Sportsfriends

Gaming At Rob's 17 Round-Up

We took a week out to recharge, but are back in time for a local multiplayer gaming package that we've been anticipating for a long time. This week, Gaming At Rob's was host to Sportsfriends and with that, we took to the street below my apartment for some intense sessions of Johann Sebastian Joust!

Johann Sebastian Joust (Sportsfriends) (GAR 17 Favourite)

7 players, each armed with a Move controller, face each other in a circle. When the match starts, classical music courtesy of Johann Sebastian Bach will play, and each player must hold their controller steady, as moving it too quickly will cause them to drop out of the match as the coloured light flashes red then fades out. At random intervals, the music will speed up, and the controller becomes less sensitive, allowing everyone to try some braver tactics to try and force their opponents out.

The Setup:

Earlier this week, during planning for the event, Danny suggested that we could try playing JS Joust on the path next to the street outside of my apartment window. I live on the second floor of an apartment block in central Madrid, and wasn't sure the bluetooth signal would reach that far, but decided to charge up my Move controller and give it a test. As soon as I stepped outside, pressed the PS button and saw that bulb light up again as it re-connected to the PS3 above, I knew that this GAR was going to be special.

The next technical conundrum to solve was to work out how to get the game's audio to be heard from down on the street. I decided that such a ridiculous game required an equally ridiculous technical solution for our setup, so I entered a FaceTime call between my iPad and my iPhone, set the iPad to face the TV and sit next to the main speaker, then took the iPhone downstairs, connected to a portable speaker. It all worked perfectly!

We played several sessions with between 4 and the full 7 players, and all tried different tactics, from swapping hands to going for spinning attacks and using the environment to our advantage. We had passers-by stop and watch in wonder, neighbours telling us to keep it down, and security keeping their beady eye on us whilst old men cheered for our cause.

Super Pole Riders (Sportsfriends)

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The rest of the Sportsfriends package consists of 2 versus 2 competitive games. In Super Pole Riders, a ball is suspended on a wire above the court, and everyone plays as a pole vaulter. Give the ball a poke with your pole, and you'll slowly be able to shove it towards the enemy target. The more efficient technique, of course, is to take a run towards it, plant your pole into the ground and vault towards it - get a good angle on it, and you'll give it a swift kick which sees it fly across larger distance. Your opponents are trying to do the same, and combat is based on who is higher off the ground when contact between players is made.

We had some closely fought matches, and tried out all of the arenas available, which introduce sections where reaching the ball is not possible without vaulting, and sections where there is no ground to plant your pole. The control scheme takes some getting used to, but after a few rounds the tug-of-war aspect of the game really shines through, and there's plenty of depth once you focus on communicating with your teammate.

Hokra (Sportsfriends)

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Simple graphics belie a game that can get really intense, each player controls a square and must get the ball into one of their team's colour-coded areas to start scoring points. With the ball, you can go for short or long passes, and without the ball you can dash forward to stun your opponent. Tag the ball carrier and you'll take it for yourself. You don't have to be holding the ball when it's in the area to score points, which opens up tactics such as throwing the ball forward so that it stops in the area, then coordinating with your teammate so that they pick it up and move on whilst you slow the enemy down.

This was my favourite of the team-based games, as I got great satisfaction out of completing a string of successful passes with Hush to keep the ball both in the area, and out of the other team's possession.

BaraBariBall (Sportsfriends)

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BaraBariBall takes some getting used to, but could have the longest legs once we crack into it. Another game about getting a hold of a ball and planting it in your opponent's goal, except this time that goal is a section of water, and +2 points are only given once the ball sinks off-screen. If you sink off-screen yourself, and have points to lose, you'll get -1. This doesn't sound too difficult, until you consider that you are limited in how many times you can jump before needing to recharge by standing on solid ground. We spent the least time with this one, but I'm looking forward to trying some of the other arenas and giving each of the other characters and special moves a go.

Sportsfriends was released this week, on PS3 and PS4. If you buy it on PS3, you'll get the PS4 version as well. Die Gute Fabrik are working on a PC release for this summer. Find out more about the package here. We'll be playing much, much more of it over the weeks to come, including checking out alternative rule-sets, trying the secret games, and giving JS Joust a go in the day-time with even more people!

Here's a video with some Johann Sebastian Joust highlights from the night:

Gaming At Rob's 16 - A Mini Round-Up

GAR 16 occurred at a very busy time for us, but we still want to talk briefly about the games we played, so here's a quick round-up:

Bishi Bashi Special - A crazy Japanese game, which is likely to have inspired WarioWare's microgame insanity, it was released on PS1 and was the only game in the series to come out on home consoles, with the rest seeing success in arcades in Japan. We had trouble figuring out what the controller requirements of the game were, but when things did work, it was bizzare and competitive, and so very late '90s. It's available on the SEN Store for PS3.

Divekick: Addition EditionIron Galaxy recently released a free update for Divekick, and we'll soon see a doubly updated version arrive on Xbox One and PS4. It's available pretty much everywhere else already. Divekick strips down the fighting game to a core principle, where "every combatant has one thousand health, and every divekick attack does one million damage", the update packs in more randomness and improvements to balancing which makes it a better game than it was upon initial release.

LuftrausersWe had the shortest of blasts during GAR 16, but I've actually played it for a number of hours on the Vita. A single player game, where you take to the skies to shoot down planes, fighters, boats, carriers and blimps. The control of your rauser is handled by a forward thruster and left or right turns, so easing off the 'gas' to let gravity pull you back down towards the sea is an exhilarating and necessary move, as you dodge constant threats from all sides. Out on PC, and Cross-Buy on PS3 and PS Vita.

Also played at GAR 16:

  • TowerFall Ascension
  • Goat Simulator
  • sync
  • SlashDash
  • Gang Beasts
  • Nidhogg

Push Me Pull You

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We first checked out PMPY during GAR 14, which at the time only ran in-browser. A new version this week features significant changes, and we had a long, 10-minute match of gruelling, best of 5, sumo tug-of-war action. The aim is to keep the ball in your team's half of the court, but there is a lane running around the perimeter which is essentially neutral ground. When the ball is outside of your area, the score you've accumulated will dissipate, leading to intense struggles as you try and force play back into your sector before attempting to restrict the opposing team's movement long enough for the semi-circle to fill up. The game is still in an early form but we see improvements here and can't wait to give it another go. PMPY's website explains more about the game.

We also played some more Gang Beasts and TowerFall Ascension.