Saturday 29 March 2014

Ninja Twins: Going to Zedeaks (ZX Spectrum)

[This review was originally written by J. Monkman for, and has been reposted here with the editors' permission].

Genuine 8-Bit conversions or remakes of modern indie releases are always fun, but even with the best-known examples of backwards-ported games there are always design sacrifices that have to be made due to the limited target hardware. For this reason an indie game running on a retro platform that actually improves on the original is a real rarity - yet that's arguably what the team behind Ninja Twins: Going to Zedeaks have seemingly achieved with their unofficial ZX Spectrum tribute/clone/sequel of KronBits 2013 freeware puzzler.

Friday 28 March 2014

Play Blackpool Indies (Part One)

If you're a UK-based indie developer, then the chances are that you've received an email from me in the past few months, inviting you to exhibit your work at Play Blackpool on May 3-4th (TL:DR? Low cost table rates! £150-250 a pop!). If you've not heard from me, my mail is probably tucked away in a spam folder, or perhaps something terrible happened like I put an underscore instead of a hyphen during my 'email crunch' sessions - either way, if its something you'd be interested in, drop me a line :)

But hey, I'm jumping ahead here. This story begins at GameCity 2013 after a drunken 'C64 versus Spectrum' curry night (where I met and chatted with Ed 'Proteus' Key by all accounts - and totally failed to recognise who he was). After gorging on curry and watching in horror as the C64 lost the debate, I ended up drinking with Andy and old-school RGCD-discmag contributor Gordon of Replay Events in some random drinking establishment with particularly dreadful karaoke. We discussed all things indie and retro, and when the topic came up regarding attracting indies to their own events (Play Blackpool in particular) I enthusiastically offered to volunteer for them as their 'indie-liaison' and to help nurture and develop their indie profile.

Sunday 23 March 2014

Protocol (PC)

[This review was originally written by J. Monkman for, and has been reposted here with the editors' permission].

You've got to hand it to Deviever/Pixel Eyes for organising the Cyberpunk Jam earlier this month. With a single rule stating 'must be cyberpunk related', backed up by an illustration by Filipe Andrade for reference, the resulting 268 games are a chaotic, neon-coloured, retro-future celebration of marauding cyborgs, hacker punks, evil corporations and abstract vectors.

Out of the games I've played so far, none have distilled the dystopian atmosphere into arcade purity quite as successfully as Nik Sudan's Protocol. Based in the same universe as his forthcoming adventure game Tercon Major, a self-aware legion of Lawbots has enslaved their former human masters, ruthlessly hunting down members of the rebellion who fail to comply with their strict protocol. It's a case of shoot-first, ask-questions-later, with the player controlling a pink-haired, laser-cannon wielding motorcyclist, fending off wave after wave of tireless drones whilst racing down an endless highway. There's no explanation as to exactly what you've done to deserve the Lawbots attention, but there's little doubt that this risky escape follows some turning point in the human-robot conflict.

Friday 7 March 2014

KiloBite (PC/Mac/Linux)

After the experience of extensively playing Hermitgames' amazing qrth-phyl I was convinced that I had seen all that the age-old 'snake' genre had to offer. qrth-phyl totally nailed it; ever changing gameplay, amazing soundtrack, visuals to die for - the game had it all. I felt as though I'd never be impressed by a snake clone again - and then I discovered KiloBite, a modest little debut release from Cake Collective, and the illusion was shattered.

I know that at first glance it appears to be nothing other than a clone of 'inner cube' sections of qrth-phyl - and in many ways I suppose that's a fair analysis. However, whereas qrth-phyl was all about the experience and atmosphere, KiloBite simply takes what was (arguably) the best part of the game, further distils the formula until it is at its most pure and simplistic level, then increases the tempo and gives it a quick-fire, high-score chasing arcade tweak. Add to the mix a dirty, distorted CRT filter and RGB splits, tight joypad controls and a neat scoring mechanic - and the end result is a lightweight yet intense little gaming gem.

Saturday 1 March 2014

Golden Scarab (Ouya)

Did I just get high on meth and LSD? Nope, but I did play Golden Scarab, a healthier alternative to psychoactive hard drugs, but perhaps just as adept at screwing with one's brain. It's a colorful dish best enjoyed tapas style - little bites sure to satisfy one's need for quick, intense single or multiplayer shooting mayhem. I want some of whatever Andrew Perry at OMGWTFGAMES had when he came up with this game.

At its core, the gameplay of Golden Scarab is quite simple. Left stick moves your craft, right stick shoots in the direction you point it in. There are six unique and brightly-plumed alien baddies to destroy, each with varying attacks. Some move slowly, others rush at the player, some fire and others don't. The player can collect small power-ups that increase the score multiplier - if he or she can last long enough.