Minit

It’s long been my belief that most indie devs who make games based on high death counts often forget that the fun part is not supposed to be the dying, but the surviving.

To which the team behind Minit said “hold my beer.”

Sometimes the pixel art thing is inspired. Sometimes it feels pretentious. Here, like the drunk roofer, it slightly leans towards the ladder. Get it? The ladder. Latter? I’ll move on.

Minit is a Zelda-like adventure game with the gimmick being that, no matter what you do, you die every sixty seconds and have to return to whatever your current starting base is. I actually didn’t know about this going into the game. I do my best to avoid any and all information on indies and begin playing as cold as possible. When I saw the name, I figured the key part of the name Minit was the MINI part. But no, it’s “Minit” as in “Minute.” In fact, “Minit” is the Malaysian word for “minute” and I’m jealous because it’s one letter shorter and thus 16.6% more efficient than English. At least for now. We’re slowly but surely getting to the point that English will be a series of grunts and obscene gestures.

It was actually comical because for the first few minutes of Minit, I didn’t notice the countdown timer in the corner of the screen. So when I died for the first time, I was quite miffed. There were a few crabs on the screen and an animation of grass or dust moving on the ground, so I was like, “huh, maybe an enemy burrowed into me without me having a chance to dodge. Well, that’s cheap as shit.” Then I started again, went the same direction trying to find what killed me, stood around, and died again. A parade of cuss words, each more cringey than the next, followed. Like the oblivious twit that I was, I went back one more time to the spot I died, cleared out the enemies, started getting really annoyed, and was ready to enter the Controller Shot Put event (my personal best is 11.87m). And then I noticed a timer counting down from 4 in the corner of the screen. “Huh, I wonder what that is?” Then it reached zero. And I died. Again.

“Oh. I get it. MINIT. Like MINUTE. That’s clever.”

By the way, sometimes I pull shit out of my ass for comic effect here at IGC. But all the stuff in the above paragraph, and I really hate to admit this, is 100% true. Well except the 11.87m (I was on steroids at the time so it wasn’t a legal attempt). Derp.

Maybe he’s not really dying. Maybe he just keeps throwing his back out because he’s using a sword that has more mass than he does.

Once I got the point of Minit, I found the game to be fine. I’m not the type to get caught up in speed running, which is the primary audience Minit was designed for and adopted by. For me, it would have to stand on its own merits as an exploration-based adventure game that takes place in sixty-second chunks. And it kind of does. Trying to sprint from point A to point B while working in a dash of exploring and investigating requires time management and a preset game-plan. In that sense, Minit sometimes feels more like how an actual adventure in such a situation would play out. Well, an adventure with someone who has a congenital heart defect.

Having said that, all the problems with Minit stem from the gimmick itself. In order to keep the game on point and streamlined, world design had to be kept to a simplistic minimum. Functionally, it works fine. Artistically, it’s kind of dull. Ultra-basic maps and enemies keep the tempo lower than you would expect. That’s kind of what surprises me the most. In a game based entirely around a ticking clock and speed, Minit rarely felt white-knuckle. Maybe towards the end of the game, but then again, I didn’t even realize I was at the end of the game until the ending played out. I was like “oh hey, I just cleared the first boss.” And then Minit was like “nope, that’s the only boss.” Well fuck me. I’ve how bowel movements that took me longer to work out.

Worth noting: I died a couple of times during the boss but came back with no consequence and the boss not reset to the beginning. I’m honestly not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. It’s a thing.

Minit’s gimmick is clever and original, but it’s also such a major handicap. Not one aspect of the actual design besides the dying gimmick is memorable. The graphics are stark and stripped down. The enemy designs are clichéd and bland. Minit is a one trick pony. It’s a very cute pony. I’ll give it that. It’s certainly worth playing at least once. Finishing Minit opens up a second quest with a 40 second time limit and a few location changes. I barely made it into it because I was satisfied enough with my 90 minutes spent with Minit and had no desire to go forward. Which is sort of weird because there were tons of unanswered questions. There were tentacles scattered throughout the world, but I never got those. There was a dungeon with a large maze, but I never finished it. There were apparently speed shoes that you could buy, but I never found close to enough coins to buy them. Wait, did I accidentally speed run Minit? Fuck me, I’m better than I realized!

Mint was developed by like a bunch of people who I couldn’t find. Devolver Digital published it.
Point of Sale: Steam, Xbox One, PS4

$9.99 was going to be the hero of the world.. and then I died in the making of this review.

Minit is Chick-Approved with the cuddly new Indie Gamer Chick Seal of Approval. Order your own Seal of Approval now. I mean, your OWN seal of approval. For your game review site. My approval of your game is not for sale. Well, at least not for cheap.

Oh and it’s ranked on the Leaderboard. And then it died.

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Shower With Your Dad Simulator 2015

I swore up and down I would never review this, despite dozens of requests. Among other things, my site barely makes it through Google with safe search turned on as it is. I’d probably make a joke about trying to avoid ending up on some kind of FBI watch list, but let’s face it, that ship sailed the moment I purchased a game called Shower With Your Dad Simulator 2015. A game where you play as a naked child trying to run into the shower his naked father is in (with 8-bit penis on display in all its glory, though thankfully that only applies to the adults and not the kids depicted in the game).

I’m not sure what’s more wince-inducing: the digital penises, the Dad jokes, or the fact that I find the idea of a half-naked, digital Robin Hood to be kinda hot.

In the 2010s, the use of “simulator” in a game’s name is like a red flag for forced quirkiness. Take any mundane thing or task, add “simulator” to it and presto: you get LOLs from simpletons. It’s to indie games what doing time in the joint is for drug cartels: instant credibility. Nothing is being simulated in the strictest sense (or hopefully stimulated in the literal sense for you pervs out there). It actually plays like a single-screen arcadey game. When you get to the shower your pops is in, you score points and the showers magically teleport to other locations on the screen. As you progress, more obstacles are thrown in at you, like puddles of water to slip on, or shower curtains that give you only a split-second to see which dad is yours. You get extra time added every time you make it to the correct Dad. You lose if you run out of time or walk into the shower with the wrong father, where you will presumably get the Kevin Spacey treatment.

😦 molested…

I’ve always said that if you’re going to make a game based on making immature twats giggle, don’t half-ass the stupidity. Shower With Your Dad can’t be accused of that. Among other things, the game gives you four options with the nudity, none of which actually change anything. So I hope you enjoy seeing 8-bit wangs because they can’t be disabled. Loading screens feature cringey Dad Jokes, only with dicks fully on display. Really, the only semblance of restrain is that the you can’t see the child’s privates, though I suspect if they could have slipped that past Steam’s censors, they would have.

I actually expected to hate Shower with Your Dad, so imagine my surprise when I didn’t. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s actually fun. For like fifteen minutes, but still, give me that over hours of boredom with something like The Novelist. Shower is fast paced, two of the three modes I played were legitimately fun (the Dad Divisions mode had issues with controls and fairness, so skip it if possible). Really, they could have used any theme for the gameplay, but it caught my attention and everyone else’s based on novelty shock value which is funny for exactly 1.72557 seconds.

In retrospect, I should have probably picked a different picture to censor the junk of these guys.

Novelty games based on shock value aren’t exactly a recent phenomena. Long before I was born, there were pornography games for the Atari 2600, including one called Beat ‘Em and ‘Eat Em, where a guy was jacking off on a roof and rains down droplets of semen and you had to catch in your mouth. This was a real game. And, of course, there’s the infamous Custer’s Revenge. If you haven’t heard of it, just Google it and be ready to cringe. If someone attempted to release a game like that today, 24 hour news channels would cover the backlash around the clock. The thing is though, none of those games were fun. Shower with Your Dad Simulator 2015 is. So hey, I finally played a low-effort “adult” novelty game and enjoyed it. Yeah, I know. Weird.

By the way, in keeping with my tradition of reviewing real life versions of video games (see my review for digital hackysack, Kick’in It), I decided I would compare the video version of showering with your Dad to the real thing. How’d it go? Well, I’m typing this review from rehab. What do you think?

Shower with Your Dad Simulator 2015 was developed by marbenx.
Point of Sale: Steam

$0.99 has a father who would like to note he’s not actually the reason I’m in rehab in the making of this review. Probably. It’s not like I cleared any of these jokes with him. I’m kind of curious if I’ll be able to hear him scream “JESUS CHRIST CATHY YOU CAN’T PUT THAT SHIT ON THERE” from here.

Shower With Your Dad Simulator 2015 is……….. I can’t believe I’m saying this…………. Chick Approved and Ranked on the now forever tainted Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard.

Short Subject Saturdays: Dead Horizon

Dead Horizon is a light gun game without the gun. One that should probably take the average player around five minutes to finish. And it’s yet another free-to-play game that, despite a lifespan that would make a mayfly shake their head in pity, is probably worth at least a buck. In short summary.. really short since I don’t want to spend more time writing about this game then it took me to finish it.. you play as a farm girl who inadvertently finds herself as a legendary gunfighter. It has all the trimmings of a pretentious short-subject indie film, including the most cringe-inducing ending to any game I’ve played at Indie Gamer Chick with the possibly exception of the 4th Wall. This is a seriously weird game to review because it doesn’t even give you enough time to like or hate it. It ends before the point where the goo in my brain even begins to register stimuli. I guess I wish there were a few more stages, or something more difficult than lowering my mouse to the bottom of the screen and then raising it back up and clicking. And come to think of it, the game seemed really fickle about what constituted lowering the cursor and raising it back up. But otherwise it’s worth a look. Sorry if that doesn’t sound enthusiastic enough. It’s a five-minute long gunless light gun throwback. What do you want?

“Blood and Piss” isn’t just about passing Kidney Stones anymore!

But I wanted to review this because, as much as I hate to keep harping on this, the developer really should have thrown a buck on this. I met him when he asked me to review this and he seemed nice. He was probably a little perplexed that I was brow-beating him for not charging at least a dollar for Dead Horizon before even playing it. Seemed like an odd thing to bitch about, especially for a game I hadn’t even played. He told me he felt he couldn’t justify the price because of the length.

You know, when I was younger, there was a little miniature carousel at the grocery store my parents took me to. It cost $0.50 to sit on it for a minute. Pretty solid investment for a minute of overwhelming joy. I asked my Mom if she remembered watching me ride it. She said “well yeah, it was like three weeks ago. It was embarrassing, Cathy. You’re nearly 30. For God’s sake don’t tell anyone.” My point is, nobody in their right mind expects that small of an investment to be a permanent investment that they can hit up again and again and again and again and hang on I think we’re out of milk……………..

Right, point. Sorry I, uh, needed milk. I wasn’t riding the carousel again. The one with the pink unicorn. Ahem. Forgot to get cereal. No point in getting milk without cereal!

Resolution? Ha, what’s that?

Okay, so, look, $1 is NOT a permanent investment in entertainment. You spend $1 for delicious Mega Fruit Gum, or to ride the miniature carousel with the pink unicorn while it plays Twinkle-Twinkle Little Star, or to play whatever shitty modern arcade games your local big box happens to have near the checkout counters. Because literally every single person who has ever been into an arcade has spent at least $1 in their lifetimes playing games that lasted under five minutes. Nobody in their right minds expects that $1 to keep giving them jollies years later. So put a $1 on your games, indies. For real, this is getting annoying. You can look at the graphics or writing for Dead Horizon and see that actual fucking effort was put into it. There are people who are putting no effort into their games and making actual fucking money. It’s really annoying when someone who actually tries doesn’t make any money on something they deserve to make money on.

I knew I would end up spending more than five minutes writing this review. Mother fucker!

Dead Horizon was developed by 14 Hours Productions (oh that name has got to be trolling)
Also annoying: free games deprive me of my price jokes. I’ve spent the last six years carefully crafting those price jokes into one of my most beloved running gags and you free indie games are fucking my schtick up. Anyway, get Dead Horizon on Steam here.

Oh, and it’s Chick-Approved and ranked on the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard.

Gravity Quest

UPDATE: Gravity Quest added a run button. So ignore all the bitching about the lack of one.

Think of a video game like a strand of Christmas lights. If one doesn’t work, the whole strand doesn’t. It only takes one thing being off about a game to make it so you can’t enjoy the rest of it.

So I haven’t picked up a new game in a while, but I had some downtime the other day so I grabbed Gravity Quest by Alexandr Krivozub. It’s a weird name since there really isn’t a quest, per se. It’s a first-person maze game. And I don’t mean like Pac-Man where it’s called a maze game even though you’re not really trying to get anywhere. It would be like calling my neighbor’s car a musical instrument because if I beat on it with a golf club in just the right way it would make noise that could be interpreted as music. That’s just an absurd way of thinking, or so the judge told me. I mean it’s literally a “get from point A to point B” maze game. With mazes. I like those. I wish there were more of them. And this one had a nice visual style while combining the maze concept with the getting-stale-but-not-quite-tired gravity stuff. So I gave it a whirl.

Visually it’s nice. I mean, gee, look at it. Pretty.

An hour later, with about 80% of the game completed, I couldn’t really stay energized enough to continue on. This is one of those really tough reviews to do because the game does almost nothing wrong. It advertises itself as a 3D gravity-defying maze game and that’s exactly what it is. There’s no jumping, no puzzle-solving, no combat, no platforming, or anything besides the maze and a few switches that will either take you to a different section of the level or reverse you to the other side of the walkway you’re on. That’s fine. It’s basically what I wanted it to be.

So why didn’t I like it?

Because the moving speed is far too slow and as far as I can tell, there’s no run button. Yea, that’s really it. That’s the only thing Gravity Quest did to fail at getting my seal of approval. That omission, the lack of adjustable speeds, turns the game into such a slog that it saps the energy out of your marrow. If you make a wrong turn into a dead-end or end up walking in circles, and you will because, you know, it’s a game with 3D mazes, it’s borderline painful. The levels actually are well designed and make use of both gravity and the limited first-person perspective. But it’s hard to appreciate those things when the pace is on par with watching erosion in real time. It’s sort of insane to think about: lots of things need to work right in a game, yet it only takes one little thing to render a game completely boring. But, in Indieland there’s nothing worse than being boring, and Gravity Quest is boring. And it’s boring because it’s lacking one simple, obvious feature.

Can’t stress enough though: it looks great!

This is Alexandr’s first game on Steam, as far as I can tell. And, as far as first efforts go, it’s not that bad. The one thing wrong with it is a deal breaker, but it’s the easiest thing ever to fix. Just add a run button. Once he’s done that, I’d be easier to appreciate the relatively simple but somewhat challenging mazes, the cleverness of the design and the visuals. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not in contention to be a top Leaderboard game or anything, but it would still be on the Leaderboard. So Alex, add that run button and let me know it and I’ll club your baby with my seal. I’m not sure that came out the way I meant it to but hopefully you get my point.

UPDATE: I’m clubbing this baby with my seal.

Gravity Quest was developed by Alexandr Krivozub
Point of Sale: Steam

igc_approved$2.99 sang “Run Run GET A RUN, I wanna Run!” in the making of this review.

Gravity Quest is Chick-Approved and ranked on the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard

If you’re reading this anywhere but IndieGamerChick(dot)Com, you are reading a stolen review. Please head over to my site, read my stuff on my blog.

Doodle God: 8-bit Mania

There are some things I will simply never understand the appeal in. Cricket? Baffling to me. Woody Allen films? I mean, maybe if you need a nap and have no Benadryl handy. But, despite what my retro-loving readers believe, old-timey point-and-clickers aren’t among the things I don’t understand. I do get those. I think they suck. I think they have no relevance today. I think I would rather be boiled in horse bile than play most of them. But I get how they could become popular when they did. The technology of the time didn’t allow for full 3D environments or complex adventure storytelling. The point and click genre allowed for something sort of like that, using descriptive writing to smooth-out rough edges. My biggest problem with them is that the item puzzles involved utterly batshit insane logic that I’m sure made sense to the writer, at least until his medication kicked in. This turned the games into a tedious slog where players were forced to rub one item against another, or against the backdrop, until the right combination was found, thus unlocking the rest of the story. Again, I think they suck, but at least I  understand the appeal they once had. Besides blind nostalgia, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to play them now. Gaming has come so very far in the decades since. Yes, I’m aware my two favorite indies are nostalgia-bait. Hey, I never said I’m not a hypocrite.

Alcohol is made by combining Fire and Water. I'm about as far removed from being politically correct as a person can be and even I cringed in shame at that.

Alcohol is made by combining Fire and Water. I’m about as far removed from being politically correct as a person can be and even I cringed in shame at that.

And then you have Doodle God, an inexplicably popular franchise that removes the story progression and is just the batshit item puzzles of days gone by, over two-hundred times. This is actually a global mega-hit. I shit you not. Millions of people, myself included, have paid real money to select two random items from a list and hope that it opens a third item that goes onto a list. That.. that.. is one of the most popular games in mobile history.

That was one of the toughest sentences I ever typed out. My hands kept trying to amputate themselves. Joke’s on them because I would just replace them with a hook.

And saying the logic is batshit is putting it lightly. Some of the combinations defy the type of logic someone suffering plastic-fume-induced brain damage would find absurd. Life + Ash = Ghost. Holiest of all fucks, that is pure, unbridled lunacy. Or there’s the ones that could be logically but they fucked them up. Human + Money = Work. Um, wouldn’t it be Human + Work = Money? I mean, you would think, right? But then again, Logic + Lobotomy = Doodle God.

When you go to a restaurant and order more than one item from a menu, you are essentially playing Doodle God.

When you go to a restaurant and order more than one item from a menu, you are essentially playing Doodle God.

As for the whole 8-Bit-Mania stuff, it’s just Doodle God with pixel art. Same combos. It’s such a cynical cash-grab, you can practically hear the developers saying “hey, why aren’t we appealing to older gamers? Maybe it’s the graphics. Someone get on that.” It’s also $4 cheaper on Steam than the normal Doodle God is. Bizarre, but whatever. I just don’t get the appeal in this at all. In fact, the worst thing I can say about Doodle God in general is that it makes me long for being stuck with one of the 80s point and click games that I absolutely detest. At least those attempt to tell a story that you feel like you’re a participant in. Why is this even called “Doodle God” to begin with? If you were drawing the shapes, maybe. But you just select items from lists. It’s as if someone set out to make a really ambitious game, then said “Okay, select file.. you know what, fuck it, this is too hard. Select File: The Game will do.”

headerDoodle God: 8-Bit Mania was developed by JoyBits LTD
Point of Sale: Steam, Google Play, iOS App Store

$1.39 (Normally $1.99) said Money + Fire = Doodle God in the making of this review.

This review covered only the Steam version.

Super Duper Flying Genocide 2017

Over the course of 43 minutes of playtime, I unlocked all 329 (!) achievements Super Duper Flying Genocide 2017 has. That’s an average over seven-and-a-half achievements per minute. I was Skyping with my friend William during my play session, and within seconds of booting the game up I said “got an achievement. Got another. Got another. Got another. Got another.” He said “I just looked your achievement profile, it’s nuts.” In the time it took him to say that sentence, I got six more. We laughed. A few minutes later, with me getting so many achievements that Steam couldn’t keep up with it, the laughing stopped. The achievements didn’t. It’s was like when you watch one of those Fail Army videos that shows someone step on the gas instead of the break, pull into the wrong lane and end-up in head-on collision. It’s funny at first, until you realize “you know, that fucker probably died in that video.” Then it’s just awkward.

It looks, sounds, and plays like a participation pity ribbon winner at a game jam.

It looks, sounds, and plays like a participation pity ribbon winner at a game jam. And you’ll have those achievements cropping off the corner of your screen with minimal interruption for at least half-an-hour.

And I did this without anything semblance of effort or finesse. The idea behind Super Duper Flying Genocide 2017 is you’re a UFO, there are people, go get them. That’s really it. You have a ray gun that didn’t really do anything, and a tractor beam that you can use to suck the people up. I used the tractor beam, parked low to the ground, didn’t move, swayed my mouse back and forth while holding the right-click down, and unlocked 329 achievements in 43 minutes. Occasionally I had to let go of the click to let the gun charge back up, but otherwise I really didn’t have to move or try or anything.
screenshot029

I have a fondness for these over-sized gumballs shaped like fruit called Mega Fruit. They’re $0.75 a pop at my local grocery store and I can’t get enough of them. They’re so freakishly big that you can’t put them in your mouth unless you have a comically large one like Steven Tyler or something. You have to put them on a paper plate and smash them down using the palm of your hand. Assuming they’re not stale. If that’s the case, you might need a hammer. Once you have them into smaller pieces, they’re yummy for like five minutes. Then, spit the piece out and take another one. You get a lot of really good tasting gum for a relatively small amount of money. Gum that actually uses sugar, heaven forbid.

Look for this logo. Your taste-buds will thank me. Your teeth, probably not so much.

Look for this logo. Your taste-buds will thank me. Your teeth? Probably not so much.

I bring this up because I see nothing wrong with saying that, even if it’s really cheap, I still want to get value for my money. If an indie costs $0.74, I want it to at least give me as much pleasure as my beloved Mega Fruit gum does most of the time. When one comes up that is a total stinker with no redeeming qualities, it’s like when I put my 75¢ into the machine and it spits out the watermelon-flavored Mega Fruit. It’s disgusting. It has an aftertaste. All my friends have wised-up to it so I can’t even give them away now. I tried using pieces of one to bait ants towards a trap once and even THEY wouldn’t take it. I swear I’m not making that up. That’s true.

That sure looks like the Reddit robot to me.

That sure looks like the Reddit robot to me.

Super Duper Flying Genocide 2017 is a watermelon-flavored Mega Fruit. I hate the “well, it’s cheap, so what did you expect?” argument that indie apologists always say for games like this. I’ve played some damn fine games that were free, so price-tags shouldn’t be a deflect-all shield. It’s unfathomable to me that this game has such a positive reception. It’s boring. It takes absolutely no effort to play. There’s no leaderboards. I have no idea what the story is on this game or the developer, but if he’s reading this, dude, you can do better than this. Don’t become one of those indie devs that just shovels shit onto Steam as quickly as possible with minimal effort. There’s no future in that. While you might have cheerleader types saying “hey, 300+ achievements and Steam trading cards for a buck or less? Sign me up!” I promise you nobody will see your future releases and say “oh look, it’s by the guy who did that one UFO game with all those achievements. Well, I’m convinced.” People like me shouldn’t walk away from your game kicking themselves for choosing it over a novelty-sized chunk of edible plastic and rubber coated with sugar.

headerSuper Duper Flying Genocide 2017 was developed by CharlieH
Point of Sale: Steam

$0.74 (normally $0.99) noted the apple-flavored Mega Fruit suck too in the making of this review.

And I never end up getting the lemon-flavored ones, which I love.

Gunmetal Arcadia Zero

I was born in 1989, years after the NES was released in the United States. My first consoles were the PlayStation and Nintendo 64. My late-teenage years were spent playing Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. I know my older fans find this hard to believe, but I really don’t get nostalgic for the games they are nostalgic for. I got an Atari compilation on Steam for Christmas and committed gaming blasphemy by saying Asteroids didn’t hold up well. It doesn’t. The same basic concept has been done better many times since the 70s, and it’s absurd to pretend otherwise. You can only give the classics points for innovating, but you have to be nostalgia-drunk to the point of delusion to think these games are relevant to play today. And yet, those older gamers tell me with a straight-face “games were BETTER back in my day and I won’t play that modern crap!” Well I assume it’s a straight face. Sometimes it’s hard to see past their neck-beards.

Anyway, to those increasingly decrepit Reagan-era gamers, how about some modern crap that looks like your old, crusty crap?

This is not Zelda II. Hey retro fanboys, here's a thought: instead of seeing this picture and saying "that makes me want to play Zelda II, a game I've already finished twenty times" why not, I dunno, PLAY THIS GAME THAT YOU'VE NEVER PLAYED BEFORE? Ugh.

This is not Zelda II. Hey retro fanboys, here’s a thought: instead of seeing this picture and saying “that makes me want to play Zelda II, a game I’ve already finished twenty times” why not, I dunno, PLAY THIS GAME THAT YOU’VE NEVER PLAYED BEFORE?

Gunmetal Arcadia Zero (that sounds like something an anime fan would say while having a stroke) looks, sounds, and feels like an NES game so convincingly that it’s creepy. With the exception of the menus.. this is the most nit-picky complaint I’ve ever made.. that are not remotely 8-bit and ruin the retro-illusion every time you pause the game, this is the closest I’ve ever seen to an NES indie game that isn’t a ROM hack. This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. It was developed by Minor Key Games, the guys behind the horribly named You Have to Win the Game and Super Win the Game. These guys clearly have honed nostalgia-mimicry to a science as much as they have set back naming games by decades. Gunmetal Arcadia Zero’s utterly forgettable word-salad name hides a remarkable exercise in memory-baiting.

In fact, the game looks so much like Zelda II that I had people ask me if it was a ROM hack of it. It’s not. Nor is the game really a whole lot like Zelda II. It’s more like a classic Castlevania game in terms of enemy designs (including the annoying Medusa-head monsters that fly in with a sine-curve pattern), secondary weapons, and even getting resources by smacking candles. It’s admirable in the same way that a psychotic fan getting plastic surgery to look like their favorite pop-idol is: you want to tell them how impressed you are even if you question their sanity. Yet, I can’t really complain about how brazenly Minor Key ripped-off those classic games because it does it so well that their IP owners should honestly just think of hiring him to revive those dead licenses. I’m dead serious.

Show of hands: who thinks the little brown blob things look like the cocoons from Gremlins?

Show of hands: who thinks the little brown blob things look like the cocoons from Gremlins?

For example, anyone who played those old-timey Castlevania games surely complained about the insane recoil that would happen every time you took damage, often leading to a cheap falling-death. That doesn’t happen here, and it makes the experience more enjoyable. That’s how an indie developer should pay tribute to their childhood classics: you fix what was broken about them. Trying to also include the faults of those titles is misguided. Pay tribute to the spirit of them, not the execution. In that sense, Gunmetal Arcadia Zero (it sounds like a bad translation) is one of the best old-school tributes ever. It rights a LOT of wrongs. Better play-control than the average game back then had. Better level design. More sophisticated upgrades. Okay, they left in a lives system, but hey, you’ve got to include that minimal-indie-badness somewhere.

Actually, it screws up a lot of stuff. None of the character or enemy designs are particularly memorable. The boss designs are so bland that I can’t help but wonder if the developer nerfed them so nobody would have time to process how lame they are. They’re total pansies. The average boss fight was over before I could count to ten. I’m not even kidding. But really, the whole game is kind of easy. One of my best friends told me he found the game too hard. Now I feel like giving him a pity hug because I annihilated Gunmetal Arcadia Zero (it sounds like a talentless underground metal band) with minimal effort. I wouldn’t consider myself a particularly skilled platform player, so that disturbs me a bit. I can’t imagine someone who was weened on the original Castlevania struggling at all with this. I game-overed once and mistook that moment as the game getting teeth. It didn’t. Maybe I just chose the right set of weapons. The Castlevania-esq axe that you throw in an upward arc was useful for taking out enemies at long-range and rendered the second-to-last boss such a pushover that I wonder if anyone making the game play-tested it. It was a bit on the pitiful side.

This is the boss I'm talking about. As long as you don't trade the axe for any other item pick-up, you can make a mockery of the design.

This is the boss I’m talking about. As long as you don’t trade the axe for any other item pick-up, you can make a mockery of the design.

Even with the opportunity to play through it a second time selecting the opposite of two different classes, I don’t think I would want to, nor would I really want DLC for this. The story is boring and poorly written. Yea, maybe that’s a trope of the NES era, but Shovel Knight aspired to invoke those memories and it made more than one battle-hardened gamer tear up during its memorable ending. Given that Super Win’s story left a lot to be desired, I think Minor Key might want to consider bringing in writers. There’s no shame in that. Know what you’re good at and work with that. Minor Key has reached that upper-echelon of neo-retro game development. Their games work as both tributes and as stand-alone titles. A whippersnapper like me from a totally different generation can still appreciate the skill and craftsmanship on display here. And if I like it, I can’t imagine how NES fans will take to it. Their heads might pop, something we’re all fine with. Well, the developer will be fine as long as they plunk down money on their game first. Corpses don’t buy games. Probably.

Gunmetal Arcadia Zero is really fun, and not even despite the flaws. I would totally believe this is a lost NES game by a major developer that slipped through the cracks of history. Perhaps the best thing I can say about it is that it makes me wonder what my life would be like if I had grown up during that 80s Nintendo boom. Would I be one of those die-hards that needs to think about baseball every time Nintendo announces a barely-changed sequel to one of their franchises or else risk putting someone’s eye out? Probably not because, well, vagina. But seriously, my generation needs games like this to remind us that gaming’s past is always a peek into gaming’s future. That a game like Gunmetal Arcadia Zero could come out in 2016 and still manage to capture the imaginations of multiple generations of gamers is kind of remarkable, isn’t it? No, your generation’s games aren’t better than mine, and mine aren’t better than today’s. Instead, let’s all take a step back and say, you know what, as long as stuff like this comes out, gaming is alright. Always has been. Always will be.

See, I can be sentimental.

headerGunmetal Arcadia Zero was developed by Minor Key Games
Point of Sale: Steam

igc_approved$5.99 noted this is actually a prequel to a game scheduled for release in a couple months that will have a totally different play style in the making of this review. Okie doki.

Gunmetal Arcadia Zero is Chick-Approved and ranked on the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard.

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