Every month, we dispatch Brendan to some of gaming’s best blowouts to schmooze and play party games with the partygoers. This is part three.
Loading Bar (aka Scenario) is a videogame-themed bar in London that hosts gigs, games and parties. As well as having a cushy basement filled with screens and games consoles, it regularly welcomes groups of Smash Bros devotees or Netrunner fans to take part in friendly tournaments. It also hosts a local multiplayer night called Multiclash, where developers can show off their party games. All this while serving up colourful cocktails with names like “Earthworm Gin” and “Rum: Total War”. Obviously, with all this going on, RPS needed somebody to investigate.
When I arrive at the bar, located deep in the city’s hipster underbelly of Stoke Newington, there are about five games on show. It is probably best to go through them one by one, giving each its due attention. But before that, a trip to the bar staff is in order. As the night wears on, I find that the cocktails being served to me have become (mostly) synchronised to the games, each a little alcoholic companion that would last only until I finished murdering that wretched blue swordsman in Samurai Gunn, or outpacing that dastardly unicorn in Speedrunners. For the most part, they were pretty damn good. As such, it would only be fair to rate the cocktails as accompaniments alongside the games. What games, you ask? Well, let’s take a look at what we played.
This is a 2-4 player racing game that sees tiny men in chicken suits face off against tiny men in moose costumes as they do laps around an obstacle-filled cityscape. Players can attack each other with giant boulders or missiles, while the screen gets smaller and smaller, eventually forcing someone out of the screen and into oblivion. Think Canabalt meets Micro Machines (with grappling hooks).
Undoubtedly, the best thing about Speedrunners is the way the man in the shark costume jumps. He kind of dives forward like a Great White leaping out of the water, keeping his legs rigidly straight. Aside from that, it has the benefit of being the type of game that quickly rewards practice. Sliding through tight gaps and jumping from wall to wall like a ninja is a little difficult at first but when you get good at Speedrunners, you get really good.
A straightforward, tall glass of delicious spiced rum (with vanilla vodka and lavender bitters). Not as cold as I remember Skyrim being but still a good start to the night. Loading Bar ranks all of its cocktails with a game-like difficulty scale. I have started on ‘Medium’.
It is no secret that Team 17 has been going around Europe with a giant hoover, sucking up as many microscopic indie devs as possible to reinforce its roster of upcoming games. Buddycop shooter LA Cops is one such captured game and Gameboy-esque prison sim The Escapists is another. Now you can add Penarium to their early access montage.
In Penarium, you are a performer in a deadly circus of traps, bombs, spikes and lasers. Two players can co-operate to hold down switches that appear randomly, or they can compete to press the most switches each. All the while, the deathtraps keep going, threatening you with bees, sticky gum, bullets, rising water levels and steampunky guns that shoot giant nails at you. Undoubtedly, this design of avoidance and agility on a single screen will appeal to those same high score addicts that mainline Super Crate Box day-in, day-out. Even if it does not have that game’s aggressiveness. Like Vlambeer (and others in this list) the developer is Dutch, reminding us that the Netherlands has more indie game makers per capita than functioning government employees. The country is expected to collapse within ten years.
Drink: No Man’s Pie
Do you see what they did there? Good, because they’ll be doing it again. This is a fruity vodka number with one of those egg white meringue things on top. I don’t know what they are called. You can have lemon, strawberry or blackberry as your ‘filling’. I had… no, I can’t remember.
Crush Kill? CrushKILL? Crush-kill? I just don’t know how to spell this game’s title. It has only been in existence for five days, according to the devs I play with, so it is possible they themselves do not know for certain.
In Crush.kill, you control a small circle in a minimalist arena, facing off against three others to eliminate each other life-by-life. You can enlarge your circle, making it heavier, so you can brute force your foe out of the ring. Or you can shrink down, pulling nearby opponents towards you with your magnetically attractive smallness. You can also go invisible and pass through the other players’ bodies entirely, like a spooky ghost. The player that survives to the end wins. There you have it. CrUsH KilL.
Drink: Assassins Mead
Tasty as hell. This is made from caramel rum, dark rum and pineapple ginger beer. There is sugar all around the glass and a hit of something sour deep down inside. Sorry, excuse me. The sugar is sticking to my hands. Ha ha. It’s sticking to my hands.
Wait a second. Gunkatana. Like ‘gun’ + ‘katana’? This game is just Samurai Gunn with a top-down view! I won’t be fooled, no sir. Okay, I’ll have a go, but don’t think for a minute that I’ll be distracted from my one great love. Oh, what’s this travelator thing? You can speed across it in a single blur? Well, I suppose that is quite cool. I’ll give you that. And this? Oh, it’s a bomb I can leave behind to blow up my pursuers. I see my bullets are also ricocheting off the walls like a Star Wars laser with commitment issues. All right, all right, I’ll admit it. It’s quite a fun game. But please, PLEASE don’t call it Gunkatana. Least of all because the name seems to have already been taken by a popular (NSFW) Eroge game. Anyway, excuse me, I have to return to the bar.
Drink: Deus Ex on the Beach
Ha ha ha ha. I love these guys. What’s in this drink though. It’s sweet, like, super sweet, yeah? Vodka, orange juice, cranberry. It doesn’t even feel like I’m drinking! My glass won’t sit straight though and, oh man, there’s some small floaters in here. Barman! Barman, there’s oh wait that’s Goldshlager.
Drink: Saumrai Gunn
Samurai Gunn. Top game, top game. Want bad murder into your life? Samurai Gunn. Blood all onto the screen? Samurai Gunn. I played Samurai Gunn, I’m telling you, with a bunch of guys at this bar, and I swear to God, ha ha, I swear to God. All people are all samurais and you get three bullets. Bang bang bang! Only three. Yeah I know! All people have to run up to each other, slice, slice, slice. Oh man, it just feels right. So quick and, like, frantic, yeah? Best thing, you know, best thing about this? Rebounding bullets. You stand at one end of the screen, yeah? I’ll stand at the other. Now, shoot at me! Ha ha ha, okay I missed that time. But yeah, yeah, I can hit that bullet back at you though. Seriously we can just stand at both ends and play bullet tennis.
No, no no no. Best thing about Samurai Gunn: the showdowns. Yeah! Listen, listen, when there’s a draw, players have to do a stand-off. It’s scary! No, listen. One showdown is in a storm and you are INVISIBLE and only the lightning and your own footsteps in the rain will give away where you are. Oh wow, this game.
No, wait! Best thing about it is definitely pretending. I love pretending. No, I mean, you can hold the down button and guess what? Ha ha, your samurai, he lies down on the ground and pretends that he’s DEAD. But you know what? HE’S NOT. Ha ha ha. That’s right, I just sliced your samurai into blood and you never saw me coming.
Oh man! Let’s play bullet tennis! Ha ha ha. Yeah, that’s Samurai Gunn. Delicious sword flavours with hint of bullet. Local multiplayer, one hundred controllers, showdown in the sun. Excellent drink. 10/10.
Oh man. Favourite, great one. You know those white russians? Pshh, yeah you know those. Cliqueur is like that. Ice cream, pistachio, banana liqueur, 2-4 players. If the Dude from the Big Lebowski played videogames instead of bowlings, he would have a Cliqueur. It’s true! Excuse me I have to go home.
Next time on Party Games: how to host your own games party. Featuring a Nidhogg tournament and special prizes.