The Games of TOJam 4: Part 1

Cheese-ohol 2: The Actual Game

Cheese-ohol 2: The Actual Game

For all of you who did not attend TOJam this year, you are in luck; the games are now being released online for free! There’s some pretty awesome and impressive stuff in store, and I intend to go over the collection and talk about all of the games.

This week we see the release of the first 9 games; The Ascent, Carot, Monster Puncher, Penguin Cow Tipper, Sim Arson, Steam Ponk, Yummy Yummy Shapes and the two games tied for People’s Choice Puce, Cheese-ohol 2 and RoshamBlaster.

Today I’m going to cover The Ascent, Monster Puncher, Yummy Yummy Shapes and Cheese-ohol 2.

The Ascent

The Ascent

The Ascent is an attractive platformer that fell in love with old-school difficulty and old-school aesthetics; created by first-time coder, Ben Rivers with GCS Gamemaker. A short and sweet title that opted for a fairly literal interpretation of ‘scale’ for the theme in a way that works out quite nicely.

The Ascent was definitely one of my favorites at the end of the Jam; both for it’s style and play, reminding me of a sort of cross-breed of Mighty Bomb Jack and Seiklus (another Gamemaker title). It takes the 8-bit platforming feel and ramps up an unforgiving difficulty, which spreads the game’s length out. While not the most ambitious title in the Jam, for a first time programmer it’s an impressive outing, and showcases some of the flexibility of Gamemaker’s system.

Still, there is some room for improvement; The Ascent‘s art is a little schizophrenic, with an 8-bit character on a 16 and 32 bit background — hiccups that would likely never bother someone less picky about their pixels. Also, v1 has no music, which could have added a fair amount of flavor. The game could also be much longer, even within TOJam’s 3 day span, but it would have needed to offer some sort of additional mechanics in that case to really snare the player.

All in all, this title shows that Ben Rivers is a guy with talent to watch; I’m hoping to see him try a slightly bigger project, ’cause I’m sure it’ll blow my expectations away.

Monster Puncher

Monster Puncher

Monster Puncher is an odd little game where some sort of helicopter-fist-thinger flies to the moon battling fish, by Adam Smith and Nick Guenther. It’s a tricky one, where you accelerate by tapping space, and try to avoid hitting a enemies (fish) head on.

I enjoyed Monster Puncher‘s wackiness, but it’s a short outing; generally lasting for only a minute or two before bugging out and stopping. (It may be an unglorified end game, but it doesn’t seem like it.) The game feels like it should be a great arcade venture, but it ultimately falls short, tiring quickly after it’s scripted play has been memorized. I’m kinda disappointed, because it feels like there should be an awesome fight with the shark at the end and it never happens.

Unfortunately, without more game, there isn’t more to comment on. The controls are smooth and the visuals are odd, but in a pleasant way. The music is a little annoying; I would recommend swapping it out for something less synthetic, or at least with more depth. At the very least, Kudos for an interesting damage mechanic, though it’s a little too unforgiving to love — with some tweaking it could be really very awesome.

Yummy Yummy Shapes

Yummy Yummy Shapes

I am a Yummy Yummy Shapes champion, and you can be too. I suspect programmers David Marczak and Kyle Bostelmann don’t like me though, because Yummy Yummy Shapes is kinda mean. The goal is to fill the outlines with the solid shapes, but the game isn’t straight forward on the how and doesn’t give you much time to figure it out.

At the Arcade, after seeing a number of frustrated people try Yummy Yummy Shapes with no indication of success, I decided to figure it out. You can move the solid shapes around by a click-click method, which isn’t obvious or straight forward, leading to a lot of tossed shapes the first time playing, and you can change their size with a right-click (which sometimes makes them disappear, I found). Ultimately, you’re tasked with catching the solid shapes and placing them in the path of oncoming outlines, then make sure they’re smaller than that outline. If outlines can consume a solid of equal size, I never once saw it happen — making the biggest solids and smallest outlines useless. Additionally, Yummy Yummy Shapes has a very unrelenting timer, so if you aren’t getting it right away, you’ll probably fail.

Once I figured out the first level, though, the second was a snap, and soon the whole thing was done. Yummy Yummy Shapes could use a fair amount of polish, and maybe some new graphics. (Don’t be afraid to ask the floaters, guys!) It’s biggest failings though were in being too random and too poorly explained, making the real challenge puzzling out what to do, rather than how.

Cheese-ohol 2

Cheese-ohol 2

Barry Rowe’s Cheese-ohol2: The Actual Game, one of the Puce People’s Choice award winners this year, was a bit of a mystery to me when I tried it at the jam — awkward mouse controls, and basic play mechanics that seemed to be all about careful rationing of your only resource, the cheese-ohol gauge. Of course, then I saw it in it’s completed glory at the Arcade, and all was explained.

Cheese-ohol 2 is a drinking game; it revolves around drinking beers attached to Wii remotes in order to attack and chugging to do super attacks. And it’s 4-player that way. It’s almost divine. Cheese-ohol 2 isn’t trying to be a remarkable experience or a challenging adventure, but rather, it’s a ridiculous and charming way to get a small group of people smashed as they drink their way through hordes of goats. It’s meant to be off the wall and nonsensical, and ultimately a real jewel to play and to watch.

Cheese-ohol 2 also features some really great audio and visuals to complement it’s overall ridiculousness. And I’m a real sucker for it’s great minimalist pixel art. It’s unconventional video-gaming, and real, down-to-drunk fun.

Images in todays post shameless stolen from TOJam’s site. Visit them!


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4 Responses to “The Games of TOJam 4: Part 1”

  1. Mighty Jimbo Says:

    You are INSANE Sir!

    For taking on this epic quest, at great risk of personal injury, you have been deemed the official TOJam game reviewer. We’ve never had one before but your text skills and truthiness have compelled us. I will create appropriate links and a posting tonight. Feel free to throw me a game reviewer avatar/picture (otherwise I’ll find one). In July I would love to move the individual reviews to the game pages themselves. What say you?

    • Greg Says:

      I didn’t know I was the first — that makes it all the more important! I accept, good sir!
      And I’m more than happy for the reviews to appear on the game pages; I wouldn’t be writing them if I didn’t want them read. 😀

  2. Alex Says:

    Interesting reviews so far. Looking forward to reading the rest as they come out.

  3. compost tumbler Says:

    As a Newbie, I am often searching on-line for articles that can guide me. Thank you

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