Tyler Curran

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Tyler Curran last won the day on January 13 2015

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  1. Developer Michael Todd had a high water mark to live up to with Groove City. As a follow up of sorts to Electronic Super Joy, the burden falls on Todd to create a game that is just as compelling and rewarding as its predecessor. Being a platformer means that Groove City will live or die based on its core mechanics. Movement speed, difficulty curve, and level design are all of paramount importance. Luckily, Groove City absolutely nails these. The aesthetic can accurately be described as a cross between the silhouetted artwork of Limbo and the rave scene of the late nineties. Everything in the foreground is made of beautifully hand crafted drawn black pixel art. Backgrounds consist of a handful of bright colors punctuated by an assortment of vector artwork that moves in time with the music. The minimalistic palette not only makes the player character pop of the screen, it gives every level with a unique feel. Fantastic artwork aside, its the musical suite that really ends up stealing the show. Every single track is great and you’ll find yourself just stopping to listen to the music. Unfortunately, much of the challenge in the game’s later levels felt artificial by way of having the checkpoints be further spaced out. Some players will also be miffed by total amount of content. The thirteen levels can be completed in a few hours, and unless you are obsessed with achievements, there isn’t much reason to replay the game. There’s also an overall lack of variety to the experience. While it may not be an especially novel experience, Groove City is still a blast to play. The game is unashamedly brutal and features an awesome art style, a great soundtrack, and a quirky sense of humor thrown in for good measure. Anyone who enjoyed the steep difficulty curve of old-school games shouldn’t miss out on this one. Tyler Curran is someone who fondly remembers scribbling out notes about games back when he first learned to write. Who knew design documents scrawled in crayon would lead to him becoming a game design major?
  2. Beat Hazard is a perfect example of the fun that can come out of games that intelligently incorporate music into their mechanics. The game is a twin stick shooter in the vein of Geometry Wars or Everyday Shooter. Players move around a small arena while shooting off bullets in any direction. Enemies swarm in from outside of the play area and the goal is to survive for a set amount a time. The core gameplay experience is well-done but fans of the genre won’t find anything earth shattering. However, the developer has added a few wrinkles to keep it feeling fresh. Every play session nets the player in-game currency which can then be spent on an impressive variety of perks and upgrades. There is also a RPG-like leveling system that acts as a great incentive to keep on playing. What makes Beat Hazard great and sets it apart from its contemporaries is how it integrates music into the experience. It allows users to import their entire music library, select a song, and then generate a level based on said song. Everything from the projectile power to enemy patterns is dependent on the currently selected track. The way these elements manifest themselves is both creative and subtle, especially when compared to other rhythm games. Rather than feature a one-to-one translation of the music, the game measures the overall flow of the song and crafts a level based on the emotions the song is trying to bring forth. For example: while a quite introduction consists weak several slow moving asteroids, an intense crescendo will spawn a monstrous boss creature. The visuals of Beat Hazard are absolutely insane. Background particle effects fluctuate based on the player’s movement, colors transition to accommodate the song’s current cadence, and the entire screen is filled to the brim with lights that resonate to the beat of the music. Fortunately, the developer has included an option to control the visual intensity of each song, thus ensuring that the difficulty doesn’t have to come from not being able to see. Models for enemies and obstacles are set apart by a lo-fi look that makes them easy to distinguish and gives everything a charmingly indie look. The game feels like it was one person’s passion project and is all the better for it. The biggest issue with the game is the interface for selecting which song you want to play. While it is by no means bad, simply scrolling through an alphabetical list of thousands of songs based on the track/artist/album title can be tedious. For those playing on mobile platforms, the option to have unanchored virtual joysticks makes the process of activating secondary powers somewhat difficult during the hectic gameplay. The menu wasn’t fully changed to accommodate a touchscreen, and scrolling through options is more annoying that it needs to be. Grievances aside, Cold Beam Games has created something special. The core mechanics are highly refined, the visuals are madly beautiful, and the unlocks are well thought out. More than just a simple gimmick, the inclusion of music is a clever aspect that permeates all aspects of Beat Hazard. Half the fun comes from trying out different styles of music and discovering what gameplay experiences they will produce. With a potentially endless amount of replay value, this is a game that will keep people coming back again and again. Beat Hazard was developed by Cold Beam Games and can currently be purchased on Steam, Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, iOS, and Android. Tyler Curran is someone who fondly remembers scribbling out notes about games back when he first learned to write. Who knew design documents scrawled in crayon would lead to him becoming a game design major?
  3. Every Extend is a hectic top down shooter that distinguishes itself by offering a unique method of attacking and requiring players to exercise both caution and precision. The basic setup is similar to Smash TV or Asteroids. The player is confined within the single screen while clusters of enemies float into the arena from all directions. Rather than firing projectiles to destroy the enemies, the only way to attack is to detonate the ship. If an enemy is caught in the explosion it too explodes, hopefully setting off a chain of explosions. Chaining together explosions is very important. Not only does it increase the score multiplier of any single explosion, but it adds time bonuses to the constantly ticking down clock. Anytime the ship is detonated, a few additional seconds are subtracted from the amount of time that’s left. This creates a situation where balancing quick reaction times with planning ahead a few seconds becomes imperative. It keeps you on the edge without becoming overwhelming. Every Extend takes a decidedly minimalistic approach to the presentation. Models are simple polygons and the color palette consists mainly of muted gray, pink, and orange tones. Rather than feel cheap or boring, this style keeps everything focused on the gameplay. However, it still manages to impress, with backgrounds that evoke Mode 7 graphics and music that fits the pseudo techno theme perfectly. The biggest problem with the game is odd user interface. All of the text presented during gameplay is vertical, and it makes keeping track of the score, time limit, and multiplier difficult when it doesn’t need to be. Complaints aside, Every Extend is a great game. The concept is easy to grasp but difficult to master and keeps you coming back again and again. Tyler Curran is someone who fondly remembers scribbling out notes about games back when he first learned to write. Who knew design documents scrawled in crayon would lead to him becoming a game design major?
  4. BIT.TRIP Presents... Runner 2: Future Legend of Alien Rhythm is a fantastic blend of music and platforming. As the title suggests, the game is an automatic runner. The player controls Commander Video as he races through side scrolling levels. Along with jumping, Commander Video has access to several secondary maneuvers. For example, he can slide under obstacles, kick down barriers, and deflect incoming projectiles. A constant flow of new mechanics not only keeps the game feeling fresh until the end, it increases the difficulty level exponentially. While juggling a multitude of mechanics can get tricky during the later stages, the gameplay never feels unfair. Switching actions always remains responsive and the character’s animation never lags behind the player’s input. The structure will be instantly familiar to anyone who has ever played a platformer. Levels are selected from a map screen, collectables are required to progress past a certain point, and there are plenty of secrets scattered around each environment. There are also special unlockable characters and costumes. Although both are limited to the cosmetic, they do add a nice sense of progression and provide a further bit of incentive for every hidden item the game has. The soundtrack is synced to the gameplay, with each action corresponding to a different musical chime or beat. The links between what is being done and what is being heard only serves to further immerse players in the experience. Visuals, while simplistic, are bright, vibrant and charming. A pastel color palette fills the world and all of the anthropomorphized structures look like something out of a children’s book. Even the menus perfectly capture this mood. Looking at the game is sure to put a smile on the player’s face. Gaijen Games has created a title that reveals in the contrast between its components. The game combines childlike aesthetics and engrossing platforming with high difficulty and devious collectables. It’s an experience that players won’t soon forget. BIT.TRIP Presents... Runner 2: Future Legend of Alien Rhythm is currently available on Steam, Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, and iOS. Tyler Curran is someone who fondly remembers scribbling out notes about games back when he first learned to write. Who knew design documents scrawled in crayon would lead to him becoming a game design major?
  5. Nitronic Rush is an unforgiving experience that perfectly evokes both the visuals of Tron and the difficulty of Super Meat Boy. Much like TrackMania, the game is less of a racing title and more of a platformer. The goal is to guide your car through a series of arduous obstacle courses in hopes of finishing each one in the fastest time possible. Maneuvering the car feels highly responsive. The vehicle is also equipped with boost, jump, and glide capabilities...with many of the most challenging sections requiring that all three be mixed together with deft precision. The main campaign consists of a handful of levels and can be completed in a few hours. Replaying these levels in order to get a better time is encouraged and there are several unlockable challenge courses that will test even the best players. One level in particular stands out, as Team Nitronic has managed to recreate the fabled Obstacle bonus track from the classic Midway title San Francisco Rush 2049. The game also includes a stunt arena mode that forgoes speed in favor of style. Players are tasked with jumping and flipping around sandbox like environments in order to earn high scores. The graphics look like something straight out of Tron. The digital cityscape is filled with bright colors and glowing neon. It’s truly a sight to behold. The special effects warrant special mention, as seeing the vehicle spontaneously spawn into existence from a series of particles never ceases to amaze. On the audio side of things, Team Nitronic has composed a soundtrack of more than twenty songs. Each one stands on its own as a fantastic track that fits the theme perfectly. Team Nitronic has crafted an experience that brings out a feeling of pure and unadulterated joy. The core gameplay mechanics are both engaging and responsive, with the steep difficulty curve feeling nonexistent simply because players are too busy having fun. While the base set of levels may be lacking, the developer has included several bonuses that will keep players occupied for a long time. The aesthetics of the game are amazing, with an audio/visual suite that brings to mind classic examples of the “inside a computer” look and feel. Nitronic Rush can currently be download for free. Tyler Curran is someone who fondly remembers scribbling out notes about games back when he first learned to write. Who knew design documents scrawled in crayon would lead to him becoming a game design major?
  6. Derez Infinite is an endless runner with an aesthetic that’s inspired by the likes of Tron. The core gameplay is fairly standard for this type of game. The player only has to worry about jumping as the character automatically races across a series of conveniently flat rooftops. The unique feature is the resolution meter. Like the name implies, this constantly depleting value controls the game’s resolution. The graphics will start to become pixelated as the meter gets lower. The meter will also deplete if the player runs into one of the enemies that litter the environment. If the resolution reaches zero, the game will end instantly, so the game quickly becomes all about looking for and collecting the resolution items. The visuals are are a joy to experience. Everything has a filter over it that looks like a mix between Tron and a broken VCR that keeps things interesting without being a distraction. Colors are limited, but the entire palette will constantly shift as the game progresses. There are also several visual themes to choose from, including one that pays homage to the colorless cityscape of Canabalt. The backgrounds are impressive parallax artwork and collectables/enemies are easily identifiable. It may not have much depth to its mechanics, but the additions it does make are worthwhile tweaks to the genre that keep the game feeling fresh. The visuals of the game are what really set it apart and it is easy to just zone out in awe of the artwork. Derez Infinite is currently available for in-browser play or for download. Tyler Curran is someone who fondly remembers scribbling out notes about games back when he first learned to write. Who knew design documents scrawled in crayon would lead to him becoming a game design major?
  7. Floating Point is the kind of experience that relishes in it’s lack of structure and embraces the feeling that can come from simply zoning out while playing a game. The game puts players in control of a small dot with a Spider-Man esque tether ability. Click here to view the article
  8. Floating Point is the kind of experience that relishes in it’s lack of structure and embraces the feeling that can come from simply zoning out while playing a game. The game puts players in control of a small dot with a Spider-Man esque tether ability. It starts off with the player’s dot spawning in a randomly generated 2D level that consists of only a bunch of floating cubes and some water. From there, the only objective is to swing around and increase your score by passing through beams of light that radiate from the cubes. The game lacks any sort of negative consequences, while pressing a single key will warp the player to a new level. It feels very relaxed. The visuals are neither here nor there. While the minimalism makes it easy to focus on the gameplay, it is obvious that most of the assets come from components found within the Unity Game Engine. It’s the audio suite that’s the real highlight of the game’s presentation. The background track is relaxing and constantly fluctuates based on where the point is located within the level. The sound effects blend well with the music and the cohesive nature of it all makes the visuals seem all the more generic. Swinging around may be fun, but the control scheme does lead to a few mishaps. The input response for reeling in your point’s tether seems very inconsistent. Sometimes the rope would quickly reel itself in, while others saw it flailing around as if nothing was happening. Placing the tether release command on a separate key is also cumbersome. The game lacks the option to enable firing/letting go to a single input and the available control scheme never felt natural. Despite a lack of control options, the game features an impressive custom content suite. Players have the ability to control several variables that goes into the level generation algorithm. The game also features a built in screenshot ability. It lacks any reason to be included, but it is nice nonetheless. Floating Point is currently available for free on the Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms. Tyler Curran is someone who fondly remembers scribbling out notes about games back when he first learned to write. Who knew design documents scrawled in crayon would lead to him becoming a game design major?
  9. *Brains...Brains...Brains!” We’re no experts, but we think our undead pals are trying to alert us to the upcoming patch for a certain open ended trolling simulator zombie survival game. The ARMA 2 mod turned stand-alone product DayZ will soon be getting an update that adds a bevy of new features. The primary feature of the upcoming patch is the addition of fire. Bohemia Interactive explains that players will be able to use their newly gifted combustion mechanic to start campfires and light flammable objects. Elements of the core physics system will also be tweaked, along with heavy modifications to mouse tracking. Lastly, the messaging (Bohemia hopes this will curve the amount of spam players come into contact with). No definitive word was given on removing the 100 player server cap, but it was suggested that the issue could be one step closer to being resolved with the mending of the server spam problem. A release date for the patch was not discussed. Click here to view the article
  10. You Have to Win the Game takes the aesthetics of yesteryear and packages them into a brand new game that is free to download. It is a side scroller that has players exploring a labyrinth structure (think Metroid) constructed out of single screen platforming challenges. As you explore you’ll unlock new areas of the map and collect copious amounts of treasure. The controls are highly responsive and the quick respawn system makes it easy to lose yourself for hours on end, delving deep into the maze in order to grab your next bag of loot. The aesthetics also warrant praise. The game emulates the feel of a 1980s PC environment, complete with a curved screen effect. It is amazing how diverse the environments can look with such a sparse color palette. However, there are a few hitches in the overall design. The most frustrating problem with the game is its lack of a map of any kind. You receive no markings about places you have visited, and it is easy to find yourself traversing between the same three or four screens for an undue period of time. The exploration heavy environment also means a sporadic difficulty curve. One screen might be tough but fair, while another will have you pulling your hair out. The game also lacks any sort of background music, making the entire thing seem oddly empty. The constant respawning noise will lose its charm after you hear it for the hundredth time within three minutes. Irritations and nitpicks aside, this game is recommendable to anyone who loves exploration heavy platformers. While it may not be the most original game in existence, You Have to Win the Game is a challenging experience that deserves a look from those of you itching for a platformer. Tyler Curran is someone who fondly remembers scribbling out notes about games back when he first learned to write. Who knew design documents scrawled in crayon would lead to him becoming a game design major? You can also find him on Google+. Click here to view the article
  11. Billed as a “JRPG with Japanese at the core of gameplay,” Koe aims to provide players with a fun and useful experience by wrapping a classic role-playing game around a language instruction tool. Simply put, the game replaces the standard battle systems found in these types of games (the developer cites both Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest for the overall design of the project) with a system that requires players to write out the characters. For example, instead of simply selecting “Fire” to perform a spell, you would have to draw the character for “Kansaiit” using the game’s stroke recognition tool. The setting for the game also draws upon the core theme and during the quest, players will visit real world locations in Japan. Developer Jitesh Rawal says the idea came about when he saw the large number of people who, although they had a great interest in this sort of material (games, manga, and anime) had no idea where to start learning the language. The learning is designed to teach players the basics of the language, so (no prior knowledge is necessary). During the course of the game you will learn about the following: the Japanese syllabaries Hiragana and Katakana, several important Kanji, and a selection of common phrases. As of the time of writing Koe has been fully funded on Kickstarter and is coming to Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, (with a PS Vita version is as one of the stretch goals). Click here to view the article
  12. It’s a bad day to be a sentient marshmallow...at least thats the premise of Beast Games’ side scrolling platformer Avalanche 2: Super Avalanche. The game tasks players with avoiding a rising tide of lava by climbing upwards along randomly falling platforms that continue to stack upon one another. Imagine jumping on Tetris blocks and you have a pretty good idea of the overall level design. Moving to a horizontal edge of the screen warps the character to the other side, so all of the player’s attention is contained to the core vertical action. The marshmallow will comes across various, but the hook is that each one is modular. For example, I can combine a double jump with a dash move whereas you might opt for mixing the glider and magnet powers. All in all, the level of diversity the game offers is quite impressive. In addition to the allure of chasing a high-score, the developer has elected to wrap the game in a surprisingly addictive progression system. At the end of each session players will earn experience points based. Players will also collect coins that are scattered around the level. Coins add a risk vs reward element to the game as they can either be banked (earmarking them to permanent character upgrades) or spent at shops that appear mid-level (these sell things like instant power-ups or extra health). Players can also partake in missions. Missions are short challenges (such as collecting 10 coins) that grant players with extra experience when finished. Missions can be accepted at the player’s leisure, offering a further layer of customization. Although Avalanche 2: Super Avalanche is currently trying to get through the Steam Greenlight process, gamers can already buy an early version from the official website. Developer Beast Games notes that all those who purchase the game now will receive a steam key if the game makes it through the selection system. Be sure to check back here at IGS for all your news related to Avalanche 2 and indie games. Click here to view the article
  13. Lost Orbit offers a new twist on the top down shoot-em-up by crafting a game that is equal parts relaxing and restricting. Players take control of a lonely man named Harrison, an astronaut who has found himself stranded in the deep reaches of space. Armed with only his wits and determination, Harrison must traverse through four distinct solar systems in order to return home. As Harrison zooms along the screen, players must attempt to avoid all sorts of space related obstacles. It is important to note that Harrison is not equipped with any sort of offensive weaponry, but relies on the player’s ability to skillfully dodge debris. The mechanics of the game are softened by the its art style. A limited color palette and bold toon shading make it easy to see where you are in the hectic cluster of debris. The music is an eerily hypnotic synth track that fluctuates based on player actions. The aesthetics combine with the mechanics to create an almost zen-like experience. Developer PixelNAUTS promises 40 different levels, each filled to the brim with unique gameplay challenges that will surly keep this simple formula feeling fun and fresh. The release date is listed as summer 2014, but players can check of the game’s Steam Greenlight page. With a fresh spin on a classic formula and a mesmerizing look, Lost Orbit is shaping up to be a great game. Tyler Curran is someone who fondly remembers scribbling out notes about games back when he first learned to write. Who knew design documents scrawled in crayon would lead to him becoming a game design major? Click here to view the article
  14. Harmonix Music Systems, best known in recent years for their work on the Rock Band and Dance Central franchises, has created a Kickstarter campaign to bring back cult classic rhythm game Amplitude.Harmonix Music Systems, best known in recent years for their work on the Rock Band and Dance Central franchises, has created a Kickstarter campaign to bring back cult classic rhythm game Amplitude. Released in 2003, Amplitude differs from modern music games by allowing one player complete control over several music tracks at once. The developer is seeking $775,000 to bring a downloadable reimagining of the game to the PS3/PS4 sometime in 2014. Standout backer rewards include a sick vinyl record filled with original music compositions, a trip to PAX to hang out with the team, and even a chance to get your own music put into the game. As of this writing, the campaign has 5 days to goal and has raised around $300,000 of its goal. Stay tuned to IGS for further coverage. Click here to view the article
  15. Evoland is less of a game and more of an interactive trip down memory lane. Although the game wears its gameplay influences on its sleeve (The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy being the two most prominent examples), defining a specific category for the game is near impossible.Evoland is less of a game and more of an interactive trip down memory lane. Although the game wears its gameplay influences on its sleeve (The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy being the two most prominent examples), defining a specific category for the game is near impossible. The hook is that new mechanics are constantly introduced as you progress through the game. These upgrades can range anywhere from the mundane to incredible. One minute I was granted the ability to walk left and the next I was presented with a complete graphical overhaul. To speak any further would be spoiling the experience, but you can be sure that the game jams an impressive amount of content in a short amount of time. Special mention goes to the game’s writing. Every role-playing game trope imaginable is featured and there are several hilarious moments to be found here. It manages to be humorous, all without being derisive. It should be noted that, taken on their own, the individual gameplay systems found in Evoland are quite poor. They lack polish and amount to nothing more than mashing a single key over and over again. There are also a few technical hiccups such as sporadic frame rates and odd markings showing up on the screen. While it may be rough around the edges, Evoland manages to be more than the sum of its parts. Developer Shiro Studios has created somewhat of a love letter to the past three decades of video games. People wanting an engaging role-playing game should look elsewhere, but Evoland is a great choice for anyone wanting to spend a Sunday afternoon lost in nostalgia. Tyler Curran is someone who fondly remembers scribbling out notes about games back when he first learned to write. Who knew design documents scrawled in crayon would lead to him becoming a game design major? Click here to view the article