Tag Archives: Global Game Jam

We live in a rainbow of chaos in Runbow

To me, there are two kinds of platformers: good and bad. Just kidding. I’m talking about ones where the platforming exists as a means to get you from point A to point B so you can do action C, and ones where the platforming itself, the jumping and landing and getting from spot to spot safely, is the entire crux of the game.

I like both to varying degrees, though I certainly prefer the former, enjoying more laid-back jumping like in Sound Shapes, Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse, and Sugar Cube Bittersweet Factory over punishing affairs like So Many Me, Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts, and Super Mario Brothers: The Lost Levels. Those are almost instantly frustrating and what I like to call un-fun, though there is a masochistic side of me that continues to return to them, to see if I maybe have the twitch-based skills to jump quick with godly precision. Runbow is a mix of these two platformer types, with some levels being a breeze and others being the sort of wall I bang my head against for fifteen minutes, dying over and over and over until I get the pattern down perfectly.

First off, I didn’t choose Runbow, it chose me by being one of July’s freebies on Xbox One and its bright, colorful appearance. I believe it originally came out for the Wii U a couple years back and was later ported to PC, New Nintendo 3DS, and Xbox One from 13AM Games, an indie team based in Canada. Its origin stems from the 2014 Global Game Jam, and the quick elevator pitch is that it’s an action platformer focused on players trying to reach a trophy at the end of each level, dealing with obstacles, enemies, and vanishing platforms along the way. Players can perform a double jump as well as a punch attack to defeat enemies or gain extra reach while jumping up or horizontally. The rub is that the background of each level constantly shifts between a cycle of colors, causing platforms and hindrances of the same color as the background, such as blockades and spikes, to disappear/reappear. Levels are timed, and you are awarded either one, two, or three coins for beating it under a specific time.

I’m currently working my way through the singe-player Adventure mode, which tasks you with saving Poster District from the evil Satura. Why? Not sure, and it doesn’t really matter. This is just an excuse to complete a bunch of levels–140 in total–until you can take her on yourself four separate times. What is nice is that if you are mainly gunning for Satura, you can forge your own path to her, sticking to green (easier) levels instead of following yellow or red ones (harder). The map is broken into four quadrants, with each one its own theme containing unique challenges and dangers. You can play as a number of different characters, some from famous indie games, like Shantae and Shovel Knight, but they all jump the same as far as I can tell so it doesn’t really matter who you go with; I like male Red Hue dressed as a lumberjack, personally, but you do you.

I’ve not tried it yet, but there’s a mode called The Bowhemoth, which is described as a single, ultra-difficult challenge that takes place in the belly of a colossal beast. Evidently, it will test the skills of even the toughest platforming veterans, so I’m greatly concerned. I’ll give it a shot, but might have to *ahem* bow out if the jumping is too tough. I have, however, tried out the online competitive modes of Arena and King of the Hill, both of which were too chaotic for me to grasp and enjoy. I often found myself unable to find myself on the screen and just hoped for the best, which went as well as you can expect.

 

 

My goal for Runbow is to complete all 140 levels. Yup, you heard me. Not three-star every one, but at least complete them and fill in the poster map. After that, I think I’ll be done with it altogether as I’m not interested in its online competitive modes or its co-op action. Still, it’s a fun, seemingly friendly product, with good tunes and a neat gameplay mechanic that has you strategizing each and every jump. Stay tuned for the eventual game review haiku, hopefully.

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2016 Game Review Haiku, #46 – Barb

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Ordinary day
For an ordinary Barb
Nothing is as seen

Here we go again. Another year of me attempting to produce quality Japanese poetry about the videogames I complete in three syllable-based phases of 5, 7, and 5. I hope you never tire of this because, as far as I can see into the murky darkness–and leap year–that is 2016, I’ll never tire of it either. Perhaps this’ll be the year I finally cross the one hundred mark. Buckle up–it’s sure to be a bumpy ride. Yoi ryokō o.

The Half-hour Hitbox: May 2014

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Well, it’s not been a busy month of videogame-based blogging, and there are reasons for that. It’s not for a lack of content or even potential content; I’m continuing to play games, as you’ll still see below. It’s just been harder to concentrate on putting my thoughts together. Distractions, decisions, determined dates dancing in the distance. Yes, I love alliteration–why do you ask? You could blame dayjobbery stress, but there’s more to this story than that. Unfortunately, I’m not sure when I’ll get to tell it. I hope you’ll continue to stick by me, even if content on Grinding Down is more sporadic than usual.

On the flippy-flip side, I’ve at least been making a dent in my goal to draw a comic for every videogame that I beat this year. Just follow the tag, and let me know what you think of ’em.

Dishonored

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I finally bit the bullet on this one, seeing as the Game of the Year version for PS3 was only $20 and came with a whale buttload of extra content. Alas, I’ve not been able to play too much, only getting past the first mission after the prologue part. Dishonored is certainly a game of options; however, I’ve found the stealth elements very hard to grasp, and was spotted almost instantly in the first mission, which threw off my whole plan. Then I got spotted a few more times trying to sneak in and out of some buildings, grrr. I ended up murdering more guards than I ever planned to, which does bother me. I do like the Blink power, but I might just have to give in and focus on a more aggressive approach than slinking in the shadows.

The Valley Rule

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Created by Ryan Carag and Bill Kiley in a single weekend for Ludum Dare 29, The Valley Rule is an extremely impressive puzzle platformer in the same vein as Fez minus all the world turning, and I didn’t even have to get very far into it to be able to say that confidently. The story is simple, but enough: you play as a young red-haired girl stuck “beneath the surface” and trying to find a way up. A giant door blocks your path, and you need to collect four Tri-force-shaped crystals to open it. I was only able to gather one before ending up in room that required you to climb up the wall to the right, but not in a traditional manner, and I eventually gave up and fell into the milky water of death below. I highly recommend you check it out regardless of my lackluster wall-climbing skills.

Spyro the Dragon

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Last month, there was a strange flash sale on the PlayStation Network, offering a bunch of PS1 games for only a dollar each. And some other good deals. But my eyes saw only what they wanted. Naturally, I jumped on this and grabbed a good amount of PS1 goodies, as well as Tokyo Jungle, which I promise to check out one of these dang days. Anyways, I’ve never actually played anything more than a demo for Spyro the Dragon, and so I was genuinely excited to check in on a franchise that I had missed out on, and with its first impression too. In short, you’re a tiny dragon out collecting gems and freeing big dragons from being turned into statues. There’s little story and a lot of gems to collect, and it’s kid-friendly fun, even if the PS1-era camera rears its ugly head from time to time.

Sid Meier’s Civilization V

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I bought Civ V–that’s what all the cool kids call it, right?–in some Steam sale many moons ago. I even installed it at some point. But I only finally got around to playing a match this month. It’s much more detailed and engaging than that other Civilization thing I played on the Xbox 360, but after two hours and change, I still hadn’t won. Or lost. Or done altogether poorly or great. Just destroyed some barbarians and built some wonders. I played as Germany, and just did a lot of researching and army-building. This kind of game might all just move too slow for my liking, when you really break it down. I did save my progress so at least I can pop back into the match later, but I might have to be more aggressive to see it to its end.

Iris

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Made for the most recent Global Game Jam, Iris is described as a “puzzle platformer with a special twist on how to view things.” Basically, you control a tiny red-headed girl with the A and D keys moving her left and right, and W for a little hop. Your mouse controls a ball of light that, when placed on top of the world, show an alternative take on things. That toothy monster is now a friendly bunny, safe for you to walk past, so long as the iris light remains on top of it. The game itself is quite short, but packs a good punch, and I could definitely see this mechanic evolving, becoming something more than just a special twist.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

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Again, for those that don’t remember, I’ll play any LOTR-related videogame. No, really, I will. Here is proof; heck, I even bought Aragorn’s Quest a second time for the Nintendo DS to see if it was any different from the PlayStation 2 version. Spoilers: it’s not. Well, I don’t even have the case/manual for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, as I bought it at GameStop some time ago, and it only came in those yellow sleeves. Interestingly enough, the game starts terribly slow and mundane, but I really enjoyed running around Hobbiton doing small tasks for friends and putting everything in order for Bag End before it is off to Rivendell for Frodo Baggins. Alas, there’s a badly done “sneak past the Black Riders” part that currently has me roadblock. The game is supposed to be an action hack-n-slash, but I’ve yet to hit a single thing with Frodo’s stick. Hmm.

Transistor

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Transistor is the big game of the month, for sure. I just wish I had more time to devote to it, and, unfortunately, unlike Bastion, it is not captivating me enough to want to just sacrifice everything else around me for it. I mean, I really love the art style and atmosphere, but the story is unclear–only about an hour or so in, but c’mon, I should at least have a coherent idea of why Red is doing this or that other than just videogame–and the combat, fun in some parts, is difficult and overwhelming. I’ve been scared to experiment too much with the different nodes and functions. Also, whenever I reach the beach area where you can participate in tests and challenges, the game crashes to desktop. I’m secretly waiting on a patch to hopefully fix this.

The Half-hour Hitbox is a new monthly feature for Grinding Down, covering a handful of videogames that I’ve only gotten to play for less than an hour so far. My hopes in doing this is to remind myself that I played a wee bit of these games at one time or another, and I should hop back into them, if I liked that first bite.