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IndieGames.com is presented by the UBM TechWeb Game Network, which runs the Independent Games Festival & Summit every year at Game Developers Conference. The company (producer of the Game Developers Conference series, Gamasutra.com and Game Developer magazine) established the Independent Games Festival in 1998 to encourage innovation in game development and to recognize the best independent game developers.

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Reviews

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller, Episode 1 Review

January 11, 2013 9:00 AM | Konstantinos Dimopoulos / Gnome

cognition1.pngThe first episode of Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller, the one merrily subtitled The Hangman, is the first commercial game by Phoenix Online Studios; the team responsible for the impressive The Silver Lining 3D take on the King's Quest universe. Cognition, of course, has nothing to do with the family friendly fairy-tale world of Daventry and its pretty nonsensical puzzles and is all the better for it.

Being, on the other hand, a game that employs the talents of the mighty Jane Jensen of Gabriel Knight fame as a story consultant, Cognition is a dark, gritty and almost traditional point-and-click adventure. It's an excellent game too and one that made it into our 2012 Top 10 indie adventures, but more on that later.

3DS Game Review - Fluidity: Spin Cycle (Curve)

January 8, 2013 3:00 AM | John Polson

Curve has shown its platformer breadth and expertise once again, having previously mixed physics and blasts in Explodemon and stealth and speed in Stealth Bastard. The dev's latest, Fluidity: Spin Cycle (or Hydroventure: Spin Cycle in the EU), is so slick with its water-based physics and puzzle platforming that it easily becomes one of the best games on the 3DS, retail or digital.

Fluidity: Spin Cycle retains most of what made the WiiWare original wonderful, with fluid, believable movement and curious exploration while taking the forms of water, ice, and cloud. These three phases of matter introduce a wide variety of puzzle and platforming techniques.

Browser Game Pick: Old Man Baby (Andrew Brophy / James Rhodes / Guy Noble / Matt Parsons)

April 14, 2012 10:30 PM | Steve Cook

old man baby.png Old Man Baby was originally developed for MolyJam. It's a puzzle platformer. In each level you will see waterfalls. As you approach, you will see a reflection of who you will become. You switch between a baby, a young man and an old man. Each interacts with the level differently.

The baby can crawl, the young man can push blocks and the old man can bounce on springs. Depending on the color of the exit, you have to finish the level with a specific entity. This allows for some rewarding and challenging puzzles.

Play it here.

Mini-review: The Splatters (SpikySnail)

April 13, 2012 3:00 AM | John Polson

SpikySnail's Confetti Carnival The Splatters... splattered all over the XBLA service this week. If you didn't get a chance to play this festival favorite, which appeared in Prime's PAX10, IGF, and IGC, you now can, provided you own an Xbox 360.

The goal in The Splatters is to cover all like-colored bombs by impacting jarringly against surfaces, causing your goo to spill. You rack up tons of points by chaining together one of nine stunts (which are sometimes necessary to traverse the winding stages or land on the hard to reach bombs). The neatest trick to me is when you "flip" (as in the trailer), which involves reversing the direction of a Splatter while keeping its momentum and anything it touches.

The controls suggest a PC version and even a tablet version wouldn't be too difficult a port. In addition to aiming with the analogue stick, The Splatters only has two button commands: to launch a Splatter and to flip. The game masks its complexity in its simplistic controls, though. There's a lot of fast-paced and fluid, physics-based trickery going on.

The closest sensation I can compare it to is Peggle, but that's a bit of a disservice to SpikySnail. Peggle's point-wielding objects are static, whereas The Splatters' bombs dynamic. I feel The Splatters is more skill-based, too. The timed pressure to chain your stunts adds the intensity.

Review: Closure (Eyebrow Interactive)

April 1, 2012 12:00 PM | John Polson


Eyebrow Interactive's Closure -- Independent Games Festival, Indie Game Challenge, and Indiecade winner -- has its most important challenge to overcome: winning your hard-earned dollar. After spending a frustratingly fun weekend with the physics- and light-based puzzle platformer, the trio of developers definitely makes a compelling case for your cash.

Tyler Glaiel has taken his 2009 browser game, in which light is required to move in seemingly empty space, and expanded the experience into a full-fledged, downloadable title. Controls are tight and explained in-game, and new mechanics are introduced throughout at a gripping pace.

The premise of using light to open up the game space may sound like a mere gimmick, but Eyebrow doesn't stop there. The team innovates with refracting light, permanently illuminating light-capturing sources, creating light-based pathways, charging and opening doors with light-based locks, and more. There are other physics-based objects that add to Closure's puzzles, including rolling barrels, moving light sources in water, and even a frickin' laser beam.

3DSWare Review: Mutant Mudds (Renegade Kid)

January 27, 2012 3:00 PM | John Polson


Renegade Kid's 2D action platformer Mutant Mudds, the company's first self-published title, is the next eShop hit. Kudos to Nicalis for helping out with the QA, as the game felt tight overall from beginning to end.

Players assume the role of Max, armed with a heavy-duty water cannon, a water-powered jet pack, and the intention to clean up the invading Mutant Mudd army. With his standard equipment, Max can blast most of his opposition, collect most of the 100 golden diamonds scattered in each of the 20 stages, and traverse over most hazards.

However, each level has some challenges and secret areas that require Max to power up. Thank goodness for Grannie's attic! The grubby Grannie is willing to part with some power-ups in exchange for golden diamonds. These power-ups add mechanics such as a huge vertical boost (the most thrilling for me), an extended hover, and a power-shot, which shoots faster and further and opens up gates to secret levels.

Players will have to determine which power-up is needed to reach the 20 hidden stages (which almost double the game's length). I won't totally spoil the NES-talgia that these hidden areas evoke, but let's just say the V- and G-Land have very appropriate color palettes. The five worlds that each contain 4 regular stages embody typical platform themes: a gentle introductory forest, slippery ice, fiery lava, fluffy clouds, and outer space.

Review: Fingle (Game Oven Studios)

January 19, 2012 3:00 AM | John Polson

fingle 1.jpgGame Oven's IGF nominated Fingle on iPad offers over 50 stages that encourage physically compromising positions much like the above photo. Players use their fingers to drag, match, and hold yellow or white squares over like-colored dashed areas for several seconds, until the screen is totally engulfed in a white light. Those dashed areas often move, requiring one or two active hands to avoid colliding while keeping the squares in their targets.

I revealed the bulk of its gameplay in the release trailer post last week. I figure I would account here the one- and two-player experience I had with Fingle.

3DSWare Review: Mighty Switch Force (WayForward)

January 9, 2012 3:00 PM | John Polson

WayForward's latest indie release, Mighty Switch Force, is the team's first independent 3DSWare title after releasing Shantae: Risky's Revenge and two Mighty titles on DSiWare.

Mighty Switch Force is a very fun, albeit brief, 2D run and gun puzzle platformer, filled with 16 "incidents" that can be all completed in about 30 minutes if done in the goal time. The challenging puzzles and deadly jumps and enemies will probably require most to play through each incident at least a few turns, thus extending the experience to probably 2-3 hours total.

While attempting the same goal of re-capturing five crooks that are hidden in each incident, gameplay is relegated heavily by Patricia Wagon's pellet gun and her siren helmet. The latter of the two can cause key elements to switch from the background to the foreground, making platforms and cannon-like devices available. Players will manipulate themselves and their enemies to clear paths, often requiring twitch reflexes even in mid-air.

Mighty Switch Force later introduces platforms that stay in the foreground if Patricia stands on them while switching, adding another challenging puzzle/timing element. The stages' challenges build at a nice pace, and there are several checkpoints in each stage that are good while learning to make par... if only Patricia would be quieter while practicing.

3DSWare Review: VVVVVV (Terry Cavanagh, Nicalis)

December 29, 2011 4:00 PM | John Polson

VVVVVV 3DS.jpg

Gravitational switching platformer VVVVVV began 2010 with a bang, and it looks to end 2011 in a similar fashion for 3DS owners. IndieGames has an in-depth review of Terry Cavanagh's VVVVVV already, so this will focus on Nicalis' 3DS port and its options.

Most notable is the use of the two screens, with the bottom screen conveying helpful information such as missing crew, player stats, and a big map I used often. Controls feel spot on, and players can use the analog or digital pad to steer Captain Viridian. VVVVVV on the 3DS also has some considerate accessibility options, where players can toggle on or off backgrounds, screen shakes and flashes, invincibility and a slowdown mode.

The 3DS version also includes time trials, easy access to the intermission levels, a no death mode (seriously?), a flip mode, and the secret lab (which contains the bounce and avoid survival stage "Super Gravitron"). All of these play modes can be unlocked early, without paying one of those pesky DLC fees or in-app purchases that many games require.

Freeware Game Pick: Life Fortress Volcabamba (Zakuro Fantasia)

April 22, 2011 5:00 PM | Tim W.


Life Fortress Volcabamba is a horizontal-scrolling shooter which mimics the style of classic MSX games, created using a rather popular programming language in Japan called Hot Soup Processor (HSP). There are no power-up items or options to collect here, although you can change the direction of your shots using one of the two switching methods available for selection at the start of the game. Players can choose to set the direction of their shots by pressing the fire button and a cursor key at the same time, or have their shots rotated clockwise whenever the X key is pressed.

The game features six stages to play through (the final stage is only accessible after you've collected all of the green-coloured volca stones), but chances are that very few people have the necessary skills to beat the entire thing without turning Japanese first. Fortunately for us there's a recording of a complete playthrough for Life Fortress Volcabamba on Nico Nico video, which had also been kindly mirrored on YouTube by Trilobyte.

Perhaps if this game was made and released on an actual MSX console twenty-five years earlier, it could have turned out to be a cult favorite among fans of classic console shmups. Life Fortress Volcabamba is available to download from here, although you'll need to find a missing msvcr71.dll file online and place it in the folder with the unzipped content before the game will run properly. Windows only.

Mobile Reviews

Review: Fingle (Game Oven Studios)
-January 19, 2012 3:00 AM

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