This month was our biggest line-up of games in Playup Perth history! Video games, tabletop games, mobile games, and even a live-action game show; we had it all, and it was a fantastic night all around! It’s always a lot of fun to stop by for a beer and to try out some local games, but there was so much going on this session that the bar remained relatively dry as everyone was just too busy playing. From epic sci-fi strategy games such as Star Hammer to a new scrolling shooter-inspired tabletop game called Rogue Blitz, there was so much to see that I couldn’t even report on everything and had to split this month’s coverage with Senior Editor, Nick Ballantyne (who also runs the Playup blog).
Tabletop is an area of gaming that I’m still relatively noobish with apart from way too much experience with Settlers of Catan, but there are two things I know I enjoy: resource management and ‘dogging’ any players that get in my way. Doomsday Convention is a new game from COGZ creator, Wes Lamont, and one which strongly incorporates those two qualities. Using a board built around resource collection and modifiers, the aim of the game is to move two units around (an evil genius and a minion) in order to fill up three resource cards as precisely as possible. Only you know what you require for each card, and at the end you will be penalised for going under or over any particular resource. Using modifiers, you can strategically work to earn optimal results for yourself or throw other player’s plans into chaos.
Overall, the game already flows very well once you get your head around it. The biggest problems are a board which can barely fit the pieces and some messy scoring calculation at the end. I look forward to seeing how it progresses!
Star Hammer: The Vanguard Prophecy
While not my favourite genre given the time investment that’s usually involved, I still have a great respect for both the RTS and space sim genres. I love sci-fi, so I definitely find this particular sub-genre interesting and feel generally clued in on what’s going on. Last weekend was the first time I personally got to go hands on with Star Hammer, and it was something I enjoyed as I chatted away with Lead Designer, Paul Turbett about his influences and approach to game development. Out of all the Perth-titles I’ve played, it’s definitely the one I feel most steps beyond the banner of ‘indie game’ to hold itself within the genre as a full-fledged experience. It’s clear budget restraints held back its full potential with the storytelling, in particular, but Star Hammer is still a fantastic example of the potential within our local industry.
The game is now available on Steam if you’d like to try it for yourself. http://store.steampowered.com/app/337680/
The title ‘Fart Surfer’ wasn’t exactly something that captured my interest at first glance, but maybe that’s just a sign I’m getting old and rigid. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised by the build quality and challenge once I went hands-on with the game itself. In many ways, it reminded me of Perth’s own Space Strafer in combination with the addictive nature of the highly controversial Flappy Bird. As the debut title from Pete Phillips and his new studio 1984 Games, Fart Surfer has a visually appealing design that works well in combination with some catchy tracks. There are multiple difficulty settings and greater obstacles to overcome with each new level. Running on both PC and mobile, it’s just challenging enough for a casual demographic to enjoy and the theme will no doubt sit well with younger players.
Seen below is me focusing very hard on playing a game which is quite literally powered by farts. Look out for it soon!
When I first spotted Rogue Blitz, I was both excited and overwhelmed – as I mentioned earlier, I’m a bit vanilla when it comes to tabletop gaming. However, like every game I’ve tried before it, once I got my head around the rules, I had an excellent time. In fact, this was without a doubt my favourite experience of the night as I’ve never played anything quite like it. Except for the video games it’s inspired by, of course. Basically, Rogue Blitz is a tabletop take on vertical scrolling shooters such as the classic Raiden. It’s not something I thought could work in a physical form, but creator, Wes Lamont already has it in a functional state; though it still requires refinement to make the gameplay more fluent. What I especially enjoyed about it was getting to play co-operatively with other players in order to take down a boss.
You generally feel good about a game when you walk away a winner, and while we only managed to defeat the first boss as a team, we had a lot of co-op fun in the process as we worked it out together. Keep an eye out for this one!
Nick: I’ve always liked heading down to the pub for a trivia night with a bunch of friends who know as little about geography as I do, so testing out a game show sounded right up my alley. Instead of being played with points, Time Chasers is all about adding time to your own clock to make it through each round and be the last man standing. It played a bit like You Don’t Know Jack but with more racing against the clock, and while my trivia knowledge is still embarrassing, the game was great fun once you got the hang of it. I was especially a fan of how the game never lost tension as it went on, because no matter how far ahead you were, time always works against you, but in a fun way!
Scavenge The Wastes
Nick: Everyone groaned when Brett, the creator of the game, likened Scavenge The Wastes to Fluxx, but he did mitigate it with “Don’t worry, unlike Fluxx, it’s not terrible”. Scavenge The Wastes is a card drafting game where you build up a post-apocalypse settlement through drawing and playing cards from a shared deck. I played a slightly modified version later into the night that was a bit more fast-moving than previous versions, so the game lasted a very digestible 10 minutes. Brett was pretty forthcoming about the game being in a broken state, which I’d have to agree with, but everyone I played with agreed that it was still better than Fluxx. I’m definitely interested to see how it changes in the future, and hopefully it’ll crop up at future Playups.
Nick: It’s cool to see that more and more people are embracing VR games as the technology evolves, and A.G.E. offers another perspective on VR development. The idea behind A.G.E. is that it’s an educational game about history, but the player can explore historical environments throughout history to give them a better sense of how the site has evolved through time. The site on show was the Parthenon, which could be explored in four different states of time. There wasn’t much to it, but the idea reminded me a lot of an old Dorling Kindersley game I was obsessed with as a kid. It’s a unique idea that could go in a whole bunch of directions, so I’m keen to see it develop!
Mr Nibbles Forever
Nick: While a lot of games shown off at Playup Perth are completely new, Mr Nibbles Forever is actually a sequel of the mobile game Mr Nibbles. The game is a side-scroller about a hamster making his way through his enclosure, and the more you tilt your device, the faster he goes. Everything in it was suitably adorable, and there were more costumes in it than a living doll store, but it was a surprisingly tricky game! You had to be spot on with your movements to get all the collectables strewn across the level, not to mention avoiding the enemies, but it made the game a lot more enjoyable than I expected it to be.
And, That’s a Wrap!
Without a doubt, After Dark #5 is one of my favourite sessions so far. I certainly enjoy coming along after work on a Friday to drink cheap beers and talk gaming with everyone, but with so much on show this month, it was just games, games and more games. For me personally, it was interesting to try out a lot of titles I otherwise wouldn’t have been inclined to play, and I’m grateful for that experience. Despite constant exposure to the games industry every day, there is nothing quite like the local indie scene to breathe new life into an old passion. If you find yourself reading this and feeling unsure whether Playup Perth is for you, I definitely recommend coming along one time as it might surprise you!