Last week saw this year's Global Game Jam - the world's largest hackathon, in which teams come together to spend 48 hours creating something weird and wonderful. With 2106 games just for Windows, it's tough to know exactly where to start. So start here, with a weird and wonderful few that caught the attention of the newly installed Eye of Sauron atop RPS Towers.
This year's theme? "A beating heart". I'm almost positive there will be no puns.
Heart To Get
"Why, aorta play this," I thought, slightly glad that I waited until after lunch before checking out the trailer. It's a spin on that classic game - squeezing handfuls of meat to the tune of a heart-beat to help squishy little monsters find love. With a pun-baiting premise like that, it was going to top any RPS list even if that was cholesterol there was to it and the actual game was a bit of a liver and let down. Certainly, not much is likely to muscle in and start chewing the fat, and if you like the heart-felt concept, the trailer should be the baconning of an amused smile.
For all the other puns, check the comment thread below. (Probably)
Follow The Beat
Wouldn't it be nice if romance was really this easy? You just wander into a pretty park, prick your ears back, and wander until you find the person your heart beats for. And then they automatically reciprocate. That said, it does seem a little odd to do all of that work, then go "Hurrah! Level 2!" and find a different soulmale. Truly, we live in cynical times. Bonus points though for not only allowing boy and girl players, but choosing which you want to chase after.
Nighty Nighty Honey
A rare example of a game using a text parser, rather like the old interactive fiction games of old, or Facade more recently. You're a little child suffering from nightmares in this short little fable that parents especially will immediately feel a deep emotional connection to.
Heart Of The Dead
Oh, thank goodness. Finally, someone has the vision to give those poor, over-looked zombies their own game. Still, this one is quite fun. You've got to defend the world's largest house from the focused hordes by grabbing randomly generated items. Think of it as Hotline Migodthedeadarerisingfromtheirgraveswearealldoomeditellyoudoomed!
The Unseen Evil
From one classic monster to another. This house of ladies is filled with potential vampiresses, hiding out in their best - ahem - Carmilla-flage. Only you, as the lady in red, can track down the mistresses of the night and stake them. It's a puzzle game at heart about driving the different residents into isolated places so that you can check their heartbeat and do the dead. Simple as you'd expect, but easy to see becoming more complex with a few School Daze type world simmulation elements on top of the item mechanic. Not necessarily in a school.
Bear Game 2013: The Unbearable Curse That Bearly Makes Sense But Just Bear With It Fur Surely You'll Get To The Bear Bones Of The Situation
I have nothing to add to that. You're a guy who's turned into a bear, and has to persuade his friend that you have turned into a bear, because you're a bear now. Doesn't exactly have the production values of Pixar's Brave, but does include some bouncy music.
Do Not Resuscitate
The best thing about this one is that it's 100% medically accurate - if you get run over, your internal organs do grow to Godzilla size and start wrecking the town. The result is essentially Rampage, only with a giant heart (the rest of the organ gang are unavailable to play as, unfortunately). Slows down quite a bit, and fighting the doctors rather than trashing the buildings could do with a bit more generous collision detection. Cool idea though.
More than a little reminiscent of Ghost Trick over on those little handheld toy things, Spooky has you as a naughty ghost trying to literally scare a security guard to death by abusing the environment with your magical power. Mean? Yes. Perhaps even "Really, Really Mean With A Cherry On Top". But all will be explained at the end, it promises here...
I'm not sure if this game quite manages to get its point across. The idea is that as an introverted college type, you're trying to go about your day without making eye contact. Look up from the floor though, and the terrifying T-Posed pod people and their bulging eyes tell a different story. You're clearly in more of an I Am Legend type situation where the rest of the world has been mysteriously afflicted overnight, hoping not to be noticed. They don't even speak in human voices any more, just Charlie Brown trumpets. But college is expensive, and it would be a waste to just run away, start a resistance and become the saviour of humanity.
Besides, that would definitely involve eye-contact, and that's not your thing. Better... better to just go along with it. Now, where's that locker? Oh. It's... in the hall. Oh dear.
Surgeon Simulator 2013
Yes, yes, we've looked at this one already, I know . Of the Gamejam releases though, this is easily the most amusing toy we've come across - as annoyed as I am with anyone who got in first with the "QWOPeration" joke - so here it is once again. I like to think of it as being where Team Fortress 2's Medic learned his craft - a simple but gory little toy that takes "First Do No Harm", smacks it in the skull with a claw-hammer, takes out its brain, and invites its mates for a game of football. YouTube has spoken - Surgeon Simulator 2013 is hilarious.
And that's just ten of the games released this year. Have you discovered any diamonds in the rough, clever gimmicks, funny jokes, or even full entire games that squeezed into the deadline? If not, take a deeper look. With so many games, you never know what you'll find...