Friday, December 20, 2013

Featured indie developer: Cory Martin

We here in the deep, dark basement like to get sucked into a good game or two. Luckily, the newest Ludum Dare package has 25 sweet games to choose from, a few of them worth a play. One artist and developer, Cory Martin, from Tennessee caught our eye for this Ludum Dare with his game, "You Are Disabled".

Flung into a dungeon, players experience one of a few different randomly generated disabilities from the beginning of the game. Players may be crippled and move slowly, nearly blind and only see what is immediately surrounding them, they could be spastic and have little control over their character, or illiterate and not able to read the clue signs sprinkled throughout the game. My personal preference was illiteracy, given that most of the signs in the game are creepy insults. HOWEVER, in the spirit of personal challenge, I reset after playing through with illiteracy and tried every one. Lots of fun. 

As simple as the gameplay is, this game is 100% addictive. For fans of the Mario Bros dungeon aesthetic, that super fan of Bowser's castles and the underworlds, "You Are Disabled" delivers a fun and casual gaming experience. Strangely eerie music(?) plays in the background, sounding more like a dying internet modem than anything, players star as a shy-guy look alike who's only strategy is to overcome his disability by jumping (or crawling) across stages, avoiding hot lava. It seems pretty easy at first, but as the game progresses, players must master their timing and succeed against the odds. Bridges disappear, electrodes pop into existence, fireballs burst from their pools of magma. I liked this game so much that I played all of Irock's other games and for the most part, they were good too. My favorite of the 8 available on Stencyl was "Reaching Finality"…

"Reaching Finality" is that overhead adventure game you just can't help but love (or at least we can't). Like a more basic "Seedling", players begin with a vague quest, a direction to go and soon, a weapon in hand. Enemies pop up after a while, and soon you are in a dungeon fighting flying skulls and bats (what's the deal with gamers and bats anyway?). At first, RF moves a little slow. I remember thinking to myself, "Continue?" after finding a rake as my weapon instead of a sword (nasty flashbacks to Harvest Moon time wasting) but the different angle intrigued me. I am certainly glad that I didn't venture off onto another developer's site because the adventure which took place soon after acquiring my rake was quite fun. 

In fact, my true adventure started in the most classic of settings: The underground! Everybody is thirsty for a good dungeon sesh and in "Reaching Finality", that thirst is well quenched. It's an enjoyable, "Kill the baddies, get the key, open the door, kill the boss." cycle, which in truth, ends in one of the most fun mini-boss battles we have played on a web-based indie game. The only thing missing from RF is some nasty chip tune to glue it all together. Call me a purist, but in reality garage band type music seems to cheapen the experience of an 8-16bit game. I am aware that I am playing a web game thanks to the music and in effect, the game harkens back to some of the first to build bridges for sites like AlbinoBlackSheep or NewGrounds. The early days were flash, mostly pen style animation and with a "soft piano" rave song in the background. Shudder.
 I wasn't truly able to lose myself in the 8-bit ambiance OR the feeling of transcending web/flash to console, given the casio-esque tunes playing in the background. 

That aside, I had a lot of fun finding my way through Martin's version of a Zelda dungeon. The enemies were fun to kill (aside from the cyclops slime things…WAY too defenseless, felt like a dick.), the world became joyfully intricate, and the ending made me FEEL good about the game I just played. For this, we in the Basement say hats off to Cory Martin aka Irock and hope he makes more games in the near future!

Wicked Basement Rating: 6/10

Wicked Basement Rating: 5.5/10

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

20 years. Unbelievable.

To our friends at Id Software, we thank you.
Dec, 10, 1993

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

"Under The Moon" builds a burning bridge.

This week, the ZX spectrum-styled indie game, "Under the Moon" made it's way into the Basement and caused a bit of a stir. From indie developer MNWS (Kodachrome, The Ruins of Machi Itcza, Super Phobia), UTM picks up where his earlier game "Nondevicer" seemed to leave off. Aside from the in-out functions of Nondevicer, Under the Moon maintains the gameplay style, sprites, and overall feel of it's predecessor.

Players begin the game as an unnamed hooded figure who seems to be having some romance issues. Dead silence evokes a strangely haunting feeling as you pass a woman who refuses to look in your direction, then an overpass with a view of the crescent moon, then into the bowels of a red dungeon where some delightfully eerie chip tunes begin to play. At first the game seemed a little droll. The hooded figure walks and jumps but players aren't given an attack option so really the name of the game becomes timing and balance.

As players advance, checkpoints become available, and rooms become harder. Death is not permanent but UTM will start the hooded figure at it's last save, creating incentive to move to the next room. At first, checkpoints are frequent, then they are every so often, then they are border line divisive. The relatively short browser-game (created in only a week) boasts about 4 different types of puzzle-rooms and quite honestly becomes very addictive. That said, I wasn't sure if I was playing in hopes more would happen around the next turn, or if I was legitimately into the game. Maybe a combo of both. During the last dungeon, the hooded figure collects four pieces of a heart key, opening a door back up to the over world. Once there, the game ends abruptly in a dreamy courtyard and a complete halt at a red wall. Sort of anti climactic. I felt as if MNWS didn't expect people to put up with the game until the end, so no real ending was written. THEN I found out that I could walk on the stars in the courtyard, make it back into the castle and have myself a proper ending. Phew, that was a close one.

The whole experience was a dreamy one. Under the Moon had me peacefully smiling, putting off dinner for a while in hopes of finishing strong, and reminding me of something I couldn't quite put my finger on… Then one of our resident nerds at the Basement asked me a simple question that shattered things a bit, "Are you playing l'Abbaye des Morts?! I love that game!"
Shit. Was I?
The playing style, the hooded figure hero, the early home-computer aesthetic, the mildly threatening projectiles, and slightly off-putting 8 bit music… Even the moon in which players were supposedly under seemed to be lifted from l'Abbaye (see above img), stretching the limits of the term "homage" to near breaking point. It seemed that the reason I enjoyed Under The Moon so much is because I had played it's more complex elder, l'Abbaye des Morts, a few years earlier. 

Homage, rip-off, learning experience, etc… The message boards weren't kind to MNWS. The more I read, the more it became clear that I wasn't the only one who drew the parallels between these two indie games. The trouble is, I still LIKE Under the Moon, even if it seems a lot like a game I already played. The whole puzzle-dungeon thing speaks to us here at the Basement. Quite honestly, if the developer were to elaborate on Under the Moon ---maybe add some enemies, a few weapons, a horrific sorcerer boss at the end of each dungeon, possibly even a town with NPC's and an items list--- they would be sitting on a golden experience. MNWS has a lot of room here to grow this game and I sincerely hope they do. Not just for curiosity's sake, but because Under the Moon will live in l'Abbaye's shadow for the rest of it's existence if they don't figure out a way to mix it up a bit.
"Under the Moon" gets a 3/10 from Wicked Basement.

Fuck Cancer.

["Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel"- Behemoth]

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

In-browser GameBoy sesh with Tiny Dangerous Dungeons...

In all honesty, I wasn't expecting much from Tiny Dangerous Dungeons. A game developed by Finnish designer Jussi Simpanen (aka "Adventure Islands)(developer of the earlier and awesome "Tiny Guns"), TDD did a great job at softly promoting it's release this month to a few flash websites in an extraordinarily modest fashion. Even on it's info page, Simpanen doesn't dress his new game up in a pretty bow, he doesn't even offer much of an incentive to play... It's a small backstory, directions for play and that's IT. The gameboy screenshots lure potential players in like mosquitos to a buzzing lightbulb, the praising comments spark curiosity, and once you have hit "Start Game" there truly is no turning back.

Playing TDD is like playing a game somewhere in between Kirby, Zelda, and Super Mario Land for GameBoy. Players star off slowly, learning controls as they move along a frog, bat, spider, and fish filled dungeon. At first there is no attack, then you find a sword, then a few other items to get things pumping.
 I am glad TDD embraced live-action playing rather than the countless "rogue like dungeon crawls" that have littered the internet this year. Upon hearing the title of TDD, I actually scrolled passed it thinking it was just another crawl for items, gems, and power-ups. I was totally mistaken. After your first acquired item, the game begins to move pretty quickly. Keys to locked doors, health upgrades, and even a Power Glove are hiding in various rooms throughout the dungeon. TDD moves players seamlessly from one objective to the next, without having to spell it out OR abandon the player. 

Checkpoints are throughout Tiny Dangerous Dungeons and they should be used as frequently as possible. Death is frequent and when Little Timmy dies on his adventure, he loses all the great stuff he found along the way. A lot of commenters seemed to blame control issues on their frequent death, but I found that when you die in TDD, the only person to blame is yourself. When I plugged in my USB NES controller, gameplay was super smooth. 

Along the way, TDD is not always cutely retro. The darker side of nostalgia comes out in the pretty tough puzzles involved in getting to that next stage. Keeping in mind that your weapons aren't JUST for killing and not all tranquil settings are as they seem is paramount in finding your next gate. Without revealing too much, toward the end of the game I was looking for a very well hidden key amongst attacking enemies and seemingly endless dungeon stages. I must have passed this very secret hiding place in my search a million times before noticing the "watermark" that I was looking for and once I found it I actually screamed out "OH FUCK YOU! FUCK THESE DEVELOPERS!!!"
Of course everyone here in the Basement had a good laugh because in reality, it was right in front of my face the whole time. Don't be so mission focussed. Look for the easter eggs. Adventure Islands has done a stupendous job at really stretching this map's potential.

So give it a whirl. Tiny Dangerous Dungeons has quickly risen to one of our favorite under-an-hour platformer challenges yet. It's got great style, classical gameplay, and a format that turns a mini-adventure into an unforgettable one.

Splatterhouse cabinet at Ground Kontrol!

Portland is home to many great things. Ground Kontrol, a bar-cade located in the heart of downtown, is certainly one of them and this October they added a completely CUSTOM "SplatterHouse" cabinet to their floor. Wicked Basement stopped by and played this monster of a cab and it was just as badass as we imagined…

So if you haven't read our "Wanpaku Graffiti" post, SplatterHouse is a hack n' slash platformer that made parents shit bricks back in the ol' days due to the gory/violent content of the game. Released first in Japan in 1988, players don the "Terror Mask" and play as Rick, the kill-em-all badass with a golden heart. It's a typical "find your girlfriend after killing an assload of monsters" game, so we won't spend too much time on the plot. Just kill everything, alright?

First and foremost, hats off to the designer of this custom cabinet. Just look at that femur joystick, those eyeball buttons, the broken-wood panels! The control panel itself is made of a cushy foam, painted to bloody perfection so to give you that extra gross feeling. Genius. As with most great things, some amateur hour douche bags had already picked the "M" of of the Jump button and scratched into the flesh of the panel. These pics are from the week this cab was dropped! This is why we can't have nice things, kids. Cue, "Kill Em' All".

The game itself works great. One would think playing with an actual bone would hinder movement but it was actually really nice. The groove in the top of the femur locked my middle finger into play and it was a hack-fest from then on. As I was playing, a line began to form behind me, half spectators, half players-to-be. It was a great experience all around. A game over would occur and the next person would pony up a quarter to finish where you left off. The line became one long play to the end, magical.

So hats off to Ground Kontrol for this great new addition. Word is, they have just added a Black Tiger machine, so I am sure we will be checking it out this week. 
Play the game here online and if you live in Portland, be sure to stop in and throw some quarters into this beast!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Frog Sord! It's a jumpy-slicey-spikey-good time….Or will be anyhow.

So "Frog Sord" is a game in development from MECH6 and some of the leaked gifs look just awesome.

What can be assumed about Frog Sord thus far is that it's a game about a frog who slices through enemies, jumping from platforms and sticking to walls in a combo reminiscent of Super Meat Boy, Super House of Dead Ninjas, and Ninja Gaiden. 

Looks great. If they open a KS, Wicked Basement will undoubtably be on the donor list.
Hope to see more from these guys, check out their site and keep up with the game!

Welcome to the Basement.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Holy Dhul Fiqar this game is good.

Rarely does a game make me drop everything I am doing, RUN into the next room, grab my USB controller, shout uncontrollably at my room mates to come sit down so that I can show them the most righteous new game I just found online. Rarely do they then go grab their laptops and creating a circle, we all play the same game on separate computers, laughing and shouting and longing for more…

Developer Will Blanton, who goes by 01010111 has created these rare occurrences. His game DhulFiqar (named after the mythical Islamic sword once wielded by the son of Mohammed, Ali) is a simple, yet extraordinarily nuanced experience which follows the likes of Ninja Gaiden and Super House of Dead Ninjas. Players glide through a mysterious board filled strange crab-like enemies that shoot projectiles when approached. This is immediately remedied by hacking through them with your legendary sword. Enemies give you experience points, and with them you purchase Health and/or attack upgrades. At first this game seems like a pretty straight-forward hack n' slash, but give it time and it becomes as technical as an old Samurai show down. Players will find that their initial instinct to blow through stages, cutting at their surroundings will only send them to a continue screen faster.

The only drawback to this game (and it is an extraordinarily heavy drawback) is that it is too damn short. After the first boss battle, the screen flashes and it is assumed that you have won. But….But….I got all the way up to Lvl. 9!!! I killed and killed to get ready for the white cloaked boss battle! I was there mannnn I was therrreee!!!

Alas, I have played it through a few times and yes, this is the end. Judging by it's release date ( a few weeks ago )I would say that this magnificent little jewel is still on it's way. We can only hope so, there is SO much potential here. Parrying moves, upgrades, bosses, enemies, this game could be limitless.
Wicked Basement gives the current version a 10/10
In love.

Shovel Knight looks too cool.

As Shovel Knight reaches the end of pre-production, we tear up at how awesome this game will be…

Elliot's Meh.


So this week I played Ansimus Games' "Elliot Quest" and amongst all the positive reviews it has been getting I have to say that this Alpha funding stage Zelda II homage didn't quite live up to the hype surrounding it. Elliot Quest begins on a vast island in which players explore, level up, and battle through an array of territories which on their face, seem interesting. Players are initially given only a bow and arrow set (unlimited) and throughout the game achieve weapon/skill unlocks and spells to aid in future battles, none of which are really talked about by NPCs or informative to the player. You are just supposed to figure it out as you go, I guess.

Most of the territories in Elliot Quest have a purpose but are a bit daunting in their make up. Enemies don't really seem to get harder and the bow never really receives much of a power up. In the demo version, players level up and Elliot's aim improves drastically, but in the $4.99 alpha version, players are plagued with dead on hits to a given enemy which read "MISS". This mistake was literally the WORST part of the much hated N64 game "Quest 64". Stand next to enemy, hit enemy, game registers hit as a miss. No real rhyme or reason here, just a miss. Players can go from firing arrows at such precision that they are opening gates via arrow while free falling, yet when a slime attacks they have suddenly fumbled their shit. I don't think so. 

[Quest 64 mechanics revisit to annoy in Elliot Quest]

Another issue I had with this game is that it never really gave me any incentive to keep playing. Not a conversation with a dying warrior, no cryptic clues or warnings of upcoming bosses, nothing. It felt sort of empty in a way. Like I was just enjoying the aesthetics of a retro game without really having a particular mission at hand. Elliot Quest has all the makings of a great game-to-be, but never really makes me WANT to play it aside from simple curiosity. Most worlds have sort of a confused objective and when players receive their eventual plunder from a given area, it just seems a little late in the game. Then again, because there is no set objective, the term "late in the game" holds no meaning. Why should I achieve double jump (wings) before a host of crystals I know nothing about? Why should I expect items that are more meaningful from extraordinarily hidden chests? How has the SHIELD avoided me this whole time?!
Elliot Quest never really answers these questions and yet, somehow you keep playing.

I can't be too hard on Elliot Quest because as Ansimus Games warned me, it is in early stages and "doesn't reflect the final quality"(even on the payed version for extra warnyness…). The positive elements of this game are self evident. Great visual experience, gameplay is light, music (by Michael Chait) has nostalgic SNES flair, there is room to grow as a player, boards can be challenging, bosses are fun. That all said, Elliot Quest has a ways to go before I will purchase another version. The Alpha, in all honesty should have been the browser demo. I was delighted by a lot of this game, but I couldn't help but feel like I was consistently wanting more from this world. Hopefully Ansimus will deliver on the final version.

 So check out the Elliot Quest website, try the demo and pay the $4.99 alpha price to experience this game . I wouldn't say it was a complete loss. Hopefully more reviewers can see past the obvious when it comes to Elliot Quest, really PLAY this game, and offer Ansimus some helpful critiquing. It will only make the final version as good as we all know this game CAN be.
Wicked Basement gives Elliot Quest a 4/10.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Growing up with Seedling.

In 2012, developer Connor Ullman released a game called "Seedling" which revisited the aesthetics of games like Zelda, Arkistas Ring, and the DQ series. Renamed from the beta "Shrum" title, Seedling is easily one of my favorite neoclassic indie games. The ominous music composed by Rekcahdam sets players in a dreamlike world where lands are to be explored, monsters destroyed, and treasure found. 

Seedling follows the very classic tambour of overhead action-adventure games. Players begin in their home village, seek out cryptic clues from friendly NPC's, gain power ups and unlock 100+ areas and dungeons to progress further. Each screen is carefully crafted to suit the storyline, keeping players learning along the entire 3-5 hours it should take to beat this game. Like some of it's "Nintendo hard" adventure game predecessors, Seedling NPC's offer minimal advice to the main character, which for some players has been frustrating. When Ullman received this feedback from the stuck/lost, he commented "You're not stuck, you're just not much of an adventurer." 
THAT fucking rules. 
In fact, Ullman has released an entire expo on his process while creating, releasing, and answering feedback to the game. [Read Here]

Seedling's bosses are generally pretty easy. Getting to them can be a bit challenging (especially in Basiniad//Lava World) but the overwhelming fun of this game and it's puzzles is anything but frustrating. The elements of "wander around" are certainly celebrated in Seedling. The whole way through, I was falling in love, experiencing nostalgia, taking breaks and reading up on easter eggs/hidden features online. It reminded me of that Xmas game you got and played obsessively all the way through winter vacation until school was back in session. The game WAS your vacation. The world was real for a fleeting moment.

Wicked Basement gives Seedling a 8/10
This game is certainly a wonderful homage, full of originality, smooth gameplay, and a very full world.

A quick spoileresque tip for the end of the game, which was my only complaint. You must knock the owl boss into the lava pit 3 SEPARATE times after it has gone to it's nest. Players can knock it into the lava for hours and it will accomplish nothing if the boss has not "sat down" three times. This had me fighting the owl endlessly, until I finally read up on this small issue. So take your time, he/she is a surprisingly easy boss for the finale.

-Nintendo Entertainment System-

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Splatter House: Wanpaku (naughty) Graffiti [J] is the definition of Nintendo Hard Level: Fucking Arbitrary.

Before there was Rick, the zombie killing ex-sherriff who leads a ragtag group of idiots though post apocalyptic Atlanta, there was Rick, the hockey-mask wearing, undead slaying, Mansion wrecking muscle man who tore through the beat-em-up platformer genre like a hot cleaver through a corpse…

---But before even THAT, was a game so ignored by later versions of it's own franchise that only the deepest, dankest basements in JAPAN are known to house it. A game so silly, so Nintendo Hard, so "Japaneezee" that it seems SplatterHouse overcompensated for the rest of it's history in efforts to keep this title down. Ladies and Gentlemen, SplatterHouse: Wanpaku Graffiti.

So we all know the story…
Rick's girlfriend is stolen and he has to fight zombies, blob-men, and vampires to get her back. Where Wanpaku is different is that all characters are comically super deformed, Rick is apparently undead himself, and bosses are hilarious caricatures of western pop iconography (mostly Hollywood and Michael Jackson).

This game blows. Yes, BLOWS. There are fun parts and the hack n' slash is amusing but players are given only ONE LIFE to wreck this whole game. There are continues which start you back at level's beginning and it takes just a few enemy collisions to send you into Game Over rage. On it's surface, S:WG seems like a totally easy game, and it is, but given the perimeters in which players are forced to progress, the game just ends up being turned off before anything meaningful happens. Codes are given to "save" a game, yet Rick starts back up from a continue with one life, so really it's a total crapshoot.

Mostly it is a typical side scrolling platformer. Kill creatures, collect health via candies, and try not to throw your laptop/Famicom out the window. Wicked Basement gives this game a 3/10 (notice the image above? ehhhh????) but we wanted our readers to at least enjoy the concept that Rick from SplatterHouse was first a cutesy, Jason knock-off who fought Michael Jackson Dracula and totally blew it on his first game. The Horror!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Abadox: The Deadly Inner War

It's halloween time! And that means Wicked Basement will be releasing games that reflect an even more spooky kind of sensibility. First on the list is side-scrolling shoot-em-up gross out game, Abadox: The Deadly Inner War, where players star as a lil' cosmonaut fighting his way through the disgusting innards of an alien species. 

The game starts you off with the worst weapon possible, but then after a few kills a few power-ups are available. Shields, sprayers, machine guns, all a part of the later portions, all of which you will desperately need to beat this game. The term "Nintendo Hard" has been used to describe this sinister sick-out-fest, but I would rank this 7/10 for overall hardness. Granted some of the restarts are bogus, only three lives are granted to you, and enemies fly at you in an almost unfair fashion, Abadox still maintains a fun learning curb that takes on an heir of NES supremacy. Sort of like how you felt after beating Dragon Quest before all of your friends. You had made it. Pro level shit.

So get ready for an epic battle from the disgustingly classical cannon (or the classically disgusting…?). Warm up the thumbs, order some take-out, be ready to throw your controller across the room. It's Abadox!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Alt Liv

The magnificent God Seed…

[Alt Liv- God Seed]

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Lakeview Cabin: Horror, Slapstick, 8-bit.

So I was a little dubious of Lakeview Cabin, given that every review site on the web gave it rave reviews and said things like "BLENDS HORROR AND COMEDY PERFECTLY". I thought, could this little flash game really deliver such a claim? The answer is, Yeah I guess so.

Finnish indie developer Roope Tamminen, who brought us games like Barbarium (which I love), Hallucivian, and Quantum Corps has created a fun little puzzle game for the demented, Room 237 fans in all of us. You start out as a red-headed vacationer, locked on an island with a few items at your disposal. The object of the game is to use these items to summon the physical form of a ghost who is creepily haunting your lake-view get away, then chop her into bits and destroy the curse. 

Along the way are funny little functions like drinking beer, getting naked, or being caught in a bees nest. I'm not sure this qualifies as blending comedy and horror "PERFECTLY" but it was pretty funny. After your first random encounter with the freaky ghost lady, you should be able to summon her on command with the key "O". This will start up her ghoulish music and you better have a plan in line because she will kill you. Before getting too into the objective though, look around the island, smash boxes and check out some of the sights (binocular view of the left side of the island is a good one ;] ) for some funny easter eggs along the way. All in all this game is a cute, fun time waster. One can't help but laugh and then feel empowered when you figure out a new item or finally kill that bitch in the lake.
One thing that kept me on a consistent groan though, was the key issue. Let me just spoiler alert here a bit: You don't need the key in the bathroom but it unlocks some useful stuff in the shed. Take a log, throw it into the outhouse, chop it in the outhouse, the key will fall down. Okay that's all we're giving you. Play it below!

Friday, October 25, 2013



River City Ransom Underground looks superb.

[The way sweeter Japanese game box to the original]

That's right kiddies, legendary RPG/Beat-em-up plat former "River City Ransom" is getting an OFFICIAL supercharged makeover thanks to the neoclassic pioneers, Conatus Creative. 

Conatus's lead designer, Bannon Rudis teams up with gaming OG Yoshihisa Kishimoto to bring this epic NES classic back to life via Kickstarter. Rudis promises modern controls and smoother gameplay as well as new playable characters, a more interactive map and some very interesting, specialized combos/attributes for his new army of Techno-street-warriors. Alex and Ryan aren't the only ones charged with beating the snot out of everyone in River City anymore.

Currently the team is wrapping on pre-production so get over to their website and donate what you can to help them release this game as soon as possible. Also, check out the [PLAY HERE] link below for the original RCR and kick some asses in the meantime.