notaugust1.pngJake Clover makes a lot of games, dips into many different genres, and rarely repeats himself, but if you wanted to generalize, you could say that Clover's games fall broadly into two categories: "experimental" and "arcade" (though the two frequently overlap). If your only experience in Clover's world is an experiment in glitchery like GUNNER, then you're missing out on more "mainstream" action games like his latest, not august.

not august is, quite simply, a vertical shoot'em up. You have 3 planes to choose from, 3 levels to conquer, and 3 lives per game. Unlike a lot of Jake Clover's games, not august is pretty easy to grasp right away. This is your standard arcade shooter and Clover wants you to know that. The developer even went out of his way to include a text file in the download that's called "what buttons to press". You pilot your plane using the arrow keys, shoot with Z, and barrel roll to dodge bullets with X. Note that you have to be facing forward to shoot straight, and if you move to the side while firing, your shots will veer off diagonally. One thing you may not realize at first without being told is that you have to press up to actually move forward; the background does not scroll automatically. You are one plane in a squadron, and your allies are generally pretty effective in taking down enemy aircraft, so sometimes you just have to keep up and make it to the next checkpoint.

The game looks great, sporting an attractive color palette, abstract backgrounds, cool explosions, and plane sprites that could have come out of a classic arcade shooter. The game's setting appears to be sort of an alternate-reality version of WWII. The soundtrack is a real highlight, having been composed and recorded by the estimable Jack King-Spooner (the two collaborated previously on Sluggish Morss). King-Spooner's music adds a spacious, sinister, almost heavy metal vibe to the proceedings. His voice work is astonishing and his haranguing monologue is the one thing that raises the question of whether you're really just playing a shooter.

All things considered, this is probably Jake Clover's most accessible game. It's a win for fans and newcomers alike. not august is a free download for Windows.

One caveat: due to a GameMaker incompatibility with Windows 8, this and some of Clover's other games may crash when played on that particular operating system.