Tamiku

Snowballs and stuff in the neo-arcade game, Tamiku

Grabbed this on a whim because I really enjoyed Zeroptian Invasion (one of those games where I’ve had a draft post sitting there about it for a while that I never seem to get round to finishing up) and well, it looked good. No better reason, really.

And it is good! Less arcade and more a home computer take on arcade games (absolutely not a slight), it’s a single screen game where you race between platforms to pop balloons, avoid the nasties and… that’s it, actually. That’s the gig.

Each screen sees you presented with some new variations of baddies to keep an eye out for and it’s all very, very videogame. Some go up, some go down, some wrap round, some are big meanies and I’m telling teacher.

It’s tough and I reckon slightly tuned to “person who wrote the game” so you’ll need a bit of speed and quick reflexes to get out of a level alive. The red balloon that takes slightly longer to pop can be quite a nerve wracking proposition and frankly, I’m not speaking to the Bomberman style explosives as they’re just rude.

It’s pretty brilliant though! Absolutely enjoying myself playing it, cussing at it and I dunno, might get a balloon fetish or something, see how it goes. Okay, maybe not that.

Proper recommendation for Tamiku though, it’s the good stuff.

It’s on consoles courtesy of Ratalaika, I’ve been playing the PS4 version and it’s good. You can also find it on Itch and Steam for the PC.

Feather, in pictures

Whilst the ambient game has a comfy home on the PC, there’s scant few to be found over on the PS4. Bit of a shame considering plenty would look fabulous on a big TV but whilst console dev remains out of bounds for most people, guess we’re kind of stuck.

Anyway! Feather is a lovely compact be-a-bird ’em up. Float around a really quite pretty island, do a bit of flapping and that, make some nice tweeting noises and occasionally pass the odd other player doing the same.

It’s largely a pretty lovely experience, the kind of thing it’s nice to pop on and relax to for a few minutes or so. Being a bird feels nice, swooping, rolling and diving to your own rhythm. There’s no punishments, no goals, just being a bird. It’s nice.

Five quid well spent, I reckon. It’s one I’ll be digging out when the old bonce gets a bit too sore again and I need something to take me away from it all.

The music can be a bit “stood at the back of Shared Earth picking some incense sticks” but I guess that’s kinda fitting regardless. Not every work can be as sublimely soundtracked as the hauntological nature dreamscape that is Proteus and, to be fair, nor would I want every game to be that. Give me breadth, you know?

It really is a shame that consoles are so far behind the curve on the sheer amount of videogame experiences people are making now, mind. Imagine if instead of the tired action, adventure, RPG, shooter categories that games have sat with since the nineties, consoles had some easily browsable space for “ambient”, “nature”, “relaxing” and all manner of other things that people pluck from their imaginations.

Hopefully this upcoming generation will see that finally shift though. It’s certainly long overdue.

Whilst I’m waiting, I’ll treasure the few experiences like “Feather” that can afford to sneak through the net and give me the sort of chill time I often crave. Especially when they look this good.

Inksplosion

Like I wasn’t going to give a game called Inksplosion that looks like this a try.

You know, me liking colours and all that.

Let’s just stop for a second again and do another screenshot (all pics here taken from the Steam page because I couldn’t be bothered with the faff of getting the ones off my PS4, sorry)

Yeah, there was absolutely no way I was going to let this pass me by.

Just look at those colours, they’re fantastic. Go on, let’s do one more picture.

It’s some sort of visual hybrid of (my own) War Twat and the all time greatest Asteroids game of all time, Spheres Of Chaos. That’ll do me.

Sorry. I’ll calm down now. I’m okay. I haven’t been this excited about colours in a game since Ultralight Beam. It’ll pass in a second.

Anyhoo. As twin stick shooters go, there’s probably few surprises here. You’re faced with a jumble of waves and each wave finds you having to use a different weapon to clear the screen. Clear the screen, move on to the next wave. You now have a different weapon. Shoot those baddies! Clear the screen! And so on.

There isn’t really that much to distinguish each weapon from the other and as far as I played, not much to distinguish each enemy from the other either. But that’s okay, yeah? I’m not playing this for mechanical marvels, I’m playing this because I really really like watching colours explode across the screen and Inksplosion does that perfectly.

Inksplosion is, primarily, a game about making things explode to smear colour across the screen. Every thirty seconds or so the mess will be cleared up and you get to do it all over again.

My only real gripe is that the announcer that declares each weapon you find yourself suddenly equipped with comes across more Viv Stanshall On Tubular Bells than befitting of an arcade game but I’ll freely admit that I have very, very specific ideas of what speech in arcade games should sound like. Also, I dearly love a lot of Bonzo stuff but Tubular Bells brings me out in hives. Not sure I can put the blame for that on Inksplosion, really.

Phew. Got a bit lost there, sorry. Anyway. Inksplosion set me back about four quid and I don’t regret a penny of it. I plumped for the PS4 version but other formats are available.

Mastercube

Due to the eldest having an insatiable desire for more videogames (I have no idea where they get that from), I’ve recently taken out a PlayStation Now subscription in the vain hope of getting somewhere close to satisfying their cravings at some sort of vaguely affordable level.

Of course, this has the advantage of giving me the opportunity to wade through a bunch of videogames I may not have taken a chance on otherwise. And of course, I’m still me so obviously the first game I gave a try was a twin stick shooter.

That’ll be Mastercube, then.

Honestly, there’s not a lot to write about Mastercube. I’ve flicked through the internet a bit and it’s mostly complaining elsewhere. It’s too small. It’s not Geometry Wars. Nothing surprising, anyway. And sure enough, it is a pretty basic twin stick shooter and if you’ve played Geometry Wars in its earlier incarnations you’ll be well prepped for what to expect. But here’s the thing, yeah.

I really like small twin stick shooters.

Yeah, yeah, I’m down for something with the beautiful complexity of Bezier, the sheer design wonderment of Nex Machina and whatever else there is but sometimes I just want to sit back, load up a game for five minutes, shoot some things then turn it off. MasterCube fits that bill just fine.

It’s got a nice speedy pace to it, it controls well enough, everything explodes in a perfectly explody fashion and crucially, it’s all played out to a pub rock soundtrack. That was definitely not what I expected in the slightest and it really does make a nice change from the generic electronica that normally bleeps over short form twinstick games.

I’m not sure it’s the sort of game where I’d want to get into a high score chase with, either against friends or trying to beat my own score with any sort of urgency and you know, I don’t really care either. I just kinda liked it, yeah? I enjoyed putting my feet up, spinning around a bit and dealing some laser death whilst a Deep Purple tribute band did their thing in the background. That’s enough for me.

And maybe that’s not enough for you, fair’s fair and that. I’m definitely glad I gave Mastercube a shot though. Like I say, it’s small, it’s simple. And that is a perfectly okay thing to be. I’ll definitely be revisiting it over time.

(gameplay video not my own)

The Piland International Anthem

“No misery every day now”

There was something beautifully unsettling about a lot of the Automata music tracks. Put Cat Out Mother, It’s On Fire Again (sadly, I can’t find this on YouTube anywhere) is the stuff Blue Jam is made of but then, The Piland International Anthem isn’t too far behind either.

Wriggler

In obvious but somehow still a little odd cross promotion corner, a piece of music included alongside the videogame Wriggler from Romantic Robot.

Romantic Robot being owned by a certain Alexander Goldscheider and the included track being from, erm, Alexander Goldscheider’s Themes From A One Man Band Vol. 1 long player.

Here’s the game:

Here’s Alexander Goldscheider’s Moons Of Jupiter included alongside the game:

It was the eighties. It’s fine. We did this sort of thing. Romantic Robot lives on still today as an outlet for Alexander’s work.