Monday, May 12, 2014

PAX East 2014: Playism (Kero Blaster, Astebreed, and La-Mulana 2)

Spring has arrived, and with that, another PAX East has sprung up, inviting gamers and game developers from all over the world to Boston, all to show upcoming games and revel in what the industry has in store.  We at Third Rate Minion were there, and we got to try out a sampling of what was there on the showfloor!


Interview with Joshua Weatherford:

Kero Blaster Footage:

Astebreed Footage:

La-Mulana 2 Footage:

In the Indie Megabooth, there was a new exhibitor present to show off indie games from Japan, Active Gaming Media, known to run the service Playism.  Showcasing three Japanese indie games, AGM wanted to make sure everyone knew of some games coming stateside, both now and into the future.  We got to chat with Joshua Weatherford about the games and the aim for Playism as a platform.  Not only that, but we had some time to play all three games they were showcasing.

Kero Blaster is the latest game developed by Studio Pixel, the same mind behind Cave Story and Ikachan.  In Kero Blaster, players control Kero, a frog whose job is to clean up each world of monsters and face an ever-growing menace.  The story is quirky, and the chiptune music keeps up with the frantic-yet-silly nature of the game.  As Kero, you start with a basic arsenal, but with each passing stage, you obtain new weapons and earn the money needed to upgrade them and more effectively use them in battle.  I played through the first stage and I can attest that the game has the same weight as Cave Story, although the stage only scrolled sideways and was a bit more zoomed-in than in Cave Story.  Story is much less of a concern to Ker Blaster, and honestly, I don't mind a more playful game from Pixel (at least the start is sillier than Cave Story).

I also got to try out Edelweiss's Astebreed, a SHMUP of multiple directions.   In Astebreed, players control a mech as it progresses through a number of stages to help save the galaxy.  The game initially plays in a side-scrolling manner, but the perspective shifts several way, from overhead to directly behind the mech.  Not only does the game's perspective change, but players can shift between a number of different attack strategies, as well!  There is a sword technique, a directed energy blast, and a lock-on system that surrounds the player.  Using these three different abilities is crucial to fending off different styles of enemies as they advance from every direction.  The game even tracks how well you are doing throughout each Chapter, and you can compare your scores with others on a worldwide leaderboard.  The game's swift animations and beautiful graphical design come together to make one extremely intense arcade adventure that looks like a solid entry to the Japanese SHMUP world.

Finally, we got to try out some of the upcoming Kickstarted project, La-Mulana 2.  Developed by Nigoro, La-Mulana 2 is the sequel to the intensly difficult "Archeology Adventure" title La-Mulana.  Taking place a few years after the original, players control Lumisa Kosugi, presumably the daughter of the previous game's protagonist, and she heads into Eg-Lana, a gigantic set of ruins, in an effort to stop monsters which have emerged from the ruins and are raging havoc across the land.  The La-Mulana games are Metroidvania games which emphasize puzzle solving and difficult battle sequences.  Players have to move from screen to screen, ensuring not to fall into one of the labyrinth's many traps and curses, not to mention facing a multitude of monsters big and small and even bigger!  The game was Kickstarted earlier this year, and the Kickstarter demo (currently available on Playism) was shown at the showfloor.  It plays as hard as ever, although it was more a playground since there was no direct path to take to end the demo, at least as far as we could tell.  Either way, expect to die plenty, especially if you do not take it careful!

Kero Blaster is out now on iOS and PC, Astebreed is almost out for PC, and La-Mulana 2 is slated for release in 2015.  Check out more via Playism!

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