Hot Indie Games Ichiban Posts

TVs Are for Old People: A Guide to Handheld Consoles

Advancements in technology usually lead to the miniaturization of old technologies, and video games are no exception. Since at least 1990, game hardware manufacturers and enterprising DIY electronics enthusiasts have poured their efforts into making full-size video game consoles smaller, even handheld. And for good reason—who would have ever played a black and white Game Boy if they could have had an actual NES in their pocket?

News: Did George Plimpton Make a Falconry Game for ColecoVision?

George Plimpton may be one of the most interesting Americans ever. Foremost a sports journalist, he was also a novelist, Fireworks Commissioner for New York City and host of Mouseterpiece Theater. Some of you may also recognize him as one of the men who tackled Robert F. Kennedy's assassin, Sirhan Sirhan. But most of you probably remember him as the pitchman for products like Pop Secret Popcorn and the Intellivision video game console. Actually, his most appreciated work would probably be a s...

CryEngine 3: Now Everyone Can Make a Game As Good As Crysis 2… For Free

Crysis 2 is the current standard for high-quality graphics in video games. No other game looks so smooth, so colorful, so... ultra-real. German developer Crytek has built their reputation on PC game technology to the limit, and the CryENGINE 3 graphics engine they used to make Crysis 2 might be the most powerful tool for creating 3D video game graphics on Earth. As of yesterday, it's also free for anyone, yourself included, to download from Crytek's website here.

News: Double Fine Improves the Psychonauts Meat Circus!

Anyone who likes shooters is going to hate me for saying this: the best game of the 2000's for me was Psychonauts by Double Fine Studios. It came out in 2005 for the original Xbox, achieving critical acclaim, but never selling very well due to its sheer kookiness and poor marketing. Over the ensuing years it has become a cult classic, with downloadable re-releases on Xbox 360 (sadly no longer available). PC has allowed gamers who missed out on the original to bask in its ageless glory.

News: Goodbye Takahashi Meijin, World's Fastest Button-Presser

Pressing the button on a video game controller quickly is like running the 100 meter dash. Both require dedication and a precise exercise regime. There is also an odd quality about both in which the range between the very best and complete neophyte is tiny. Sprinter Usain Bolt holds the record in the 100 meter run at 9.58 seconds, only three seconds faster than I ran in freshmen high school track. And yet there are thousands of sprinters from a hundred years of Olympic competition in between ...

The Aether: Welcome to Minecraft Heaven

Minecraft has been out nearly two years now. Hard to believe, isn't it? Fans of the game have been spoiled with a lot of new content over that span from its creator Notch, as well as its modders. A couple months ago, Notch tortured the Minecraft community by tweeting some screens of a "Sky Kingdom" that he was working on.

News: Limbo Developer Playdead Studios Buys Its Freedom Back from Their Investors

Danish developer Playdead has made only one game, a little indie, side-scrolling, puzzle platformer called Limbo. It just happens to be far and away the best video game of that prominent genre (and perhaps the best indie game period) on the Xbox 360, and quite possibly for PlayStation 3 and PC, too. Critical and financial success has followed in droves, and today... Playdead has taken advantage of that success and indie-fied themselves even further by purchasing back the portion of the compan...

News: The Good and the Ugly of Console Controller Add-Ons

Video game controllers are our windows into the soul of the machine, our sole means of interacting with them. More often than not, consumers seem displeased by their controllers; it's comforting to blame sticky, poorly laid out buttons for messing up your game than your own lacking skills. The original "fatty" Xbox controller was so large it caused mass consternation and prompted Microsoft to replace it with a smaller version in a matter of months.

News: Super Mario Gets a Portal Gun in Stabyourself's Upcoming Mari0 Game

Many of the indie games featured at PAX Prime have been in development for years. That's how long it takes to make a great game. But the two-man development studio in eastern Europe called Stabyourself has existed for less than a year and has already created two games—three more are on the way. They may be spitting out games left and right, but they've got a few to be excited about.

News: The World's Most Expensive Video Games and Consoles Ever

Most of the indie and vintage games discussed in Indie Games Ichiban are pretty cheap to purchase. They rarely top twenty bucks, which is one of the major advantages independent games have against their sixty-buck, major league counterparts. But if you think $60 for a game and $300 for a PS3 or Xbox 360 seems like a lot, then you haven't played Steel Battalion or seen the TurboExpress. They go above and beyond what normal gamers are willing to spend for questionably entertaining products. Her...

News: Finally! A Practical Use for Arcade Game Skills

Most kids who play video games will never become professional gamers. Those that do are part of a very select group— it's like being a professional actor or athlete. It's nice work if you can get it. For everyone else, the sad realization usually arrives sooner or later that time spent playing games might not have the practical rewards that homework or working hard at your job might deliver.

News: Open Your Chakras with Deepak Chopra's Leela for Wii and Xbox 360

Deepak Chopra is one of the last people you'd think to be associated with video games. He's a new age spiritual icon who's built an empire on self-help books and speaking tours, one of which my Marin County liberal parents deigned to drag me to in middle school. Recently, a new outlet for his teachings was announced—a video game project three years in the making, simply called Leela.

Meeting the Dungeon Defenders: An Interview with Trendy Entertainment

I've been unreasonably excited about Dungeon Defenders (NOT DUNGEON DEFENDER!) for almost a year. Playing it at PAX did nothing to damper that enthusiasm. I had a chance this week to speak with co-founder/development director Jeremy Stieglitz and marketing diretor Philip Asher from Gainesville, Florida based developer Trendy Entertainment to find out a little more about the game, and how it came together.

News: BioShock's Libertarian 'Rapture' of the Deep Evolves into Real-Life Seastead Cities

BioShock is one of the best games of all time. It combines FPS gameplay with RPG storytelling and supports multiple systems better than any other game, that much is for sure. And the setting of its amazing story is a place called Rapture, a high-tech libertarian colony at the bottom of the Atlantic built by Andrew Ryan, a greying industrialist clearly inspired by John Galt and his creator Ayn Rand, the mother of Objectivism and modern American libertarianism in general. Ryan is a Soviet exile...

News: Free Protein Folding Game Cracks HIV Molecule Riddle

Foldit is definitely a niche game. The sole gameplay mechanic is attempting to fold complex proteins into smaller and more efficient shapes following the rules of molecular physics and biology. Points are awarded based on how small one can make the protein. Online leaderboards track players' relative progress and allows them to view and manipulate other players' completed designs. It's original, certainly, but no developer is going to ship a million units of a game about molecular-level prote...

News: Special Edition Gold PS3 'Ni No Kuni' Bundle -- Another Reason to Move to Japan

Studio Ghibli is the most well known anime feature film studio in the world. For over 26 years, their films have represented the peak of mainstream anime, and since Disney began distributing their films in America back in 1997, they've become a household name here in the States—not just in Japan. In 2001, they even bested Disney and Pixar, taking home a Best Animated Feature Film Academy Award for Spirited Away. Eight years later, Ghibli and Fukuoka-based developer Level-5 announced that they...

PAX Prime: A Video Game Convention That's Actually Fun

There are a lot of fantastic video games out there. Indie Games Ichiban's bread and butter is making sure that you steer clear of the bad ones and embrace the good. But really, the biggest goal here is to help everyone have more fun. To that end, today a game is not recommended, but an event. If you like games—not just video games—but tabletop, board and even hopscotch, then PAX Prime is one of the best events you could possibly go to.

News: Is Your Dream Gaming PC Worth It?

The last week has been a trying one for me. On Sunday, there were four computers in my office, three of which were broken. The fourth was not really a computer, but more of a collection of parts that were cobbled together for the purpose of constructing a PC that would sneer derisively at the mere mention of turning down any game's ambient occlusion settings.

News: Child Molesters and Sexy Fighters: A Study of Video Game Commercials

The Kinect for Xbox 360 and PlayStation Move might be fun to play with, but people do not look very cool while they're doing it. Air guitar is not particularly flattering (even if done on stage), and neither is air-anything else, as pleasurable as it might be. This is why I find it strange that a group of admen somewhere in the world think these kinds of commercials would appeal to anyone.

News: Cybord Virus

Enter the dark and surreal world of Cyborg Virus. Use your hook-shot and electrifying abilities to defeat cybernetic viruses at the molecular level! Also features an online high score board. Do you have what it takes to defeat the main virus and save humanity?

News: Video Games Deemed Art AND Protected Free Speech!

It's been a great year for video games, kind of. Sure, the AAA release lineup has been a trainwreck and hacking has been a bigger problem than ever. But two things have happened involving the federal government that have made video games more legitimate in the United States than ever before. The Supreme Court ruling establishing that video games were the equivalent of movies and books, not porn, was the more significant decision. But in May, the National Endowment for the Arts made another si...

News: Totally Rad Shows Gnarly Side of Localization

Localizing a game is a task many do not fully understand. Not only do localizers have to translate the games they work on into a different language, but they have to translate it into a different culture as well. Oftentimes art assets, plot elements, and menu systems are changed to suit regional sensitivities. Japanese media tends to have their common drunkard characters removed or censored in American versions, for example.

News: Grand Theft Auto 4 Looks Like Gran Turismo 5 with iCEnchancer

Grand Theft Auto 4 was a landmark game. It gave yet another reboot to the already rebooted Grand Theft Auto series, arguably the most prestigious video game in the West. It has a 98 on Metacritic, making it by that measure the best game of modern times. Whatever your stance on the gameplay may be—which has received its fair share of flak in the three years since its release—the graphical steps that the team at Rockstar North took to create their fantasy replica of New York were a major step f...

News: Seize the Lightning! Carpe Fulgur Imports Japanese Indie Games to the U.S.

Carpe Fulgur translates to something along the lines of "Seize the Lightning" in Latin. Sometimes that is enacted with golf clubs by idiots. But the three intrepid indie video game localizers who work under that name are trying to do it the right way: metaphorically. They are translating and publishing Japanese games for the Americans market—games that have seldom been seen before because every other company thinks it's mad to release them here.

News: "Frankie Goes to Hollywood" Says: Welcome to the Pleasuredome!

The debate over whether video games can be considered art or not has intensified in recent years as games like Braid and Flow have taken the digital aesthetic experience to new heights. These new games are great examples, but there are much older ones that present compelling arguments as well. The best is a 1986 ZX Spectrum/Commodore 64/Amstrad CPC game called Frankie Goes To Hollywood.

Super Marrow Brothers: The Story of the Greatest Pun Ever

Playing Super Mario Brothers for the NES is the first thing I can ever remember doing, at age 3 sitting on the carpet at my grandparents' house. It was a special game for an entire generation, including British youths Andrej and Adam Zamoyski. It inspired them to eventually become video game testers and designers themselves; Andrej at Lionhead Studios and Adam at Headstrong Games, and then Zynga Mobile UK (until recently called Wonderland Software, developers of Godfinger for the iPhone).

News: Indie Games Get Their Own Indie Film

Video games and movies have a history of interaction dogged by failure. Video game movies and movie video games both tend to be terrible. There has never been a good feature film based on a video game franchise. Even documentaries about games, which should be rife given the rapid rise of games on the cultural stage over the last thirty years, have been few and far between. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters is by far the best, and for several years now has been the only really stirring f...

News: Indie and Mainstream Online Games Shut Down by LulzSec

Anybody who spends most of their day on the internet should know all about lulz. Lulz are most often jokes made at the expense of web users, as popularized on 4Chan. Today, a consortium of hackers called LulzSec is attempting (and in some cases succeeding) in efforts to shut down some of the games that offer web users a giant share of their online fun. World of Warcraft, League of Legends, EVE Online, and Bethesda Softworks have all been targeted by LulzSec's hacking efforts in the last week,...

News: Enter the Weird World of Hojamaka Games

Without Japan, video games would not be very fun. Atari's early work was important, but Japanese developers, publishers, and hardware makers were responsible for almost every major advance in video games for the first 25 years of their mainstream existence. In recent years, it has often been said that they have become less relevant than Western developers. In the indie games movement— (our area of greatest interest here at Indie Games Ichiban)—Japan does not have anywhere near the presence th...

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