Talkin’ Bout A Revolution: Babel

Best headline of my career to date.

Remember Fez, that badass-looking indie platformer where you rotated the level to get around? Remember how it was scheduled for 2009, and then Microsoft bought it and it disappeared without so much as a scream into the oily depths of the Xbox Live Arcade release schedule? It’s now arriving in “2011” as an XBLA exclusive. Sad times.

But the PC will not be crushed! Presenting Babel, a freeware game created for the Retro Renaissance Challenge where devs add a modern mechanic into an old-school 2D platformer. Babel’s creator, Endurion, happily describes it as “Fez ripped off”. You can get Babel here, and watch a video after the jump. Thanks to Michael “Mike” Rose of the IndieGames Blog for the tipoff.

Who needs charming graphics, eh? 8 bits is the best possible number of bits.

First 7 minutes of the game can be found below. If you move your head really far to the left and right while watching it, it’s kind of like you’re playing the game and rotating the world. But not really. Probably just play the game yourself, but be warned! Your character has the biggest jerk of a jump I can remember experiencing in months.


  1. Lewie Procter says:

    Have Mike have to shout at you to get you to post this?

    • Quintin Smith says:

      He shouted for me to post it, then shouted at me when I posted it. I suspect he’s just keeping his voice in fighting condition.

  2. stahlwerk says:

    First 7 minutes in which the player seems to be genuinely lost for about 3 minutes. I fear I wouldn’t fare better, but I may try later.

    • BAReFOOt says:

      I wonder why nobody came up with the idea of just looking at it from above! :D
      And I don’t even wonder, why nobody did this, but added time as another swappable and free-rangeable dimension.
      You know: Go back in time until the house does not yet exist, move “into” the house, go forward in time… and shout at the stupid builders, for moving you to the dump to make place for the house. ^^

    • Tei says:

      Rinkuhero is another indie game dev, so he probably has seen really werid games… in alpha, pre-alpha and the states that are pre-pre-alpha.

    • Quintin Smith says:

      Barefoot: Babel lets you look at the level from above by pressing space! …kinda!

  3. the wiseass says:

    Wait, what? FEZ is not coming to PC? Damn you Phil Fish, damn you to hell!

    • BooleanBob says:

      First I heard of it too. And onward again comes the infinite sadness.

    • sfury says:

      Well fuck that and fuck Microsoft.

    • Scorpi says:

      I live in Montreal and regularly interact with a lot of the indie games scene there. I wish I could say that the Xbox exclusive deal is only temporary, and that when I asked people involved with the project about PC release they told me, verbatim, “don’t even worry about it.” But I can’t say those things because it would void some contract or something. So I won’t say those things.

    • the wiseass says:

      @Scorpi: I wish I could say that what you said is true because then I could say that you’ve rekindled my hope. Thanks for nothing ;-)

  4. Mike says:

    Hey Lewie, remember when Quinns STOLE MY DRINK

  5. MattJames says:

    I’m pretty sure MS just agreed to publish Fez on XBLA. This would force a period of exclusivity on the game, after which it could be ported to other platforms, like the PC. If the game is successful you’d expect them to port it to every platform they can.

    Aside: you’d be a bit mental to pass up the opportunity to publish on XBLA in order to release on PC. Especially with an arcade/console style game like Fez. People are going mental about Minecraft selling 300k copies, games released on XBLA routinely sell that many (and more).

  6. Nallen says:

    I remember being frickin confused by Fez the first time I saw it. Nothing has changed.

    Hey has anyone noticed how playing a lot of Starcraft 2 makes you try and optimise your ‘build order’ and ‘timing’ when doing things like the washing up? I also now think things like, “I’ll have a cheese and pickle sandwich transitioning it to ready salted crisps for lunch”

    • BooleanBob says:

      It’s like, man, GG if you leave your glass of orange juice on the counter instead of balancing it on your plate when you take that sandwich over to the table. Nobody gets away with that kind of sloppy micro at this level.

  7. theunshaven says:

    Boo for Fez being stolen from us and our sovereign domain! Yay for someone giving us an alternative route into the content, even if particular iconic hattery is missing.

    – The Unshaven

  8. terry says:

    So is this Microsoft’s new scheme to kill PC gaming since GFWL didn’t work?

    • Jad says:

      Yeah, the exclusivity and just general popularity, non-piraty-ness of XBLA/PSN is worrying.

      Whenever articles about major AAA developers abandoning the PC scene pop up here, there’s always someone who says “It’s fine, we don’t need them, we still get all the much more innovative indie games”. And now that’s not really true, either. Sure, the PC will always get a certain number of indie games, that will never stop, but I’m seeing more and more high-production-value, well-made, interesting indie games going console-only, or at least having highly delayed releases on PC — Limbo, Braid, Fez, Trials HD and many others.

    • Wulf says:

      Not sure that they’ll keep the pirates out for much longer, there are promising projects in those regards that might make the consoles as piracy-laden as the PC already is. Hell, the Wii has already been busted wide open, so it’s only a matter of time.

      It’ll be interesting to see what happens then.

  9. arqueturus says:

    Wan’t there a Mario game that did something very similar to this?

    • Man Raised By Puffins says:

      Super Paper Mario did some 2D to 3D shifting but not in the same way, Kuju’s Crush for the PSP is probably closer in concept.

  10. Serj says:

    Boo for Fez devs selling themselves to MS.
    And MS can go to hell together with their X-coffin and XBLA.

  11. Navagon says:

    Very intriguing. Thanks for sharing.

  12. adonf says:

    congratulations, you deserve a nice hat for this pun

  13. Wulf says:

    I was never sold on Fez, but I suppose that had to do with Fez looking like vapourware for so very long, and with me not being the biggest fan ever of Mr. Fish. That he’s buggered off to the console land with an exclusivity deal just confirmed my general dislike. :p

    This, however, is already out and isn’t surrounded by any arrogance or pretension, so I think I’ll go download it!

  14. JP says:

    Any game that uses the C64 palette is automatically awesome.

  15. zachanima says:

    Babel is an (awesome) text-based Interactive Fiction game, was nearly impossible to find last time I tried. This similarly named game will only make it harder.

    Part of the gameplay is sloppy, I can’t keep playing with that kind of jump mechanic and not feel I am torturing myself. Which is a pity, because I would have wanted to want to get more into it.

    The main menu tune (by Tristan Douglas Smith, apparently) is short but brilliant, though.

  16. Po0py says:

    Huh? Microsoft stole Fez?! Holy shit. That is just nasty.

  17. Urael says:

    So now we understand that Microsoft’s membership of the PC Gaming Alliance is as much about helping PC gamers as their membership of the Open Source movement was in helping Linux.

    Clearly, evil leopards don’t change their black, worm-ridden spots.