Tag Archives: cool soundtrack bro

REVIEW: DELTA

Stuff like hermitgames‘ DELTA1 ($2.99) should really come labeled with a pair of warnings. The first is good news up front; the game is a fully-addictive arcade racer, has that ‘one more try’ quality that plenty of games aspire to but most don’t ultimately achieve. The second is not as good, and potentially hazardous to your health; DELTA is an all-out audio / visual assault on your respective senses. If you’re sensitive to pulsating lights and shapes in the slightest, or get motion sickness easily, it’s probably best to avoid the game entirely rather than take a chance.

Proceed with caution.

Disclaimer aside, the game is a sound-based first-person racer with trippy visuals. That’s just generic phrasing by me. In actuality, DELTA is like someone’s Tron-inspired acid trip through the trench sequence in the original Star Wars, running back to back with the ‘stargate’ sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey, dipped in a psychedelic rainbow, all while some Daft Punk / Aphex Twin-type music plays in the background2. It’s that busy!

Things move pretty fast, flashing and morphing and spinning as you whiz by, and the somewhat procedurally-generated courses you race on mean you can’t just memorize layouts to win. I say ‘somewhat’, as the tracks in DELTA are comprised of inter-connected ‘rooms’, aligned randomly. While you will eventually adjust to the hazardous walls (one hit = death, natch) and camera style in any given ‘room’, the corridor between can lead into a random layout each time, presenting a new race on each attempt. And you’ll be ‘attempting’ quite a bit; you’ll have to twitch your way through this one, my friend.

You can choose from a total of three race ‘classes’: 120, 144, and 180. Each features its own visual design and music (the soundtrack is slightly interactive, modified with every triangle-shaped ‘delta’ you pick up along the way). While the default race is unlocked from the start, you’ve got to earn access to the latter two ‘tracks’ by reaching a preset distance marker in one continuous run. That total distance is, in essence, your score. Otherwise, it’s a pretty straightforward racer. Your chief objective is to survive and / or reach the end of the stage, with a ‘reward’3 unlocked for completing all three.

DELTA - Screen

You can almost taste the colors, man.

The game’s excellent and eclectic graphics match the developer’s previous efforts, but those same novel visuals can work against the quickened gameplay in DELTA. Given the shifting nature of the rooms, and the constant pyrotechnics / flashing, it’s super easy to lose track of where you are and what you’re looking at. Throw in an occasionally-spinning camera, and ‘suddenly steering yourself straight into a wall that you quite literally didn’t see coming’ becomes totally plausible. The gameplay, too, can be its own worse enemy, as I literally felt fatigued at playing it for longer than an hour at a time.

That last bit can be mostly chalked up to late nights and eyestrain, though it’s certainly worth the mention, depending on how you plan to play. Consider it a challenge on several levels then, beyond the atypical difficulty of the navigation itself. So long as you don’t stare at your screen for too long, DELTA is plenty tough, and plenty fun.


  1. This review is also featured at Indiepitome
  2. No embellishment. None. 
  3. And don’t bother asking me what that reward is, as I’m in no immediate danger of finishing the third track. 

REVIEW: Nandeyanen!? – The 1st Sûtra

It’s not every day your Bullet Hell stars a super long-nosed demon that’s been asleep for a few thousand years, only to be immediately thrust into a long-brewing battle upon waking. Oh, and your lady fox1 has been kidnapped. That’s bound to make anyone cranky. Nandeyanen!? – The 1st Sûtra2 ($2.99) gives you a shooter steeped in Japanese mythology, in particular the Tengu and a war with the Yōkai (all of them folk / supernatural beings). The game features a gorgeous watercolor art style, with pretty transitions and effects within the stages themselves. It’s quite beautiful to look at.

Shame you don’t get much time to admire the scenery or listen to the music tracks, as something is usually trying to kill you… with an excessive amount of bullets. The Yōkai foot soldiers come in many flavors, but the real focus (and challenge) is at the end of a level. The game’s mini-bosses and main bosses can be a tough match-up for Tengu-man, tossing out thousands of bullets for you dodge. Like most Bullet Hells, though, your character has a very distinctive hit zone (belt buckle), allowing you to wade through a sea of fire and still manage to come out on the other side unscathed.

This is, of course, provided you have quick reflexes and know how to break shields / direct fire back at the enemy. Nandeyanen!? is more than a mere shooter, as its successful completion will require you to get acquainted with some basic mechanics, like bullet-canceling bombs, a reflective counterattack, and using your loyal familiars (spirits) to attack stronger foes and / or collapse their shields, making them temporarily vulnerable to your fire. If that sounds overly-complicated, I assure you it’s not.

The game is a still a shooter underneath, a matter of following patterns and noticing the routes you need to take. Yet its character shines through in the environments and enemy design, in bits of brief dialog before each fight, to give some ‘meat’ to the otherwise breezy events. If you’ve collected all of a given stage’s ‘runes’ (dropped by defeated enemies), you can save yourself some trouble and knock off a chunk of the boss’s health beforehand. These battles can get a little hectic to say the least, with several volleys of bullets to carefully maneuver through and simultaneously return fire.

Nandeyanen - The 1st Sutra - Screen

Unfortunately, the impressive visuals and ample challenge mask an extremely-short adventure; just three stages in total. It should run you no more than a half-hour of playtime. There’s no real reason to repeat the game either, unless you want to try another difficulty level or shuffle through some lovely concept art. To be fair, The 1st Sûtra marks the, ah, …first ‘chapter’ of the game’s story, but at $3, the asking price may be a bit much for the content it delivers. It remains to be seen what the cost of future3 chapters will be.

Frustrations with its brevity aside, Nandeyanen!? – The 1st Sûtra is still one of the better Bullet Hell shooters I’ve played on the marketplace, especially for the rich visual style and folk history. Developer Tchagata Games could have just as easily thrown together some hasty art and backgrounds and called it a wrap for its first project; the fact that they didn’t proves they respect the genre and the material. I look forward to seeing what comes next. It’s off to a strong start.


  1. She literally has fox ears …and a real problem keeping her shirt on and / or buttoned. 
  2. This review is also featured at Indiepitome
  3. The developers have stated this is only the beginning for Tengu-man, but how many chapters there will be in all, or if there’s a concrete release schedule for the rest, was not given. 

REVIEW: Amazing Princess Sarah

For years now, the 2D Castlevanias (and, of course, all the Castlevania-likes) have been struggling with a pretty significant part of their gameplay— how to make the constant overworld battles with whatever evil dungeon / cave / castle’s numerous foot soldiers interesting1, and keep players engaged between boss fights and story events. Lucky for us all, Haruneko‘s Amazing Princess Sarah ($4.99) might have just solved that problem, and it might’ve become one of my favorite action / platformers in the process.

The game shares some similarities with one of the developer’s earlier releases, Akane the Kunoichi, but whereas that was a more traditional platformer with traditional mechanics, Amazing Princess Sarah is a deliberate crawl, a slugfest for every inch of ground, from one end of the stage to the other. You don’t play the game as much as you just survive, as it cleverly reinvents the in-between stuff and makes the end bosses almost a secondary concern.

Don’t let the generous cleavage fool you; Sarah is one tough chick. After her father— also the King— is kidnapped by a demonic party, led by a horned boss known as Lilith, she sets out to tramp through a series of increasingly-difficult (and increasingly-longer) castles to retrieve him. These fortresses follow the platformer mold… in theoryplenty of enemies, some challenging jumps onto narrow (and sometimes disappearing) ledges, all concluding with the requisite boss encounter. In action, it plays completely different.

While Sarah has a normal blade attack that does adequate harm, her real skill lies in her unnatural strength; strength that allows her to hoist up the bodies of her slain enemies, and chuck them into oncoming threats for massive damage.2 Nice parlor trick, that. It’s also key to dealing with the unending parade of baddies, wiping out the more dangerous foes and / or trying to combo the rest to fall like dominoes. It’s hard to explain in words, but trust me, when it’s done right, it’s awesome, and really satisfying.

Choosing the right corpse for the job is important3, as most of them will have their own weight, properties, and effects. A bird can be tossed farther, but does less damage, while a bomber’s body will naturally explode upon contact. Ditto for other enemies and effects, like archers (split into arrows) and firebrands (waves of traveling flames). Depending on how you line up your ‘corpse attacks’, you can score several kills at once, helping you to level up and increase your overall health. This too, is vitally-important, as you’ll need the extra hitpoints to advance from checkpoint to checkpoint, the space between clogged with more and more enemies and hazards.

Amazing Princess Sarah - Screen

In fact, despite their epic size and decent challenge, the bosses do become secondary. Being chased by a giant spider or fighting a demon with sexy legs (… don’t ask) somehow provokes less tension than simply getting through a tiny stretch of one castle. This can either be a very good thing, or a very frustrating thing, depending on your view. While the controls are generally excellent, and the difficulty never felt unfair or too over-the-top, be forewarned— there are some tricky sequences (a vertical corridor near the end, comprised entirely of disappearing platforms and lined with archers that cause knockback, proved especially maddening).

You’ll certainly get your money’s worth, though, as you have to play through the game several times to actually ‘beat’ it, a process that will doubtlessly run you several dozen hours in length. Considering one playthrough will take you about five hours, finishing all seven(!) game modes4 to fight the true final boss will require serious dedication. But time and difficulty be damned, I say! With its clever re-imagining of basic stage design— and the inventive use of corpses— Amazing Princess Sarah is a challenging (and absolute) must-play.5


  1.  Part of that blandness with the combat is offset by ‘exploration’, and the old Metroidvania trick: slowly giving you access to new items and weapons to keep you motivated and moving forward. 
  2.  I’ve seen this compared to the idea behind Mischief Makers, Treasure‘s platformer on the N64. 
  3.  Something very wrong about seeing that line written out. 
  4.  With some neat variables to up the challenge, like your own ghost following you around the level, causing damage on contact, or ‘Drunk Princess’, a mode that messes with the camera. 
  5. This review is also featured at Indiepitome

REVIEW: Stop the XOID!

You know, there may be something to this whole ‘Let my five-year-old kid build my game’ concept. Sure, there’s the immediate D’aww! factor of pint-sized game development, but worse things have come from perfectly-capable adult types with millions of dollars. So, kids and indies, why not? I have to admit, it worked out pretty well for X S.E.E.D (also from a five-year-old). Now we come to Stop the XOID! ($1.00), and once again, a kid takes the reins of Designer.

Billed as a sort of ‘proactive Tower Defense’, the game has you (or up to four friends locally or online) defending the planet from an invading army of robots known as XOIDs (pronounced ‘Zoids’, if you’re curious), one blocky arena at a time. Well, it’s only three levels, to be exact, but you get the idea. It’s curiously labeled a ‘beta’, so maybe it’s a miniature invasion to start. Like Delaware, or something.

While the scope of the war may not be epic, the impending battle remains the same. With an albatross-sized robot waiting patiently at the top (it serves as a boss battle, technically) infinite waves of enemy foot soldiers descend on your base below, threatening the ball of energy known as ‘lifeforce’. Destroying those advance parties will earn you dropped cash, which you can then spend at the local armory, conveniently-located just next to this raging conflict.

You’ll have a number of weapons on hand, ranging from guns and upgrades for those guns, to grenades and the very helpful sentry bots that you can place to guard your fort while you make the arduous climb to the top of the level. Taking down the big boss will complete the stage …and that’s about it. No bits of story to move things along or any progress saved. Pick another level (each successive arena ups the challenge) and repeat the difficult hike.

Stop the XOID! - Screen

I say ‘arduous’ and ‘difficult’ not because the journey is long or terribly fraught with danger, but because your character is so inept at the platforming. Even jumping gives him trouble, and he slides to a stop like the ground is made of ice, causing further frustration on tinier ledges. Battles often went on longer than they had to simply because I couldn’t will my generic space marine to the top. So while you can complete the levels solo, the busy work and anti-climatic nature of finishing it just isn’t worth the hassle.

That’s not to say it wouldn’t be entertaining in a group co-op setting (assuming you can find online matches; I couldn’t). Having others to divert enemy fire and / or make the climb in your stead makes it a much more manageable war. Stop the XOID! doesn’t offer a long-lasting campaign or a great deal of variety, but it plays like an adequate time-waster… so long as you have friends to roll with.

REVIEW: Super Broken Games

Besides a casual glance at it on the marketplace, my first experience with Super Broken Games ($1.00) came with a tweet from the always-lovely Cathy at Indie Gamer Chick, who could not play the game due to epilepsy concerns with the pulsating menu and in-game effects. After booting up the game for myself, I could understand why, but thankfully developer Feel Good Seal included an option to turn off the effects and issued a patch to fix another potential issue.

With backstory out of the way, Super Broken Games is a series of deliberately-broken minigames, with each based around a particular failed idea or controller caveat. Using varying forms to go about this (sometimes you’re a snake in a maze, other times a bouncing ball, a seemingly-drunken flying ball, etc.), it all amounts to 37 ways to die and / or frustrate yourself.

Granted, a few take the legitimate approach, giving you somewhat normal controls and a straightforward objective (collect all the items, reach the exit), with numerous hazards in place. Challenging, but achievable once you’ve determined the correct path and gotten a handle on whatever controls you’ve been dealt. The vast majority, however, take a more dastardly route, flipping the schemes entirely, or adding a second snake to control, forcing you to watch two screens and babysit two characters, etc.

These minigames revel in playing the jerk, and seem to be there purely to set you off in a rage. So the obvious question would be: Why would anyone want to get pissed off playing a bunch of busted setups? I’m not sure. Maybe you’re a masochist. Or maybe your parents didn’t love you enough and you’re living a transient lifestyle, seeking out painful experiences as a way to feel alive and fill the hole in your heart that never quite healed (…that last bit may be a stretch).

 Super Broken Games - Screen

More than likely, you do it because you appreciate a good dare, which is what most of Super Broken Games feels like. Much as people choose to climb Mt. Everest because ‘it’s there’, so too will gamers play ridiculously-hard or unfair games to prove a point to themselves or others. ‘Others’ might end up being the key word, as the game allows for local multiplayer up to four. Turning ‘constant failure’ into a party game sure beats going solo.

Ultimately though, the novelty of being ‘broken’ may not be enoughSuper Broken Games opts for a playful sort of fun with its controls, but it lacks the artistry and addictive qualities of other masochist titles like Super Meat Boy or N+. Mean is always mean, but being mean on purpose? That’s just mean.