Monday, November 24, 2014

Dragon Quest Heroes released in JP...

Check out these wicked screen shots from "Dragon Quest Heroes", a fully 3D hack n' slash DQ game for PS4, out in February. Unlike it's RPG predecessors, DQH promises more streamline play, less talk, and less RPG elements.We will definitely be getting a copy, given the language barrier will be less important for gameplay. Looks great!

[Box for the MetalSlime console.]

How far we have come...

It's Monday!

Totem's Sound, the slow and steady dream game.

So it's a rainy night in, you have a bottle of wine, and some time on your hands before everyone starts demanding you pick a movie out for them and you think, "Hmmm, I think I want to lose myself in a good ol' fashioned art game. Something light but not meaningless, something fun but won't suck me into it's vortex..." Ladies and Gents, I give you Totem's Sound.

TS is basically a 1p exploration rpg set along the North West coast of the United States. Players star as Johan Jacobsen, a Norwegian sailor who lived irl during the late 1800's and collected indigenous/native artifacts. So basically the Scandinavian Indiana Jones with less action and more chit chat. The game begins in a little coastal town, quest's present themselves, and Johan begins a Zelda map-esque journey to essentially run errands for artifacts. The game is slow in game play, the story is pretty basic, and the battles with local wildlife are relatively easy.

It's not necessarily the gameplay that makes Totem's Sound such a gem, however...
It's the design.

Spatially speaking, TS feels almost limitless though it is quite limited. The spirit of exploration is not hard to fall into as each new challenge seems mildly dark and frightening, given the anticipation for action on each large-scale map. The graphics feel as if you really are in a mysterious pixelated PNW forest, hunting down native art and attempting to survive along the way. Something about the way the map is created, with small figures and intricately detailed bit art captures the imagination. From the totems, to the characters, to the intricate little houses--- I found myself continuing on to the next chapters just to see what developer Adeline Ducker offered me graphically in reward for my completion.

Soon though, the art was not quite enough to keep me playing until the end. Slow movement and a mildly aimless to-do list, coupled with the inability to break rules seemed to put me in a storybook kind of appreciation for Totem's Sound. It is very pretty, and expertly crafted---entertaining, though? Only for a bit. Play Totem's Sound for the art, the history, and the fact that you probably won't be playing all night.


Just gonna leave this right here...

Litle late night riffin' and smokin'
[Listen to the EP here]

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Follow up: ESA [Environmental Station Alpha] now has a demo!

An abandoned space station, a litany of challenging bosses, a killer soundtrack.
ESA, now on Steam Greenlight, has produced a playable demo for Win/OSX!
[Download it here!]

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Slain! is exactly what this Basement needs...

Heres a peek at Slain, a game in development by Wolfbrew Games. The slick occult bloodbath is scheduled for sometime next year, but creator Andrew Gilmour keeps a devo-blog up for fans of the aesthetic to check in. Some really wicked stuff here!

Still looks so killer. Pre Order Odallus NOW!

Hell yesssss.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Dethlands BUMMER

Personally, I found "Dethlands" to be a complete embodiment of what we here at Wicked Basement strive for... Metal, monsters, 8bit, violence, and occultish horrors... However, production has halted after the head programmer deserted the team and there will be no further advancement post alpha. It's a lucky thing we at LEAST have the alpha though, check it out in the link below...

---Commentary by Ryan Barett, Dethlands creator---

Download the Alpha :(

16bit Cyberpunkage... Axiom Verge.

ESA looks so good, it hurts!

Like a game out of Giger's dream-catalogue, ESA explores the realm of a failed terreform project suddenly sending distress signals after years of being shut down. Explore developer Hempuli's world as a mech, searching for answers as to what happened to the "bio-dome" and enjoy some excellent pixel art in the process. The game is not out yet, but is very close to being finished. Follow the developers blog HERE and keep up with us on a release date!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Super Bat Puncher

Super Bat Puncher is a sidescrolling 8bit game which blends the happy-go-lucky elements of Kirby and Kid Icarus, with a bit of Cave Story's narrative for cuteness. Characters begin as a boxing-glove wielding cat who accepts a quest to help his canary friend, Sir Loin, find a few lost spirits. Players can be both the cat OR Sir Loin once P1 accepts the mission. It becomes an option to play with a friend and P2 can log in at any time. Most of the first stage is spent getting your bearings, punching bats (hence the name), and navigating the maze-like cave through a host of non-threatening enemies.

As players make their way through the cave, new bouncy surfaces reveal a certain few challenges, character upgrades are available through the treasure chests along the way, then a VERY easy boss battle releases one of the spirits mentioned earlier after victory. Gleeful chip music playing throughout, Super Bat Puncher is definitely one of the cutest games I have played in the neo-retro genre, but the actual challenge of the game is a little lacking. After acquiring the barrel roll skill, I found myself wanting more action that wasn't map/navigation based. Harder enemies, possibly mini-bosses could have helped this... Other than that I really enjoyed playing Super Bat Punch, even given that it was a short demo. I hope to see more from this developer and watch this game grow :)


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Panopticon: The innovation of American Blackened Folk Metal.

[Panopticon- "Killing the Giants As They Sleep"]

Panopticon has to be one of my fav bands of all time. Their savvy blend of earth shattering black metal, progressive chords, and intermingling genre-work is nothing short of absolute genius. Growing up in the south eastern United States, myself, something about their sound harkens back to bygone days... Of blistering heat, white whiskey, and corrupt establishment all around.

Enjoy this, then the whole album below...

Breaking: Super Retro/Action Squad has officially been put on "hold"...

Super Retro Squad (later named "Super Action Squad"), from the folks who brought us Super Mario Crossover, was set to be quite the Kickstarter accomplishment for US designers, "Exploding Rabbit". Director Jay Pavlina promised backers local and online multiplayer, SNES/GameBoy/Original playing modes, and a game completed in a reasonable amount of time. Exploding Rabbit fumbled hard over the last year and a half, not delivering one of their public funded promises and it has many backers absolutely furious.

From "The Exploding Rabbit Scam" blog, a site DEDICATED to reporting the failures of Jay and his team,

So here is what it seems like happened

1) Jay got money from a successful Kickstarter which reached many stretch goals for a game called "Super Retro Squad" and was due to be released by March 2013 (5 months ago from today).  It has been suggested this was a thinly veiled attempt to make a profit from the illegal game Super Mario Bros Crossover.

2) Jay and some people bought a house, made a video about it

3) They made a dance video and Jay did a let's play video

4) Radio silence from Exploding Rabbit for months.

5) Jay makes a video to ask for MORE MONEY with nothing whatsoever delivered besides a few mock ups and what appears to be a very basic simple demo of a character jumping and collecting coins.

6) An update to the illegal game Super Mario Crossover was released, and as stated by Jay Pavlina, for the strict purpose of making money and attracting people to his site to make ad money.

7) Now people have been told development BEGAN in August 2013 and the scope of the project has changed significantly with no discussion with the share holders (Backers)

madness ladies and gents...

 Yowza. That's some harshness.
But not all of it is false. TERS blogspot has reported quite a bit in response to Pavlina's admitted defeat after comments by backers, fans, and indie gamers reached a fever pitch. The distressed creative director released an emotionally charged update/apology to his backers this week, beginning by taking on blame and sorting through the issues Exploding Rabbit had encountered...

"I made a fan game, so i thought, "How much harder could it be to make a real game?" A lot harder it turns out. In SMBC, I didn't have to worry about art, music, sound effects, level design, enemy design, or much game design, and the levels were very small with no vertical scrolling or slopes. the originality in SMBC came from piecing things together in an elegant way, and I didn't realize how much more difficult it would be to come up with compelling ideas from scratch. We eventually did come up with an awesome design for SAS, but it took a very long time, largely due to persistent opposition from some team members..." -ER

As the letter goes on, Pavlina describes the choice to move everyone into a house instead of working remotely a bad decision. He chocks the disintegration of Super Action Squad up to an unrealistic estimation of cost/time and an ineffective, slow-working team of slackers.

"After this experience, I am not sure it is even possible to form a strong game development team without being able to pay everyone a livable wage. I personally feel that having an ineffective team is THE most detrimental problem we had, and we spent quite a lot of time trying to make it better, but the ultimate solution ended up being to dismantle it..." -ER

So does this spell game over for Super Action Squad and Exploding Rabbit as we know them? Pavlina says no. While there are no immediate plans to refund backers, Jay and the gang are attempting to make things right by being as transparent as possible in the coming months of hiatus development. It seems the house is breaking up, the game is being put aside, and a smaller version of the $53,000 platformer will be released when everyone gets their shit together. A sad result for both fans and creators.

Pavlina is releasing a live Q&A on Exploding Rabbit's Youtube channel Thursday, March 20th, so tune in and hope that there really are heroes amidst this twisted 8-bit comedy. Hopefully it's not Game Over just yet...

Sunday, March 2, 2014

If you're not familiar with the Lupin III manga/anime franchise, you may have to stick around for a Lupin movie before you leave... If you ARE familiar with the series, you know it is one of the most celebrated and long-running in anime history for a pretty good reason: Lupin III bleeds infectious style. Not only are the stories fun and interesting, but the animation style, character dynamic, and iconic art direction transcends age demographic and time period to produce a kind of fiction we all know as CLASSIC.

What a lot of people, fans or not, don't know about Lupin III is that a series of pretty shitty games came out surrounding the series. "Pandora No Isan" is probably one of the most basic, and oddly, the best of the lot. Players pick one of three characters; Master thief Lupin, expert marksman Jigen, or the katana wielding Goemon. None of the characters have a defacto advantage over the other, aside from Goemon who spins a sword (totally the worst move ever...)

The game itself plays a lot like a bad version of "Gumshoe" for the NES. Players run right through a mildly interesting but ultimately infuriating cityscape, collecting minor items and power ups, and avoiding enemies who touch you ONCE for a kill... The difference, though, between Gumshoe and Pandora No Isan (aside from the zapper), is that Gumshoe is actually fun. This game is brutal and pretty frustrating. The maps aren't very clear about what you can and can't walk on, there are no health bonuses, the controls are janky (press up AND A to jump high...rly?), and as the world progresses it just makes you more pissed when you die from some asinine reason... But its Lupin so who cares about all that!

Amidst all the faults of this game, one thing keeps me playing... The style. Those suited gunmen, the little black ninja guys, bats, cats, and items to collect! It may sound odd but the overall crappiness of this game doesn't deter me from trying again and again, falling into some hidden pit and slamming my USB controller against the couch. What this game needs is a hard core MOD/hack. The indie developer that takes this turd and polishes it up to include health, more incentives and bosses will end up with a classic.

We can only hope.
[Play it HERE]

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Usnea rules.

Usnea is probably one of our favorite bands, Portland or otherwise. Their shows benefit secular/freethought organizations, their riffs melt minds, the guys involved are super nice dudes. What else do you need? How about some of their music?

[Usnea- "Empirical evidence of a deranged god"]

If you like, please download!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Noirlac--- Some really awesome pixel art.

Indie Game Extravaganza playing all the hits.

Crowds gather around a group of four, clutching their controllers, as cartoonish explosions, light-hearted chip tune, and the clinking of beer bottles fills the air. The audience lets out bellowing laughter as one after the other, players die off in an attempt at Spelunky supremacy. It's a fast paced intro to a genius night-to-come at Ground Kontrol: Indie Game Night.

The chance to play local multiplayer titles like Gravity Gods, Spelunky, Nidhogg, and Samurai Gunn in an IRL bar is an opportunity one should not miss. The trance that the players were in while playing was something out of gaming history's arcade days. Having not played the current Spelunky, I was really impressed by the speed of the individual rounds associated with winning. Competitive Spelunky is a great pick up game, given the absolute chaos that dominates the battle, but after a few rounds players develop a winning style not dependant on constantly chucking bombs into the playing field. Overall, I felt like I was waiting for the Spelunky time slot to be over, especially given the next three games and the excitement I knew was coming...

Gravity Gods is in Beta phase, but creator Arman Bohn didn't let that stop him from performing a public debut. The game itself is a modern adaptation to the older Atari war game, "Warlords", which pits 4 players against one another in a pongesque, barrier-breaking contest to the death. In Gravity Gods, rules are seemingly remixed and the projectiles used for battle are numerous. Randomized rule changes like an inverted screen or complete blackout create loud moments of pandemonium as players attempt to guard their own wall and destroy their neighbors like a twisted, bizarro "Breakout" match.
Gravity Gods became a quick favorite at GK, and who could blame us? The game itself is as classic as it gets. Aside from a few minor bugs, this game has the potential to be a really solid achievement for Bohn, who was there playing out the kinks with his fans.

Nidhogg. Wow. This game fucking BLEEDS AWESOME and I do mean bleeds in a literal sense. The object of Los Angeles based developer, Messhoff's, newest game is to stab the shit out of your enemy and run like hell to the next stage as fast as you can. Okay, that's a bit reductive. Nidhogg pits players against one another in a skill-heavy fencing match, where competitors move further along a selected stage toward his/her exit at the end. Once the exit is reached, a giant snake/worm/dragon scoops the player up and they win. Yeah, seriously. Given the psychedelic nature of Nidhogg's past games, this was no surprise.
Competitors regenerate after death further along in the stage and attempt to kill their adversary again and again. It's an intense tit-for-tat that results in a lot of screaming, cheering, and drinking bets when played in a barcade. New players' matches are quick and harsh, seasoned fencers seem to create intricate strategies with what works for their thumbs. Tactics like tackle/grapple, barrel roll, and the friendly neck snap are perfected over time as pros ascend quickly above the blood of their enemies. Nidhogg is one of those games I immediately went home and purchased without question given it's high replay value. Matches went on and on until ultimately, time was the only factor in moving on to the next game...

---And once we had moved on, no one had any complaints.
Samurai Gunn has got to be the best indie game released in 2013. As I stated in my earlier critique of this game, Samurai Gunn blends perfectly the elements of classic arcade fandom and super sleek modern mechanics to produce what many are calling an infinitely expandable local multi player. Ground Kontrol repeatedly erupted in applause as players got their bearings, developed a standard, and rose to compete with other winners. The rounds started in four-player mode matches but it seemed that for new players, the disorientation of fighting three other samurai was paralyzing. After a few spirited rounds, one-on-one play became the coliseum event of the evening. As new people poured into the gaming arena, players handed off controllers after every "first-to-ten". Showdowns determined victories for some, for others, a demon seemed to live in their katana. Through passionate slashing, nimble movement, and the perfect combination of aim and gunpowder, many Samurai bit the dust. One player, named Andrew, rose to the top ranks and was soon destroying veterans of SG on his first night playing the game. The final round included him and one of the top 3 players of the evening and this n00b took it the fuck right home. Unbelievable playing.

Samurai Gun got hoots and hollers best applied at a metal show. The involvement of each player in the making of his/her "character" through skin choice and play style made the audience really feel for each match. I couldn't help but make up ridiculous stories behind each 8-bit character's fight with one another, narrating the battle like an episode of Dragon Ball Z. This game really connects with it's players/viewers and we can only home for more from Teknopants.

As the night concluded and we all shook hands, the magic of local gaming felt alive again. Not since Smash Brothers in my cousin's basement had I experienced such a (dare I say) giddy environment of gaming challengers. I took a moment to watch everyone as GK's promoter packed up his gear and what I saw were phones being whipped out, information being exchanged, and alliances being formed between brackets. Indie Game Night was a total success.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Holy Hell, Samurai Gunn kicks ass.

Every so often, a game comes along that combines the simplistic elements of yesteryear, the smooth action functions of a modern game, and a multiplayer option that wraps it all up so perfectly, you find yourself in a 5 hour game-off with everyone in your house. See all those awards surrounding Samurai Gunn's logo? Yeah, they are there for a reason: This game fucking rules.

Teknopants' Samurai Gunn doesn't really have a plot or a story behind it. The lightning-fast arena combat game is a battle royale set in mythical feudal Japan, complete with a plethora of interesting looking warriors to play over an impressive amount of interactive stages. Each player begins at a spawn point within a given stage and winning is dependant on a decided amount of kills (default being 10). Reveling in it's simplicity, Samurai Gunn pulls no punches with special abilities, power-ups etc. The game relies solely on it's player's skill using limited controls, mastering the TWO weapons which every player is given, and channeling the samurai warrior within to execute his/her enemy.

Players are given both a sword and a gun upon spawning. The sword provides infinite slashing, but the gun is only equipped with three bullets per life. This is where things get a bit interesting because after killing your opponent, they return with a loaded gun. Carefully maneuvering around this balance of power and circumstance is the soul of Samurai Gunn. The game begins with a lot of piss and vinegar, players charging after each other, shooting wildly into the air. After a few deaths, however, the game evolves into a delicate dance in blood; for every movement a consequence. Players learn that even the slightest misstep could mean a rolling head or a fatal shot to the pixelated gut. That, or impalement by the various traps which decorate some of the higher difficulty stages.

One of the coolest features of Samurai Gunn is the showdown. If players reach a tie or victory is won by a one point margin, warriors are transported to a cinemaesque scene where there are no obstacles in the way of victory. It is typically a stage-themed, flat landscape, and no guns may be used. The nail biting anticipation of this segment is palpable. When victory is met, screams of joy from both parties are belted out. The love for Samurai Gunn's gameplay is present in the winners AND the losers.

Survival mode is a bit different. This game is certainly made for local gameplay, but if players want to enhance their skills, 1p mode is an okay way to do so. My only real gripe to survival mode is that players can't team up properly with each other. A large chunk of time was spent on trying to figure out ways to avoid my fellow player, kill black ninjas effectively, and claim victory for the BOTH of us. Not really possible. It's a one winner kind of engagement. Samurai Gunn will hopefully expand in this way. After seeing a lot of the critical reception, I am counting on a sequel or upgrade coming down the pipes. A lot of people are talking online options, potentially a build-your-own stage aspect. These are fantasies now but after the on fire reception, I can't imagine Teknopants not expanding.


Friday, January 24, 2014

The quest for the Golden Nintendo Cartridge is guaranteed to give you a case of the feels....

"One Friday afternoon in 2010, Pat Contri got the Facebook message of every video game collector's dreams. A friend who worked at the local game store started texting him cryptic photographs of something a customer had just traded in.
He stared at the blurry, gray-and-green pictures. What at first looked like a row of shelves, he eventually realized, was a close-up of several exposed DIP switches. Just then, like a Tetris block dropping neatly into place, it clicked. Contri slammed his finger on the "Call" button.
"You better not be fucking with me," he said the second his friend Ian picked up. On the other end of the line, Ian sounded like he was hyperventilating."

The Portland Gaming expo and swap-meet, YEEHAW!

Holy Toledo! Is that a near-mint PowerPad? Is that an original Dragon Quest 4?? Is that a fucking Vectrix?! We must be in some alternate universe of super wicked games an memorabilia!....Or in the convention room of the DoubleTree Hotel, downtown... Yeah, it's that one.

Welcome to the Portland gaming expo and swap-meet! Where classic gaming enthusiasts, nouveau-retro designers, and crafty nintendo-swag retailers collectively clean out their basements to bring you the best of our mutual memory space. Pacman doilies litter the tables, mint condition box art is preserved behind cases, it's just about enough to make you rob the place.

Never have I seen so many dusty Mario Bros/Duck Hunt splits. Whoever paid over .0666 cents for that game, post 1988 should feel like a complete asshole. Every table had at least 30 of them. That said, the games of rarity I found at some of these booths were unbelievable. UNOPENED Gumshoe copies for NES, 1st release Japanese Goemon games in box, Donkey Kong unopened (its right there in the pic!). Totally nuts. Some of these games top out at like $140 bucks. True collectors pieces. The one game I was looking for above all though, Dragon Quest 3 was scooped up a day before. Almost every major table had one copy for just under $300 (not unfair considering the consistently rising ebay prices of over $500 new..) which was apparently purchased by a "group of old men" within the first 3 hours of business. Creepy.

There was even a mods table! I got to play Super Mario World: Return to Dinosaur Land, one of the most celebrated mods of the Mario franchise. I didn't buy it but I vowed to dl and play it later on. Glad I did. Totally fun.

[Check out my new favorite Mario World Mod HERE]