Side by Side is a video series on local multiplayer games. This is the second series, episode 5 of 10.

Joel Goodwin of Electron Dance and Gregg Burnell of Tap-Repeatedly take off together for some Affordable Space Adventures on an alien world!

  • This is a co-op title for the Nintendo Wii U
  • The car horn is adorable
  • “Whoa whoa whoa whoaaaaa we got a little bit close there”
  • Nicklas “Nifflas” Nygren of Knytt Stories worked on this title with KnapNok Games

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12 thoughts on “Side by Side: Affordable Space Adventures

  1. So my take away from this video was that we didn’t get very far! 🙂

    Some months after we shot this, Hai and I played through Affordable Space Adventures with a friend and we were right to assume that three players was stretching the mechanics somewhat, and that playing solo wouldn’t be nearly as satisfying. Two player is definitely the sweet I think. Nevertheless, god, we really enjoyed it and I’d go as far to say that it has one of the coolest endings I’ve seen in a long time, making great use of the Wii U’s features and capabilities and not in a cheap gimmicky way either (just like the rest of the game). I’ll say no more!

    One thing we didn’t really discuss in the video, but is touched on in your bullet points, is that the sound design is exquisite. There’s the car horn of course, but it’s little things like when your ship plops underwater and everything becomes muffled, then when you emerge the sound floods back in as you notice your windscreen wipers kick into action. Like the engineer’s Wii U controller screen OS booting up and the sound of a car starting when you turn the power on, it adds so much personality to your little craft. I made a comment in the video about scanning the drones sounding like modems and that kind of thing never got old either.

    I can’t recommend this game enough for anyone with a Wii U and willing friends and family to co-op with. It gets tricky later on but what’s a co-op game without some difficulty to squeeze you all together, eh?

    They added a free ‘Origin Story’ expansion of sorts to play after the main game which features (much trickier) stuff they weren’t able to implement into the story. Can’t wait to get round to it.

  2. I picked this up in a Humble Bundle earlier this year but we haven’t yet played it. It’s now moved up the list as it sounds perfect for C and myself!

    I’ve not played loads of Wii U games either but in terms of stuff that makes interesting use of the gamepad, Nintendoland is noteworthy. A lot of its minigames are asymmetric multiplayer and rely on one player being able to see things the other cannot. ZombiU you mentioned but it’s worth observing that both the single and multiplayer make use of it in different ways. I really like the ZombiU multiplayer!

    Interesting use of the WiiU gamepad is unfortunately predicated on games being WiiU exclusives and/or asymmetric multiplayer so I’m not surprised it isn’t more common. It would be interesting to hear what Nifflas/KnapNok thought about the experience of working with Nintendo to get ASA out, as indie developers are far better positioned to take advantage of what the unique hardware offers than the big boys.

  3. That’s a fair point Shaun about indies having more freedom to explore the possibilities of the hardware compared to the big boys.

    You only need to look at Rayman Legends. It was originally a Wii U exclusive but then it got ‘multi-platformed’, losing a lot of the more interesting ways of interacting with the world. A great game still but I wish I’d known I was going to eventually pick up a Wii U before I played it on PC!

    I’ve yet to play ZombiU but I’d very much like to try the multiplayer out. With whom, I’ve no idea!

    Thanks for the heads up on Nintendoland! I think you may have mentioned it before but I’m sure I’ve heard others praise it too. Will see if I can snag a preowned copy from somewhere.

  4. Gregg, yeah I didn’t think we’d made much progress in the game. There were still plenty of controls we hadn’t seen live by the end of our session. If I remember correctly we had to tear ourselves away from the game because we were just having too much fun. I’m glad to hear it continued to be engaging all the way through – and that we were right on guessing it wasn’t a great three-player experience. What happened with Rayman Legends?

    Shaun, of course we had Sportsfriends which led the way in terms of supporting unusual controller arrangements but making cool hardware pay is the tricky one. It’s funny to think a corporate giant like Nintendo might have to rely on these tiny outfits to get proper use out of their newfangled electronics.

  5. Haven’t watched the video yet, just wanted to say I’m more than slightly miffed it’s a Nifflas game and I can’t play it. There.

  6. There’d be a lot to try and explain but if you watch this video and pay attention to all the things that Murphy (the little green frog-fly-bug-thing) is doing, most of those things are simply absent from the PC/PS3/Xbox versions. I mean, Hailey just watched that over my shoulder and we were both like ‘Oh man, look how you can snip vines and pull up turnips and energise the lums and spin things and pull back those catapults and cut enemies’ parachutes and lift them off the floor and…’. And that’s just the first level! Hnnngh, I can see us replaying it, but on the Wii U 🙂

    I know Platinum try their damnedest to wring all they can from the Wii U controller and, to some extent, to the detriment of their games (I’m thinking of the recent StarFox which apparently does a bit too much, and I know The Wonderful 101 does all kinds of zany but really quite cool stuff). I think it’s more a case of big name developers being cautious to spend so much money, time and effort on unique controls on a single system where it might not sell so well. For Nintendo exclusives and smaller developers who can only afford to develop for one system, it’s a lot simpler. But for platform agnostic developers, it’s a risk. Rayman Legends is a good example because it went from exclusive to multi-platform as a result of this risk. From the Rayman Legends Wikipedia entry:

    “According to Yves Guillemot, Chairman and CEO of Ubisoft, ZombiU’s poor sales performance led to the decision of making Rayman Legends a multiplatform game.”

    ZombiU, incidentally, went on to become multi-platform too, only this time it was simply called ‘Zombi’. Catchy. It also lacked some of the things that made the Wii U version unique, including a local asymmetric multiplayer mode that made one player the survivor on the TV and the other a sort of ‘zombie master’ on the controller trying to kill the survivor. It was arguably the most innovative and exciting thing about the game!

  7. I often forget the Wii U exists as a platform, which is not meant to sound snarky or anything — I really do forget it’s out there. Seems like developers have been doing better and better over time making good use of the control system, especially with unusual little titles like this one.

    This sounds like a great use of the side-by-side concept especially. Any multiplayer can support couch co-op, but taking advantage of sitting right next to the other player is a trickier proposition. I liked your point, HM, that co-op games tend to be designed to be played multiple times. Given the good experience you guys had with this one it goes to show there’s always room for unexpected innovation. Most people wouldn’t have any problem with a game they played once and loved, yet there’s the expectation for something else.

    Zombi (minus the U) was a PS+ freebie a few months ago; I assume the key difference was the use of the Wii U pad for the zombie-and-objective-detector tool that’s brought up with a trigger pull on a more traditional controller. That’d add a bit of immersion but really, overall I think the problem with Zombi was that it was a fairly mediocre game, not that it was absent from certain platforms.

    Very excited for the second series — and glad you’re not doing anything too radical moving forward. It’s awesome the way it is!

  8. Steerpike,

    Thanks for stopping by to make a comment, always welcome. I’d offer you a cup of tea but by the time I get round to make it, you’ve already gone home.

    I remembered another co-op example which limits replay value: the Portal co-op campaign. But Portal co-op is not the whole game – here it is. Multiplayer is always a tricky sell, it just doesn’t do as well because most of us play alone and hate people. I know I do, that’s why I set up a website to firewall myself off from meeting people in person.

    I was interested in ZombiU because of an essay that was written about the game, but your view of the game gives me some pause!

    I want to get the second series done and then consider a third, shorter series. Side by Side is *probably* going to end after this series or after an even shorter, third season. I’ve absolutely no idea how to drum up an audience for it – compared to the main videos which do 50x better. And our production constraints means we’re missing some obvious ways to get attention (we’re NEVER topical).

  9. I swoop in, comment pithily, and vanish before the first rays of dawn. In this way I retain that Steerpikian mystique that makes me so mystique-y.

    Let me spend a little more time with Zombi on PS4 before I condemn it. I may have spoken too soon — or at least over-stated its mediocrity. Perhaps it’s better to say it’s nothing special based on what I’ve seen so far… which is not exactly the same as calling it mediocre. I liked a lot of elements of it but in fairness I really only tried it out briefly before returning to my regularly scheduled programming.

  10. I forgot to mention, I love my little dig at the Wii: “The Wii, if you’ve still got that dusty thing lying around.”

    Steerpike, I hope to play ZombiU over the coming months now the darker nights are setting in so I’ll keep you posted with my thoughts. But first I’ll be playing State of Decay!

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