It’s no secret that I’m quite a fan of 80’s-inspired games. But I also understand that it’s a genre that many are either burnt out by or find to be quite grating. It’s always cheesy, sometimes esoteric, and often a neon assault on the eyes. Narita Boy looks to be something a little bit… different. It’s a 2D scrolling action game with RPG elements went up on Kickstarter on February 21, and it’s visually quite remarkable, with a really fantastic pixel art style, and the retro-aesthetic imperfections are some of the best I’ve seen, with a snippet of the trailer showing off droplets of rain running down the CRT bezel overlay, something that made me far more excited than I should have been. The sound design was also a factor in how quickly Narita Boy pulled me in, as it feels fitting for the era without it being US-centric, something that’s all too common in many of the prolific games of it’s theme, like Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. “Swim deep into a oneiric, poetic and unique experience across dimensional planes.” This is the first game of its kind that I’ve seen that has a plot not entrenched deep in parody, and it actually looks to be quite a rich and compelling narrative, with the barrier between Narita Boy‘s alternate 80’s setting and an immensely popular video game in its universe slowly collapsing. Narita Boy‘s Kickstarter page goes into great depth regarding the current state of the Digital Kingdom, and how it functions. The colourful description, gorgeous yet subtle GIFs, and an overall quite solid concept all come together and leave me impatient and hopeful that Narita Boy will live up to what it promises to be. At the moment, it’s sat at just under €25,000 of its €120,000 goal. And with 32 days to go, this one’s looking promising as a success story, and one that I’ll be previewing as and when it becomes available. Kickstarter Link || Price TBC MM Extremely reminiscent of Another World / Out of this World. That clip was almost a mythological retelling of the intro. Beautiful, I hope it succeeds. Stormbringer I don’t know what I’m looking at. I just want a normal looking game. No one has made a normal looking game in probably 20 years. It takes actual skill and discipline to make something look normal. I’m not groaning that things don’t look normal (natural) just that the ratio to normal and surreal is infinity, because that’s what happens when you divide by zero. I didn’t see any retro references here. Maybe a smidgen of Tron in one scene. I saw a number of things reminiscent of FLCL (Fooly Coolly) but that’s about it. The artist must be a precious soul. They’re so bursting with originality. “Swim deep into a oneiric, poetic and unique experience across dimensional planes.” Que? Louis Yeah, I don’t see this working out at all. The fake VHS effects and color diffusion make everything look nigh-illegible, and the sheer complexity of animation doesn’t seem viable at all, and just gives me the impression that the end result will never live up to this promotional footage. And that’s if it even comes out at all. It’s weird how games like this – shit like Superbrothers, or Crossing Souls – they all love the big retro blocky pixel aesthetic, but they never hold to the actual limitations in color or animation that these games had. I get that for some games it’s just their ~style~, but in my opinion if you want to make a game that’s intentionally trying to be 80’s nostalgic, then be faithful to it. The only game that most famously stuck to this mindset was Shovel Knight; this is just weak pandering without understanding. Look at this, it’s a floppy disk! Some VHS grain, remember that? Remember old computers!? This doesn’t make me feel nostalgic or retro, it makes me feel like you’re forcing nostalgia. It’s as bad as The Videokid. Stormbringer I don’t think Shovel Knight did that. I’ve seen some games that have done a good job of that. Doing that is one thing, which I’d not necessarily recommend for itself, but there’s a reason that those big corporations decided upon the design decisions that they did–and that is because it was the best possible design they could arrive at… their goal was to move units after all. I mainly struggle with everyone making games in this mode is clearly trying to gain attention, or working with limited means and ability. So they choose these surreal motifs either to standout, and so be noticed, or to have something unique for themselves to hang their hat on; or because it is designed to distract from the fact that ultimately their work is inadequately rightfully deserving of attention. At the end of the day I lament that the oversaturated, questionable, surreal, eclectic motifs are alienating. It’s a form of deindividualization that is ironically born out of an apparent need to distinguish themselves as individuals. Such is the travesty of middling commercial art.