Indie Games Ichiban Features

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: 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: 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: 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...

Little Indie: A New Distribution Service and Support Firm for Indie Games Goes Live

Indie developers and their games have enjoyed massive success distributing through Steam, notably Zeboyd Games and Carpe Fulgar. While that bodes well for the future of indies on the platform, Steam has to devote a lot of front-page real estate to AAA games and thus can't promote small indies as well as a dedicated indie game distribution service could. IndieCity out of the UK seems like it could be that, but today a consortium of three German game companies launched their attempt at beating ...

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: Friday Indie Game Review Roundup: An Amnesiac Retrospective

Three years ago, Double Fine productions held an in-house event called the Amnesia Fortnight. The company was split into four teams, each of which set out to spend two weeks developing an idea for a small game and present it to the other groups at the end of the duration. All of the ideas turned out to be winners, and founder/owner Tim Schafer secured publishing deals for all four games to be released on a combination of XBLA and PSN. In honor of the excellent Trenched becoming the third game...

News: Sense of Wonder Night Indie Game Showcase to Broadcast Live from Tokyo This Friday

One of the biggest video games events of the year is about to happen in Japan tomorrow, when the Tokyo Game Show (TGS) kicks off. If you've never heard of it, just think of it as the E3 of the East—a video game extravaganza open to both businesses (Thursday and Friday) and the public (Saturday and Sunday). And even though it hasn't officially started, TGS has already released some grand announcements, specifically about Nintendo's future lineup and a precipitous drop in their share prices.

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: The Brilliant Work of Zeboyd Games Highlights Some Hideous Flaws in XBLIG

Games like Minecraft and Braid have proven that there is money to be made in the indie game marketplace, which means more and more designers are following suit, one being Zeboyd Games. The two-man indie design team released two excellent JRPG spoofs on the Xbox Live Indie Games (XBLIG) Marketplace in 2010: Breath of Death VII ($1) and Cthulhu Saves the World ($3). Both have been well-reviewed and spent time near the top of the XBLIG sales charts, but its success couldn't be rivaled by what wa...

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.

Level-5: The Biggest Indie Game Developer in the World Invades America

Most stateside gamers have probably never heard of Level-5. If they have, it's more than likely due to the charming and maddening line of Nintendo DS puzzle games, Professor Layton. Some might even remember Dark Cloud and its sequel from the early days of the PlayStation 2, and all eight of you PSP owners in the U.S. might recognize the epic Jeanne d'Arc. These games alone make Level-5 a noteworthy company, but they've quietly surpassed "noteworthy" status to become one of the largest and gre...

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: Friday Indie Game Review Roundup: Arcade Games Are Dead

If you're between the ages of 20 and 40, then video arcades probably hold a special place in your heart. Whether you all but lived in one (me), wished you could, or detested those with a liking for them, there's no denying that arcades were a ubiquitous part of American culture. They were everywhere, from big chains to little mom-and-pops, housing better systems than gamers had at home and with all the best games and newest titles.

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: 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: 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: 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: 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...

Dungeon Defenders: Heaven for Hardcore Gamers

Dungeon Defenders is the most exciting craft game on the Fall 2011 release schedule. I got a chance to play it at PAX in August and interviewed developers Trendy Entertainment last month. After more than a year of publishing difficulty and delay, the game finally came out on PSN, XBLA and Steam. I put about 20 hours into the XBLA version over the past weekend, beating all the campaign maps and racking up a huge pile of in-game money. It is not a perfect game. But it is a huge, challenging, an...

Final Combat: Cheap Chinese Knock-Offs Come to Video Games

Team Fortress 2 (TF2) is one of the best multiplayer games of all time. It took nine years to make, and the developers have supported it with more post-release free updates than any other game ever. Four years after its release in 2007, it is still immensely popular, and although its price has gone down, Valve has managed to continue making a massive profit by introducing the first successful microtransaction model in a mainstream American shooter. That model has been so successful that it lo...

News: Making an RPG in 14 Days Is Child's Play for Big Block Games

Big Block Games has a pretty good indie track record. They've spent years developing their fun free-roving space game, Black Market, which is still in Beta. And they've spent just as much time with their much simpler, but fully completed physics platformer, Super Goblin War Machine. Their newest endeavor is called Coffee Break Hero. It sets itself apart from the other games, not so much by the game itself, which has only been in development for four days, but by its unique execution. Big Bloc...

News: Glitch Gets Better with Katamari Damacy

Stewart Butterfileld is one of the last great old-fashioned tech billionaires. He founded Flickr, and then sold the company to Yahoo! for a stupendous amount of money in 2005. Like Mark Cuban and others before him, he was left wondering what to do with the rest of his long and fabulously wealthy life. Cuban bought the Dallas Mavericks and turned them from unabashed losers into beloved champions. Butterfield decided to try his hand at game design (something he had attempted with the ambitious ...

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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: PopCap Bought by EA, Earns $750 Million Bonus Points

Electronic Arts is the biggest game publisher in the world, and have been for years. And yet, their only successful internally developed games nowadays are the EA Sports mega-franchises like Madden. Most of their success has stemmed from their ability to buy other companies on their way up, squeeze the creativity out of them, and then sell them to someone else or just let them go. This week they made their largest acquisition ever when they purchased PopCap Games for $750 million upfront—as m...

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...