Electron Dance

Electron Dance Highlights

11Jan/1816

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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24Dec/175

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++.

21Nov/172

Side by Side: N++

Side by Side is a video series on local multiplayer games. This is the third series, episode 5 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. As this is the series conclusion, we will release a "desperately seeking feedback" video in two weeks time.

In this episode, Joel Goodwin of Electron Dance and Gregg Burnell of Tap-Repeatedly tackle Metanet Software's magnum opus platformer N++. The meat here is both lean and tough... and we're not sure if that metaphor actually works.

There's a wicked purity to N++ that appeals, a brilliant crispness to its design. This is no easy-going party game as it is designed for the hardcore, the nimble of finger. N++ is arranged in sequences of five levels and you will often be stuck on levels for longer than you'd think. If you're not the best player, the game is extremely tactical, an exercise in finding the route that incurs the least risk. There's no point including a crazy jump into your plan that you can only pull off 1 in every 20 attempts.

N++ offers not just one but two local multiplayer modes: competitive and cooperative. Both are enormous fun although we did our utmost best to track down a few subtle flaws.

If you enjoy the series, please like our videos and subscribe to our channel... then share the crap out of them because that's what'll really get more seasons made.

Watch the video here or direct on YouTube.

7Nov/170

Side by Side: Johann Sebastian Joust

Side by Side is a video series on local multiplayer games. This is the third series, episode 4 of 5.

This is the bonus episode. I brought Joust along to show Gregg what all the fuss was about to our Side by Side filming weekend. We only intended to have four episodes (in fact that was also an increase on the three I'd originally planned as the Side by Side swansong) but I realised we could package this up as an extra episode for the series - a companion to our Lemon Joust episode.

So in this episode, Joel Goodwin of Electron Dance and Gregg Burnell of Tap-Repeatedly escape the confines of the computer dungeon and head into the great outdoors to take on Die Gute Fabrik's Johann Sebastian Joust. And Joel gets to report a bug.

The Joust game footage featured in the credits was taken on the Red line in Boston, PAX East 2014. The full footage can be found on YouTube.

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

Watch the video here or direct on YouTube.

24Oct/170

Side by Side: Sumer

Side by Side is a video series on local multiplayer games. This is the third series, episode 3 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 this episode, Joel Goodwin of Electron Dance and Gregg Burnell of Tap-Repeatedly look at something quite fresh and exciting: a digital boardgame that inherits from the great M.U.L.E., the early access title Sumer from Studio Wumpus.

Sumer tackles some of M.U.L.E.'s weaknesses head-on as well as offering an experience which is distinctly not M.U.L.E.. Does it work? It would be unfair to judge this game which is not yet at final release. We both had a great time yet had some reservations. Sumer is harder to grasp than M.U.L.E. and puts players under much more stress. Your biggest challenge, however, may be finding players to join you in the ziggurat.

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

Watch the video here or direct on YouTube.

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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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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