Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Humbleness, It Burns

...ahhh, we meet again, Humble Indie Bundle. You know, I don't mean any offence, but you're making us look bad. You're offering seven - seven - games. For the low low price of whatever we want. Earlier, your bundles were... humble. They had maybe two or three titles, maybe an upcoming beta pass for an unreleased game. They befitted the namesake "humble indie bundle". But I can't help but feel like you're just showing off now. You have on offer games of the ilk of Super Meat Boy, Shank, Cave Story+, and BIT.TRIP RUNNER. ...and you're so confident it's worth buying, you're letting us get them for whatever we want. That ain't humble. That's cocky.

I'm not complaining of course.

Just like last time a Humble Bundle rolled around, I'm going to evaluate individually every single game on offer, whether I've played it or not, and come up with a singular judgement on if this bundle is worth it (spoilers: it is). So, without further adieu, go go gadget review mode:

Developer: Final Form Games

Jamestown is some kind of bullet hell shooter. No wait come back - it's a bullet hell shooter with beautiful pixel art! It's original...! I... okay, the popularity of Jamestown is probably because it is more than the sum of its parts. A staggeringly pretty vertical-scrolling shmup, with heavy influence from both the eastern and western sides of the shmup genre, it's been well received by some of the most prevalent figures in PC gaming. Frankly, the story and setting itself are almost worth checking it out alone: it's set on Mars, in the 17th century. A Mars that is under British colonial rule. Well... of course! It also has up to four-players co-op (coin-op, the only way to play), and it's really a hectically intense experience. Coupled with the beautiful graphics, a fantastic soundtrack, and an immensely unique setting and story? This one's a winner in my books.

Developer: Gaijin Games

The BIT.TRIP series was flatlining since its conception. After the brilliant BIT.TRIP BEAT, the series explored other kinds of gameplay - which is great! - but with middling results. It was looking like the bright spark that had launched BEAT to Wiiware fame had died out. ...and then BIT.TRIP RUNNER came out, and blew everyone away. It's a rhythm-based, old-school-rooted platformer, which plays a lot like Vib Ribbon crossed with more traditional 16-bit platformers. The whole gist of the game comes from hitting buttons in time to the beat, but it's so much cooler than that makes it sound, and it's so much more frustratingly compulsive than that makes it sound. It could possibly be one of the greatest indie games ever made - on par with Braid and Super Meat Boy as true classics of the independent games development scene. It's difficult as hell, and you'll find yourself repeating the same section over and over again (it has a slightly horrible checkpoint system)... but it's compulsive as hell and has a brilliant soundtrack. This is one of those "the bundle is worth it for this game alone" deals, as far as I'm concerned. An absolutely astounding game, even if Commander Video is something of an unintentionally flamboyant LGBT icon, what with all those rainbows he spews out of his arse like some kind of Nyan Cat.

Super Meat Boy
Developer: Team Meat

Andy Plays Games 2010 GOTY, and quite possibly the most well-made platformer ever made. Its impeccably balanced and crafted, packed with almost endless content, with a difficulty curve that will destroy your face, and an utterly charming art-style by gloriously demented Edmund McMillen, one of gaming's most creatively disturbed artists and my personal indie scene hero. I mean, geez; just like RUNNER, the bundle itself is completely worth it for this game alone. "Tough as nails platformer" doesn't even begin to describe the majesty and sheer brilliance that is Super Meat Boy. ...my god. If you don't own this by now, you are some kind of phenomenal idiot. And now you have no excuse. No. Fucking. Excuse. Just make sure you have an Xbox 360 pad or similar controller of some description. ("Thumbs before fingers"...)


An old-school-styled beat-'em-up with wonderful comic book-influenced art design. Shank has been fairly well-received across Xbox 360 and PS3 on its release, though the PC port had a little trouble getting itself off of the ground. Despite myself having my eye on it for a long time, I am yet to have picked it up. Odd, seeing as it certainly piqued my interesting - just not $15 worth of my interest. Oh well, now it's in a humble bundle, it's finally time to check it out...! It has local co-op for up to two players, and is laced with gory, blood-soaked combat. It certainly looks cathartically entertaining, I'm just not entirely sure if it's as good as the true stars of this pack, Super Meat Boy, Cave Story+ and BIT.TRIP RUNNER. Also, it's published by EA, which isn't an issue, I guess, it's just... y'know, if you have any gripes with getting even the mere semblance of AAA in your indie bundle, you'd be disappointed by that fact. Oh well. A top quality indie title with really nice art... it certainly looks promising. However, it seems, as of now, Steam is failing to keep atop of the massive amount of demand - they've run out of CD keys for Shank. (They'll get more in soon though, but technical difficulties could continue for god knows how long.)

Night Sky HD
Developer: Nicalis

Oh, it's a 2D, physics-based platformer with a dark and brooding art style. Hold on I reel from the astounding innovation. ...well, okay, so it might not be the most interesting or charming of the lot, but it's still certainly entertaining. Kind of a cross between Crayon Physics Deluxe and LIMBO, Night Sky sees you in control of a small marble-like object in a bleak dreamworld, as you solve puzzles and mildly diverting platforming sections with the use of a powerful and diverse physics engine. If I had to pick a worst game in this pack - and doing so is a waste, considering the price and the quality at hand - it'd be this one. It's not a bad game in the slightest, it's just that, as far as I'm concerned, the dreamworld isn't creative or demented enough to warrant the bleak, LIMBO-esque silhouette-driven art style, and the physics puzzles seem incredibly blase. It's also awash in a strange sort of pretentiousness, which is a phase I had sort of hoped indie games had grown out of. True, I did mention LIMBO and that was sort of pretentious, but it also had a pretense to being a horror game, and the silhouettes and vagueness helped to further the oppressive atmosphere. In Night Sky, the gameplay is at a total disconnect with the surreality of the story and the graphic design. ...it's definitely worth a look - especially considering the asking price - but alongside games of the quality and magnitude that this bundle provides, it pales in comparison.

Gratuitous Space Battles
Developer: Positech Games

I was disappointed by Gratuitous Space Battles. Based on the name alone, I kind of thought it would be some sort of shoot-'em-up, Asteroids style. But it's not. It's a turn-based strategy game-type-thing. It has an uncannily high degree of fidelity, where you can customize and send into battle your own entire fleet of military spaceships, then watch them blow the crap out of another team - both in single and multiplayer. You can adjust everything, everything has a slider attached to it, from attack rate to fuel consumption rate; and, well, it overwhelmed me. What did you expect? A name like Gratuitous Space Battles, I was expecting something brainless. Far from it, this looks like a space strategy sim fan's wet dream. If you like this kind of thing, you'll no doubt love it. I, however, cannot partake - my brain shrivels up and cries for mercy at the mere site of the spreadsheet-esque interface and millions upon millions of tactical options. Consider my opinion on this null and void.

Cave Story+
Developers: Nicalis, Studio Pixel

"Charming," "adorable," "thrilling," doesn't do it justice enough. This is the greatest example I've ever seen of a genuine throwback to the golden era of videogames. I can honestly see this coming on a SNES cartridge, blowing the cobwebs off it and marveling the whole 8-bit colour range...! But despite looking and feeling like it was made by a golden age-era Japanese developer two decades ago, it's also the very example of a true modern classic. Brilliant characters, art and assets, an addiction to shooting giant guns (always a plus), and it plays like a goddamn dream... it's an absolutely fantastic game, that will simultaneously shoot nostalgia straight into the back of your skull, and offer a truly great modern indie gaming experience. This is better than VVVVVV: it's hard, it has fantastic pixel art, it has a wonderfully told adventure story, and it's charming as hell. Truly, this game is a "classic," and I use that word very rarely. Something against the game for many, though, could be its over-the-top Japanese-style design and story (the main character looks a lot like Ash Ketchum if you squint), but to a borderline-otaku such as myself, that's just sprinkles on the icing on the cake. Absolutely outstanding stuff on display here. Worth $10 alone, yet alone packaged next to fucking Super Meat Boy.


Well, that's this year's bundle! Remember, only if you beat the average paid price of, like, $5 or whatever, will you get Cave Story+ and Gratuitous Space Battles (which possibly has the greatest title ever, by the way). So remember to do that, or you'll miss out on some of the best parts of this bundle! ...now. This is where I do my "if you abuse this charity, you're a dick" speech.

If you abuse this charity, you're a dick. Make no mistake, you should all pick this bundle up. 100% recommendation for Meat Boy and RUNNER alone. But I need to stress this: pay what you think it is worth. DO NOT pay what you can get away with. If you think this bundle is actually worth one goddamn cent, then you probably also don't think it's worth playing. ...for too long, I've seen people rip this charity off. After all, if you pay too low, it will COST THEM MONEY IN PAYPAL FEES. So you are STEALING FROM A CHARITY. Which means you're WORSE THAN HITLER.

I can't stop people from ripping off the Humble Bundle. The whole point of the bundle is that you pay whatever you want, and if the majority choose to pay less than a goddamn dollar, well, they're pricks. What I can do is encourage everyone who reads this to treat this bundle with the respect it deserves. Honestly, they place a lot of trust in people doing what is right - for charity, no less - and it tends to pay off. Just... prove them right, okay? Don't spoil their goodwill. If you're, say, one of those people who sells off the keys on forums after the bundle has finished, you deserve to be hung upside from your testicles and burned over an open goddamn fire. ...so what I guess I'm saying is, yes, buy the bundle right now, but remember that it's not just an excuse to get a whole bunch of games for free. It is a charity event. Treat it as such, and have fun while supporting a great cause!


  1. Introversion Bundle + HIB2 = best.

    Also, Hai Anday. :>