Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Indie Games and The Raiders of The Lost Art

I’m a hardcore gamer. I’ve tea-bagged Covenant Elite, Saw Manny and Meche all the way to the Ninth Underworld on the Double N, Caught 252 Pokemon on the Red, completed FF7 at level 28 without Materia and be
aten Super Mario Bros 3 in 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Wait…what? Oh I know it can b
e beaten in less than 15 minutes, but why would I want to? Mario 3 is fun times and a speed run cuts out half of an extraordinary game. See I like playing video games, and I play them a lot, new ones and old, but eventually you run out of old. Or at least that was the case. These days some new games are…old? I’m talking Independent games here.

Remember this? Probably not since you skipped it with a flute you goomba.

Now granted not all indie games are of ‘the old-school’, the very excellent Mount and Blade comes to mind immediately, but most indie games seep old school charm from every pixilated pore and a select few do it better than their predecessors. Yes I’m looking at you Cave Story. The most incredible thing is that usually these are one or two man operations. I can barely draw a stick man and coding? I don’t want to talk about it. Most of these guys are doing the whole thing solo.

Bobble-headed robots are way sexier than chicks in robot suits

So where do they come from? How can we find them? Well it can be tough to track them down and you really have to keep your finger on the pulse to find these gems. Personally I read TIGsource and The Indiegames Blog daily. Sometimes though, when the stars align and the portents are auspicious, independent developers get a break. Introversion, the previously mentioned Cave Story by Pixel (Now being ported to the Wii!) Braid by Jonathon Blow and 2D Boy's World of Goo come to mind immediately.

Oh, you’ve heard of those last two? That’s probably because Microsoft and Nintendo put on some rubber boots and jumped into the ocean recently. The industry is finally recognizing that their target demographic grew up with games just like these and we, brace yourself, remember them fondly. So they’ve been putting in an effort to dish out some great Indy games though Xbox Live and WiiWare. This is good! Sort of!

Don’t worry true believers, I’m not going to give all the cred for mainstream indie games to the mega corps, things like Steam and Penny Arcade’s Greenhouse have been doing their part, not to mention organizations like the IGDA So try a couple of these, they’re usually free and the ones that aren’t are worth it. At the very least you’ll be supporting diversity in the market. But I guess WW2 Shooters are good too.

Until next time, may you be a bad enough dude to rescue the president.


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