In a world filled to the brim with excellent platformers, how do you create a new game in the genre that does something a little different? Well, how about stripping away all of the features that make it a platformer in the first place?
Missing Features: 2D does exactly that, tasking players with not only unlocking new stages and abilities, but also the game’s fundamental mechanics and assets, too. You see, when the game boots up for the first time it fails to load everything correctly (on purpose), leaving it up to you to unlock your player character model, their running animations, and a variety of gameplay mechanics to essentially ‘create’ the platformer game you’re playing as you go.
Confused? Make sure to watch the trailer up above!
The great news is that the game’s available to play on Switch as we speak and is currently enjoying a 50% launch discount – yes, even some of the asking price is missing. At the time of writing, you can buy this one for just £1.79 / $ 1.99, so feel free to go ahead and download it if you’re intrigued.
Will you be giving this one a go? Don’t leave anything out in the comments.
There was a period in the early 1990s when the video game industry was in love with caveman characters – after all, an executive somewhere thought that the TurboGrafx-16’s Bonk was a suitable mascot to face off against Mario and Sonic. Among one of the most prolific of these games was Data East’s Joe & Mac, a conversion of the arcade game known as Caveman Ninja. In this game, a duo with brightly coloured hair fight back against a rival tribe of Neanderthals, who’ve kidnapped all of their women, while also facing off against a horde of dinosaurs and other prehistoric nasties like woolly mammoths. Our heroes are equipped with a variety of period-appropriate weapons, including bone clubs, stone wheels, flint (to throw fire) and boomerangs.
Like many Data East titles, the action lacks the polish of other more well regarded companies. But the comical visuals, goofy expressions of the characters and strange sound effects create a silly atmosphere that makes the game fun to play, in spite of its floaty controls and annoyingly designed boss encounters. It’s also gloriously weird, as the final stage takes place inside of a dinosaur’s body, where you face off against some kind of devil that’s apparently controlling it from within. It also offers two player simultaneous play, and since the difficulty is more forgiving than, say, Contra III, it’s certainly more suitable for co-op play.
The SNES conversion of Joe & Mac mostly duplicates the look and feel of its arcade original, though it’s missing some of the effects and animations, and the framerate and action is more sluggish. But unlike the other home ports it’s actually expanded quite a bit with more levels, as well as a Super Mario World-style map that connects them. Some of the levels themselves are also a bit longer too, which include some keys that let you unlock doors on the map screen that lead to bonus goodies.
Conversely, some power-ups are missing, like the hot sauce that lets you breathe fire, and you can no longer charge up attacks. While your life meter is generous, each new life starts you off with a default, short-ranged club weapon, which makes it difficult to attack effectively until you find a power-up. Despite some of these issues, it’s certainly a richer game than the (somewhat brief) arcade experience, so it sets itself apart from the Caveman Ninja arcade game already on the Switch eShop as part of the Johnny Turbo’s Arcade series.
Joe & Mac isn’t a classic – in the grand scheme of prehistoric caveman games, it sits below Bonk but above Prehistorik Man and Chuck Rock. But it’s a mildly amusing diversion, particularly with a friend.
Rising Hell is a roguelike platformer with heavy metal riffs and pixelated madness.
Play as Arok, Zelos, and other prisoners of Hell as they fight their way out of agony.
Highly anticipated Indonesian indie game, drawn in atmospheric pixel art and animations.
From the beginning of early access on PC up until the final version of Rising Hell releasing today for Xbox One, there was a lot of input from the players and community. We are incredibly grateful for all their feedback as it has made Rising Hell into a bigger and better game. We want to extend our deepest gratitude for the contribution and support of all the fans of Rising Hell. Without you, this game wouldn’t be what it is today.
Rising Hell is the first game developed by Tahoe Games that is released for PC and consoles. It is a milestone for our small studio to be able to join the indie game industry on a more global scale. We also want to say our thanks to Toge Productions and Chorus Worldwide who helped us reach this dream.
The first concept of this game was created due to our passion for indie games and pixel art. We saw an arcade game that was designed with pixel art that was simple, yet its game-feel and action were very satisfying. Seeing the game’s success, we were inspired to follow its path. One day, we decided to have our own internal game jam to create a similar game with modified gameplay to give it our own twist.
At the start of our humble game’s journey, we chose the theme “Escape from Hell” to give a dramatic background story. The direction of the gameplay is a vertical scrolling style from below to above. For the sake of the theme, we didn’t want to give an impression of a hell that is dark and gloomy. On the contrary, we want to bring our version of a fiery hell full of brutal action and horror. In Rising Hell, we don’t want to show the human death that is full of mystique and gloom. It is but a hell where the survival of the fittest rules. We are confident that the gameplay and artwork of the game successfully reflects the theme.
In Rising Hell’s story, players will take control of Arok, Zelos, and a few of hell’s other fighters in their effort to conquer hell’s highest order. Each fighter is decorated with their own rich background stories and motives, on top of unique playing styles that are individual to each fighter. Players will learn about these characters’ stories by going through Rising Hell together with these hell fighters.
Players may find it difficult, constantly being defeated by their enemies. Because that is how Hell is in Rising Hell. Players can consistently practice, get used to different characters, finding new strategies, as well as studying the patterns of each stage to beat all available stages of RisingHell. On top of trying hard, players are also given the options to have strategies in the form of Item Relics as part of their adventure supplies, as well as choosing Skill Talents that suit their individual gaming style. To add even more adrenaline to this already adrenaline-pumped game, players will also be accompanied by strong heavy metal riffs throughout their adventure.
Keep trying and don’t give up! We dedicate this game for the players that keep pushing their limits and favoring difficult challenges. Join the rising and play Rising Hell today on Xbox One!
Chorus Worldwide Games
Rising Hell is a vertical platformer rogue-lite filled with adrenaline-pumping action and tons of heavy gothic metal shreds. Climb out from the ever-changing hell while you fight hordes of blood-lusting demons. ABOUT THIS GAME: Fight your way through hordes of blood-lusting demons and escape hell as you unlock new characters and talents to create chaos in the randomly generated and ever-changing landscape of hell! Heavy-metal riffs and pixelated madness will accompany you as you fight your way out from the depths of fiery hell, facing the bugs-ridden Beelzebub’s Lair, and other pits of hell with different creatures, bosses, and living traps lurking around. Chaining combos, jumping maneuvers, and talent building will be your key to help you climb your way out of hell in this adrenaline-pumping vertical platformer. FEATURES: – Vertical Rogue-lite: Climb out of the ever-changing procedurally generated hell while the ever-present threat of permadeath fills your veins with adrenaline. – Epic Boss Battles: Slay gigantic ancient demons such as Dagon, Beelzebub, and many more. – Multiple Game Modes: Choose between campaign and challenge modes complete with its own leaderboards. – Unlockable Characters: Play and unlock different characters that will give you a variety of different playstyles and strategies.
Author: Kriswin Yuniar, Game Designer & Game Artist of Rising Hell, Tahoe Games
This post originally appeared on Xbox Wire
One of the original indie darlings in the eyes of many, FEZ is a game steeped in a whole bucket’s worth of history and intrigue. Nine years after its initial release and no sign of a sequel (as promised by its creator before getting abruptly cancelled), can FEZ still dazzle the new generation of Switch owners? The answer is yes, but let’s pretend you didn’t already know that.
FEZ begins with you playing the role of Gomez, a spritely little chap who says a little bit less than naff-all. After responding to a request to meet the aged adventurer of Gomez’s two-dimensional village, our mute hero is gifted a small fez which allows him to warp his 2D world with 3D impudence. Sadly this has the slightly irritating side effect of tearing reality apart at the seams, which we’re sure you’ll agree is a right old nuisance.
Gomez has to shuffle off to find all 32 cubes that make up the almighty Hexahedron, a doohickey that somehow keeps the world from collapsing, in order to prevent just such an occurrence. These are often found split up into further cubes, eight of which count towards one of the 32 (keeping up?). In order to reach these cubes you’ll have to platform throughout the world, changing the perspective in order to reach otherwise unreachable areas.
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)
You see, each time you pivot the world 90 degrees you’re presented with another entirely 2D perspective that Gomez can traverse with zero depth. This means otherwise distant platforms can be forced to line up granting you access to higher structures, as well as doors that were just flat-out not visible in any way from any other angle.
This is where quite literally the entire game lies; you might play the game for an hour and find a challenge that seems entirely impossible and assume you’ll get a double-jump or something at some point. Nope! You’re stuck with what you’ve got matey-person, you just haven’t figured it out yet. It’s this simplicity that results in a countless number of those ‘a-ha!’ moments that are so important in puzzle games, and what makes FEZ such a joy to play.
Puzzles vary in difficulty fairly significantly, but most of the greater challenge comes from a second version of the collectable cubes you so desire called anti-cubes. That’s right, as well as the 32 standard cubes which are often split up into eight mini-cubes, you’ll have 32 anti-cubes to find as well should you wish. As previously hinted, these anti-cubes are generally much harder to work out, or even find, but are totally optional. There are even some frankly insanely challenging red cubes you can find as well — but again, you’d never need to — which require skills such as an understanding of binary code. No, we’re not exaggerating.
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)
The reality-bending nature of the game is still wildly impressive even nine years down the line, and the variety of ways in which FEZ uses it singular core mechanic is nothing short of masterful; much like Nintendo’s own philosophy towards gameplay, there’s one idea here explored to the nth degree, and without it ever growing stale. There’s even a good chunk of replay value should you want to go through again, but we don’t want to spoil exactly why for those that haven’t played it.
Visually FEZ is also super charming; bright colours, dappled lighting and even a Game-Boy inspired aesthetic in the sewers make it just lovely to look at, if a little simple at times. Performance is also a perfect 60fps which isn’t particularly surprising given the game’s vintage, but we did notice a few visual glitches here and there, as well as one or two instances where objects didn’t behave as they were meant to. These were rare and never impacted our enjoyment of the game or ability to complete puzzles, but they were noticeable. Earhole-wise Disasterpiece’s soundtrack is an absolute treat, and is something that we’ve even enjoyed outside of the game on long drives.
FEZ is a fun, challenging puzzle platformer fit to burst with original ideas and unique gameplay wrinkles. Its puzzles bend reality and even leech into our own world on occasion, but aside from a few select mega-challenges never stray into the category of too obtuse or unfair. A few visual and mechanical quirks stop this from being a perfectly polished experience, but these are outweighed by its charm and other wonderful qualities ninefold. It’s another one of those ‘games you have to play’ on Switch, and it couldn’t be more at home.
NEXT Studios’ Bladed Fury is a side-scrolling hack ‘n slash platformer set in the Warring States period of ancient Chinese history, an era characterized by endless warfare and high political drama that’s been nicely infused here with a hefty dose of mythology and the supernatural. This is a game with a few good ideas up its sleeves, one that manages to nail its Muramasa-esque art style, gets its atmosphere just right, but then fails to raise its combat and platforming action anywhere above absolutely bang average — a factor which is then exacerbated by constant, nagging performance issues that drag the whole affair down further.
Bladed Fury tells the tale of Ji Jiang, daughter of the reigning Duke Kang of Qi, who’s been framed by her family’s rival clan, the Tians, for the duke’s murder at the outset of the game, she must now set out to avenge his death whilst also making a bid to rescue her imprisoned sister, Shu. In order to best the Tians, Ji must confront several witnesses to the Duke’s death, destroy them, consume their souls and use their powers to restore order to the land. Just your average day out in ancient China, then.
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)
In terms of mechanics, there’s really nothing you haven’t seen before here when it comes to the general ebb and flow of moment-to-moment combat. Ji is equipped with a light attack assigned to her flashy Fiendbane blades and a heavier assault that utilises her enormous Crimson Mass greatsword — a sword which can also be used to deflect projectiles. You have a shield, known here as Aegis, which can block attacks or be used to perfectly parry enemies in order to open them up to a handful of special attacks, and a dodge ability that grants temporary immunity as you dash your way through incoming assaults. There’s an upgrade system, collecting yellow orbs from fallen foes allows you to unlock enhancements and additional moves, but again, it’s all pretty bog-standard stuff and in all honesty we spent most of the game hacking away at enemies with just one or two moves, completely forgetting we had a shield to parry with as the enemy AI just never really requires that you mix things up or bother using it.
Where Bladed Fury does manage to come into its own slightly with regards to combat is in its addition of a Soul Sliver mechanic, enabling you to utilise special powers absorbed by each of the bosses you defeat as you make your way through the game towards a showdown with the Tians. By holding in ZR and pressing a face button Ji can select from any four of six Soul Sliver powers, allowing her to, for example, create a black hole which pulls enemies into the centre of the screen, rain arrows down on her foes, summon a spider whose webs slow the movement of all onscreen enemies or even equip a huge (and historically accurate) mech-cannon to fire off a ferociously damaging shot. It’s a neat mechanic, and one that certainly looks the part as you fire off these screen-shaking specials, however, much like the rest of the combat in the game, it’s let down by plodding enemies, a lack of challenge and level design that feels lazy and repetitive.
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)
As you progress through Bladed Fury you’ll face off against a selection of enemies who, besides a handful of decent boss encounters, fail to provide any sort of meaningful challenge or force you to get creative with the weapons and skills you’ve got at your disposal. Yes, you’ll come up against foes who have armour that needs stripping away with your Crimson Mass before they’ll take any damage, you’ll occasionally be required to parry projectiles back towards their source or even hop over the shields of larger foes in order to attack them from behind but honestly, that’s pretty much all you get in terms of enemy variety here. It really is all left down to the boss encounters and, although they do a better job of providing you with something to think about, they’re compromised in this Switch port by a frame rate that just cannot deal with busy onscreen action.
During run-of-the-mill encounters and boss battles alike, the frame rate here is a constant issue, sometimes a minor annoyance, but often a real stuttering mess when things get even halfway heated, it really takes the shine off proceedings and results in a game that just doesn’t feel anywhere nearly polished enough on Nintendo’s hybrid console. As Ji’s story progresses the ante is eventually upped in terms of difficulty, with the last half hour’s miniboss rush gauntlet providing the kind of challenge we’d have liked to see from the get-go, but it’s all so stuttery by this point that you’ll likely find yourself succumbing to foes repeatedly due to mistimed shots and blocks or failed platforming attempts on account of these framerate problems. Further to this, moving from screen to screen as you advance through levels incurs a few seconds of empty black screen as the next area loads (not something we expect to see in a side-scrolling action game these days), we suffered several full crashes to our home screen during pivotal boss encounters, and there’s also an issue with Ji’s death animation that sees the screen fade to black just as, or even before, she’s dealt a final blow, meaning you never actually get to see exactly what killed you. It’s an odd one.
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)
Elsewhere, although there are a handful of good ideas here with regards to level design — one area charges you with collecting special stones and inserting them into a central map in order to unlock progress through its corridors, for example — in practice everything just feels rushed and totally bereft of any real challenge. There are often multiple routes to investigate through areas, as indicated by a rather bland and basic map, but taking the time to explore these never leads to anything satisfying, there are no secrets or rewards to find beyond the odd bundle of boring upgrade orbs to pick up for your efforts. Platforming is of the most basic variety too, environmental traps consist of nothing more than the odd rotating flame here and there or maybe a spiked wall that moves on a timer and, in the end, it just feels like a lack of genuine effort was made outside of the game’s admittedly pretty art style.
Overall then, Bladed Fury has got a few things going for it. It certainly looks the part, there’s plenty of style on display as you cut through the state of Qi, Ji’s story is involving enough stuff and the final half hour (of the total of three hours it took us to complete) ups the ante to a level of difficulty that’s much more satisfying. However, a lack of any real challenge, dull level design, lacklustre enemy AI and constant technical issues on Switch mean that this one really is hard to recommend in the end. All the pieces are here, they just haven’t been assembled very well.
Bladed Fury is a good-looking hack ‘n slash platformer that tells a decent tale and is set in an engrossing period of history that’s been nicely infused here with mythological and supernatural elements. It’s Soul Sliver mechanic adds plenty of scope for strategic combat shenanigans and its levels have a few good ideas thrown into the mix. However, all of these positive aspects are let down by poor implementation, dull enemies who don’t force you to utilise your moveset, bland and repetitive area layouts, simplistic platforming and constant technical issues that plague combat just as it’s starting to up the ante. If the framerate issues are addressed this one may be worth a look for fans of the genre, otherwise it’s hard to recommend in its current state.