Bongoboy is Hurling Controllers / Mice At… Games That Don’t Take All Week To Finish

May 9, 2008

Hello playmates. Having lost previous months to big, deep, long games, recently I’ve been snacking heavily on lots of small ones. I was really impressed by the Independent Games Festival nominees at this year’s GDC, and ever since have felt compelled to cast a tiny piglike eye over some of the less famous titles and genres.

I love how small, quick games like these can be put together by a small team, sometimes just one guy, and really thoroughly implement and explore a single gameplay mechanic, sometimes with a very high degree of polish. They’re quick, they’re refreshing, they make for a healthy and varied diet. Not very hardcore, I know, but sometimes it’s nice not to be staring down a gun.

Most of these I saw at IGF, but should have noticed a lot earlier via RockPaperShotgun or PlayThisThing. It’s great to see so many talented designers and programmers out there making (and finishing!) these games for the love of it. So I’ve tried to make it a little daily ritual to check a new one out. OK, weekly. OK, whenever I remember.

For the sake of my and everyone else’s sanity, I’ve left clear blue water between me and the fiendish Peggle. There aren’t many games I can play with both eight year old nephews/nieces and their eighty year old grandparents. But damn you, Popcap. Damn you to hell. For you have made Bookworm Adventures, and now I have to expend energy making myself not play it.

Bookworm Adventures

Back in the indie zone, Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble sounds like a porn/slasher hybrid, but is in fact a refreshingly bizarre 1920’s flapper-’em-up. In many ways an entirely routine RPG, but consistently fun and odd. Maybe I’m just a sucker for that Olde Timey SteamPunkish aesthetic, but I fell very hard for the entirely excellent Iron Dukes. Not enough games require you to manage the saltiness of your party. Or have cedar diving helmets.

Iron Dukes

I’m also agog and akimbo with grabbingness for the forthcoming Penny-Arcade game On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness . I haven’t previously been much of a JRPG fan, but maybe this will crack the genre, or me, wide open.

I tried hard not to be utterly charmed by Crayon Physics and failed completely. It’s just great, although I fear before too long there’ll be little kids looking up from their graphics tablets asking “Mummy? What’s a crayon?

Crayon Physics

All those in favour of kicking things in the head? Yes, thought so, me too. And how better to do so without being arrested than Toribash ? Things falling over. Heads coming off. It gets no better. And it works on so many levels too.


If shooting things in the head and zombies are more your cup of tea and up your alley respectively, then why not combine the two with The Last Stand or the even more ultimate, or penultimate The Last Stand 2. What on earth are they going to call the next installment? The Penultimater Stand? The Even Laster Stand? Rambrains: First Stand?

It’s heartening to see some Old School tactical sims are still out there like Armored Brigade although it’s probably no fun unless you’re a Cold War weapons and tactics nerd. It brings back student memories of the sun dawning to find me still squinting at the second hand portable black and white TV that served as monitor to my flatmate’s Atari ST. By night it ran M1 Tank Platoon, by day it ran a very early version of Cubase, back in the days when MIDI was revolutionising the world of music, transforming each and every one of us into digital Mozarts, abrim and awash with talent and compositional genius.

What else? Ah yes. Fans of Old School Games should appreciate the slightly crazed
Rom Check Fail and while I cannot with any honesty recommend The Hangover (which you “win by not hitting Escape”) unless you’re feeling masochistic, it did make me laugh.

That’s more than enough for now. I urge you to check out some indie goodness: there are some great, free, fun games out there, being made by passionate and skilled developers. Not that my colleagues here at Splash Damage aren’t, of course. Guys? Don’t look at me like that. And put that down. No, wait, I didn’t mean…oh not again…