Indie Games Ichiban Features

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.

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: Is the End Coming for Quadriplegic Gaming?

A century ago there wasn't much life available for quadriplegic people. Handicap accessibility was barely even a concept, and lacking medical technology kept any semblance of independence out of reach. Today those unfortunate enough to be paralyzed from the neck down have brighter prospects, but are still unable to participate in many activities. Video games are a great option for those who do not have the use of their legs, but for quadriplegics, the use of a standard controller is not an op...

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: Famous Indie Game Makers Immortalized in 'The Indie Game Legend'

The indie game scene is constantly expanding, but in 2008, Minecraft, Braid and Angry Birds had not been released, along with all of the other indie games that established the financial viability of the format. Indie games were the all-but-exclusive purview of free Flash game sites and the proud users of TIGsource.com. The Independent Gaming Source is a massive forum for indie game developers to share their projects with like-minded individuals, while seeking help and approval of their games.

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: 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: Does the World Really Need Anymore Zombie Games? Yes, If They're Like These Ones…

The war between horror movie monsters has been going on for the better part of the last century. We're talking vampires, werewolves, ghosts, zombies and mutant flying creatures, each of which has had their fair share of the limelight in film. But it comes and goes. Once moviegoers get an overdose of a particular monster, they aren't scared anymore, meaning it's time to move onto the next. So, Dracula goes away kicking and screaming, just to be replaced by Frankenstein and then werewolves. But...

News: Bastion Joins the Pantheon of All-Time Great Downloadable Games

If you follow indie games at all, you've probably heard of Bastion. During its development, it took home numerous Best in Show prizes from E3 and other game conventions while building up an incredible amount of buzz in the games press. Part of what is intriguing about Bastion is its cool art design, which in the last couple months, peaked my interest more so than the gameplay or the much-ballyhooed narration.

News: Resurrecting the Video Game Magazine: PC Gamer Digital

PC Gamer represents all that was awesome about games journalism in the '90s, now sadly diminished. Brilliant, funny, full of integrity, and solid print sales were always present, and with the tragic exception of the latter, still are. Video game magazines were hit harder than nearly any other magazine vertical when the internet began its uncoordinated, but inevitable assault on print media. Magazines are now struggling to find their place in a world filled with more competitors than paying cu...

News: First MXC. Then Ninja Warrior. And Now… Retro Game Master!

Japanese game shows are legendary for being more extreme (and absurd) than their American counterparts. Chris Farley immortalized the concept in a classic SNL sketch, and MXC and Ninja Warrior have both achieved great success dubbed and subtitled on American television. A big part of their appeal is how demanding they are compared to U.S. game shows. Only a few people have actually won Ninja Warrior in its 23 seasons on the air, and MXC is a constant comedy of failure and pain.

News: Indie Game Mashup! DTIPBIJAYS + LSQOM = Scorpion Psychiatrists of Saturn

Most of the oddest games in the world are free web games. They may not always be well made, but low budgets (and consequently low risk) allow them to be as weird as they fancy. That's a big part of why they are so interesting. Prime examples such as Don't Take It Personally, Babe, It Just Ain't Your Story and Lesbian Spider Queens of Mars have graced these pages previously, and both are great games. But the quality of the games hasn't stopped mysterious Glorious Trainwrecks user snapman (else...

News: Life Simulates Video Games in FPS Russia – And Not in a Bad Way

It's one of the greatest fears among parents and politicians the world over—video game violence spilling out into reality. The shooting at Columbine and the more recent tragedy in Utøya, Norway have touched deep nerves in Western consciousness. And that's why there's a giant pink, juggling elephant in the corner of every production meeting and press conference for each shooter game that comes out.

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: 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: 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: 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...

World Siege: Orc Defender for iOS Turns Your Real Life Home Into a Video Game

Tower defense games have covered a lot of creative ground over the last five years. They've gone from simple desktop amusements to a staple of the indie game scene, having been integreated into nearly every other type of game and released on every platform. They have taken place in ancient times, the far future, and on alien planets. But one place they (and most other types of video games) have never taken place is the real world. Not a virtual recreation of the world, but on the very terra f...

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: Moshi Monsters Rise from Indie Game to Kiddie Empire

Four years ago Mind Candy was a pretty small game company. They were best known for their revolutionary but short lived ARG Perplex City, and had no other successful franchises to fall back on when that ended. Their plan to save it? Start a free online social game for children ages 7-12 called Moshi Monsters, where kids can create monster pets, raise them, and socialize with one another in a controlled, safe environment.

News: Unity3D Could Change the Gaming World Now That It Has Flash

Big news from the world of game development engines. For several years, Unity3D has been the free 3D game development engine of choice for aspiring and indie game designers around the world. While it isn't as powerful as Unreal Engine 3 or CryEngine, it's free and much easier to use. Now, according to an announcement made by Unity yesterday, Unity 3D is about to unleash a huge weapon that neither of those other engines can claim: Flash compatibility.

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...

Receipt Racer: A Paper and Laser Tangible Video Game

Video games have been a purely digital medium for some decades now. They exist in the electronic nether, embedded on discs and projected on screens. Since digital distribution has gained popularity, even the physical manifestation of the game disc is going away, leaving games (especially digitally distributed indie games) more ethereal than ever before. It is unclear whether this slightly unsettling fact was on the minds of the three people who made Receipt Racer, but regardless, it stands as...

News: Friday Indie Game Review Roundup: Three Summer XBLA Titles That Rock

Generally, summer is a slow time for video games, but not when it comes to Xbox Live Arcade where it's harvest season! In the last month, there have been at least four great games released on XBLA, with Bastion getting the lion's share of the attention. But the remaining three are pretty awesome, as well, and should help you while away the time spent indoors away from the brain frying heat sweeping the U.S.

News: Hideo Kojima and Fox Engine Make Special USC Appearance

Hideo Kojima is one of the biggest names in Japanese game design. He's the man behind every Metal Gear game, each of which has been beautiful but divisive. He's an auteur, a rarity in AAA game design, managing business, design, and programming for Kojima Productions. Last week he made a rare public appearance at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, which contains the school's video game programs, and gave a 90-minute talk about his career, influences, and the specifics of his new Fox game design...

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.

News: Sense of Wonder Night 2011 Celebrates Innovation In Game Design

The Tokyo Game Show (TGS) is the biggest video game expo in the most game crazy country on Earth. It is kind of a big deal. As such, their "indie" game showcase/contest Sense of Wonder Night (SOWN) is a major opportunity for developers of all shapes and sizes to showcase their work to important industry leaders and expo attendees. 2011 will be SOWN's fourth year, and it began accepting submissions yesterday.

News: Ni No Kuni Coming To The US!

There wasn't a lot of huge news for Indie Games Ichiban to come out of TGS last weekend, but this is a whopper: Level-5 and Studio Ghibli's epic RPG Ni No Kuni is officially coming to America next year. No word on the 3DS version, but the PS3 one will be released in 2012 in North America in English, according to a press conference by principal developer Level-5.