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PAX East 2010 Hands On: Boston Indie Showcase

| 27 Mar 2010 05:08
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After getting our hands on the winners of PAX East's Boston Indie Showcase, we realize why the six games are being honored.

Turba

Turba sounds like it was inspired by indie hit Audiosurf, but when I mentioned this to one of the booths curators he assured me that he had never even heard of the game. Despite this seeming odd to me, Turba was a fun experience that music and puzzle game fans might enjoy. Each of the game's boards are generated by real songs, such as 50 Cent's In Da Club, and players must shuffle and drag each level's blocks to clear them and score combos. Faster songs mean harder levels, and vice versa. It seemed simple at first but drew me in by the end, so fans of Audiosurf might have something a little different to look forward to in Turba.

Miegakure

Miegakure claims to be a game that allows the player to explore the fourth dimension. I don't really understand what the fourth dimension is, but as long as the game's creator does, I suppose that's okay. In Miegakure, the player walks around on a small 3D level and must make it to the exit. This will often require swapping to alternate dimensions that change, in my experience, according to the kind of tile you're standing on whilst the swap is enacted. Each dimension has a separate layout, and swapping back to a previous dimension will allow for the movement of blocks or another gameplay device that lets the player reach the goal. It was a pretty fun experience overall, and made a lot more sense after playing than watching.

Slam Bolt Scrappers

Slam Bolt Scrappers melds Tetris with the tower defense genre and sprinkles a dash of brawler on top. Meant to be played with four people, the game of Slam Bolt Scrappers I played pitted a PAX attendee and I against two obviously inferior PAX attendees (that lost). We each controlled a small muscular character that floated around the screen, beating up enemies to turn them into blocks. These blocks were then dragged through the air over to our individual sides and dropped like a Tetris piece, where they turned into turrets of various sorts that attacked the opposite side once assembled in the proper shape. Players can also beat up the opposition and steal their blocks. Slam Bolt Scrappers was a really great multiplayer experience that could easily be on XBLA or PSN.

Dearth

Playing Dearth made me feel like a labrat in a maze. The designer's intent is for it to be a co-op action-puzzler, but a few levels could also be played in single-player mode. After playing these, which made me drag water-filled creatures over to an AI creature trying to do the same, I didn't quite get it, but once I convinced a nearby girl to play it in co-op mode the game clicked. Dearth is partially an experiment relating to the creation of better AI, but it became most interesting when playing with this fellow human. After multiple, somewhat embarrassing failures, the early challenge we had just figuring out how to complete the game's goals became second nature as we began to complete levels without speaking. Dearth was a little different than the other games in this list, as it seems designed more as an experiment than game, but it stimulated my intellect like the other games did not.

AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! - A Reckless Disregard for Gravity

AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! - A Reckless Disregard for Gravity is probably the best known game amongst this list, receiving a publicized release on digital platforms such as Steam in September 2009. Regardless, it still qualifies for the Boston Indie Showcase at PAX East 2010. For those that don't know, the game casts the player as a base jumper that must perform certain actions in midair to accrue the largest score possible. Every level is laid out like a different puzzle, with floating buildings, windows to crash through for extra points, and bystanders to wave at. High-score perfectionists could easily have a field day, as no two jumps will ever be the same and an incredible score can always be improved upon somehow. The "different" name gets this game mentioned, but the solid gameplay makes it worthy of such mention.

Waker

Waker is a puzzle-platformer unlike anything I've played before, and it really racked my brain. Players control a cat, and the main gameplay aspect involves forming a path that will allow the cat to reach the end of the level safely. The way this is done by having the cat pick up a glowing orb, after which moving in a certain direction or speed will start and form a path within a specific space. Sprinting to the right might make the path rise sharply, while walking left would make it lower with a more average slope. Once you drop the orb, the path will form. Every level has different rules in regards to how the orbs alter the path. A decent puzzler with a new angle.

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