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Thrust-N-Slide: Flowstorm

How do you feel about thruster-based games? Me – I’m terrified of them, bringing back haunting memories of endless hours, days, months, failing at Moon Cresta. Oh God, Moon Cresta. Just the name evokes some mad synaesthesiac response, let alone those hateful, HATEFUL Atomic Piles. Oh man, I need a hug… Sorry, far off track. My traumatic Speccy past aside, Flowstorm is absolutely nothing like Moon Cresta, thank all that’s holy. But it is a game about manoeuvring a little rocket ship THAT’S A DANGEROUSLY SIMILAR SHAPE TO MY NIGHTMARES, through ludicrously tight curvy corridors. And what’s rather pleasing to discover is that’s a game about skidding, as much as it is thrusting. (Missus.)

Currently it’s actually just an “web prototype“, existing to fuel interest in a Kickstarter. But it’s already an extremely playable, extraordinarily difficult web game. If you watch the footage in the Kickstarter video, you can imagine my version of playing by slowing it down to about a twentieth of the speed, with the rocket using a walking frame.

Your ship, which appears to have been constructed out of one-atom-thick glass, really oughtn’t bump into things. The teeniest tap sees it shattered, and you starting over (absolutely instantly, impressively, with a previously best completion automatically shown as a ghost). However, the bottom of your ship is seemingly metal, and can touch the edges. In fact, it’s positively encouraged, as you’re supposed to be skidding and sliding all over at extraordinary speeds. Or in my case, like an 82 year old man’s first attempt at ice skating.

Currently there are 9 levels on the main page, along with a few user-created ones to add in. Pledge $25 in the Kickstarter and you get the downloadable alpha version (for $15 you don’t get the alpha, but do get the game on release), which includes the level editor too, and access to the wealth of other levels created by other backers. What’s available for free is certainly a superb taster for the full game, and more importantly, a good free game to be playing today as it is.

It’s so difficult, but damn if I don’t want to just keep playing. The sense of an instant learning curve, and immediately recognisable improvement is enormously rewarding. And since it’s free (and the registration doesn’t even require responding to an email to get logged in), you really ought to check it out.

And why not join me in watching some footage of Moon Cresta, and becoming genuinely a bit uncomfortable by it:

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John Walker

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One of the original co-founders of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, I'm now a senior editor and general hero of humanity.

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