Throughout the three days of Casual Connect Asia 2014, many hands were shaken and many mobile games business meetings were had. If anything, the real winners of the show are the vibrant game developers getting the crowd’s attention with their interactive entertainment showpieces.
There were more than 80 developers from many parts of Asia and even outside. It’s impossible to show all of them on one list, so we cut it down to the most noteworthy ones that require your time and full attention.
Devil’s Dare (PC)
Created by Secret Base, this retro-styled multiplayer game is a throwback to arcade brawlers like Capcom’s Aliens vs. Predator and Sega’s Streets of Rage series. Players will be controlling hero archetypes from Golden Axe and The Legend of Zelda as they beat up villains inspired by horror flicks like the Chuckie and Friday the 13th series, in locations like a running train or scene out of Dawn of the Dead.
Unlike other beat-em-ups like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World that focusses on levelling up RPG-style, Devil’s Dare will go back to basics. Playable characters have a diverse skillset and continues are limited and require in-game money to purchase. Naturally, you need to keep beating up enemy hordes in a spectacular fashion to earn gold just to sustain your livelihood.
Mobile titles like Smash Hit and Monument Valley rely on their aesthetics and simple gameplay to keep players interested while tuned in to its rhythm and zen-like feel. The recent puzzle game Shapist continues that trend.
At first glance it looks like a slide-and-block puzzle game where you have to move blocks to open up a particular area. Then you realise that it introduces new types of puzzles and obstructions featuring Newtonian physics, all without any word of text. Some puzzles feature bouncy spring blocks, while others are magnetised; it’s the kind of experience where it’s better to discover it on your own rather than rely on reviews to get the most out of it.
The game is purposely designed with its colours and tactile experience, so that you’ll get it after tinkering around with a few levels or so. While the game is out strictly for the iPad, the other versions will be out in the next month. The next update of the game will bring in new levels to wrack your poor little brain.
Run Run Super V (iOS, Android)
The Altitude Games team certainly had their fill of 60s Japanese sentai shows and 80s cartoons like Voltron. After all, their upcoming endless runner-type title is a tribute to those pristine years of entertainment.
You control the Super V group as you run from left to right to your end goal collecting coins, jumping on enemies, and avoiding spiked hazards. Just like any Power Rangers facsimile, you’ll jump onto a vehicle in a game mode that’s a hybrid between a 2D shoot-em-up and Flappy Bird. You tap the screen to keep your vehicle hovering and collect the occasional powerup to automatically fire at baddies.
The fun part comes when you jump into a giant robot ala Voltron to fight giant kaijus (giant monsters). Here, you have to tap any of the five attacks you have available to defeat your opponent in gloriously colourful combat. By yourself, it becomes a five-button version of Punch-Out!, but through the power of mobile social media, you can borrow powerful attacks from other Run Run Super V players.
The Last Tinker: City of Colors (PC)
Ever wanted a very colourful platformer with Assassin’s Creed-style controls and movement? In a sea filled with action adventure games leaning on a grimy shade of gray and brown, this entry by Mimimi Productions will remind you of a time when 3D platformers during the late 90s and early 2000 era ruled the roost.
Players control an outcast called Koru who has to unite a segregated City of Colors against a worldwide threat called the Bleakness that drains out colour and life from anything it touches. Koru must find the spirits of Green, Red and Blue to obtain powers to deal with the threat. As it’s a platformer, you’ll need a controller to fully appreciate the puzzles and action set within the title.
As of now, the game is getting pretty good reviews thanks to its aesthetics and satisfying platforming/puzzle aspects. If you fancy something colourful, it’s on Steam right now for US$19.99.
Tower defense games come and go, but a 2D version where you have to worry about two sections, and which becomes a mini-arena battle game? That’s pretty new.
Spacejacked pits you as an engineer who has to defend two parts of a ship. Multitasking will be hard, which is why your engineer can not only fire at enemies with his space gun, he can also build different sorts of turrets and repair your defense points if they’re damaged by aliens. Oh right, and he has anti-gravity boots which allow him to walk on the ceiling.
Defeating aliens in a wave will net you metals which allow you to build more turrets to fortify the ship. You lose if either one of ship’s parts get destroyed or if your health reaches zero. While the controls take a while to get used to, managing the flow of defending your ship gets easier. Alongside its pixelated aesthetics, this game does show promise once it becomes ready next year.
Origami (iOS, Android)
If touching paper and unintentionally murdering trees with many failed attempts at folded paper art isn’t your thing, how about a digital version with slick touchpad controls?
Enter Origami Fold from Polm Studio, a game that teaches you how to make these things through 300 levels of digital touch-focussed folding and creasing. Part relaxation tool and part learning experience, you’ll be using the touchscreen to create all kinds of animals and objects. You’ll score more points if you fold them with precision; the skill of creating origami is mastering the trait of perfection, right?
Look forward to perfecting this timeless art in digital form later this year.
You can’t get any more abstract than what India’s Lucid Labs came up with. In the touch-heavy puzzle game Roto, you navigate a dot whose sole purpose is to reach the flag at the end of the one-screen stage. A single tap is all you need to make your dot jump onto a platform.
The twist is that all the game’s platforms are rotating either in a clockwise or anti-clockwise fashion. Deathtraps such as buzzsaws on platforms will make things all the more challenging; you’ll have to time your jumps just right so that you can land at your intended spot. It aims to be like hugely-stylised indie puzzlers like Echochrome and The Unfinished Swan, which in itself isn’t a bad thing if you’re the kind of person who want their games like art.
Rocketbirds 2: Evolution (PS4, PS3)
Players yearning for the good old days for adventure games like Prince of Persia and Flashback should pay attention to this upcoming PlayStation 4/PlayStation 3 title. Created by Ratloop Asia, the 2D animated action game pits you and three others as mini-budgie commandos who are tasked to rescue hostages from point A to B.
The game’s story mode has its own set levels and narrative, while the rescue mode uses randomly-generated levels you’ll find in games like Spelunky or Starbound. Even if you start off with any of the four (or more if you play your cards right) selectable commandos with their own starting weapons and outfits, you can customise them on the fly at any time to suit your 2D play style. The controls seem twitchy enough, as you fire with the trigger buttons and aim with the right analog stick.
And really, that’s all the team will need to perfect on, apart from enemy placement and challenge balancing. Rocketbirds 2: Evolution will blow up the four-player co-op scene with fowl play at the end of the year for PlayStation consoles.
One Upon Light (PS4, PS3)
Most games like the Alan Wake series use the light as a positive source of energy or power item. The indie title One Upon Light flips that concept upside its head. You play a scientist who wakes up in a basement and find out that any sort of light will hurt and burn him to a cinder.
You have to navigate your way from point A to B, pushing and pulling obstacles and obstructions while avoiding light sources emanating from windows and other sources. The game will teach you to pay attention to shadows and mechanisms in the background, as taking solace in moving shadows is sometimes your only way in getting through a brightly-lit area. Moving crates can help close off light sources too.
We’ve only gone through a few early levels; it’s rather slow-paced, but most likely the tougher brain teasers will come through after the first ten stages.
Romans In My Carpet!
Inspired by The Carpet People by Terry Pratchett, the Witching Hour Studio devs decide to re-enact the battles between the Romans and the Iceni tribe in video game form. Only instead of humans, they’re using bedbugs and mites as soldiers and the living room as a backdrop.
Romans In My Carpet! comes with a single-player mode, but players can also fight amongst themselves in turn-based form with either the Romites or Breetles, each with their own set of units and strengths.
Of course, it’s the pixelated graphics, lively animations of each creature small and smaller, and catchy music that will grab your attention. The demo recently won the Best Art award during Casual Connect Asia’s Indie Award show and got a good number of fan votes. Strategy fans can declare miniature warfare on their mobile devices by the end of the month when it’s out.
These are our picks from Casual Connect Asia 2014, perhaps the closest thing Southeast Asia can get to an event like Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). Know any other games that needed mentioning? Let us know on the comments box below.
Disclosure: e27’s games editor has worked with Witching Hour Studios on a part-time basis.