Welcome back to Digital Blend, our weekly look at the world of downloadable video gaming that exists at the fringes of the mainstream. That means we look at the hottest new mobile game releases, downloadable content drops on consoles and PCs, indie darlings that deserve your love and attention, and the best gaming values under $20.
Keep your comments and feedback coming. We want to hear from you! Did you try something you read about here and enjoy it? Is there a particular game you think we’ve overlooked or news you want to share? Any questions you are dying to ask? Let us know! Your thoughts, feedback, suggestions and (constructive!) criticism are welcome, either in the comments section below or directed at yours truly on Twitter, @geminibros.
* Team Meat announced earlier this week that the popular and brutally challenging console/PC platformer Super Meat Boy is going to be getting an iOS release as Super Meat Boy: The Game. Only it’s not going to be the SMB you know. As Team Meat’s Edmund McMillen writes, “there was no way in hell this would work on a touch screen with buttons all over it.” Rather than going the port route, this is going to be an entirely new game built from the ground up for touch screen devices.
* The Shadowrun franchise is back! Jordan Weisman, creator the classic pen & paper cyberpunk RPG, took to Kickstarter earlier this week to seek funding for Shadowrun Returns. The funding goal of $400,000 was surpassed inside of 28 hours, and it currently falls just shy of $570,000 with 22 days left to go at the time of this writing. Weisman’s Harebrained Schemes dev studio is now set to start working on the 2D turn-based single-player game, with plans for PC/Mac and mobile releases sometime in early 2013. Signing up as a backer now is essentially a guaranteed pre-order for the game now that the funding goal has been reached.
* Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP, the iOS-based adventure game hit from Capybara Games, is going to be getting a PC and Mac release via Steam “before the next dark moon.” It’s a full-blown port, with the exception of some minor interface and audio tweaks to make the game work on the new platform.
* Shadowrun isn’t the only beloved geek classic that is using Kickstarter as a platform from which to stage a return. The same is also true for the HD remake of Sierra Entertainment’s Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards from Replay Games and Adventure Mob, in collaboration with series mastermind Al Lowe. I went hands-on with the game at GDC a few weeks ago, and it looks really slick. We also spoke with Lowe directly earlier this week, and he obviously had plenty to say about how Larry’s doing and where this brewing Kickstarter might take him next.
* Ubisoft continues to work at making Ghost Recon: Future Soldier one of the big shooters you’ll be talking about in 2012. The beta will be starting soon and it will be followed very quickly by the late-May release of the full game. Now Ubisoft has confirmed that an iOS and Android-compatible Ghost Recon Network companion app will be launching alongside the game. You’ll be able to use it for stat tracking, weapon customization on the go, challenge notifications, community updates, and squad management. It sounds an awful lot like the Call of Duty Elite mobile app, which is hardly a bad thing. Those who use the Ghost Recon app will also receive credits for in-game use in Future Soldier.
Top buys for the week…
Diabolical Pitch :: Xbox Live Arcade :: 800 MS Points
For those among you who are Kinect-owning hardcore gamers, this is really all the info you should need to step up for Diabolical Pitch: the Kinect-only game comes from the deranged mind of Suda 51 and his Grasshopper Manufacture team. Sold yet? Maybe this’ll do it for you: you play a baseball pitcher who uses his super-powered throwing arm to chuck baseballs at twisted demon-creatures wearing amusement park animal costumes. There are collectibles, unlockables, a multiplayer mode, and boss fights. Lots of game here for 800 MS Points. The motion controls are always as accurate as they could be, but the weirdness factor ought to help fans of Suda’s work get past that.
Anomaly: Warzone Earth :: Xbox Live Arcade :: 800 MS Points
One week, two Xbox Live Arcade games that are totally worth your time. Some might be familiar with the Anomaly: Warzone Earth title from its mobile platform incarnation. Now you can play it using an Xbox 360 gamepad. Anomaly is a reversal on the tower defense genre, with the player controlling a convoy that takes on various enemy emplacements and structures. It’s certainly an easier game to control using a touch screen than it is using an Xbox 360 gamepad, but there’s a lot of game here, and it’s a solid, well-designed game.
Wheels of Destruction :: PlayStation Network :: $9.99
Wheels of Destruction is a tough sell right now, what with Twisted Metal still being so freshly on store shelves. If Eat Sleep Play’s return to vehicular combat isn’t doing it for you however, Wheels provides a similar yet fundamentally different take, pulling a page from class-based shooters like Call of Duty or Battlefield. It’s a fun game, provided that you can get a handle on the clunky controls and you’re not solely looking for a single player experience.
Amoebattle :: iOS :: $4.99
Intrinsic Games’ Amoebattle is an iOS real-time strategy game (coming soon to DSiWare as well) in which you lead an army of amoebae against a spreading infection in a microscopic world. It’s a relatively simple and adorable game, and it’s built to take advantage of the touch interface. It’s also a slightly different flavor than fans of RTS titles might generally be used to. Definitely worth checking out if strategy is your thing.
Saturday Morning RPG :: iOS :: Free
Joystick Labs put together a really cool concept for Saturday Morning RPG, fusing the design sensibilities of an old-school Japanese RPG with the artistic and storytelling style associated with Saturday morning cartoon blocks. This newly released, Kickstarter-funded game is a no-brainer, really. It’s free, you see. Just download it and try it. Who knows? You might like it.
Temple Run :: Android :: Free
Not much introduction is really necessary for Temple Run. It’s right alongside Angry Birds as one of the most enduringly popular games in the mobile space. Temple Run was actually released for Android platforms last week, but some technical issues kept it off of our recommended buys list. An update seems to have fixed those issues, so go ahead and hop on board the Temple Run train, Android users.