Chris has been at it again, haunting the floor of any games show careless enough to leave an air vent accessible from the outside. Recently he was at EGX, putting his hands on any- and everything he could. Here, he reports back.
Affordable Space Adventures by Knapnok Games
When the Wii U first appeared Nintendo was very quick to point out the unique gameplay mechanics that it could employ due to the dedicated second screen that it has in the Gamepad. I remember being particularly excited by the idea of games that went beyond the 5,000 button combinations that exist in current generation consoles by providing a dynamic interface that rests between the player's hands. So what did Nintendo do? They shoved a dirty great big red button for the player to beep their horn with on Mario Kart 8
. Yeah, some real innovation there...
Thankfully Danish outfit, Knapnok Games, has come to the rescue of the Wii U's much underused Gamepad with Affordable Space Adventures
. Placing you in a broken-down rented space vehicle, the player must escape from a planet thats robotic inhabitants seem intent on the player's demise.
The controls for Affordable Space Adventures
are split between the Gamepad's screen and the analogue inputs. The screen displays various statuses the ship has in terms of engine power, heat and electricity and the player must carefully balance all of these attributes in order to avoid detection by the automated turrets and other armed machines that litter the beautifully rendered environments.
For Affordable Space Adventures
does boast some very visually stunning caves and crevices that, while wondrous to look at, are sadly filled with things that are trying to kill the player. The split control system is ingenious as it forces the player to micro-manage aspects of the ship while traversing a level.
That dreadful management-speak phrase of 'thinking outside of the box' certainly comes to the fore here, but in this case it's more along the lines of 'thinking outside of the controller'. I personally am struggling to think of another game out there that mixes both menu-driven touch screen system and the more traditional analogue controls for a 2D puzzle adventure game, which is what Affordable Space Adventures
is at its core.
The touch screen can be controlled independently by another player, making a two-player co-op game in which one is the pilot controlling the ship using a Wii-mote or other ancillary controller while the Gamepad-wielding cohort acts as the ship's engineer, changing systems on the fly as the piloting player whizzes about the screen avoiding things that would ensure almost instant death.
This generally devolves into the pilot yelling at the engineer to boost power while the latter tries to prevent heat generation in order to avoid being detected by the automated defence systems. We're talking licensed back-seat gaming, which to some may sound like a recipe for certain divorce should married couples elect to play Affordable Space Adventures
for any length of time.
I was really taken by Affordable Space Adventures
while playing it for a very long time at EGX 2014. Its innovative control system and well-designed levels and puzzles had me drawn in and I was sorry to leave the demo pod that it was running on. It's out now on the Wii U via the Nintendo eShop.
Chaos Ride by Sc0tt Games
is an arcade racing game that takes a significant amount of inspiration from the high-speed arcade racing games of old, most notably Ballistics
, a PC game from 2001 that was also a fast racing game set within a tube. This key difference here is that Chaos Ride
has a much narrower tube and in order to maintain speed the player must keep momentum by placing their vehicle within the tube at the optimum position. It can be likened to a bobsled-like track in which the bob-sleigh must be in a precise section of the ice track as it barrels around the corners in order to achieve the highest speed.
The fact that it's not technically possible to drift or slide off of the track in Chaos Ride
means that the traditional racing mechanics do not apply. Instead the player must put all of their efforts in placing their vehicle within the track to keep their speed up, which is actually quite disorientating when playing Chaos Ride
for the first time. I certainly
found that when I initially found myself hurtling down the tube-tracks of Chaos Ride
it was difficult to determine where to be before grinding to an almost halt.
British developer Sc0tt Games has been working on this aspect of Chaos Ride
in the form of feedback to the player on how they are doing, which to be fair is difficult when they are flying along the track at Mach 4 speeds.