We haven’t heard anything from Playup since December last year, so I got pretty excited at hearing that another event was finally being held. It’s been a while, but Playup Perth was back with a vengeance and a whole slew of local games to try. It’s a shame to see it move from the Nostalgia Box to Spacecubed, but that just meant more games could be shown on the night. It was another great outing into the land of local gaming, though I didn’t stand a chance of trying out all of those games.
In case the hiatus wiped your memory, Playup Perth is a local game testing night for developers to show off their in-progress games to the public. It’s a win-win event that involves playing free games and giving feedback. This time around, there were 12 games on show, ranging from tabletop wargames to interactive comics. While I managed to leave my (evidently) invaluable feedback on about half of them, I couldn’t get around to all of them. It’s a bit like a convention with so many sights and sounds grabbing at your attention, but you’re just one man in a pair of shoes that are quickly become sweat sponges. Anyway, enough about my failure to wear right socks, onto the games!
Ned by PeeBee Games
Criminals can bring out the best of us, and Ned hopes to bring our nation’s Iron Man to the gaming world. Inspired by that little Australian Icon, Ned Kelly, the game is a stock standard platformer with a decidedly Aussie look. You can shoot up the odd echidna, knife a snake that looks at you the wrong way and ride a log to grab all the gold. The demo shown on the night was a little sparse, but it did spark a conversation with the developer of the game and where it was headed. Hopefully, we get to see more of this one later down the line!
Working Class Weyland by Kinsley
Touted as a satirical platformer, Working Class Weyland is a bit like the makers of Mario started working at IWBTG-offices in the Mushroom Kingdom. You’re a regular ol’ schmuck that doesn’t like your boss or ex-wife, so you have to go platforming to get money to pay for things, just like real life. I couldn’t play the game on the night, but I’ve had the joy of experiencing WCW at the Perth Games Festival, and boy, it’s tight. The mechanics are polished, and it’s always cool to see more and more worlds being added into the game at events like Playup.
Forests of Faerynova by Go Studio
I’m sure plenty of little girls have dreamed of finding fairies in forests, but this game brings that dream alive. Forests of Faerynova is a game made for a final-year uni project about exploration and discovery. The game itself is a very, very early stage of development, but the core idea is that you run around a large, open area looking for fairies hidden in many sub-areas. It’s rare to have the opportunity to influence a game so early in its production, but I managed to discuss everything with the developer and where the game was headed. It was a little rough around the edges, but with the feedback from the night, I’m sure the game will turn out well!
Fluttering Souls by Nurse Shark Games
Inspired by personal tragedy, Fluttering Souls is a competitive card game about collecting butterflies. The game itself was inspired by the Japanese folktale of The White Butterfly, and it has players collecting these Lepidoptera in different combinations to score points. There’s an elegant simplicity to the game, though I do wonder if more could be done to it to ensure things don’t get stale. In its current state, it’s a well-balanced, easy to grasp card game that anyone could pull out for a few quick rounds.
Bright by Illuminoodle
Made at the Nordic Game Jam with a few people that probably weren’t too fond of English, Bright’s premise is a unique one. It’s a platforming game where you paint the world in different colours of light from your lantern to activate platforms. While the idea is promising, the demo was extremely short (it was made at a game jam, after all), so activating platforms was about all there is at this stage. Still, with a bit of work, this could turn into quite an enjoyable game indeed.
Sea Wars by Graham Lockhart
If naval warfare is your thing, look no further than Sea Wars. Occupying most of the event space, Sea Wars is tackling wargaming’s complexity so that people unfamiliar with conventional mechanics can still break into the genre. I didn’t get a chance to play the game myself, but I got to see kids enjoying firing torpedoes around. It speaks volumes of a wargame that even kids can get into it, so next time Sea wars rolls around, I’m giving it a crack.
Inti by Jose Zamalloa
Another game I couldn’t get around to playing (I’m awful at this, aren’t I?), Inti is a game about finding magic stones for magic reasons. You play as a spirit champion on a quest to heal the forest tree, which means you get to move adorable figurines around a board avoiding thieving monkeys. The system allows you to think ahead, but everyone wants to get the stones for themselves, giving the game enough depth to keep you on your toes. Of course, this is coming from the guy who didn’t get to play the latest version, but next time I see it… I’m saving that tree.
Tower of Aegis by Jakal Studios
Hard to look at? Yes. Hard to play? Yes. Hard to love? Far from. Tower of Aegis poked at that part of my brain that Super Meat Boy took a pitchfork to once before. The game procedurally generates a tower of platforms that you want to use to get as high as possible. At this point, you’re a red brick jumping from platform to platform, but the mechanics and feel of the game are on point. It’s hard to explain why controlling a bland rectangle would be so enjoyable, but hey, Super Meat Boy was a square, right?
It Will Be Hard by Hien Pham
Winner of Playup’s very first micro-grant, It Will Be Hard is a game about the difficulties of relationships between different sexualities. The game tells the story of two men, one asexual and the other bi, and the fulfilling relationship they work on each day. It works as a visual novel, though I was concerned with how linear the game would be. So, I discussed my concerns with Hien, and now those concerns will most likely be addressed, and that’s what Playup is all about. I’m interested to see how the game evolves from here, and if Hien can avoid the David Cage design mentality.
Blocky Roll by Gnomic Studios & Pale Blue Dot
There’s something to be said about simple games done well. Blocky roll took me by surprise as a puzzle game about rolling a rectangle into a hole, but despite its simple premise, the game is damn good. The simplicity of the core mechanics lends itself to some devious puzzle design that kept me playing the game way longer than I should have. It’s harder to praise the graphics, but the underlying constraint of being asymmetrical warped any forward thinking I could make into hushed swearing as I realised how dumb I was. Simple, clean and worth a go.
The Adventures of Square, Episode 2 by Bigbrik Games
Rounding out the games I couldn’t get around to playing, Adventures of Square is an oldie but a goodie. Built in the original Doom engine, the game has been floating around Perth for roughly as long as Playup has! Plenty of people seemed to enjoy the game on the night, but I don’t know if I get it. It’s got the fast-paced running and gunning of the olden days, but it does also involve graphics so blocky that my eyes turn polygonal just by looking at the screen. Still, just because I don’t see the appeal doesn’t mean you won’t, and Commander Keen levels of charm sound up your alley, why not download episode 1 and give it a go?
Baron: Fur’s Going to Fly by Dogmelon
Occupying the main screen of the venue was Baron, a 2D dogfighting game with some ludicrous weaponry. If you took Worms and gave them planes to fight in, you’d probably end up with something like Baron. You fly around in biplanes with simple controls, but you also gain access to weapons like giant anvils and freeze rays as the rounds progress. I much enjoyed my time with the game before it crashed spectacularly, and I’m hoping even more zany items get added in the future.
Packed to the brim with games, the night was another great showcase for the local scene. I did miss the playful atmosphere of the Nostalgia Box, but Spacecubed had its charm about it. After so long without an event, it’s almost like Playup hasn’t missed a step. If you’re at all interested in seeing what Perth has to offer, keep your eye on the Playup website for the next event!