Live Free, Play Hard: Then Mystical Snake Shit Happened

THIS WEEK: Slapstick fencing. DESTROY YOUR HOME. Mystical snake shit.



EGGNOGG by Paul Pridham and Connor Pridham

Niddhogg is amazing, but it isn’t out yet.

So this is a cover of Niddhogg that captures a lot of the greatness of the original–slapstick two-player fencing with chasing and stabbing and sudden death–while bringing its own ideas to the mix. Swords ricochet when you throw them instead of dropping to the ground, you raise and lower your sword incrementally rather than in stances, everything is a little cuter, etc.

As always, each player wants to reach the opposite end of the map. If you kill your opponent, you have a chance to advance to the next screen, if you’re fast enough. Advance enough screens and you win, that is, you throw yourself into a pool of lava.

You know you won though because the word WINNER flashes across the screen. Defeat means rebirth into this plane of eternal duelists, victory is permanent death. The loser LIVES.

You die in one hit, which encourages mind games. Are they lunging high? Going low? Throwing their sword? Jumping around like a goofball? Everything happens so fast that luck and skill collide and you’re not always sure which played a factor. These constant reversals are joyous.

None of which would matter if it didn’t FEEL GOOD. Not stabbing feels good because you evoke the archetype of the poised musketeer who differentiates themselves from Other People With Swords by Not Stabbing Immediately and Being Fancy For a Few Seconds While Thinking About Sword Science. If you’re good at blocking, you can smirk as they loose their cool and thus gain social dominance.

But failing to kill someone feels good too because the act of a sword blocking another sword causes a metallic ping, a spray of sparks, and a wobble–a delicious sensory nugget of visual, audio, and motion feedback.

And stabbing feels good because they DIE and being stabbed doesn’t feel terrible because you respawn in a few seconds and now they’re in a position of vulnerability, forced to present their back to you in order to make any progress.

At this point you might need to throw your sword to kill them before they escape. Unlike the other emotions in the game, which are mostly based on instantly dying or instantly not dying, throwing your sword is a delayed emotion with lots of swish. This is the video game equivalent of throwing a cracker at someone’s mouth and seeing if they catch it, except the cracker is a sword and they’re trying to get the fuck away from you, you monster. Failure leaves you unarmed, imbuing the swish with the added weight of sacrifice. Gambling with swords.


Misadventure by Matzerath

Demons have invaded your retro game console and they’re trying to kill you inside the game and if you don’t beat it fast enough they’ll kill you outside the game. This was the perfect thing to show me as I came down from a terrifying bad reaction to cough syrup, thank you Increpare for sending me this melting demonic glitchspace.

I like this because it combines the game itself with all this organic intrusion. Trying to obey the rules as the rules get spattered all over the wall.


We are in the woods by between

This is perfect, better played than read about.

What a way to play with short form. Which games become possible when, and only when, we make them 20 seconds long? 10 seconds? 5? 1?

And it is shortform in the way only a game could be, summoned up in a burst of interaction, confused fingers and eyeballs suddenly snapping into comprehension.

Robert Yang might say this plays with focalization, with our expectations of how consciousness is distributed throughout a game.


Explain menstrual periods to me like IAMA [cis] man by Kevin McGowan

Began as a Reddit thread designed to explain heavy periods to cis men, but a useful lesson to anyone who doesn’t have a uterus.

There’s a lot of mysticism over periods in mainstream culture–men are taught to be grossed out, women are told to conceal them. This ancient monthly cycle is frequently the subject of sexist humor (classic jokes like “what bleeds for a week and doesn’t die” that connote the period as “not only abohorrent but potentially non-human“) and a common insult when someone of any gender displays emotion.

So maybe understanding what a period actually signifies is worth our time.


Notes by Droqen

It’s a platformer with significant metatext. That is, you can’t get the high score of 8 points without consulting the notes written alongside the game.

The notes seem helpful at first. Type “111” to get a super jump, for instance. It’s made for people who like cheat codes, who thrill at playing God with just a few keystrokes.

But follow the notes faithfully and you’ll score nothing. So you have to experiment. The cool thing is going back after you score 8 points and reverse engineering how the codes work, if you have that kind of brain (it might appeal to a certain kind of programmer more than anyone else).


Canon by sparkleswirl

Make the cubes jump so they don’t get hit by other cubes. Four sides, four arrow keys. You can’t fix your eye on any one part like you would leaping through a platformer, you have to take in the whole screen and listen to the music of jumping. In Canon, leaping correctly is a tune, to the point where you could probably play blind if you tried hard enough. So it exercises peripheral vision and tunefulness as much as any amount of reflex.


Destroy your home by fabienporee

Destroy your home!

You have no weapons, no fists, all you can do is hurtle your body into your house over and over again until it breaks!

There’s a doggy too! The doggy has a secret!

I like that the premise of this game is that you destroy your house in the middle of an infinite grass wasteland under a gorgeous sky as a dog watches. That’s the kind of “outside perspective” we need in games.





Doodal by Pishtaco


Tweak the position of the blue rectangle for FRACTAL ZOOMING. According to Terry, “This is the bit that’s AWESOME. Grab one of the corners and move it around and you’ll see!”

Under “fractal tools” you can add and remove layers, enable complex roots, that sort of thing.

Colors can be mixed like a palette, by selecting one of the white squares in the third row down, holding shift, and clicking on colors to mix them.


The Queen of Snakes by JO99 and Kronsilds

The Queen of Snakes is a point and click adventure in a truly eerie temple full of petrified snakepeople and nigh-hallucinogenic textures. Every inch is crawling with JO99’s intricate, hyper-detailed art, a lush, byzantine density that feeds the mind as you search for clues.

Kronsild’s music starts out with a hypnotic rattle and the slow, ominous beat of drums, building at your descent into the almost alien corridors. Every item you take sounds like you disturbed a rattlesnake.

Alien, yeah, otherworldly menace, not the fantasy world equivalent of a bunch of office cubicles reskinned with rock textures. It feels like a place where a snake queen lived and mystical snake shit happened.


  1. Crimsoneer says:

    Oh wow, a version of Nidhogg I can actually play!

    • Mad Hamish says:

      I saw people playing Nidhogg well over a year ago and it looked fairly complete provided that was all it was going to be. What’s taking it so long? I remember it seemed to pop out of nowhere(years ago) with hype and critical acclaim already formed with it in the womb. I looks like a game I’d love to play.

      • Sivart13 says:

        I imagine the guy has some kind of perfectionism / fear of shipping.

        The version that he showed off at GDC for years was clearly a complete enough version of the original idea. Two guys with swords, running left, running right, get to the end and someone wins. That’s all you need.

        Unless he started turning it into a 4-d open world Oculus Rift experience I don’t imagine he’s doing anything to it that merits the long dev cycle.

      • Oozo says:

        I think I remember hearing that it was never meant to “ship” in the first place. It was designed as an “nu-arcade” game that people should play in more or less public settings (exhibitions, Babycastles, Wild Rumpus, and all those other gathering-of-the-tribe-style events). You know, kind of what the Sportsfriends-games were designed for, too.

        Looks like Messhof is taking that very seriously… so I wouldn’t be surprised if the game will never actually be “released” as a product for us home PCs. (But maybe he’ll change his mind — after all, there will be a version of “Johann Sebastian Joust” soon for purchase, too.)

        • Kitsunin says:

          Aww what? I can kind of respect the idea, but it’s a bit pointless if it’s not something you’re ever actually going to see at that sort of event. It’s called not…err…living in England? Nidhogg sounds ab-so-lute-ly perfect to bring along to a foreign student party here, but I guess it’s not going to happen. Sort of an exclusive “Cool kids” who can afford a plane ticket game, eh?

          Sorry, that kind of thing just makes me feel a bit bitter. Well, at least DiveKick isn’t too far off, it sounds better anyways…stupid grapes.

          • tentaclesex says:

            If you’re hosting an event, maybe he would hook you up with a copy. Either that, or build a Winnitron.

            Or, go to cool parties.

        • kwyjibo says:

          Same here, always thought that Nidhogg was just a performance/event piece.

        • Olivaw says:

          Yeah, well, some of us who would like to play Niddhogg don’t live in the fancy urban nu-arcade indie tribe paradise that others get to enjoy.

          If you’re going to bring your game to GDC and IGF and accept a bunch of kudos and adulation for it, then you should let people outside your fucking exclusive little clique play your fucking game.

          Rubs me the wrong way, it does.

          • Kitsunin says:

            Yeah, I’m really with you on the whole accepting awards and junk thing. It’s like showboating: “Bet you’d love to try this out, it’s sooooo much fun, look at our awards. You just need to go to, ahh, one of the right 6 places on the whole planet.” It wouldn’t bother me so much if only there were more games that work well for parties and convincing friends who otherwise don’t like games to play.

            But as it is, this is triggering flashbacks to my childhood.

        • Berzee says:

          That’s fine if it’s true, but it also means that Nidhogg shouldn’t get coverage on a website about games that you can play on your personal computer, as it is technically more of an arcade game. (I guess the bulk of the coverage probably happened before people realized that it was an elusive legend, though).

          I’m glad someone made a playable game of this type! Way to go, playable gamesmaker.

    • roryok says:

      is your avatar Myspace Tom in the nip?

    • tulebuhyhafeA4 says:

      Alexandra. true that Joseph`s st0rry is nice… on wednesday I got a great new Mazda MX-5 after bringing in $8525 this last five weeks and just a little over $10 thousand lass-month. no-doubt about it, this really is the most comfortable job I’ve ever had. I started this nine months/ago and pretty much immediately made at least $70… per-hour. I follow this website,,
      (Go to site and open “Home” for details)

  2. Liudeius says:

    It’s not relevant to the subject but:
    Does anyone know why RPS seems to redirect me to itself ten times on the home page? (If I click back, I have 10+ entries for RPS.)

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      The “back” button actually triggers a short-term memory erasure pulse from your browser. You actually did read it 10+ times.

      • Liudeius says:

        I meant to say when I right click back (and see a list of 10 RPS pages).
        So I guess it’s reading the front page which causes memory erasure.

  3. cloudnein says:

    Queen of Snakes = awesome puzzle adventure, I only had to look at the walkthrough once and it was a “duh” moment so patience might have gotten me there.

    • Tagiri says:

      My favourite this week – lots of puzzles that made sense and gorgeous art.

  4. phelix says:

    Doodal is utterly wonderful. Try it if you have 10 minutes to spare.

    • Fluka says:

      I used those 10 minutes to produce an infinite cat drawing, and my life is all the richer for it!

  5. Matzerath says:

    Thank you for your kind words about my creepy game!

  6. Dark Acre Jack says:

    EGGNOG has me dreaming of a future where independents create better & more widely-available versions of other videogames.

    • Dr I am a Doctor says:

      Except one step behind
      Which means good and available indie games

    • JackShandy says:

      Activision lies in ruins after indie games KILLERS CREED, CALL OF SPIRIT and TONY EAGLE sweep their audience out from under them.

    • Phasma Felis says:

      Replace “available” with “accessible”, and several people are attempting to do that for Dwarf Fortress. DF’s ambition, sweep, and ideas are frankly stunning; I’m really looking forward to seeing what it looks like when made by a game designer who actually designs a game instead of precisely modeling the thermal characteristic of bauxite for five years.

  7. Michael Fogg says:

    That IF piece – an arresting bit of body horror, with some nods to Oriental slashers

  8. The Random One says:

    Pretty great selection this week, as usual. I must be really rusty because I couldn’t figure out what Notes’ REAL AND TRUE goal should be.

  9. Eliijahh says:

    I’ve played Eggnogg with my father and we’ve been having fun like two children. BTW looking at the videos about nidhogg, eggnogg looks much more fun! You don’t want to release it? Here’s a free, better version! Suck it xD

    • Niko says:

      Eggnogg is really hilarious when you have someone to play with (and preferably more people to watch).

      • Eliijahh says:

        Yeah I agree. I played today with one of my friends and we’re already planning 2vs2 and 1vs1vs1vs1 tournaments. If this game would have multiplayer I would definitevely buy it!

  10. untiltheygo says:

    I only found this by chance last night and I just want to say, gosh! Explain Menstrual Periods is my first ever game and I wouldn’t even have made it if not for Porpentine, so… yes, gosh. Thank you for featuring it. I’m very pleased to be helping to demystify the horrible, healthy, human reality of periods. :3