Hot Indie Games Ichiban Posts

News: Portal Free to Download for a Limited Time!

Portal is game design milestone. Originally only available bundled in with larger cousins Half-Life 2 and Team Fortress 2 in The Orange Box, its creators, Valve Software, changed what first person gameplay could be. It's been a stand alone product for much of the four years since its release, but never an expensive one, usually available for $5 on Steam (also created by Valve). If that barrier to entry was too high for you, or you just never got around to trying it, there are no more excuses....

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.

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: 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...

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: 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 ...

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?

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: 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: 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: Dota 2 Gamers Compete in Unprecedented $1,000,000 Tournament

Most indie game developers will never see a million dollars in their bank accounts, and I certainly doubt that Eul, the anonymous developer responsible for the original version of Defense of the Ancients (DotA), expected to. But now even the fans can earn a little green. Some lucky and talented DotA players are about to win $1,000,000 for playing the unreleased sequel to the free unsupported Warcraft III mod from 2003.

Bethesda vs. Notch: Does 'Scrolls' Infringe Upon 'The Elder Scrolls'?

Minecraft might still be in development, but that doesn't mean a creative guy like Notch doesn't have time for other projects. A few months ago he and his company Mojang announced their second game, a digital collectible trading card affair called Scrolls. A simple title (perhaps too generic if anything), but it's not the name of an extant game, and it's appropriate given the visual style and card-based gameplay of the game itself.

A Closed World: MIT Video Game Confronts Sexual Identity Issues

University video game design programs have been spreading like wildfire around the world over the last ten years. They allow students, researchers and game developers to work on their craft in an academic environment away from the harsh realities of the market, and have led to some interesting products like Fl0w from USC and Ulitsa Dimitrova from Germany. Both games take on topics not often addressed in mainstream games and do so in simple, poignant ways that aim to influence the rest of the ...

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: Next Professor Layton Game to Include 100-Hour Long Bonus RPG

Games have been getting shorter in length over the last decade. RPGs like The Elder Scrolls series are still tremendously long, but most single-player game experiences have gotten shorter as production values, costs, and manpower requirements to create them have gone up. It seems that elite Japanese developers Level-5 and Brownie Brown have decided to completely disregard that trend for their forthcoming collaborative effort Professor Layton and the Last Specter, which will feature what might...

News: UK Newspaper Runs Series of Yellow Anti-Video Game Articles

The United Kingdom has long been known as an international hub of yellow tabloid journalism. The News Of The World, one of the nation's largest tabloids, is famously in court right now because of the deplorable methods it used to acquire salacious information about interesting people. It appears, given their recent string of video game related reportage, that daily newspaper Metro has also had its fair share of morally dubious reporters on staff.

News: Freemium Games Start Their US Invasion on the iOS Front

For more than a decade, free-to-play games with microtransactions (also called In-App Purchase or IAP) by which players can pay real money for in-game content have been the industry standard for online success in Asia. Mainstream American gamers have long resisted these "freemium" games, with World of Warcraft and other subscription based online games reigning supreme, and being seen as more AAA than their free-ish counterparts. Casual games developers have encountered no such problems, and m...

News: Friday Indie Game Review Roundup: Pennies, Alliances, and Choices

Like a great acting performance, making a really good game is all about choices. While creating or playing a game, those involved have to constantly make small choices that will affect the outcome, either positively or negatively. And the only thing worse than choosing wrongly is not choosing at all. Too many games, especially today, stick to what they're supposed to do from the get-go and avoid making difficult, small, meaningful choices to differentiate themselves and make their performance...

News: Publishers to Profit from Explicit Drawing Inside Used Wii Video Game?

The used video game market represents a huge portion of retail game sales. It's the only avenue in which most people can afford to buy AAA games. But game publishers aren't exactly big fans of used game sales, since they only benefit from gamers buying new ones. GameStop and Best Buy are huge corporate interests, so EA and the rest of the big publishers out there have not been able to push them around on the issue of used game sales... so far.

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...

News: Until Project Rainfall Succeeds, We Must Hack the Wii for Xenoblade Chronicles in North America

For as much money as they've made from North American video game audiences over the years, Japanese game developers don't seem to have very much faith in them. Dozens of great titles from their 40 years in the industry have appeared in Japan and across Europe, oftentimes even in English. But they never make it over to America, like Mother 3, Last Window: Midnight Promise, Dragon Force 2, and Tobal No. 2 (that one didn't even hit Europe).

News: Project Zomboid Has More Problems than the Guy in this Screenshot

Making a video game requires an incredible amount of work. It requires people skilled in many disciplines to work together for thousands of hours merging visual art, computer programming, game design, sound design, and music composition into a fun game. The Indie Stone is a Scottish indie development studio started, like so many others, by industry vets who were tired of corporate restrictions and wanted to make the crazy games they had always imagined.

Realm of the Mad God: A Free Indie Browser Alternative to World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft has been on top of the world for seven years. No other MMO has come close to challenging its dominance of the genre, and it has generated billions of dollars for Blizzard. They have spent a lot of money adding more and more content, to the extent where the full game with all the expansion packs takes up 65 GB of hard drive space. It is a beautiful game; well balanced, and a milestone in the history of the medium.

News: Supreme Court Deems Violent Video Games Protected Under Freedom of Speech

Video games are the newest major expressive media. As such, their role in society is still being defined continuously. A monumentally important example of this took place yesterday at the US Supreme Court. After a long deliberation, the highest court in the land handed down a decision invalidating a California law banning the sale of violent video games to minors on the grounds that video games are protected speech under the First Amendment, like movies and books.

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: 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...

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