Gaming Renaissance

Lately, as a consequence of following Boingboing, I have been catching their periodic round-ups from their gaming-centric spin-off site, Offworld. As a consequence, I have observed what seems to me like a wonderful thing: a renaissance in classic gaming!

Two free games in particular have struck me recently with their sheer mind-blowing awesomeness, so much so that I am compelled to blog about them: Glum Buster and Music Catch.

Glum Buster

Justin ‘CosMind’ Leingang’s Glum Buster is random. I would not be the first to say so, if I said that the alien, unexplained sideways-scrolling nature of the beast strongly reminds me of the classic Another World. That said, this is nothing like Another World…

Glum Buster: The Red Tree

Glum Buster seems to revolve around the life on an anonymous little guy in what looks like a little yellow raincoat. One day this guy steps out his door and meets (spawns?) his evil doppelganger, who proceeds to suck him into a series of alternate/alien dimensions, where things are frickin’ strange!

The game is at pains to give you the minimum possible advice about how the controls work, and absolutely none about what they’re for. That part is a matter of exploration, changing anew with each little level. Occasionally, it seems as if a sequence of levels is progressing along some pattern, in terms of how each stage works, but then it will throw you again as it convolves in some previously unthinkable axis.

Beautiful and gentle, I can’t help thinking as I play that this game is what Hayao Miyazaki would have made if he were a hobbyist programmer, and not an animator.

Music Catch

Reflexive’s Music Catch 2 is a flash game with a non-free downloadable counterpart and, I gather, an iPhone port. It’s addictive, but without that arm-scratching, crack-addiction dementia that one tends to get from PopCap games.

Music Catch

It’s a concept alomst too simple to describe: wave your mouse pointer around. Collect as many as possible of the (numerous) blue things, and especially the yellow things, while avoiding the red things. Purple things provide a temporary ‘vacuum’ effect which only sucks up good stuff.

While complete, that description overlooks nearly everything that’s good or original about the game. In particular, it overlooks the feel, and it overlooks the music.

Music is central to the game: The things one collects or avoids are generated with a rate and distribution governed by the music. The downloadable game doesn’t have levels, it has tracks, and it will let you create your own new levels without limit… by selecting your own MP3s.

The resulting feel, with the thing-generating surface slowly revolving around the field of play, is hypnotic and serene, even when the music and the pace of the game are respectively driving and hectic.

Music Catch ably maximises the oldest heuristic for the quality of a game: It is very very easy to play, and very, very hard to master.

One thought on “Gaming Renaissance

  1. cool games – well, at least Music Catch, the other is windows-only 🙁
    I do think there are new opportunities for game makers – mostly that (finally) folks seem to have sorted out how to do micro-payments; you have a vastly higher chance of making money as a small developer if you can sell a game for $2 online than if you have to charge $80 and go through a physical store.
    Definitely thinking of writing something for Android – it looks like a great platform for developers. And if you check the (ovbiously biased) article at – it looks like the developer ease might be a big boost to Android…

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