sand worms while snowboarding down a mountain side and battling flying, punching(!) troop transports.  The much touted boss fights proved their salt and by the end of the demo I was hooked and craving more.

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A few quotes from critics

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“It is a meeting point between old game design and new, with every other moment punctuated with some of the most thrilling level and boss design to grace the genre. As improbable as it may sound, this game made by one guy not only stands up to the classics, it is every bit as good as Gunstar Heroes and Contra.”

Destructoid 9/10

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“I have to tell you about Intrusion 2, because it’s like a game from my stupid dreams about games that couldn’t exist.”

PCGamer

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Intrusion 2 is on sale now for $10 on steam but if you buy it you should consider purchasing it for the same price direct from the one man developer DRM-free at his website http://www.intrusion2.com/ so he personally gets all of the profit.  A demo is available on the website and on steam. Controller pad enabled.