Rank #1: 105 - Assimilation
This week, we play “Assimilation” a game with no genre listed but which Jordan describes as a “stealth platformer with survival horror vibes” (Blake is skeptical at first of the “stealth designation,” but he comes around). We talk about the many pop cultural reference points of this games machine dystopia, including Blade Runner, Robocop, Inception, and Star Trek. We also talk about how the game combines mechanics from different game genres, with varied results: platforming and stealth, collection and survival, and so on. Also, Jordan breaks the game.
Follow the creators on Twitter: @jestersheepy
Play the game here: https://jestersheepy.itch.io/assimilation
Aug 25 2019
Rank #2: 76 - Grace Bruxner Presents: The Haunted Island, A Frog Detective Game
This week, we play as amphibious investigators in “Grace Bruxner Presents: The Haunted Island, a Frog Detective Game” (it’s a mouthful). We talk about how this game borrows from the classic adventure game formula, as well as how it manages to be so consistently funny. It’s just all around a lovely game. If you are a person who loves joy, you should play it.
Find the game here: https://fisho.itch.io/haunted-island
And follow the creator on Twitter: @gracebruxner
Feb 03 2019
Rank #3: 125 - Karlson
This week, we play Karlson, a zany action-platformer-shooter by Dani Dev on Itch. The slow-motion shooting bits prompt comparisons to My Friend Pedro and John Wick, and we talk a bit about why the platforming sections feel so volatile. A question about optimal crouch key bindings prompts debate.
Find the game here: https://danidev.itch.io/karlson
And follow the creator on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/DaniDev
Feb 02 2020
Rank #4: 77 - Black Room
This week, we explore “Black Room,” a dreamlike exploration game by Cassie McQuater about trying to use an old trick you learned from your mother to help you fall asleep. We talk about the way this game uses the browser itself as a game mechanic, as well as the history of gender representation in videogames. Blake claims that he doesn’t know what the meaning of “pop-up” is anymore.
Find the game here: https://cass.itch.io/blackroom
And follow the creator on Twitter: @cassiemcquater
Feb 10 2019
Rank #5: 128 - Tales from Off-Peak City Vol. 1
This week, we play “Tales from Off-Peak City, Vol. 1,” the newest game from Cosmo D. Like all his games, it’s weird-- in the best way possible. We talk about the music, Cosmo D’s vision, anti-capitalist games, deindustrialization, consumerism, sex noises, and horrible pizza toppings. Blake says that the game reminds him of a film, which Jordan successfully guesses on the first try. Not sure what that says about us.
Find the game here: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1129920/Tales_From_OffPeak_City_Vol_1/
And follow the creator on Twitter: @cosmoddd
Feb 23 2020
Rank #6: 104 - Undefeated
This week, we play a student game called UNDEFEATED, in which you play as a superhero who beats the shit out of bad guys. We talk about how the game feels arcade-like even though it isn’t arcade-style, which leads to a long digression about how the context in which a game is played affects its design. We agree that the boss fights are extremely tricky, but applaud how fast and punchy the game feels.
Find the game on Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1116960/UNDEFEATED/
Follow the creators on Twitter: @undefeated_game, @UMA_hero_16, @kelu_alfheim39, @wolfboy_1210
Aug 18 2019
Rank #7: 130 - Haunted PS1 Demo Disc 2020
This week, we play the Haunted PS1 Demo Disc 2020, a collection of games by various creators that evoke the PS1 era. It’s an impressively diverse collection of games, featuring killer bees, clockwork gods, psychedelic cats, and Finnish sauna-men. The experience prompts Blake to wax nostalgic about demo discs of yore.
Find the game(s) here: https://hauntedps1.itch.io/demodisc2020
Mar 08 2020
Rank #8: 121 - AI Dungeon 2
We play something a little bit different this week: AI Dungeon 2, a text adventure game by Nick Walton that experiments with machine learning in order to create an infinite game-space. We talk about how this “game” is just a joy to play, even when it spits out nonsense. Our discussion turns to text genres, natural language processing, porn (naturally), and biased algorithms. We also read quotes from our favorite playthroughs: impersonating the president, getting stoned in the woods, exploiting the peasants, and encountering a very confused gunman.
Find the game here: https://www.aidungeon.io/
And follow the creator on Twitter: @nickwalton00
Dec 22 2019
Rank #9: 73 - Make It Juicy
This week, we check out a new kind of object of discussion for the podcast: “Make it Juicy,” a game/presentation designed by Lonebot that demonstrates how to make a game more “juicy” without fundamentally altering its mechanics. After a brief discussion of what exactly game juice is, we speculate about whether juice is simply “better” or if it can actually alter a game’s theme in concrete ways. And Jordan talks about alien refuse, for some reason.
Play the game in-browser here: https://lonebot.itch.io/make-it-juicy
And follow the creators on Twitter: @Mati_Ernst, @Itamar_Ernst, @Patacorow, @_JasonLord_
Jan 13 2019
Rank #10: 120 - Dead Sector
This week we play Dead Sector, a student game that Blake describes as the “Dark Souls of Deadspace.” We talk about how it combines ideas from both games, as well as which ideas complement each other and which ones feel more dissonant. We admire the game’s art and animations. Diegetic interfaces are complemented. Blake says he “loves to hand ass.”
Download the demo here: https://deadsector.itch.io/deadsector
And follow the creators on Twitter: @TheDeadSector
Dec 15 2019
Rank #11: 124 - Museum of the Saved Image
In this week’s episode, we play Museum of the Saved Image, an explorable museum of desktop clutter by itch.io user “flan.” The game takes us on a tour of all the saved images from the creator’s desktop over one period of time: Facebook conversations, memes, photos with friends, and pictures of lemons. We talk about characterization, senses of humor, and ARGs. Blake reminisces about funnyjunk.com.
Find the game here: https://flan.itch.io/museum-of-the-saved-image
Jan 26 2020
Rank #12: 133 - Oh Snake
This week, we play “Oh, Snake!” by Henning Koczy, an interesting take on the endless runner genre, with a snake-inspired twist. We talk about how the mechanics of this game promote a new and different playstyle for the genre.. Blake reminisces about endless runners of yore.
Find the game here: https://anomalina.itch.io/ohsnake
And follow the creator on Twitter: @statelycoach
Apr 05 2020
Rank #13: 75 - Kaiju Super Datetech
This week, we play about Kaiju Super Datetech, a game about building a giant robot to go on a date with Godzilla. We talk about tactics for building the best Kaiju-love-machines, as well as how the platformer format makes the shape of your robot inevitably comical and childish. Blake tells us about Lego magazine.
Download the game here: https://powerhoof.itch.io/kaiju-super-datetech
And follow the creators on Twitter: @powerhoof
Jan 27 2019
Rank #14: 98 - Neon Boost
In this episode, we play Neon Boost, a speed-based parkour game built around wall running and rocket jumping. We talk a bit about the nature of rocket jumping as a mechanic, and why it might produce some mechanical dissonance by its very nature. We also talk about how much we appreciate the, uh, “wonky shit,” to use Blake’s technical term, that the game allows you do. The episode ends with the revelation that our hosts disagree about whether “videogame” is one word or two.
Find the game on Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1057850/Neon_Boost/
And follow the creators on Twitter: @PlayNeonBoost, @montyrell, @jramonespinosa, @bernieltartas
Jul 07 2019
Rank #15: 127 - Remnants
This week, we play Remnants, a melancholy exploration game about an abandoned world by June Flower. We talk about how the game plays with genre and tone, as well as its impressive background art, which was drawn from the ground up, pixel-by-pixel. We baselessly speculate about background lore. Blake spots a Dark Souls reference.
Download the game here: https://june-flower.itch.io/remnants
And follow the creator on Twitter: @juneflowa
Feb 16 2020
Rank #16: 78 - Initen
This week, we play Initen, a game about using sound to rejuvenate a desolate landscape that was designed by a team of students at Supinfogame Rubika. We talk about the game’s visual style and visual influences, and in that respect we’re both impressed by what a team of students were able to produce. The game’s sound puzzles prompt us to chuckle at Jordan’s tone deafness, and also rant about a CERTAIN sound puzzle in a different puzzle game.
You can download the game here: https://initen.itch.io/initen
Feb 17 2019
Rank #17: 79 - becalm
Things get super c h i l l in this episode about Becalm, a short and relaxing game about sailing through a colorful seascape. It’s a visually incredible game, which we talk about at length, before concluding that this is one of the few games that actually deserves the description “meditative.” Then, without any evidence whatsoever, we speculate about the evolutionary origins of why certain colors and noises are calming.
Download the game here: https://colorfiction.itch.io/becalm
And follow the creator on Twitter: @colorfiction
Feb 24 2019
Rank #18: 80 - The Norwood Suite
This week, we check out another game from Cosmo D, whose game Off Peak we awarded an Edgie to last year: The Norwood Suite, a musical exploration game about the titular Hotel Norwood and its many strange inhabitants. We talk about how this game’s surreal level design makes you feel lost even as the charm of the characters somehow makes you feel at home. Jordan encounters a puzzle that puts his tone deafness to the test. Blake explains why the connection between the game’s music and its dialogue is incredibly rad.
You can buy the game here: https://cosmoddd.itch.io/the-norwood-suite
And follow the creator on Twitter: @cosmoddd
Mar 03 2019
Rank #19: 81 - How to be a Tree
Have you ever wanted to know how to be a tree? Well, if so, good news, because this week we play a game that teaches you 16 different ways to do just that. In this unusual take on the platformer, you take control of a fractal tree and control its shape by altering the angles of the individual branches. We start by struggling to even define and describe the core mechanic of this game, before talking about each separate branch (haha) of the narrative, each one more surreal than the last.
Find the game here: https://zaphos.itch.io/how-to-be-a-tree
Follow the creator on Twitter: @aZaphos
Mar 10 2019
Rank #20: CROSSNIQ+
In this episode, thanks to the generosity of designer Max Krieger, we check out the pre-release build of CROSSNIQ+! If you’ve been listening to the podcast from the beginning, you’ll recognize this as the full build of a game that we played almost two years ago. We talk about how this game builds upon other arcade puzzlers, and spend quite a lot of time being impressed with its “y2k aesthetic.” Seriously, it’s great. Hopefully this means y2k-era visual design is coming back into vogue. But hopefully not y2k-era pants.
Find updates about the game here: https://www.crossniq.com/
And follow Max Krieger on Twitter: @MaxKriegerVG, @crossniq
Aug 11 2019