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Game Developers Conference 2010

Posted on Monday, March 8 @ 20:34:16 Eastern by

Day 0 Coverage


Why Day 0? Because this year's Game Developers Conference doesn't actually begin until Tuesday and doesn't finish until Saturday. Not sure who works on Saturday, a thought that some companies apparently share, especially the Aussies. The Game Developers' Association of Australia had the right mind to schedule some appointments on Monday, and without the hustle and bustle of the thousands of attendees that usually attend this international conference, we had plenty of time to see each game the GDAA had to offer.

Jolly Rover: The indie game developer tp end all indie game developers, Brawsome is run by one dude and one dude only: Andrew Goulding. With the unfortunate news that his Adventure Game #2 has fallen through due to "business reasons on the publisher's side" (those scurvy dogs!), he is pushing Jolly Rover to release in early June. And I for one, think it's right up GR's grog-lovin' alley.

A pirate dog, literally and figuratively, named Gaius James Rover has been ransacked and kidnapped by a group of pirates while shipping barrels of rum. (He really should have expected it.) But his ultimate dream is to star in a circus - a furry-friendly one, of course. In the style of Tales of Monkey Island and classic point-and-click Sierra adventures like Space Quest, this canine pirate must travel through three untamed islands, meeting a cast of colorful characters, all fully-voiced and colorfully drawn.

Exploring every nook and cranny will earn points towards the player's rank beyond the lowly "Lilly-Livered Land Lubber", as well as net crackers and pieces o' eight that will provide hints and unlock bonus artwork. This might make it sound like an irritating pixel hunt waiting to happen, but this is thankfully stymied by interactions being highlighted blue if something new can be found and white if not. Adventure titles like these can also be a one-time trip, so it's nice to note that you can unlock developer's commentary on your second playthrough and take insight from the oft-disclosed design process of it all. Look for Jolly Rover to release in June on the PC between $6.99 and $14.95, hopefully on Steam. (Told you it was indie.)

Raskulls: You might remember this title from when Chris previewed it in January early this year, but Halfbrick Games now has a complete build and that means an update is in order. For those not familiar, Raskulls is an upcoming XBLA title that can be described as Castle Crashers if it was a platformer-racer populated by skeletons cosplaying as kings, knights, and dragons. (If you don't find humor in that, you are dead to me.) In general, the objective is to reach the end of each level as quickly as possible, but not so quick that you don't think about which blocks to zap.

Every level is filled with the occasional blockage of colored blocks that must be cleared like Columns so that your Raskull can reach the bottom in the fewest zaps possible. But if any blocks manage to squish you from above, your Raskull will be stunned for a few seconds, long enough for your competitors to race by you. Not good. Thankfully, you can make up valuable time or gain a healthy lead by using boost-powered Frenzy and items much like those in Mario Kart. This ensures that every race is a nail-biter to the very end - the leader must zap all the blocks to stay in the lead but that means the competition doesn't have to do any work to catch up.

If that isn't enough, the game mixes up the action constantly through its humorous five-hour adventure - trial runs, puzzles that force you to stop and think, bomb pieces, blocks that have three times the endurance, and red challenge nodes. Every completed level earns you shiny medallions - not sure what they unlock, perhaps Achievements and the like - but they must be shiny for something. They wouldn't do that, would they? Would they?!
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