Electron Dance

Electron Dance Highlights

10Oct/170

Side by Side: The Unholy War

Side by Side is a video series on local multiplayer games. This is the third series, episode 2 of 5.

We've taken a different tack for the new series, deciding to spend a lot more time on each game. This means we have fewer episodes but each one is a lot longer than before. A new episode will be released every two weeks.

In the second episode, Joel Goodwin of Electron Dance and Gregg Burnell of Tap-Repeatedly travel back to 1998 to explore a spiritual sequel to Archon... The Unholy War!

Like Archon and Archon II: Adept, The Unholy War is a strategy/beat 'em up hybrid but with the complexity somewhat multiplied, thanks to the modern technology of the Sony Playstation. Every button has its function, every character has its day and every hex has its surprises. But is there too much here? Too many layers that detract from the simplicity of Archon? And where are the modern-day Archons - why is The Unholy War the end of the bloodline?

Since making the video, we've uncovered a Playstation 2 game called Wrath Unleashed (The Collective Inc., 2004) which is uncannily similar to The Unholy War. There are a few titles here and there, but there isn't really an Archon today. Still, as a bonus, we insist you check out the incredible Japanese port of The Unholy War, Majokko Daisakusen: Little Witching Mischiefs.

If you enjoy the series, please like our videos and subscribe to our channel.

Watch the video here or direct on YouTube.

3Oct/176

The Sleeping Palace

echo-opening

The big gimmick of ECHO (Ultra Ultra, 2017) is cited in every review, interview and video about the game: you’re trying to stealth and shoot and jostle your way through hundreds of opponents who all look like you and learn from what you do. But don’t go rushing in expecting the world’s best enemy AI - just a clever mechanic.

The big gimmick of ECHO that ain’t cited in every review, interview and video about the game is how long it takes to get to the action. It’s War and Peace long. It’s heat death of the universe long. But it’s not just long, it’s good.

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1Oct/1722

Discussion: The Birthday Party

at sundown party shot

Dear subscribers, if you feel like chatting about anything at all from the slightly late September edition of the newsletter, please speak your mind in the comments here.

28Sep/176

Transmission: Cryptark

cryptark

I continued to play twin-stick roguelite Cryptark (Alientrap Games, 2017) after engaging with it for Side by Side. It’s become one of my favourites this year and, rather than put down some words on it, I’m trying my hand at a Twitch stream.

WHAT

How did this come about? Well, many of my game thoughts never make it into articles because they’re just not meaty enough for a dedicated post. I pondered whether it would be worth live-tweeting a gaming session to get some of these thoughts out there… and it struck me that perhaps I could just stream as I already had all the relevant equipment.

So, yeah.

The Cryptark stream will be tonight, Thursday 28 September, and will begin at 2200 UK, 2300 Central Europe, 1700 EST. My Twitch channel can be found at twitch.tv/electrondance.

These days, I usually make it all the way through to the Cryptark, so that’s what I’ll attempt to do while making observations about the game as I progress. The stream will last 45-90 minutes. I plan to keep an eye on the chat, but forgive me if I'm wiping out drones instead of replying to questions.

UPDATE 29 Sep: Here's the archived transmission.

26Sep/170

Side by Side: Cryptark

Side by Side is a video series on local multiplayer games. This is the third series, episode 1 of 5.

We've taken a different tack for the new series, deciding to spend a lot more time on each game. This means we have fewer episodes but each one is a lot longer than before. A new episode will be released every two weeks.

In the first episode, Joel Goodwin of Electron Dance and Gregg Burnell of Tap-Repeatedly explore dangerous space hulks in search of the Cryptark!

Cryptark is a roguelite primarily designed for a single player but offers a co-op if you've got a friend willing to join you for the ride. But if that friend keeps blowing you up with his accidental grenade tosses... maybe it would've been better to go alone?

If you enjoy the series, please like our videos and subscribe to our channel.

Watch the video here or direct on YouTube.

22Sep/1716

Atari Video Computer Soul, Part Two

I've been revisiting the games on my old Atari VCS. The first part was posted a couple of weeks ago.

atari-cartridge-boxes-2

The Atari VCS had a few alternative controllers: paddles, driving controllers and keyboard controllers.

The paddle controllers were based on potentiometers, effectively giant knobs that players turned between two extremes. The driving controllers looked identical to paddles except you could keep turning them without end and they were bundled with the one game they were needed for, Indy 500.

The keyboard controllers offered a matrix of buttons; they were used for just a handful of games including an educational Basic Programming, but the return on investment for the customer was low and these controllers died off early. The keyboard controllers were resurrected as a “touch pad” bundled with the VCS release of Star Raiders in 1982.

As a child, I wanted everything. We had paddles and driving controllers but never did get to experience the keyboard controller. I doubt we missed out. Good call, parents.

I’m not sure there’s much fun in emulating a paddle controller with modern hardware, so I was pleased to discover, buried amongst my VCS memorabilia, a set of working third-party paddle controllers I’d picked up in the early 90s.

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14Sep/1718

On Omegaland

omegaland-talos-principle

In the trailer, Omegaland (Jonas & Verena Kyratzes, 2017) looks like nothing special. Well, it looks like a nothing special Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo, 1985) clone. But knowing the Kyratzes back catalogue, what the trailer didn’t say intrigued me more. It didn’t say why you should play this game. It didn’t say what it did different. It did nothing to really encourage you play it.

And, as you might expect in our postindieapocalyptic landscape, it didn’t really do big business and I don’t think I’ve seen it garner any attention on gaming websites. It’s difficult to share: uh, look, here’s a trailer from the acclaimed Kyratzes stable! It shows a brilliantly derivative game! More derivative than any other derivative game has gone before!

Oh of course there’s more to Omegaland than a Super Mario clone. It feels a bit Pippin Barr, but really long. A bit too long.

It’s not earth-shattering and you’re not missing out on the Mona Lisa of Games. But what are you missing? Why did I struggle with it? And why do I think the ending was the best bit?

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7Sep/177

Atari Video Computer Soul, Part One

This is an appendix to the Where We Came From series, suggested by Eversion developer @zarawesome.

atari-cartridge-boxes-1

In the beginning, there was the arcade.

In the arcade, you would find a platoon of brash, noisy cabinets, screaming over each other and pleading for your silver. They were more seductive than the penny fountains, one-armed bandits and claw machines, these coin-hungry bastards that understood addiction all too well. Sometimes it was better to find a forgotten machine alone in a café, with less competition from the environment; it could be what it was intended to be.

But the expense of an arcade lifestyle meant a console was destined to find a place in our homes and become our first videogame soul. For most, this was the Atari Video Computer System, known today as the Atari 2600. In 1980 my parents bought one and it was always referred to as "the Atari" until we sold virtually all our cartridges two years later to fund the purchase of an Atari 800 home computer. Then it became forever known as the VCS. I still think of it as the VCS.

We moved house recently and one of the boxes pulled out of storage contained the VCS. It wasn’t the original woodgrain VCS from my childhood but the later cheap-looking version, sometimes dubbed the Atari 2600 Jr., produced when Atari thought slapping their shitty silver branding on a thin plastic slate was the epitome of cool. This was a machine I'd bought in my student days when I wanted to recapture those past, ancient glories.

I decided to put the VCS through its paces again and see if the games were still fun - and what my children would make of them. In an era of Minecraft and Angry Birds, could square blocks still entrance? And would the machine even turn on?

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30Aug/1735

Grade F

wire-mcnulty-bunk

It was Jason Statham that did it.

Until his appearance, I hadn’t realised how much it fucking bothered me. But don’t people fucking swear all the time? I’m not some motherfucking prude, I can swear when the fucking mood takes me. And oh boy, does it. Now it wasn’t because Spy was a film about gals and I can’t stand fucking women swearing. It was every fuck in the movie, especially Jason Statham. As if inserting the word “fuck” into a sentence would autofuckingmagically make it hilarious.

It succeeded in making the dialogue sound like it was written by a fucking kid who has a hard-on for profanity because it sounds real, man, fucking real.

Oh, hello, videogames.

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Filed under: Longform 35 Comments
25Aug/179

Discussion: A Tale of Two Crunches

joel-working-on-sunday-in-2000

Dear subscribers, if you feel like chatting about anything at all from the August edition of the newsletter, please speak your mind in the comments here.