22 December, 2009

Keepalive: Indie Stuff

written by Blain Newport on Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I saw an article about the best indie games of the year and downloaded the ones that sounded appealing. Color me incredibly jaded, because I didn't find any of them really worth reviewing. The few that I even bothered to finish were totally derivative.

The Parade of Pain

Enviro-Bear had deliberately gimped controls that are clever in the abstract and boring in practice.

Meat Boy is an exercise in punishing precision platforming that I outgrew almost two decades ago.

Journey to the Center of the Earth had nice presentation but not much substance. And because I apparently clipped the jeep while jumping over it to get to the final treasure, I instead got the bad ending. Seriously? Your cute little cartoon exploration game where it's impossible to die has a bad ending where your guy dies in a car wreck? And you start over at square one if you want the good one? No thank you.

Run Man is memorization and execution. This type of trial and error is awful game design.

Star Guard was decent. It has super simple graphics like Berzerk and pretty simple gameplay. But the level design, enemy AI, and pacing were mediocre. I never felt taxed, partly because the game gives infinite lives but also because the game was either very easy or hard in ways that weren't possible to anticipate. It never developed a vocabulary.

Canabalt struck me as being pretty much like Run Man, an exercise in memorizing and executing. I'm not interested.

I saw Machinarium at PAX, and not being a big adventure game fan, ignored it. I should have continued ignoring it. Most adventure games are a bunch of padding and a mediocre cartoon. The best ones are a good cartoon and make failing entertaining. Machinarium has nice atmosphere and art style, but is nowhere near the top of the genre.

"When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other." - Despair.com

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