The most rewarding thing about GAR is launching a new game for the first time and then seeing everyone in the room get excited about it. Here are 5 games that are unique and special in one way or another, featuring stealth, first-person local multiplayer, cartoon violence and most important of all, dick physics.
Mount Your Friends
This is our favourite new game to get a quick round in on at GAR, as it's immediately entertaining and accessible. You control a speedos-clad muscle man using the left stick and the face buttons, each one paired to a limb. You have a minute to reach the summit of the mountain, which starts off as a goat perched zen-like atop a stick. As you set the new 'peak', the next player must then get that little bit higher within the time limit in order to avoid elimination.
As the mountain gets increasingly difficult to climb, play gets more and more desperate, with everyone cheering on the active player as they struggle to get a purchase on that nasty overhang left by the last eliminated player. The action is all set against the backdrop of an orchestral music soundtrack, which rather than clashing with the ridiculousness of the game, actually elevates it by suggesting that it's some tragic twisted future where humanity is struggling for survival by climbing as high as they can.
We have a lot of fun identifying the different techniques employed by players, including the slow and steady Spider, the full body stretch of the Monkey, and the risky but efficient Slingshot where players swing and detach from the mountain to then stick back on higher up. Each new character that spawns is randomly generated, pulling from an oddball set of faces, speedo styles and nonsensical character names.
Stegersaurus' ridiculous little masterpiece is full of alternative modes, including Fencing and Coin Race which pits two players against each other at the same time, and options to create or even import custom characters. You should go and check it out, it's been on Xbox Live Indie Games for a while and recently hit PC on Steam where it seems to be gaining popularity. [Steam][XBLM]
Hidden in Plain Sight
Here's another game that has made its way to PC after spending time on XBLIG. It's a single-screen multiplayer game that plays with the concept of blending in with the crowd, ala The Ship and the Assassin's Creed multiplayer modes.
Each player controls a randomly assigned character, but to begin with you won't know which one is you. Winning will take a combination of hiding your identity by pretending to be just another AI controlled sprite, and keeping an eye out for your opponents as they try to do the same. There are 5 game modes, some better than others due to balancing, but all require that you play a little differently than how you might normally, in order to succeed. Stick your neck out a little too far and you'll get unwanted attention and a bullet in your noggin.
Our favourite mode is Catch A Thief, with one player picking up coins in the level and 3 snipers trying to find them before time runs out. The snipers can mark sprites as innocent if they weren't passing through a coin when the pick-up sound rings out, allowing them to narrow down their search. We have a lot of fun here, as it can get very tense for the thief as they try to stay hidden just long enough, but of course a sniper might incorrectly tag them as innocent, allowing them to run wild and grab a load of points under safe cover. It's a clever little game that deserves some recognition for playing with the concept in a single-screen multiplayer environment. [Steam][XBLM]
The most stylish game in this week's Round-Up, Chambara is 2v2 first-person sword-fighting with an additional concept that can make combat a little different: the level consists of only two colours, and each team is dressed in one of these colours.
Stood against a wall of the same colour, you can hide and lie in wait for your opponent, with a pull of the left trigger closing your character's eyes, preventing them from identifying where you might be. Each level has a different colour palette and layout, and taking advantage of this unique concept is quite tricky when first starting out - early fights regularly result in direct combat, but players that look for an advantage will think more carefully about where they stand when traversing the 3D environment, making for some entertaining moments when someone gets the drop on their competitor or helps their teammate out of a tricky spot by launching themselves from out of the shadows.
It's early days for Chambara, but there's something interesting here that's worth keeping an eye on. In the meantime, you can download the build created for the Dare to be Digital competition. [Website]
We've all taken a sneaky peek at our friends' screens in a match of Goldeneye or TimeSplitters back in the day. Developer Surprise Attack is taking a side-effect of split-screen play and using it as the base concept for Screencheat. Here, the character models of your opponents don't show up for you, and so you're actively encouraged to look at the other segments of the screen to get a bearing on their position and place your shots.
I love the idea of it, and the actual feel of the game is reminiscent of that first wave of split-screen first person shooters. There are two modes to play right now, one being a straight up Deathmatch that is where the action is. The King of the Hill mode doesn't quite fit the concept, because it's a mode that requires far less thought for where to go and where to shoot. You can pretty much just fire into the hill and don't need to keep track of where other players are. Still, there's a way to go before the game's release in October, so we're hoping for some crazy maps and modes that will really bring out the best from the concept. [Steam]
The Behemoth sure knows how to make characterful games that still call back to their Newgrounds.com roots. There's an overwhelming breadth of cooperative and competitive content here, and some of the gameplay modes are bloody brilliant.
In addition to a story mode that has you navigating through increasingly difficult challenges, alone or with a friend, there is a multiplayer section with a huge list of different modes. You'll be chasing a golden whale to collect money, or maybe playing an odd version of basketball, stealing each others' fat ponies, platforming through the level to tag blocks for points.. there are way more hits here than misses. The controls aren't as slick and precise as, say, Super Meat Boy, which is kind of the benchmark for speedy 2D platforming these days. It makes getting around and interacting with important like basketballs a bit hit-and-miss, but it's not a deal-breaker. We've only really scratched the surface of what we can do here as there is community-created content too, so we'll be back for more, guaranteed. [Steam][XBLM]