Genre: Sim (pinball)/Platformer
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
ESRB Rating: Unrated
Release Date: 12/22/08
It has been years since a notable pinball game surfaced on any platform. CarneyVale: Showtime isn’t the revival that purists might hope for, but it shares the same core and shakes up the formula.
In this game you control Slinky, a ragdoll cum acrobat who dreams of fame. You help him reach it by literally flinging him to great heights, defying death and doing tricks. The game breaks into a series of self-contained levels where Slinky starts in a cannon at the bottom. After he has been fired into the air, there are spinners you can use to fling the rag doll from place to place. The parallels to pinball might not be immediately obvious, but skirting death to pop balloons feels astonishingly like a platforming/pinball hybrid.
Quirky genre mixers like CarneyVale: Showtime are often experimental affairs where the game isn’t nearly as good as the proof of concept. However, Showtime is notable for its extraordinary polish. From the smooth graphical performance to the coherent art direction to the bulletproof physics, the game practically gleams.
In addition to recognition in the PAX 10, CarneyVale: Showtime was nominated in the Independent Games Festival. We offered up our initial impressions there.
Genre: Puzzle Platformer
Online: Flash Game
Developer: Tyler Glaiel
and Jon Schubbe
Publisher: None yet
ESRB Rating: Unrated
Release Date: 1/2009
Every once in a while, a green shoot springs up from NewGrounds and reaches to the sky. In the case of Closure, it’s reaching for the light. It’s is one of those games where a developer takes a workaday genre and twists it until you barely recognize it.
Playing Closure is a bit like playing Braid: everything looks and feels familiar, but all the rules have been broken. You walk and jump from place to place, but the game world is lightless. You’re given a light bulb that illuminates a bit of space, and so long as you stay in that lit patch, everything is fine.
The catch is that your light bulb is the ultimate solipsist, and the world outside its illumination does not exist. So even if you just crossed a patch of floor, outside the light it becomes inky nothing. Attempt to tread there in darkness and you fall to your death.
This affords some advantages, as impassable walls are equally subject to the devouring darkness. So much of the game consists of trying to find your way and bypassing obstacles without leaving your light bulb too far behind.
According to the developer, the free flash game is an inspiration for the game that will debut at PAX. We’ll have details for you on what changed in our PAX coverage.
Genre: RTS (tower defense)
Developer: Subatomic Studios
Publisher: Subatomic Studios
ESRB Rating: Not Rated
Release Date: 9/29/08
- PSP (upcoming)
Last Year’s PAX mostly focused on console and computer gaming, but Fieldrunners is a genuine portable entry. The game takes classic tower defense gameplay and brings it to the iPhone.
The innovation of Fieldrunners is less about genre conventions than accessibility. Subatomic Studios has built a challenging game that reduces tower defense to its core (endless enemies, free building). The towers you use to stem the onslaught are literally a handful of buttons on the bottom of the screen. To build, you simply drag towers from the buttons and drop them on the play field wherever you like. You can build lethal mazes for your enemies, upgrade towers at a touch, and zoom for finer control.
It’s one of those rare games in the app store that makes effective use of the system’s touch interface. The end product is a game that takes one of the more forbidding genres and makes it instantly accessible to anyone.
Online: Level sharing
Developer: Studio Walljump
ESRB Rating: Unrated
Release Date: TBA
The PAX 10 will host the first playable build of Liight, but Nintendo has posted plenty of information about it at their site. In Liight you’re presented with a field of colored circles and some colored lights to shine on them. Your goal is to match the light shining on each circle to the circle’s hue, but the catch is that you’re only gifted a small number of primary-colored lights. Naturally, the circles are complex colors, so you’ll have to place the lights carefully and take advantage of the environment to cast shadows so the mixing comes out just right.
Liight is expected to ship with a standard puzzle mode, timed puzzles, a puzzle-builder, and the ability to host contests for fast solvers. The game will also dynamically generate music from your behavior, though if you’d like a taste of the themes, you can find them at Studio Walljump’s website.
Incidentally, we’d like to award Studio Walljump the prize for coolest company logo in the PAX 10.
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