Three of my favourite things in the world are retro games, beer and the local indie gaming scene. Luckily for me, Playup Perth covers all three in one night – and just like this month (and every other time), the latest event did not disappoint.
This May edition was special too as Playup Perth is once again operating as a fully independent event. For several years, the events have been run in a partnership with The Film & Television Institute WA (FTI). Sadly, however, due to funding reasons FTI will soon be consolidated into Screenwest which unfortunately does not support the local games industry.
This means that since Playup is now independent, they are currently looking for volunteers and sponsorships (for the bar etc.). If you’re interested or know some who can help (either by volunteering or by providing sponsorship) contact information can be found on Playup’s website.
With its new-found independence, however, this event saw a slew of positive changes. For one, there was a whole new team of volunteers (except, of course, for long-time leader, Kate Raynes-Goldie and GameCloud’s own Nick Ballantyne) as well as new additions to the event such as information cards and suggestion forms for each game.
Without further ado, though, let’s check out the games which were on show this month!
Bounce-Break (Bear-Tooth Studios)
Bounce-Break is a puzzle platformer and the third game by Bear-Tooth Studios. Using a seemingly simple mechanic, the aim is to control a little blue dude who can either break through or bounce off walls to complete each level. While sounding simplistic on paper, the puzzles are instead nicely intuitive and cleverly designed which really put your noggin to the test.
There’s an additional level of complexity added as well, as the character is constantly moving ensuring that said noggin testing happens with a reasonable timeframe. It’s slated for release at the end of this year on mobile devices and PC, although a PC demo is currently available on Bear-Tooth’s website.
Samurai Showdown (Otterspace Games)
Samurai Showdown is reminiscent of the DDR games you likely played as a sweaty and pimply teenager but with a nice twist (and one that doesn’t involve jumping all over the place). A multiplayer game for the most part, each player controls a samurai as they battle. This isn’t a Tekken clone, though, as the tiny pixilated samurais are instead controlled by correct button pushes (like in DDR games such as Dance Dance Revolution or even Guitar Hero). A correct button push (as symbols of the corresponding button appear in quick succession) will gain you a point, while a wrong push takes one away.
This is a very competitive game but also very addictive – a fantastic rush of adrenaline can be achieved by the very quick and hectic matches. To help things along too there is a level-up system in place to unlock more characters, levels and special powers, as well as a time trial mode to keep up that competitive edge if you’re alone or have no friends. Samurai Showdown currently has an alpha build available (which can be found through Otterspace Games website) and has a projected release of Q3, 2017.
Desert Child (Oscar Brittain)
Desert Child is a racing RPG involving weaponised hover bikes. Set in a not-so-bright looking future for Earth, the character you play is desperate to earn enough money from racing to buy a ticket to Mars. The races are quite enjoyable as you can upgrade the bikes and weapons as you go – with the track design taking place from a side-on view, reminiscent of shooters such as Gradius (there is plenty of dodging required for instance). The RPG elements take a fun combat racer to the next level, though, as in-between races there is an explorable dusty desert down where you work jobs for extra cash, eat and even get drunk if your woes are at an all-time high.
The art style is fantastic, too. Mixed in with the additional top-notch music you’ll be reminded of western classics from the ’50s/’60s – but, there’s also an extra dollop of (dare I say) synthwave applied that makes Desert Child distinctive and memorable. It has a projected released date for Q3 2017 and there’s a PC demo currently available on the Desert Child website.
Balants (Dogmelon Studio)
Using a game mechanic conceptualised a decade ago, Balants is a digital board game (is that a faux pas?) where multiplayer is very much the main focus. Up to four players have a handful of ‘blobs’ each and the aim is to either capture your opponents ‘blobs’ or wipe them from the board completely.
Balants is still very much in early development with no set release window or device yet planned. However, very promising progress has been made so far and I look forward to more updates!
Leap of Faith (Numbat Byte)
Moving onto another game involving blobs, Leap of Faith has you playing as one as you make your way through an increasingly dangerous environment to beat a boss, followed by taking the previously mentioned ‘leap of faith’ into the next level. While the controls are quite simple (jump, move) the major gameplay requirement is getting through the level its self as major precision is required to get over and through the various obstacles. This makes Leap of Faith quite a tricky game – so much so in fact that the developer, Arsam, was keeping a leaderboard of death counts before players made it to the boss. The record is 77, but I’m happy to say that my death count was a far more respectable 17. I guess years of playing platformers have finally paid off.
Oh, and did I mention that Arsam is 13-years-old? The closest I got to game development as a 13-year-old was poking through ancient BASIC tutorials (spoiler: I didn’t make it very far), so the fact that he’s active and actually making fun games is quite commendable. Leap of Faith is an ongoing project (with ten levels planned), and he hopes to have four levels finished by the July Playup.
And We’re Done!
And with that, another Playup is done and dusted. Many apologies on my behalf too for not covering the board and card games – that was a huge chunk of the event as well! If you’re after information on those, blurbs about them can be found on the Playup website. Games shown include Elemental Forces, The Coins McGuffin and I am King.
I also want to take a quick second to again mention the need for sponsorship, donations and volunteers for future events. Without those, Playup Perth ceases to be, and this would be a huge shame for the local gaming community. As before mentioned, contact information can be found on their website! Otherwise, though, see you all again in July!