A Stroll Through Itch.io

Itch.io occupies an interesting spot in the gaming landscape. It’s a platform that anyone can upload games to and set their price. The games are often small and free (with the option of tipping the creator), though bigger indie games have made their way there. The results of game jams and personal projects take up a good portion of the site’s 59,500 games. There’s also tools and assets for making games, books, comics, soundtracks and more. It’s like a modern day Newgrounds or Kongregate, but with Unity the main creation tool rather than Flash (R.I.P.).

I never really paid much mind to Itch until they released a charity bundle containing a shitload of games, containing some I had heard of, and that got my attention because I am a big fat sucker for game bundles.

So with that big’ ol bundle of games, and a few other recommendations, I started to play through some games on Itch. Out of the eight single-player games I played, all but one were able to be played through in 20 minutes. They’re like short films, but games. If you’re fatigued from all the huge, 50+ hour games that have come out recently, these could be the antidote. Here’s some short reviews for you:

Fitz Packerton

Fitz Packerton is a collaboration between Brendan Chung (Blendo Games) and Teddy Dief (Hyper Light Drifter), which is some high pedigree for a five minute game. But in what is somewhat of a speciality for Blendo, a lot of story is packed into a small period of time.

There’s just four scenes in the game — all of which have you simply packing stuff away. Yet a sinister story unfolds in these four scenes that highlights what you can do by showing but not telling. It’s a very worthwhile five minutes.

Rating: An expertly-packed shopping bag full of ice-cream.

Probably the closest thing to a Wario/Waluigi game you’ll get

Good Old Minigolf

For some reason, the first thing I typed to test Itch’s search function was mini golf. I liked Flash mini golf games, I guess. I searched and found one called Good Old Minigolf — it looked like mini golf with a bit of a twist.

The twist is that it’s not really mini golf at all. It’s a pisstake of mini golf games, featuring nonsensical scoring, snide comments and a ball that changes from a ball to banana, then a soup can, Rubik’s Cube and lastly a poop. It’s all quite silly. It takes 5–10 minutes to play, which is good because the central gag wouldn’t stretch longer than that.

Rating: Birdie.

Go banana!

Morning Post

Morning Post just radiates happiness. It looks like a child’s drawing come to life and your main action is to throw smiling letters at people.

So I looked for the inevitable dark twist. I looked in all corners and threw mail at everything — nothing. Then I looked on YouTube to see if there were any playthroughs.

There’s no twist. It’s just a level full of smiles. Ten minutes of child-like innocence.

Rating: :-) out of :-D

Good Morning! This is the final notice for your power bill.

GAME OF THE YEAR: 420BLAZEIT

I remember this game doing the internet rounds a year or two ago, but I never got around to playing it. But I can’t resist something making fun of teenagers, and it was made by Andy Sum of Crossy Road fame.

If you hadn’t guessed this game’s shtick, the full title is GAME OF THE YEAR: 420BLAZEIT vs.xxXilluminatiXxx [wow/10 #rektedition] Montage Parody The Game.

That title makes my head hurt. As does the game, though I guess that’s kind of the point. That makes it an accurate parody, but it almost seems quaint to lampoon the 4chan crowd in the alt-right era.

I’m probably reading too much into this now.

I did like the sad air horn when you die, though.

Rating: 2 Twitch emojis I don’t understand out of 5

I could’ve got a new screenshot without the c-word, but I feel it emphasises my Australian-ness.

MangoMan

Do you like Mega Man but have no access to the Blue Bomber? Well here’s MangoMan, a one-level tribute/homage/rip-off of Mega Man.

MangoMan looks the part, but the tropical hero lacks some of Mega Man’s moves, such as ducking and sliding, as well as the tight controls. It’s Mega Man hard, but there is an easier difficulty with unlimited lives, which was nice. I wonder if the Mega Man Legacy Collection has an easy mode.

I have no shame about this, those games are hard as balls.

Rating: A mango you forgot about in the fridge but want to eat anyway because mangoes are expensive… out of 10.

Personally, I do not care for mangoes. I would prefer CherryMan.

Hot Date

Hot Date is another viral game that I missed. Not sure why, it’s a speed dating game with sarcastic pugs. Sarcastic, disinterested pugs that are a bit full of themselves and seem to be going through the motions.

Hot Date is a somewhat cynical look at speed dating, and a funny one at that. You get a wide range of icebreaker questions to ask, but there’s not really much of a way to get through to these apathetic pugs. Or maybe I’m just not their type.

It’s a fun little thing that’s packed full of clever lines. It’s a good game to show off the offbeat fun Itch provides.

Rating: A pug in an adorable costume.

I don’t think I’m seeing this pug again.

Murder at the Residence Gudul

This game was the pick of the week on an episode of Jim Sterling’s Itch.io Tasty. And if it’s kind of good enough for Jim Sterling, it’s worth a shot.

Murder at the Residence Gudul, which must not a great name because I keep forgetting it (gudul is not in the dictionary), is an old school point ’n’ click adventure game in bite-size form. The protagonist is a foul-mouthed slob looking to get his Distribube fixed (think TV shopping with instant gratification). There’s not much in the way of plot or challenging puzzles, but there are a quality cast of grotesque characters and some funny dialogue.

It took me about 20 minutes to complete and I was left wanting a full version. Too bad the developer, Sparklin Labs, are more known for their game creation tool Superpowers, and this was just a game jam creation.

Rating: 4 Jim Sterling rants out of 5.

Streets of Rogue

I saw Streets of Rogue on Kotaku the other day and it got my attention. Then I saw a free version on Itch, and I gave it a go, expecting a demo. Nope, it’s a full version of the game, albeit one with less features than the Steam Early Access version. But what you get for free is still a very meaty roguelike/lite/whatever with co-op to boot.

In Streets of Rogue, you pick one of 20 classes, ranging from soldier to hacker to bartender to gorilla. The choices don’t end there, as the objectives on each floor are open-ended. You can bust your way through the door and beat everyone with a baseball bat or slide past the guard and hack the nearby computer. Or get your fellow gang member to help you out. Or bribe everyone. There’s probably more, but I haven’t played every class yet. It’s like Deus Ex meets Crypt of the Necrodancer (minus the dancing, unless there’s dancing, too, I would not be surprised).

After seven 5–20 minute games, I was not expecting a deep, fleshed-out rogue-like that threatened to get its hooks stuck into me (that reminds me, you can be a vampire, too). The controls are a bit iffy, but that’s really the only major criticism so far. Time will tell if it has the legs of a Binding of Isaac, but at this point, I’d be happy to shell out for a full version.

Rating: 5 kitchen sinks out of 5.

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