Totem: A Short Review

     As an entry for the Ludum Dare 33 "You are the monster" challenge, Ian MacLarty's Totem gives us a literal interpretation of being the monster.  With that literal-mindedness we get a bit extra as well.

     Totem may appear as just another simple side scroller with only the most modest of plots possible.  You are a massive stone giant rising out of the sea and, apparently tasked with ridding an island of its inhabitants.  Your heavy footsteps draw attention quickly, as the islanders attempt to swarm you.  They run around angrily hurling spears at you to no effect, so you may take your time in the destruction of these people, and I took great pleasure and satisfaction in the butt-stomp drop attack's weight shaking the ground and launching the poor tiny souls through the air.

     The art design is quite fitting, evoking a strange mystic island feel created with washed out colors and a mist covering much of the land.  Adding to this is the music- eerie and alien, adding a nice layer to the strange atmosphere.

     Simple controls make the extremely short playtime nice and breezy.  Honestly, I only have one small complaint about this game.  It has a rather vague goal.  Something flies off at the beginning and you presumably need to follow it, but it just disappears.  To truly know what I was supposed to do I searched the entire map, and then went back to crushing the islanders, and only then did I realize what actually is happening.  So the lack of directional clarity isn't really bad, but an oddly welcome frustration.

     As I said, it's not a bad thing, just a little confusing, because the game sort of just stops instead of having a clear cut ending.  Then again, maybe that air of mystery adds to why Totem is appealing.  It's left open to our interpretation, and it makes the game just a little bit more than what it appears to be.  It makes me question weather we can be a monster by being ourselves and tangentially ruining other lives.  Something akin to a person stepping on an ant hill.  Totem leaves me contemplating the fact that we can all monsters in a way.

     Play [ Totem ]


Super Bit Adventure: Tiny Review

     I've been playing Super Bit Adventure off and on since it arrived on Android, and there is something oddly special about it.  The graphics are a simple retro-inspired pixel art style that belies the real heart of the game.
     While it doesn't look like it at first glance, the game is definitely a work by people that truly love old games.  It's got minigames, bounties, and the appeal of grinding to build your character up into a legendary adventurer in order to tackle the harder and harder dungeon crawling levels.

"It's dangerous to go in there alone! Take This." - Norteko.

    The story is as old as the RPG genre it so earneestly emulates, with an unnamed adventurer mysteriously awakening after a shipwreck in a camp.  Super Bit Adventure takes those long time RPG root attributes and applies a roguelike skin over it.  Your goal is to level up your items, skills, and character by tackling levels in the dungeon so you may get farther and farther into it.
     The catch is if you die in the dungeon, you lose anything you found there except for the gold you've accumulated.  So if you find a really good piece of equipment it might be worth teleporting out of the dungeon and back to camp with some Bocobo Feathers, thus saving the item for you in the case of future deaths.

     What makes Super Bit Adventure genuinely great is how simple and fun it is.  It's like a minimalist's combination of The Legend of Zelda with a dash of The Secret of Mana, and wrapped in a roguelike shell creating a wonderful homage to the classic games from our 8 bit past.
     If you enjoy the RPG's of Nintendo's early days, if you enjoy roguelike games, or if you like humor Super Bit Adventure is worth a try.  It can be played whenever or whenever for short amounts of time making it a perfect mobile game to delve into during breaks at work or in between classes.

     I think giving this game a chance is a brilliant idea, as the developers, 3rd Pinnacle Games, have been constantly vigilant in patching, updating, and adding improvements galore to the game providing ever more new and entertaining ways to go adventuring.

     Get the game here, it'll only get better with time [ Super Bit Adventure ]