ZIZ

IGMC 2017 has ended, which means that this site will go back to its normal schedule. Grasshoppermask and I released our game, To Crime Nirvana, and while I doubt that we’ll win anything, we had a fun time making this. If you’re interested, check that out!

But enough about me! To start off November, we’ll look at one last game from IGMC 2015 before I maybe start looking at IGMC 2017 stuff? That might be conflict of interest, I dunno, but anyway:

ZIZ 11_3_2017 9_18_43 PM

ZIZ is a sci-fi adventure game made by nerdvsgame. It’s made in RPG Maker VX Ace and it was the winner of the adventure genre.

A woman named Motoko awakens on the research ship Ziz, an unknown disaster calling her to the ship’s bridge. To assist her, she turns on a maintenance android, who dubs himself Seven as he quickly develops sentience. It’s very much one of those, “can robots be people?” stories, told rather quickly within the constraints of the game jam.

The game’s theme is actually expressed in a neat way toward the end. At one point, you’re controlling Seven and you’re presented with dialogue options. However, you don’t actually get to choose what he says. Symbolizing his growing sentience and independence, he automatically chooses what he wants with no input from you. It’s also him that decides which of the two endings you’ll get, which depends on how you treated him during your playthrough. It’s a simple but neat way to express the idea of robot sentience.

Gameplay has you controlling Motoko and Seven, with the ability to split them up and switch between them. The most basic use for them is to split them up so that they can simultaneously turn on separate panels to proceed. Seven gets a later mechanic, capable of moving through electrical fields that Motoko can’t pass through.

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The game’s puzzles? They’re just okay. Some puzzles felt arbitrary but they weren’t annoying, either. My favorite is probably the one in the screenshot above, where you’re switching around electric fields so that Motoko can get around safely, which makes the most use out of the character switching mechanic. For the most part though, the puzzles didn’t wow me nor did they have a sense of personality to them. I feel that without the sci-fi aesthetics, this stuff could easily be pushed into a different setting and context. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t stand out, either.

On the game’s aesthetics, it’s pretty nice, clean, sci-fi stuff. ZIZ has a nice look to it and I appreciate the ambient “spacey” music that follows for most of the game. The strongest, most unique part of the game’s aesthetics shows up when the ship’s AI speaks. Instead of just being a text box, a computerized voice speaks out its lines. While this isn’t the case for its extended conversation toward the end of the game, hearing the AI voice out actions while you’re doing things kinda gave an immersive feel to the game.

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Overall, ZIZ was pretty okay, if pretty standard for adventure games made in RPG Maker. I kinda feel that it’s one of those things that could have better set itself apart and have more to if if it wasn’t a game jam. While lacking, the game still managed to tell the story it wanted to tell and its aesthetics were pretty on point, so that’s something to appreciate.

Symbiote

As you know, it’s been slow on this site. Me and my partner in crime are still working on IGMC stuff and eventually something I make will be the one getting roasted. Until I pay for my crimes, let’s check out more past IGMC stuff.

Symbiote 10_27_2017 3_48_26 PM

While you’re all playing Super Mario Odyssey, I was playing Symbiote a nice short platformer. It was made by Jason Perry (also known as finalbossblues) and it was the 3rd place winner of IGMC 2015.

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Nanuleu (IGMC Version)

So, we continue looking at some past games made for past IGMC’s as I help out on my team’s entry for that. We at the Gay Punk Squad will hopefully finish Crime Nirvana before the deadline.

I was originally going to check out Corrine Cross’s Dead & Breakfast, which was the 1st place winner overall for IGMC 2015, but the download link for the IGMC version of the game seems to be dead. Thank goodness IGMC 2017 is on itch.io, land of free game hosting that isn’t likely to dead link.

I was also going to look at a game called Free Spirits, winner of the RPG Maker engine prize (not to be confused with Grist of Flies, winner of the RPG genre prize), but then I found out that there was some bad stuff between the creators and I don’t want to elevate that kind of stuff. So, I stepped away from my comfort zone of RPG Maker games to check out the 2nd place overall winner, Nanuleu.

Nanuleu 10_20_2017 3_46_26 PM

Nanuleu is a game made by the members of Selva Interactive, consisting of Carlos Villagran and Alhvi Balcarcel. Unlike the other IGMC games I looked at, Nanuleu was revisited and polished and can be bought on Steam or Humble for $2.99. For the sake of keeping consistent with past writings, we’ll be looking at the version released for IGMC as is.

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Bosstardian

After a year hiatus, the Indie Game Maker Contest is back, geared toward RPG Maker games to accompany the Humble Bundle sale. I’m actually working with a friend to make something for it and I guess you can check on progress of that on my Twitter.

But Indie Hell Zone is here to talk about other games and in honor of IGMC, I’m spending the rest of this month to look at past IGMC games. I’ve previously looked at Grist of Flies, an RPG Maker game that I wish hasn’t disappeared into the ether. Today, let’s take a look at a shmup game, Bosstardian.

Bosstardian 10_10_2017 6_27_09 PM

Bosstardian is by Ricardo Baeza, who won the genre prize for shooter games for the 2015 IGMC. The game as it is has two stages with boss fights at the end.

The main gimmick of Bosstardian is collecting the absurd amount of gems that the game throws at you. Blue gems makes your shots stronger and increases your spread on the current life and green gems create shields that get bigger the more you collect (which… I actually kinda consider to not be much of an advantage). Collect 100 pink gems and you get an extra life. Collect enough orange gems and you can go into Bosstardian mode, your ship suddenly morphing into an invincible colossus armed with fully powered shots and spread. It’s one of those cathartic things where you can just tear the shit out of everything. Also, a thing I like is that the gems automatically float toward you, so you’ll never have to stress about catching them.

If you get a game over and choose to continue, you’re presented with two choices: either halve your gems or halve your score. Honestly, halving your number of gems is a slap on the wrist. Unless you get a game over during one of the boss fights, it’s kinda easy to recoup your losses and if you’re the kind of player that aims for highscores, the choice is easy with that in mind. It’s an interesting idea, but the dilemma’s kind of a no-brainer.

I like the look of the game, but I also wish that enemy bullets looked more distinct.  I found that it was hard to distinguish them from the sea of gems you keep pulling in and they could easily hide in them with how small they are. I also found them getting lost in my own shots, which isn’t a concern at low power but grows to be more of an issue as spread increases.

 

My other issue is that the levels just went on for Too Long and felt kinda tedious to play through. I feel that it was like that so that you could gather more gems, but the game throws enough at you that it makes stretches of the game feel unnecessary. A consequence is that the music, which I thought was just sorta okay, got grating, especially since both levels use the same tune. I will say that they end off with neat bosses, though. I like how they’re just the enemy version of you when you go into Bosstardian mode. Actually, it’s more like that Bosstardian mode is you ascending to the same level as a boss ship; seeing the bosses honestly gave a sort of thematic appreciation for this mechanic.

I feel that Bosstardian is one of those games with interesting ideas that just needs balance and polish. As a game made in a month though, it’s pretty neat. It’s stated to be a demo, so hopefully it might show up again in an improved state? Unfortunately, like Grist of Flies, the game seems to have disappeared, which is a shame.

Grist of Flies

Grist of Flies 9_18_2017 2_51_07 PM

Grist of Flies is a RPG Maker VX Ace game, made for Indie Game Making Contest 2015 by Razelle, winner of the genre reward for RPGs. The dead have been brought back to life, aided by unknown supernatural forces. In a matter of hours, the world is overrun, the only safe havens lying in bunkers. In this RPG, you play as a squad of survivors wandering a city’s underground tunnels in search of one of them, fighting monsters and meeting more survivors on the way.

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