Just as they did last year, Nintendo came to this year's IndieCade to play. Given that third-parties have expressed little desire to bring their games to Nintendo's platforms, the company has turned towards the indie gaming community to help bolster the Wii U and 3DS lineups. The result is a handful of interesting games, some of which take advantage of Nintendo's hardware in more interesting ways than their own first-party games do.
As Shacknews wandered through IndieCade, the Nintendo tent came calling. These were among the games found over the course of the weekend.
Affordable Space Adventures
The collaboration between KnapNok Games (Spin the Bottle: Bumpie's Party) and Nifflas (Knytt) continues to look strong. My time with the game was mainly the same sequence I played through back at this year's Game Developers Conference. However, the game appeared to be slightly more polished, looking crisper than the previous demo I tried out. That's mainly due to some gamma adjustments in the video design, but Affordable Space Adventures' visuals appeared more detail, with the fog looking much thicker than I remember.
The core idea of the game remains the same. A strong and capable spaceship has been reduced to its most basic elements, rendering it a hunk of junk. The idea is to progress through a dangerous planet, as the ship regains its abilities. All of the ship's functions, right down to the ignition, are controlled through the Wii U GamePad. Avoiding danger isn't so much about fancy flying as it is knowing when to adjust engine thrusters or density.
This remains one of the more innovative uses of the GamePad I've seen thus far and one I look forward to seeing more of. The concept and gameplay were also solid enough to garner an IndieCade nomination. Unfortunately, KnapNok co-founder Dajana Dimovska pointed out that Affordable Space Adventures will have to wait until 2015 before it can take off.
Shantae and the Pirate's Curse
It's hard to believe, but WayForward's bright-eyed genie, Shantae, has been around for more than a decade. Her games have always flown under many people's radars, a shame given that they've proven to be solid platformers. Shantae and the Pirate's Curse looks to be more of that same proficient platforming.
Picking up where the last game left off, and billed as the final installment of the series, Shantae is adjusting to life without her genie powers. She's still the town guardian, though, so she doesn't hesitate to defend the town when it comes under attack by the Ammo King. That kicks off the 2D platforming, in which Shantae must defeat roaming pirates with her hair whips and her limited inventory. Though pirates attack with standard blunderbuss shots, there are also enemies that attack with shots from the background and others that crawl from underneath planks and stab their swords from underneath. The demo culminates with a fight against the Ammo King, who attacks from a giant mech and fires cannonballs that must be sent back his way.
The latest Shantae largely maintains the series' humorous spirit. Aside from the chuckle-inducing dialogue, the story is predicated on the idea that the Ammo King purchased Sequin Land legally by buying off the town's ruler with chocolate. That, of course, leads to Shantae being arrested for assaulting Sequin Land's legal new ruler. It's all silly and light-hearted and looks to be wrapped in some tight platforming gameplay.
WayForward notes that Shantae and the Pirate's Curse will not be ready for Wii U until this winter. However, the 3DS version will be ready next week and the differences, aside from video resolution, are largely negligable. Both versions are downloadable titles.
In terms of names, this one isn't going to win any awards. But Sportsball, from developer Too DX, proves to be a fun take on a few classic formulas. Mainly, the game takes its inspiration from the classic Joust by putting players atop different types of large birds.
The idea isn't so much to run the opponent through, though that is a big part of the game. Rather, the idea is to take possession of bouncing balls that emerge from fallen rivals and bounce them into your net. Depending on your fowl steed, momentum can be your worst enemy. Having picked the largest bird, I couldn't fly very high and I often ran so fast that I couldn't stop moving. But even with 2v2 teams, the game quickly fell into chaos and led to some truly competitive matchups filled with close shots and aggravating blocks.
There isn't much else to Sportsball beyond its simplicity, but of course, I just played through the 2v2 mode. The game is set to come with seven total game modes across different stadiums and environments. A fifth player can even tag along as the announcer by speaking into the Wii U GamePad microphone and having their voice echo through the stadium speakers. It appears to be a positive step forward for a classic formula, but it's one that won't be ready for download until Q4 2014.
Numbers is the name of the game for the latest offering from 13AM Games. The idea of Runbow is simply to race to the finish, beating your opponents to the end of an obstacle course, with the winner collecting the most victories over the course of 15 races. It feels simple until you throw in 9 players, with one on the Wii U GamePad, four on Wii Remotes, and four others on attached Classic Controller Pros. And all of those players can throw punches, momentarily stunning anyone in the way.
If that's not enough, there are several other kinks thrown into the proceedings. Background colors will shift constantly and if any of the platforms on the course match that background, they'll disappear. This, of course, can cause dangerous spills or even cause players to get trapped and left in the dust. There are several power-ups that can offer up boosts, like super punches and lightning strikes. They can just as easily backfire, though, since a swapper power-up can take you from the lead to the back of the pack in an instant.
Many laughs can be had with 9 people surrounding Runbow, whether playing the standard Run mode or the Arena and King of the Hill game modes. There wasn't a moment where I wasn't seeing laughter erupt from the booth. The only trouble is how viable a 9-player local multiplayer game can be, though Runbow will also support online play. Still, if you can get that many people together in one place, it's worth the experience, just for the sheer insanity. Runbow is set to hit the Wii U eShop next year.