Turn-Based Biff ‘Em Up: Aztez

Aztez is a game in which men hit one another with swords, a stab and slash ’em up made by a man who has thought deeply about fighting games, written down those thoughts, and then created a system of his own. The detail of the mechanics isn’t in overblown special moves but in the length of animations and the timing of button presses. With visuals that invoke the black, white and crimson of Madworld and a turn-based conquest game atop the combat, it’s shaping up to be a very lovely thing indeed. New developer diary below.

I’ve never written anything that has made me moan with pleasure when reading it back to myself, which makes me infinitely less of a man than designer/artist Ben Ruiz who seems to take great pleasure in demonstrating his game. He is making Aztez with programmer Matthew Wegner and seems pleased with what the two have built so far and with good reason. Even though release isn’t planned until this time next year, the nitty gritty of the mechanics already seems to be implemented with a great deal of care.

As well as a designer, and this is integral to his work as a designer, Ben is a critic of fighting games. Over at his blog there are plenty of intelligent dissections of combat systems, including a fantastic reading of Bayonetta.

Builds of Aztez are playable in Unity now and I’m fascinated to see how all of Ben’s passion and critiques of the genre will translate into a finished game of his own. The boardgame aspect could add a sense of purpose and continuity that I wish more beat ’em ups contained after being spoiled by whichever of the Soul Caliburs had the neat adventure mode that seems to have been inexplicably dropped in favour of clothes that fall off and body parts that jiggle ever more enthusiastically.


  1. wcanyon says:

    First thing I thought: Karateka.

  2. johnki says:

    I love the style. Reminds me of MadWorld.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Lets hope it’s a bit better than Madworld though.

      • johnki says:

        Whaaat? I loved MadWorld. The over-the-top gore and using people as darts was both cynically funny and awesome at the same time.

      • InternetBatman says:

        First there was the overt racism, and it was very racist. A character even comments on it in China town.

        Then there was the fact that you had to grind kills to open checkpoints, which made levels confusing because you were never sure if you were missing something or just hadn’t killed enough people.

        After that you started to notice how same-y all of the fights were, and how boring it got after a very short while.

        Finally there were the absolutely terrible commentators with their tired homophobic jokes.

        All of these added up to a bad game, made to attract “hardcore” adolescents who wanted blood on the wii, with tons of style but little substance. There’s nothing wrong with dumb violence, but a game has to offer more than Madworld did.

        • johnki says:

          Ah, see, I mostly ignored the jokes and focused on the action. And I liked the action for what it was. There were enough little things in between to break it up, for me at least.

          That said, it isn’t exactly an American made game. The racism might be more kosher in Japan where Platinum Games is from. Maybe even a little self-mocking. I don’t know. Can’t remember who all it targeted.

  3. nasenbluten says:

    I like how it feels but all that white is blinding and distracting for me.

    • maninahat says:

      Yeah, I’m not too keen on this being another game that’s black, white and red all over. In this case, its especially bad, as you’d typically associate Aztecs with bright, vibrant and tropical colours. To use black and white feels like a waste of a setting.

  4. Vagrant says:

    This might be the best developer voice over ever.

  5. Hoaxfish says:

    Is this a fighting game as in “run and punch many dudes progressing through a level” or “one on one in an arena” (person or tag-team) fighting?

    • Dreforian says:

      beat-em-up like TMNT 2 or Two Crude Dudes

    • Mantolith says:

      Hey! This is Ben Ruiz! In the beat ’em up portions of the game you’ll be in a variety of small, arena-like spaces in which you will be fighting against many opponents in a smattering of contexts: defend against waves, kill the one powerful opponent, defend a character, be spectacular for points, etc. :) Think Bayonetta or Devil May Cry except instead of moving from room to room, you bounce in and out of combat events from the turn based strategy portion of the game. :)

  6. smeaa mario says:

    I was beginning to think that this project was sent for the oblivion or something. Good to see it is still on track.

  7. sinister agent says:

    Lovely animations, which are vital for a good facepunching and jumping around game. I’m not quite convinced it’ll be something I really want to play, but that’s just my weird tastes. It looks very promising.

  8. reggiep says:

    I’m a big fan of Dishwasher and Shank, and this seems to be similar in many respects. I will have to keep my eye on it.

  9. Dreforian says:

    “whichever of the Soul Caliburs had the neat adventure mode”
    Can’t remember what it was called but you’re thinking of Soul Calibur 3. Super long strategy game with fighting game combat which I (eventually) beat despite my negative skill in the genre. Personally I liked Weapon master mode from SC2 better but the strategy mode in 3 did manage to hook me and drain me dry of free time.

  10. wodin says:

    Turn based…I’m confused..I saw nothing turn based..boardgame…I’m confused I saw nothing boardgame like…..I saw black and white version of Shank without guns though.

    • Mantolith says:

      Ben Ruiz here! We haven’t gone into too much detail about the turn based strategy parts of it yet because we’re in the process of fusing the two gameplay types together. Weird Worlds: Return To Infinite Space is the most appropriate analog. If you’re not familiar, it would be in your best interest to get familiar because Weird Worlds is an INCREDIBLE game. :)

  11. Funso Banjo says:

    Anyone else struggling to get the counters to work?

    I get the blocking, but the counters don’t work for me using the same key combo that the developer discusses?

    • Mantolith says:

      This is Ben Ruiz! Just out of curiosity, how are you playing the game? The build with blocking/parrying/countering in it was not made publicly available so I’m confused.

      But since you have it somehow, I might as well tell you how it’s done. Haha! While holding block, push the Left Dash button to parry left and push the Right Dash button to parry right. If the parry connects the enemy will fly backwards and you’ll have a brief window in which to counter with either attack button.

  12. gwathdring says:

    Color me intrigued. It’s rather lovely.

  13. rustybroomhandle says:

    Turn-based biffing, you say? Toribash!

    • Ernesto says:

      Exactly what I had in mind!
      But apparently it’s nothing like that. Genre names get really confusing these days…

  14. thebigJ_A says:

    Looks like Dark Souls’ combat, really. Timing based parrying, length of animations being imperative, etc. That makes me interested. Dark Souls had fantastic melee combat.

    • JackShandy says:

      The difference seems to be, Dark Souls had a depleting stamina bar. Dark Souls was about slow exhaustion and tension, this game is about building combos as fast as possible.

  15. Revisor says:

    Wow, that Bayonetta article is very interesting. So when is it coming to PC? :)

  16. Tony M says:

    The voiceover guy has a natural sounding enthusiasm for his game that put the pro-marketing guys to shame.

  17. Bobtree says:

    Screen shaking on every hit! Please, please, please don’t do this. It is abusive and extremely tiresome.

    Rainbow Moon has an awful case of screen-shake-itis as well. Good game, terrible visual effect.