[Game: Crypt of the NecroDancer, Brace Yourself Games, 2015]
In the Beginning was the Beat:

How Crypt of the NecroDancer Turns a Potential Gimmick into an Integral Game Mechanic

 

Crypt of the NecroDancer screenshot with Cadence in Zone 3 - rhythm roguelike - Brace Yourself Games

Introduction:

It often happens on this site that I set out to write a simple article and realize after I begin that I just have a lot to say about the subject. It happened when I reviewed Patrick McCabe’s novel Breakfast on Pluto; it happened when I analyzed Steven Spielberg’s movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind; and it happened in your previous Mid-week Mission post, on LUFTRAUSERS. Today I want to rectify my last review’s rambling by actually writing a simple article about a relatively new indie game, Crypt of the NecroDancer by Brace Yourself Games. Let’s see how I do.

Crypt of the NecroDancer is a 2-D top-down rhythm-based roguelike. Right off the bat, if you’re anything like me then you’re wary of a genre mash-up that seems to have most of its justification in being a quirky gimmick rather than being a well-reasoned basis for gameplay. But I’m now almost 25 hours into my experience of NecroDancer, and I’m ready to start singing its praises (preferably as a duet with the game’s vocally gifted merchant NPC).

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[Game: Crypt of the NecroDancer, Brace Yourself Games, 2015]
In the Beginning was the Beat:

How Crypt of the NecroDancer Turns a Potential Gimmick into an Integral Game Mechanic

was last modified: June 28th, 2016 by Daniel Podgorski

[Game: LUFTRAUSERS, Vlambeer, 2014]
99 Arcade Luftballons:

3 Major Pros and 2 Minor Cons of Vlambeer’s Bullet Hell Arcade Dogfighter LUFTRAUSERS

 

Introduction:

I am very sparing in my use of lists on this site, and have only written one list article before now (on 5 writing tips that can be derived from Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo), but this is not because I necessarily dislike them. They have their place, but they are generally overused.

In the case of LUFTRAUSERS, I have a mixed-yet-positive opinion of the game after the many hours I have spent with it, and would like to use list elements to cordon off the good from the bad. LUFTRAUSERS is a game that offers a great challenge that looks and sounds great, too, and is a stellar title (with only a couple notable exceptions).

LUFTRAUSERS screenshot with normal mode activated - pros and cons - Vlambeer

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[Game: LUFTRAUSERS, Vlambeer, 2014]
99 Arcade Luftballons:

3 Major Pros and 2 Minor Cons of Vlambeer’s Bullet Hell Arcade Dogfighter LUFTRAUSERS

was last modified: June 17th, 2016 by Daniel Podgorski

[Game: Shovel Knight, Yacht Club Games, 2014]
As From a Time Machine:

How Shovel Knight Rises Above its Capacity for Nostalgia

 

Yacht Club Games’ Shovel Knight is a game whose Kickstarter campaign‘s success may be attributable to, above other merits, nostalgia for the SNES era of games whose aesthetics and gameplay Shovel Knight promised to deliver. It’s a winning formula, and one on which many other projects have been happy to capitalize: sell the gaming population its own childhood.

Such projects, often full of wry nods toward and inside jokes from NES and SNES titles, wear the clothes of classics. They have pixel art as a matter of convention, and scrolling text as a matter of principle. But Shovel Knight is a special game, because it does not merely wear the clothes of the classics; it is a classic, every bit as deserving of acclaim and status as are the titles whose trappings got it funded.

Shovel Knight Screenshot - nostalgia - Yacht Club Games

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[Game: Shovel Knight, Yacht Club Games, 2014]
As From a Time Machine:

How Shovel Knight Rises Above its Capacity for Nostalgia

was last modified: April 9th, 2017 by Daniel Podgorski

[Game: VVVVVV, Terry Cavanagh, 2010]
A Game with 1980s Cohesion:

The Compelling and Eery Retro Unity of Terry Cavanagh’s Relentless Platformer VVVVVV

 

VVVVVV screenshot 2 - Terry CavanaghTwo weeks ago, your Mid-week Mission was Super Crate Box, a simple, pixel art title carefully constructed around one innovative game mechanic. This week I would like to talk about a game with an even simpler art style, which is built around a less innovative mechanic—Terry Cavanagh’s VVVVVV. And yet, for all of the utter simplicity in its visuals and gameplay, this title manages to be one of the five best platformers I have played in the last five years, and one of my top ten platformers of all time.

VVVVVV is a game whose aesthetics leave everything to be desired, but which uses its sparse, sometimes-baffling visual presentation (in conjunction with Magnus Pålsson’s anachronistic chiptune-esque masterpiece of a score) to set an incomparably other-wordly mood plucked straight out of 1980s video game logic. Meanwhile, the deservedly lauded level design ties the project together for a respectably challenging campaign. For more on why and how this game looks so odd and plays so wonderfully, keep reading.

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[Game: VVVVVV, Terry Cavanagh, 2010]
A Game with 1980s Cohesion:

The Compelling and Eery Retro Unity of Terry Cavanagh’s Relentless Platformer VVVVVV

was last modified: January 21st, 2016 by Daniel Podgorski

[Game: Super Crate Box, Vlambeer, 2010]
Simple Arcade Innovation:

The Elegant, Ingenious Gameplay of Vlambeer’s Super Crate Box

Introduction:

In the first post of this series, I praised Tribute Games’ much-maligned Wizorb for being a high-quality recent example of a cheap, challenging, arcade-style game. This week I would like to recommend a game which you may not have heard of. It is also in the arcade style, but it is much more challenging and much more cheap. How can it be much more cheap than the $3 title Wizorb, you ask? In fact, this game is completely free. Not free-to-play or freemium, just plain old free. It goes by the name of Super Crate Box, and it is available on Steam right now in exchange for no money.

Super Crate Box is an arcade action game that pits your pixelated player-character against hordes of marching foes, but with one amazing gameplay twist, explained below. The game was developed by Vlambeer, a Dutch team which has risen to prominence in recent years with games like LUFTRAUSERS and Nuclear Throne. And like those later titles, Super Crate Box is a tremendous time-sink, a great challenge, and a lot of fun: now, on to discussing that interesting gameplay quirk.

Super Crate Box Screenshot 1 - Vlambeer

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[Game: Super Crate Box, Vlambeer, 2010]
Simple Arcade Innovation:

The Elegant, Ingenious Gameplay of Vlambeer’s Super Crate Box

was last modified: February 10th, 2017 by Daniel Podgorski