[Colin Brown of Backlog Journey profiles the games in the eight-game Summer Bundle currently running on the IndieGames' co-created site, Indie Royale.]

Dino Run is best known as a popular Flash game in which a dinosaur needs to outrun its own imminent extinction. It was cute, fun, a bit poignant and went beyond what you usually find in a runner game in terms of platforming and player strategy. Reflexes were all well and good, but players had to quickly think about the best way past whatever the game threw at them to avoid wasting time. It was rather good is what I'm saying.

The point of the story is that Pixeljam went and made a special edition of that game, which you can now find snugly wedged on the far right of your bundle page. It's pretty robust and well worth checking out, and certainly challenges the notion that runner games are mindless, dull or repetitive. I mentioned that it's a smart game, but it's also widely varied and incredibly intense. There's a lot of rocks to dodge, gaps to jump, tunnels to navigate, asteroids to avoid and fellow dinosaurs to deal with, both friend and foe. Many perfectly fun runner games tend to be bogged down by repetition, but Dino Run uses unique elements and secrets to make each level feel unique and well crafted.


Also well crafted are the beautiful pixel graphics with the requisite flash and pop, particularly the neat processing effects that occur when the doom is dangerously and exhilaratingly close to catching up. The soundtrack is rather nice as well, which the special edition includes. It also several unlockable bonuses like prototypes and wallpapers, and enough hats that even Valve would think it excessive. Want your dinosaur to wear a fez? Mario hat? Spider-Man costume? There is a staggering amount to choose from, and even more to unlock across the game's modes.

In essence, Dino Run SE is about taking the excellent gameplay of the original and ramping it up into a more robust experience, and it's a goal Pixeljam easily succeeded at. New modes, a long term upgrade system across attempts and multiplayer turns Dino Run from an interesting game into an addicting one. Don't underestimate just how much fun is packed into a simple premise.


You know things are going to be weird in Serious Sam 2 as it's often considered the odd one out of an already odd franchise. Serious Sam 2, to many, seems like a lost instalment as it became very hard to find in stores and impossible to download via Steam and elsewhere. Many people didn't even know it existed, as they simply didn't realize Serious Sam 2 was a completely separate game from The Second Encounter. Fortunately for those looking to complete the collections begun by the Serious Sam Lightning Pack, Devolver Digital recently sorted out the red tape and brought Serious Sam's excellent adventure to Steam and, by extension, to this very bundle.

Croteam did an excellent job on the Serious Engine 2 as despite being nearly seven years old at this point, Serious Sam 2 still looks really great. The engine came loaded with plenty of bells and whistles like HD textures, physics, lighting effects and plenty more, and can be easily upscaled to any resolution. Aside from the fuzzy prerecorded cutscenes, the game looks fantastic. Croteam takes full advantage of this new technical prowess by making the already big levels of Serious Sam bigger, more complex and far more colourful.


This added colourfulness is generally effective, but sometimes jarring. It feels a bit ridiculous to talk about realism in a game where the primary enemy is a headless man with bombs for hands, but the main reason Serious Sam 2 is the black sheep of the series is the game's shift towards even more outlandish settings and enemies. There's a whole other level of cartoonishness to the world that goes beyond the weird design of The First Encounter by nearly parodying it with things like shotgun toting zombie stockbrokers and magic axe slinging Onan the Librarians. Complicating this is the removal or redesign of many classic enemies. This isn't exactly a bad thing per se, but it definitely feels different.

Despite the shift in style, the run backwards and shoot everything gameplay of Serious Sam remains just as fun as it always was, while new additions like giant enemies, more settings and big setpieces only make things better. The most interesting thing about the Serious Sam series is how it uses contemporary FPS gimmicks to show just how different the games are. Serious Sam 1 was a clear Doom and Duke Nukem homage, but with better computers and innovations like mouse-looking to back it up. Serious Sam 3 opens with a Gears of War or Modern Warfare style sequence of satire. Serious Sam 2 came out in the Halo and Half Life era, and likes to pull from those games without losing itself in the process. Innovations like vehicles, NPC allies and an ersatz Cortana type get brought in, chewed up and spit back out to fit the Serious Sam style. It's fascinating, and a ton of fun to boot. If you're a classic FPS fan, or fond of the earlier Serious Sam games, this one is well worth picking up.

[Dino Run SE, Serious Sam 2, The Journey Down, Harvest: Massive Encounter are part of the eight-game Summer Bundle currently running on the IndieGames' co-created site, Indie Royale.]