Selecting games in indie bundles isn’t always an easy task, especially when it comes to naming the themed collections. Indie Royale‘s newest offering comes with the fitting title Mash Bundle.
There’s quite a lot of genre mixes of the old and new with the complete 5 episodes of the classic point-and-click adventure series Strong Bad’s Game For Attractive People, multiplayer-FPS-on-ships Guns of Icarus Online, brawler Kung Fu Strike: The Warrior’s Rise, fast-reflexes game KRUNCH and turn-based strategy title Delve Deeper. If the bunch of games are picked with the same care as with Indie Royale’s other bundles will be seen in the following short-review round-up.
Strong Bad’s Game For Attractive People
(USA 2008, developer/publisher: Telltale Games, platforms: PC, Wii, PS3)
Like most older Telltale titles, the emphasis on obscure, but also inventive puzzles makes this another must-have for the classic point-and-click-adventure gaming crowd, even if the humor doesn’t appeal to everyone’s tastes. Just like Da New Guys: Day of the Jackass later, the characters aren’t of the typical likeable variety. Still just like the South Park series (similarities to the simple drawings are obvious), it’s pretty funny once one accepts its over-the-top approach.
With five episodes in the bundle, there’s not only a lot of content, but also some nice changes in the individual stories and puzzles. Both are usually a lot of fun to be immersed in, especially when other genres like RPGs are ridiculed in 8-Bit Is Enough. The game might look and sound outdated and rather silly, and it’s intentionally so, but when playing it, it doesn’t really matter, because that’s the charm of it, making it a unique alternative to the LucasArts classics of old.
Guns of Icarus Online
(USA 2012, developer/publisher: Muse Games, platform: PC)
A difficult one to write about, as I’m not really one for online gaming due to my rather slow internet connection and the old-fashioned opinion that there should always be some sort of offline single-player campaign. Unfortunately this one throws you right in the middle of online warfare, except if you want to get familiar with the controls by going through a practice level.
So what’s left if one doesn’t even have the skill or time to get into the intricacies of the game? Graphics are rather good when it comes to the design of the ships and the depiction of the sky. Character models on the other hand don’t look that appealing. In the heat of battle some bombastic soundtrack certainly adds to the immersion, and being a spectator is obviously one way to watch something different from the typical running-through-corridors-and-shooting mechanics the worn-out but still fun deathmatch modes of old incorporate.
Kung Fu Strike: The Warrior’s Rise
(China 2012, developer/publisher: Qooc Soft, platforms: PC, Xbox 360)
With its cel-shading look aesthetically similar to Street Fighter IV, its visuals are simply beautiful to behold, especially since the characters’ movements are so smooth to create a fluid control system. The soundtrack with its mix of Eastern flute and drums and Western rock music is just as excellent. The hand-drawn cutscenes are also a nice departure from the typical anime stereotypes with their visual novel look, even if the story itself isn’t much to write home about.
The gameplay is fun as well, although it doesn’t deviate from the template of clearing rooms full of enemies by beating the hell out of them. With money dropping from defeated foes, upgrades can be purchased to further enhance the warrior’s arsenal of combat techniques.
All in all, this is a great old-school beat’em-up with a modern presentation to satisfy arcade purists who’d like more than one contestant on screen to attack with a string of hit combos.
(Canada 2012, developer/publisher: Le Grudge & Rugged, platform: PC)
The title already implies what’s at heart of this 8-bit fast-reflexes game: a crunching difficulty curve. With a simple control system of moving in all four directions with the keyboard and speeding up by pressing another key it’s easy to learn, but navigating the little robot through the maze of spiky and mostly deadly things becomes increasingly hard in later levels.
What makes the gameplay particularly tense is that the lifebar constantly decreases, so not only quick thinking is required, but also general speed is a must to come out alive after each section. Despite the constant state of dying, just like Super Meat Boy, it’s that one-more-go feeling that keeps the player going. The levels are well-designed, even with some bosses, which of course have to be escaped from, rather than destroyed, as they’re closing in on the player.
The graphics are what you’d expect from a game which is inspired by 8-bit games of yesteryesteryear, like on the NES, but what stands out more is the great chiptune soundtrack which plays no small part to the excitement one feels when avoiding all the dangers the levels throw at you.
A simple, often frustrating, but always rewarding little gem of an arcade game.
(USA 2012, developer/publisher: Lunar Giant Studios, platforms: PC, Xbox 360)
Already discussed in the article about the Bundle In a Box Eclectic Delights, this turn-based strategy game involves dwarves who mine for their wealth (as always), competing with other tribes.
Just like Guns of Icarus this is probably more fun with human players, as the levels are built around the concept of chess parties, i.e. a coherent story isn’t there to motivate single-player fans. It’s still quite a nice alternative to so many tower-defense games or other casual titles, as the difficulty curve is pretty steep and it demands a lot of planning and coordination.
Presentation-wise it offers a fun soundtrack and some nicely drawn backdrops, even if there are surely better-looking strategy titles around. But what matters is that the content is enough to keep even the most seasoned hardcore player occupied for quite some time.
It’s in the mix
The games on offer do justice to the bundle’s name, but the mix of so many different genres still works, even if there are surely some titles which only appeal to a certain audience, excluding others. As is so often the case with these bundles, they provide a good way of trying out new stuff, and there wouldn’t be a cheaper and easier way than with this business model.
The extras might not look like much at first with two DLC packs for Delve Deeper, a wallpaper and soundtrack for KRUNCH, but at the time of writing another game was added to the bundle as well: the 2D platformer Brand by Nine Dots Studio, which I unfortunately didn’t have time to play, but judging from the trailer it looks like a fun and rather pretty game.
Paying 8 dollars or more additionally unlocks the fun Gameboy-chiptunes album Parallel Processing by Danimal and Zef.
If you’re interested to get these games and support both developers as well as Indie Royale, go over to their website and pay what you want, before the offer expires.
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