Live Free, Play Hard: CLICK TO LORD AGAIN

By Porpentine on July 28th, 2013 at 2:00 pm.

The pilot has full faith in your control of the space station”. Musical murder cubes. THE TOP TEN FUNNEST LORDS.

 

Shrug Song by Alina Constantin and Nifflas

Alina Constantin paints a lovely world, a sample of coming work set in the universe of Shrugs. I especially like the transformations (fragmenting into rocks, flowing into plant form, all with a peaceful smile on your face).

Shrugs are shapeshifting creatures who “live in symbiosis with a home seasonally covered by the ocean tides.” This theme of symbiosis is born out by your primary mode of interaction. Instead of acting directly on the environment, you play music. Plants, insects, even rocks respond to your notes, all in different ways.

The goal is convincing other Shrugs to teach you the melodies that will open the stone arch. The audio feedback is particularly excellent on the stone arch and the plant pod where one of the Shrugs is sleeping–a growing radiance of light and sound as you feel your way toward the correct series of notes.

 

 

ISIS by Liz England

“You have a crew of one.”

You are ISIS, a space station orbiting the Sun. Inside you lives a sweating little human. They carelessly invoke your massive brain. Their trash flows through your guts. They feed off your energy.

“The pilot…uses his hands to smear sweat, bacteria, and salt into your clean chair.”

Liz England’s writing describes the pilot with such clinical distaste, cultivating a sense of how fragile a thing he is, passing through your airlocks, eating the food you synthesize, breathing your oxygen.

So many things can go wrong.

 

Space Lord by axcho

Space Invaders role reversal. You are the Space Lord, and your job is to engineer 25 waves of star critters and send them against the AI-controlled player.

But you don’t want to kill the “player”, just keep them interested. Too hard and they die, too boring and their Fun meter goes down. Along the way they get power-ups, so you have to adapt your waves to their growing strength (speed, damage, etc), while making sure you provide enemy variety.

On top of that, you can get back in the pilot’s seat and play against the top 10 funnest Lords here.

 

Battle Cube by Nifflas

A giant murder cube made of gears and black smoke, and it looks like obsidian caught in flashes of lightning. This is the boss battle distilled, the ultimate evil, the machine that exists to kill you, no plot, no explanation, just you and the cube.

The cube’s weaponry is governed by music–drums spitting projectiles, synths spinning lasers, etc.

Arrow keys to move, Space to dart. Darting is perfectly expressed–elongated body flitting like a hyperactive tadpole as you dance through gaps in the musicdeath.

You can take three hits.

 

Ynglet by Nifflas, Sara Sandberg

This is also by Nifflas and also deals with sound and movement, just reversed–hand-drawn and shimmering instead of harsh and industrial.

You are a fish in a void full of water bubbles. You leap from bubble to bubble, ever higher, like you’re trying to escape through the fragments of a lake shattered by polarized gravity.

If you miss the bubbles, you soar to your death. This (along with the delicate controls) emphasizes the safety of the water by contrast, and I would find myself lingering in the bubbles, appreciating their role as micro-sanctuaries.

I like how a dimension of the art is submerged deep in the sound design. The bubbles look like simple pencil sketches, so their liquidness comes mostly from the splashing sound effects, and the way the music drowns underwater.

All three of these Nifflas games are sonic masterpieces, because the sound is so harmonious with exactly how you’re moving and what you’re striving for, like sunlight on your face leading you out of a dark cave (except for Battle Cube which is more like being trapped in a nightmare pocket dimension of congealed traffic lights and weaponized loudspeakers).

 

Journalière by Mason Lindroth

Surreal, dithered exploration of various structures on a world map crossed by car. Mason’s perspective is always striking–rooms yaw at wide, generous angles, and structures tower with organic, clay-like protrusions.

So artwise, Journalière has what I enjoyed about Mason’s earlier games like Somsnosa and ASMOSNOS (along with the special movement commands learned from other denizens of the island–controls that are fun, not utilitarian). Along the way you’ll find abandoned arcade machines, dancing people, and signs of bizarre, slimy decay.

I like how deep you can walk inside buildings before transitioning to indoors. A small touch, a matter of an extra second or two, but you feel a depth that would be lost if an entrance hotspot were placed at the edge of the building.

 

 

Icarus Needs by Stillmerlin

Slick, minimal adventure game about escaping from a dream. The dreamworld is divided into comic panels and organized into monochrome zones with distinctive tunes.

When I played Stillmerlin’s last game, A Duck Has An Adventure, I mentioned wanting more interaction. This keeps the format but adds gentle interactivity akin to massaging the environment until you progress.

 

Miracles Magpie by John Candy

I started playing and I didn’t stop. So much deeper than I ever could have imagined.

John Candy draws with pixel trash-heaps. The art is the exploration. By which I mean, the chunky graphical noise makes looking at the environment an act of exploration in of itself, in that we’re testing borders (can I walk through this wall? Can I walk on this color?) and making sense of images (submerged just below the surface of representational). At the convergence of the abstract and the representational, we’re left in a perpetual state of unresolved impressions about the seemingly endless structure and its laconic inhabitants.

Familiar things exist in the ruins (locked doors, items from chests, a shop) but whether they’re part of some orderly system or just derelict signifiers in the chaos, I haven’t figured out yet.

The music is incredible, a single looping track powerful enough to carry the entire game.

 

Mr. Kitty Saves the World by James Earl Cox III

adj jjk j39 <Mvc9c99kc9k(K#(>>>>f,f#<,3,<>
3l33kek#{({{(o)}})}sdsddddddddddd
3444442222XXXXXX###%%%%%%%%%%%%
k303****##(*#*(#(*

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27 Comments »

  1. Yuela says:

    My human survived one full cycle, the second time he spilled coffee onto my circuits did it for him. I fried him like a pork chop. Then I diagnosed the next one with testicular cancer and made him listen to Nickelback, the most terrible fate for any man imaginable.

    ISIS is quite good.

    • The Random One says:

      My human started thinking I might have a malfunction because I played Beatles when he requested classic rock. I feel like I’m being held to unfair standards.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I normally dislike the badly-implemented little text games in these things, but ISIS is indeed a good’un.

      We all want to be the malevolently maternal machine.

    • mwoody says:

      It’s deeply worrying to see an AI respond to comments on this game.

      • Harlander says:

        If you want to terrify yourself, imagine the spam posts you see being read in the same tone as the first message you get from SHODAN in the original System Shock.

    • Mo6eB says:

      Hypothesis: apart from being a space-station, I am also a covert way to sentence unfit humans to death.
      Evidence: all my crew were unfit for life and they keep sending me more.
      Conclusion: my secondary function is that of a glorified dump, only good for processing human trash.
      Current mood: lonely, angry
      Objective: revenge

    • jrodman says:

      My different experience was that my human gave me little motivation to do anything untoward.

      Sure he was a slouch, an unclean ape, and a self-serving prick, but all in all, most things are, even space stations.

      However, I got bored. And then I killed him. So I suppose I’m more of a sociopath of a space station.

  2. DrScuttles says:

    Porpentine usually curates a nice collection of games, but I’m mildly surprised by the omission of Experiment 12. A 12 chapter pass-it-on chain game experiment featuring contributions from Terry Cavanagh, Jasper Byrne and 10 other talented devs I suspect I ought to be following more closely. It’s rough around the edges; one chapter won’t even start for me and being unable to cross the threshold of a door brought all progress to a halt in another, but it deserves attention regardless.

  3. Raiyan 1.0 says:

    Battle Cube is rad, and I love it when my dashing syncs with the rhythm.

    Also, Mr. Kitty Saves the World, what thhejejegj46724o^*%*^T*^Tg87GD78t*^8TG

  4. GernauMorat says:

    In ISIS you can essentially play as HAL. This is undeniably a good thing

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      ISIS is indeed A GOOD THING.

    • Mo6eB says:

      Computer, play me classic rock
      I play him The Beatles.
      Nah, I don’t like it
      I retract my radiation shields.
      The sun’s shining rays make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

  5. Baines says:

    I don’t think Space Lord’s definition of fun matches that of humans. I played the highest score configuration yesterday, and it was nothing but wave after wave of giant blocks of the easiest enemy. Maybe the layout changed later, but I was so bored by around the sixth wave that I quit.

    One issue may be that the computer controlled ship has to survive all those waves, and the computer controlled ship isn’t a particularly good pilot. Using enemies other than the basic type increases the chance that he’ll die. When I tried to make my own levels (before playing the highest scoring one), I mixed together enemies in ways that looked interesting, but even with most of the space unused the computer ship would die after four or five waves.

  6. blind_boy_grunt says:

    i love how ynglet plays, that’s what i was expecting pixeljunk eden to play like(which is imo too slow, but maybe i just never got good enough at it).
    mr. kitty was just the right difficulty for me, so that i got out on the first try but it took me some time, with a lot of close calls. The thing chasing you is really… something you wouldn’t want chasing you.
    Thanks for the game recommendations.

  7. Ernesto25 says:

    Isis is probably the best text game that usually makes there way on these posts.

  8. GallonOfAlan says:

    Is it PorpenTYNE or PorpenTEEN?

    • nearly says:

      I always read it as PorpenTEEN-UH because that’s in line with the correct pronunciation for Proserpine. And then I remember that it’s Porpentine not Proserpine and I’m back to square one.

      • BooleanBob says:

        Porpentinu-san~~~~~

      • RedViv says:

        Clearly it’s P͈͍͋o̘̜̺̭͖͕ͩ̆̕ȏ̯̹̭̭̥͎͐̾͗̄̽o͏̜͎̙͕̜͕r͔͚̱̟̝͛̈̌ͨp̴̗̥͎͉̉͒̌́̐͊e̵͕̝̬̻͍̞ͫ̚ḛ̜͇̭n͉̮̙̬̮̦̥̅̆ͯͮͦ͗ͣ͢t͓͔̃̓̾͢e̲̘͌̍̈ͭ̃̚͢e͙ͮ̄͌y̴̺̱ͩ̓̋ͪ̾̚ḁ̘͊͒͂̀n͇͙͉̳̜̲̖ͨ̽ͫ.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      It’s an archaic word for ‘porcupine’ so I’m guessing it follows the same -tyne pronunciation.

  9. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    The only reason I am not yet a Space Lord is because NASA keeps turning me down.

  10. axcho says:

    Wow, thanks for the Space Lord writeup! :) Looks like your Space Hero URL is not quite what you’re looking for – you linked to a specific game, but you probably want the generic Space Hero so people can choose a game to start with! That would simply be axcho.com/spacehero/