Electron Dance

Electron Dance Highlights


Discussion: Mythbusting

Welcome to the July newsletter (sign up if you want to read it):

Today, it is usually the open world game that generates urban legends. However, it’s difficult to know whether player reports are made in good faith or made up for clicks and likes, much like those schoolfriends who used to boast about crazy videogame happenings which never actually happened. There’s a page full of GTA: San Andreas myths from Bigfoot to UFOs.

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Discussion: Insert Coin

Welcome to the June newsletter (sign up if you want to read it):

Once I had paid tribute to the digital god, the machine would respond with the magical phrase CREDITS 01. The attract mode was likely to continue playing - but the machine was aware of my presence now. It was waiting.

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The Farfield: Dark

The Farfield is an occasional series where I write about something other than gaming.

This is a machine seen in the German sci-fi thriller, Dark. A clockwork mechanism with a beautiful, intricate design that defies understanding.

That, right there, tells you everything you need to know about Dark.

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Discussion: Monument

Welcome to the tad late May newsletter (sign up if you want to read it):

I can’t bring myself to say goodbye, even though I know it’s over. I could play again but that wouldn’t be the same experience at all. The install is no longer just the mountain of bytes that comprise code and visuals and sound but personal investment.

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Transmission: Explorer Special

60 minutes. Three games.

Stream this week - Wednesday 29 May, and will begin at 9:30PM UK, 10:30PM Central Europe, 5:30PM EST. My Twitch channel can be found at twitch.tv/electrondance.

I will discuss the following titles:

Previous Transmissions are available on the dedicated E/TX YouTube channel.

Update 01 June. Here's the archived stream:

Filed under: Transmission 1 Comment

Remade In Their Image

I thought I had no preconceptions when launching Feather (Samurai Punk, 2019). It was something about being a bird. Possibly an exploration game.

Turned out I was not far off the mark: I was indeed a bird who could fly anywhere I wanted on an island. Oh, I also saw these throbbing hoops, inviting me to fly through them.

Did you catch it? Did you spot my reaction to the hoops? Let me zoom in, Bladerunner style, because it’s quite faint. Enhance: Oh.

I assumed the hoops were a form of collectible. That I must fly through each to complete the island. Oh, of course. Another game selling out its explorer fanbase for the goal hunters. Oh.

This isn’t the punchline because more experience with Feather revealed I was wrong. The hoops were not collectibles at all and Feather was completely not that type of game.

Yet I wondered about that instinctive rejection and what it was a symptom of.

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Filed under: Longform 23 Comments

Dabblings 2019: A Wander Through Rezzed

A video version of my series covering EGX Rezzed 2019.



Discussion: Sunk Cost

Welcome to the April newsletter (sign up if you want to read it):

What drives you to finish? Is it the FOMO, the concern that something important is right around the corner? Is it the importance of completing a game and leaving no loose ends? Is it the feeling of achievement, of climbing that hill to the top?

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The Long Reach of Monte Carlo

A fracture runs through my memory of Pipe Push Paradise (Corey Martin, 2018). On one side of the fracture, I am dissatisfied, tortured. On the other, I am entranced.

Which perspective reveals the truth?

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Filed under: Longform 41 Comments

Dabbling With… Vectronom

The final episode of a short series on games I discovered at EGX Rezzed 2019.

When I saw Ludopium's Vectronom on show, tucked away in the Indie Basement room at Rezzed, I thought I gotta get me some of that action. After getting me some of that action, I then shook Utz Stauder, one of the developers, rather vigorously demanding to know when it would be released.

That's enough hype. Chill out, Joel. This isn't No Man's Sky.

Vectronom is a rhythm-based isometric platformer where the obstacles in each level move with the beat. During the levels I played, I had to avoid pyramidal spikes and the floor disappearing beneath me. One wrong move and your cube avatar gets smushed or fall to its death. Vectronom is not like Super Hexagon where you are constantly on the move, but if we insist on Terry Cavanagh metaphors then it's more like VVVVVV. It's about observation, practice and muscle memory. You have to learn the specific sequence of moves to make it through each level and enact it to the beat.

Yep, it was one of them quick-to-pick-up, hard-to-put-downers. Vectronom reminded me of Crypt of the Necrodancer (Brace Yourself Games, 2015) in the way you embraced the music through play. It is frustrating in a good way as it makes the victorious highs that much sweeter when you break through a very tricky level. My favourite stage had a thin circle constantly contracting to a line and expanding back to circle; that required some seriously fancy fingerwork on the keyboard. God, it was joyous.

There is a two-player mode but the two players work independently - my good Side by Side buddy Gregg Burnell likes to call this "co-hab" multiplayer rather than "co-op". Only one needs to get to the exit to complete the level but when both players are performing the exact same actions the visual feedback is disturbed - it's usually better if players agree not to move together. Then again, if you play competitively, this might be a useful tactic to throw your opponent off.

When I brought my son and his friend to Rezzed on the Saturday, I made sure I put them both in front of Vectronom. And they loved it like I knew they would. Look, Vectronom is brilliant, okay.

Vectronom will be out "Spring 2019" on PC, Mac and Nintendo Switch with further plans afoot to bring it to mobile. From the Vectronom website:

Vectronom is a rhythm-based 3D platformer played in isometric view. Obstacles in the levels change in sync with the music, forcing players to memorize patterns and solve environment-specific riddles while moving to the beat of the music.

Interested in other games I've dabbled with? Check out the series index!