Quality over quantity seems to be the new Playup Perth mantra. There’s been a grand total of two events this year, including this one, but they’ve been a higher quality of show as a result. The games are better, the venue choice is spacious, and there’s even some food there! I think it’s fair to say that this was the best organised Playup so far, but if you have no idea how playing can be directional, let’s take a second to remind ourselves what the event’s all about.
Playup Perth is a local playtesting event that connects developers to the public. Devs get to show off their game to people who haven’t been staring at it for an unhealthy amount of time, which makes for valuable feedback. Last Playup was held at Spacecubed, but the event on Friday opted for an upstairs office space, RIFF. It was a welcome change from the somewhat business-centric aesthetic from last time, and I’m hoping it’s a recurring venue choice. As is tradition, however, I simply couldn’t get around to playing all the games, so let’s start with something I did get to try out!
TeleBlast by Tim Velette
Teleblast is a game about telefragging your enemies through explosions. You play as a little arrow that can shoot a ball, but the trick is that you can cause that ball to explode and then teleport to that location. Add in other arrows that can’t stand the presence of different coloured arrows, in what I assume is their house, and you’ve got a recipe for a great multiplayer game. It was a super polished, simple game that played off its initial concept really well, and it was intuitive enough that a small child could beat me. Multiple times. Still fun, though.
Rhythm Hunter by Different Game Studio
Made as part of a final year uni project, Rhythm Hunter is a mad combination of rhythm game and first-person shooter. There’s an enormous monster rampaging through a city, and it’s up to you to shoot it dead (because aren’t humans the real villains?). Thing is, you have to shoot it in time with music while trying to nail it between the eyes. It’s the epitome of “easier said than done,” amounting to an experience that demands so much of your attention to do well that I could barely scrape a B rank. The game was an interesting mix, regardless of my inability to top the leaderboards.
WOOZE presents Ladies Who Lunch With Me by Ellie Balson
I’ve got mixed feelings about Ladies Who Lunch With Me, not least because I hate fun. The game was made in a month, which is a staggeringly impressive effort given that Ellie didn’t know any C before she started. The game is a simple platformer based around the Wooze song of the same name, but I feel like I didn’t get the joke? Maybe I’m missing the hook or my heart lacks the empathy required to appreciate the work, but I can still appreciate why it resonated well with other players on the night. As far as a first game goes, though, holy effin’ balls, one singular month!? Non-plural?!? I dread to think what masterpiece Ellie could create in six.
Bongo Cowbellie by Nathan Scott
It’s a little awkward to be told that you’ve played a game when you have no recollection of it, but that’s exactly what happened with Bongo Cowbellie. The game is a procedurally generated arcade shooter, and a hell of a good one at that. While there was only one level on show, the feel of the game is tight as hell. Of course, after the level, there was an infinitely repeating pit of death, but the core mechanics felt well fleshed out. Hopefully this doesn’t become a game put back in the “to finish” folder, because hot damn, there is some potential here for something exceptional.
Panda Pilots by Echidna Studios
Mobile games make me sick to my stomach, but pandas are renowned for their antibacterial properties, so I readily stomached Panda Pilots. The aim of the game is to collect as many pandas as you can in a biplane as they fall from the sky on Chinese lanterns. Why? Don’t ask so many questions. The gimmick is that your plane and camera turn based on the tilt of your phone/tablet, so you’ll be twisting and turning your phone like a steering wheel. It wasn’t perfect, especially when it came to the randomness of panda placement, but it was far from a bad time. Not enough to convert me to a mobile casual scrub, but an interesting idea with a solid feel.
Monumental Indonesia by Jeremy Snyder
I’m so angry that I didn’t get to play Monumental Indonesia for so many reasons. The game was described by the developer as getting rid of pesky environmentalists for cash money, and I didn’t get a go. Unsurprising, I suppose, that so many people wanted a go, but I genuinely wanted to see if I could raise the mightiest buildings through corrupt practices and financial shortcuts. Ah well, maybe next time… Or I could just fly to Indonesia and try for real…
Project:Singularity by Glitched Umbrella Studio
Another game intent on blending genres, Project:Singularity melded platforming and puzzle mechanics into something rather interesting. You play as an experimental subject capable of shifting between two phase states. When white, you could only pass through white lasers, but when black, you could only pass through black lasers. This core mechanic led to some nifty puzzles that translated well into a platforming context. It was a neat idea done well, but the game was trying to be jack of two mechanics but master of neither, much like how I tried to use that figure of speech without nailing it. Still, the gameplay felt a lot more natural than my grammatical ravings, and it’s well worth a try if you get a chance.
Ned by PeeBee Games
Another familiar face at the event was Ned, the game about Australia’s Iron Man. Ned was made to capture the feelings of old-school platformers that brought so much joy to the devs growing up, like Mario Bros. but with a legendary criminal. The game is dripping in Aussie references, but there’s still not a whole lot going on gameplay-wise. For some, that’s probably going to be a great deal, but I want to see the guys do something more with the source material. Still, if you’re interested in old-school platformers, keep your eyes out for more of Ned.
Fluttering Souls by Nurse Shark Games
If there’s one game that really got me going from the event, it’s Fluttering Souls. The game has you select cards from a formation on the table, a bit like 7 Wonders Duel but without the meta game. Make sets from your chosen cards, get points, blammo, you’ve got yourself a simple and robust game. What’s nice to see is that the game has benefited dramatically from feedback at the previous Playup event. It was an incredibly tight and enjoyable game to play, and I’m excited to see where it goes from here!
Inti by Jose Zamalloa
Another game that I simply couldn’t get a go on, Inti is a board game I’ve tried a few times already. You play as a forest spirit trying to save their tree from that unfortunate part of life, death. You move around a board, collect resources and create sets in order to score points, which also help mess up the plans of everyone around you. Jose said that the game was at a point where he felt it was ‘good’, thanks in no small part to the feedback he’d received from previous Playup events. Good to hear the positive effects Playup has had on the game, even if I didn’t get to experience them first-hand.
I think it’s fair to say that this was one of the best Playup events so far. A good venue filled with developers willing to show off their babies is always a win-win, even if it can be terrifying for the poor devs to listen to my feedback. It’s also extraordinarily satisfying to see so many familiar faces eager to hear what improvements could be made to their works in progress. Now we just wait another six months for the next Playup (and a couple weeks for Perth Games Fest to tide us over).