Thoughts On: Games from SXSW Part 2

Here is part 2! If you have not seen part 1 of this series of articles, go here!

Action Henk

Since Sonic the Hedgehog has been doing pretty dang terrible, even with the success of Sonic Generation, it feels like we have to look at other games that can fulfill that need for fast arcade-style platforming, but cut all of the fat that holds Sonic’s games back. You know, like Action Henk and a game I may or may not mention after Action Henk. Basically, Action Henk is a 2.5D physics-based fast platformer. If you have played games like Trials or the Joe Danger franchise, then Action Henk is basically a continuation of those games’ ideas. You run fast along a Hot Wheels-style track, making sure you use your momentum to make those jumps, or slide on your rear to gain more speed to go through that loop. You will also be racing against other toy figures in “boss fight” races.

Honestly, I can see why people love this Early Access game. It’s simple, but satisfyingly fun and polished for a game in the dreaded sea of Early Access garbage. If you do have $10 to spare, or want a game to satisfy your cravings for another Joe Danger-style experience, then you should definitely check this game out.

Mekazoo

Take the best parts of Sonic’s fast-paced platforming, and combine it with the superb level design and challenge of the recent Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. That is what you get with this 2.5D platformer starring a bunch of mechanical animals. The game uses the fast-paced style of Sonic the Hedgehog, but the Donkey Kong Country-inspired levels compliment the speed, and make sure you are going at a solid pace while listening to very David Wise-inspired music. From the demo I played, I was a mechanical frog, armadillo, and kangaroo. Each of the three animals had their own special talents, like the frog could swing from poles and mechanical flies, the armadillo could go around loops and curved platforms, and the kangaroo could wall jump as well as jump really high. You will be switching between these animals quite frequently, and I have to say, this was a lot of fun to swing, roll, and jump through the neon-colored levels, while getting a little funky listening to the bongo drum beat in the background.
My only real issue is that the kangaroo was a little harder to figure out than the other two animals. It took me two different days to find out how the animal actually works. Maybe I missed something, but I enjoyed playing as the frog and armadillo a lot more than the kangaroo. Other than that, this was a super fun game. It’s coming to PC and consoles in the near future, and if you love games like the already mentioned Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, then you should fall head over heels for this game.

Armikrog

I wrote about this game two weeks ago, and I was so excited to finally get to play this spiritual sequel to the famous adventure game, The Neverhood. The story centers on Tommynaught and his dog Beak-Beak getting stuck on a planet and being forced into a massive tower known as Armikrog. The beta build only allowed me to go through a very small chunk of the game. The only puzzles available were a simple find-a-lever puzzle, and having to use Beak-Beak to get through small areas. A fun little element added into the game is the fact that Beak-Beak is a dog, and any area he goes through will be colorless since, well, dogs are colorblind.

My only real disappointment with the demo was that it was short. It took me at most 10 minutes to beat the main puzzles that the demo offered. Granted, the puzzles showed me how the game will work, and if you have played The Neverhood, then you will be super comfortable with Armikrog’s design. Even then, I still had fun with what I got. I enjoyed my short time with the game, and it was a rather beautiful-looking game in motion. This is definitely one game to be on the lookout for later this year.

Chroma Squad

Okay, we are in the home stretch, and that home stretch will start with this tactical RPG that is a gigantic love letter/parody of shows like “Power Rangers.” Chroma Squad puts you in the shoes of managing a team of stunt people who are making their own “Power Rangers” show. The tactical RPG combat is pretty much the same kind of gameplay you see in a lot of titles like Tactics Ogre or Final Fantasy Tactics. You control five characters on a grid-like battlefield, as you fight the evils goons and then fight a monster of the week villain. The boss I fought was basically a giant cardboard box with boxing gloves. It was hilarious, and reminded me of a lot of the crazier designs from the “Power Rangers” shows from the 90s, or the really old “Kamen Rider” shows like “Kamen Rider Super-1.” During the fight, you can turn into the “Power Rangers”, and use your individual abilities to take down the bad guys. As you beat down the goons and bosses, you will be gaining items to craft your own costumes and weapons. Outside of combat, you will need to make sure to keep your business in check and not go bankrupt. Oh, and of course, since this show is making fun of/paying homage to this popular show, you can also get into giant robot battles, and compete against other groups of players in multiplayer to fight for views.

This game has a lot to offer, and it’s by the same team who made Knights of Pen and Paper, a popular indie game on Steam. Chroma Squad is actually coming out on April 30th for PC, and for consoles during the summer time. This was one of the best surprises from SXSW, and you can count on me reviewing the game in the near future. Oh, and this is another successful kickstarter game, so yeah!

Super Slam Dunk Touchdown

Here we go with the last game on this list, Super Slam Dunk Touchdown. If you love games like Ice Hockey on the NES, and any arcade-style sports game, then this game will be for you. You can choose from different sports characters like a hockey player, a basketball player, and so on. Each of the individual characters has their own special abilities, like the hockey player can dash at opponents and knock them out for a few seconds. The main goal is, of course, to get to the other side of the field and score a point, whether it is shooting a puck in the goal or making sure that basketball makes it into the hoop. You can dash to tackle your opponents, or to get to the ball faster. You can even perform a timed button press to make a slam dunk. Seeing a hockey player do a slam dunk with a puck was rather hilarious. You can play with up to six people with two teams of three. Let’s say that the games can get quite chaotic and extremely satisfying.

Sure, it might be another sprite-based game, but it’s easily one of the most fun games I played with different gamers at SXSW. The game is currently on Steam Greenlight, and I think it is very deserving of your vote and money.

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