Electron Dance

Electron Dance Highlights


I Hate Playing With Myself

This is the fourth part of The Ouroboros Sequence, a series on puzzle games.

In 2008, a recommendation on Rock Paper Shotgun led me to Cursor*10 (nekogames, 2008) in which the player has to make it to the 16th floor - but the player's life only lasts a short time. With each new life, the player is accompanied by the ghosts of their previous incarnations, working side by side to reach a common goal. If you need to click a box 100 times, it’s a damn sight quicker if a previous life is there to assist you with the clicking. It was the first time I’d seen this sort of mechanic, but unlikely to be a world first: Braid (Number None, 2008) released later in the same year utilised a similar mechanic.

But I’ve seen this design pattern again and again over the years in puzzle games. Today my mission is to explain why I hate it.

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The Zen Lie

This is the third part of The Ouroboros Sequence, a series on puzzle games.

Spelltower (Zach Gage, 2011). It’s like the best word game, the best, I heard.

I installed it on my Android, gave it a spin. I had a good time. Briefly. Either my game was too short and unsatisfying or it was really long and taxing.

The last game I played kept going and going. After, I think, a couple of weeks, I made the call. I never opened the app again. The game died in stasis.

And I came to the sobering conclusion that maybe I didn’t want it to be so hard.

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Discussion: The Silent Narrator

From this month's newsletter:

One area that has seen significant improvement is space. Software techniques and hardware muscle have improved to the point where whole worlds can be modelled inside a computer. Large worlds were still obviously quantized in the early years. Mercenary which I have written about in length had a single building within every grid square and the underground complexes were constructed as a sequence of discrete boxes. You would have to turn to 2D games for something more realistic; the world of Ultima IV felt enormous, full of mountain ranges, dark forests and plains yet... even then, you still had ENTERING TOWNE.

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


Transmission: Shadowhand & Friends

One hour. Four games... or so.

Stream tonight, Thursday 25 January, and will begin at 9:30PM UK, 10:30PM Central Europe, 4:30PM EST. My Twitch channel can be found at twitch.tv/electrondance.

I will discuss the following titles:

Update: Here's the archived stream. We didn't have time for Valley - next month!


The Box Impossible

This is the second part of The Ouroboros Sequence, a series on puzzle games.

After bouncing off Snakebird, I pondered the question: was it an objectively good puzzle game?

What does that mean - to be a “good” puzzle game? Perhaps it depends on what it means to be a "puzzle game"?


I was starting to do that waht is gaem thing in my head. I didn't want to scribble down an academic definition citing power players like Roger Callois, Bernard Suits or Werner Herzog, but I sure wasn’t gonna let The Room or Monument Valley crash this party. You’re not invited.

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Head Meets Tail

This is the first part of The Ouroboros Sequence, a series on puzzle games.

It starts with Snakebird.

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Alone and Beyond Help

I tend to have brief, madly passionate affairs.

With mobile games.

The last affair I had was with Lara Croft GO (Square Enix Montreal, 2015) which I couldn't stop wrestling with over several weeks of commutes. On a difficulty curve, it was positioned around taxing-but-not-that-taxing which made it a pleasant diversion from the usual brainkilling puzzle fuckery of something like Cosmic Express (Draknek, 2016), a previous squeeze. But I was done with Lara and, after taking a break from commuter gaming, I cast around for something new. I embarked on Linelight (My Dog Zorro, 2017) and Cityglitch (mindfungus, 2017).

On a whim, I also picked up Six Match (Aaron Steed, 2017) after seeing it mentioned on Twitter. It looked like a garish lo-fi slot machine, complete with sounds like Mario hoovering up coins. I played a bit but it just... it just didn't do anything for me. Still, after becoming frustrated with the touchscreen controls of Linelight and finding I could only invest in playing Cityglitch for short bursts, I was forced to go back to Six Match to break things up a bit.

Today, Six Match is my new fling. And I want to talk about Six Match because its odd mix of mechanics induce an unusual emotion in the late game: loneliness.

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When Good Luck is Bad Luck

Last year, I wrote a little on first-person stealth game ECHO (Ultra Ultra, 2017) about how its slow, undemanding opening was to my taste. I didn’t talk much about what happens when the action picks up, unless you happened to catch the end of the second Electron Dance Transmission.

I’ve now completed ECHO and find myself considering how I often squeeze through skill-based games with luck - and how I wish I didn’t.

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Discussion: Unfinished Tales

The moaning critic. A DMCA takedown. The gamer identity.

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


Side by Side: Feedback Request

A request for feedback on the third series of Side by Side. The third series offered five feature-length episodes on the following local multiplayer games: Cryptark, The Unholy War, Sumer, Johann Sebastian Joust, and N++.