TooManyGames 2018 Recap

I just got back from TooManyGames 2018, and boy was this year’s convention amazing. I got to hang out with old and new friends, meet the voices of Mario, Bowser, and Eggman, dab with Isabelle, and shamelessly promote myself on someone else’s YouTube channel. What more could I ask for out of a weekend?

Amid the fun events and memes, I made sure to check out the convention’s indie game showcase. Always wanting to share information about indie developers, here are some highlights from the games I tried out.

Transmogrify

I’m a sucker for simple puzzle-platformers, so Transmogrify naturally drew my attention with its mechanic of freezing enemies and using the resulting ice blocks to traverse levels. The cartoony, Scribblenauts-esque art style and sci-fi atmosphere are a delight to look at and, while I didn’t get a chance to experience this during my playtime, the trailer shows that a number of unique death animations exist, adding some fun to the typically frustrating act of dying. With the game recently receiving full funding on Kickstarter, I’m excited to see what Odyssey Entertainment’s final product will be like!

The Island of Eternal Struggle

I’m also a sucker for comedic RPGs (hence why I’m making one right now), and The Island of Eternal Struggle looks like a promising addition to this beloved category. Placed into a rave scene where dancers acted as walls, I immediately felt EarthBound vibes, which is always a good sign to me. This familiar amusement continued when viewing the game’s whimsical character designs – ranging from a faceless warrior to a DJ wizard – and experiencing the game’s battle system, which bears similarities to Final Fantasy but requires input commands for actions, a feature that always helps me feel more engaged with an RPG. The game is currently on Steam Early Access, and I’m certainly going to check it out once my RPG backlog clears up!

Birdball

Fellow game design students are always fun to chat with, and Evan Schoenberger was no exception. Representing Shippensburg University’s Videogame Development Club, he talked to me a bit about the school’s program and showed off Birdball – a physics-based game about collecting birds with balls! Up to 4 players utilize a single keyboard – a co-op option I always appreciate – to launch their balls into the air. While jumping serves as the only direct control method, players can manipulate their ball’s horizontal velocity by launching it towards slanted platforms or the rounded ceiling, adding a layer of strategy to the basic gameplay via spatial reasoning. This seems like a neat pick-up-and-play party game, and I’m hoping the concept will be fleshed out further in the future!

Thanks to everyone that made this year’s convention amazing! It was a blast, and I already can’t wait for next year!

My Top 5 Games of 2017

[Original post: https://discuss.grouvee.com/t/my-top-5-games-of-2017/1780]

This year was too good of a year for video games. Between new IPs, returning classics, and enhanced sequels, there were so many games from this year that I have yet to actually play. For the games I was able to play, however, I wanted to rank my top 5 favorites. Similar to my top 10 list from last year, I’ll be counting any game that I finished this year. Feel free to share your picks as well!

5. The Stanley Parable
While a short experience, The Stanley Parable is an example of the types of stories that can only be told through video games. I loved figuring out new ways to interact with the narrator and discovering the game’s numerous endings, as well as going out of my way to find secrets, only to have my mind read and contemplate why I was even looking for said secrets.

4. Splatoon 2
Splatoon 2 is a severely flawed game, but I cannot deny that when it works, it is an absolute blast to play. The easy learning curve and emphasis on player contribution makes for an experience that can be enjoyed by casual and hardcore players alike. It ultimately is just an enhancement of the first Splatoon, but I’ve racked up almost 100 hours in it, so it’s clearly doing something right.

3. Grand Theft Auto V
Shooting my friends dead in the streets is a fun time.

2. Super Mario Odyssey
With the amount of games in my backlog, I usually try not to explore worlds to thoroughly; I simply don’t have the time. With Mario Odyssey, this thought process of mine was reversed; I spent hours upon end just exploring the game’s various landscapes, even if I knew there was nothing new to collect. This game not only presents a huge open world, but actually encourages the player to explore every nook and cranny. In addition, the Capture mechanic is super fun to play around with, and the co-op mode is by far the best out of any other 3D Mario in my opinion, with several laughs being shared among friends as we made new discoveries using our combined efforts.

1. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky
After playing through Super Mystery Dungeon last year, I decided to go back and play what many fans refer to as the best installment in the series. While I still can’t decide if I agree with that statement, I can certainly understand the reasoning behind it. This game is an absolute storytelling masterpiece. The characters are extremely well-written, the soundtrack is phenomenal, the artwork is gorgeous, and the plot is full of twists and turns that leave you on edge. This is the most immersed I’ve ever been in a video game; I felt tingling joy when I helped characters accomplish their goals, seething hatred towards the many antagonists, and absolute heartbreak during the tragic ending sequence. This game demonstrates the power of this medium; mere pixels and text can pull us into worlds and make us feel the entire spectrum of emotions. Experiences like these remind me why I chose to pursue game development as a career; video games allow for a deep level of immersion that simply isn’t possible with other types of media.