One of the best features of the annual Tokyo Game Show is its mix of Blockbuster AAA video game franchises and smaller projects created by small teams or single individuals. For years, TGS has provided dedicated floor space to universities, pavilions around the world, and independent developers of all sizes.
Getting the chance to see these up-and-coming titles and meet the people behind them was one of the things I enjoyed most about returning to TGS when the show returns to in-person events in 2022. . Here are my favorite finds:
In my experience, most mobile games aim for the bright side of the medium, featuring bright colors, chipper music, and providing a refreshing way for players to pass the time while waiting for the bus. Shambles is the total opposite, offering brooding shades of gray and brown, understated tunes, and a tough mix of story-driven decision-making and deck-building combat.
As the name suggests, Shambles is an apocalyptic story set 500 years after war-torn human society. Players build his RPG-style character, assign stat points to determine his abilities, navigate his tree of complex skills as he levels up, and equip weapons, armor, and items to increase his strength. build the While scrolling through a mostly text-based story with limited animation, players make choices about their next move. Should I look for the corpse or leave it alone? Is it safe to approach the stranger or should I hide?
When it’s time to fight for your life, a turn-based battle system deals randomly selected cards from a deck of available actions. Players have too many points available per turn before they have to give up. By customizing the deck outside of combat and carefully managing the cards dealt in combat, players navigate the world and try to survive.
Shambles is the work of Studio Exrix, a small team based in South Korea. Woo-hyun Yang and Jeong-Jun Hyeop say the project has been in the works for about a year and was born because they wanted to combine a deck-building game from an otherwise disparate genre with a choice-driven story-based game. told me The build at TGS only offered Korean or Japanese, but he wants to launch Shambles with English text on iOS, Android, and PC as well.
I can’t say much about the story or setting animal well Beyond the fact that the protagonist, a “little hunk” in the words of solo developer Billy Basso, must wake up in a giant subterranean flower and make his way through it. Animal Well eschews the usual primary colors of shimmering teal and purple and features gorgeous pixel art that uses dramatic lighting to make the cave feel decidedly otherworldly.
If Metroidvania lives and dies on the strength of its environment, I’m already completely sold to Animal Well. Exploration-focused games already include layers of intrigue, like out-of-reach items and locked doors that invite speculation, but in Animal Well, this is It goes hand in hand with gigantic statues and mystical animals casually living their lives unaware of the player.
Basso said he’s been creating Animal Well himself for the past five years, designing Metroidvania around exploration rather than combat, with a touch of survival horror. Blobs don’t have weapons. I was able to spot some firecrackers in the demo, but these were more of a distraction than anything else. I have been relentlessly chasing up to the screen. When I compared the cat to Fant, the enemy in Super Mario Bros. 2 that chases the player every time he picks up a key, Basso says it’s one of his favorite mario games and that world said that he envisions an open-world version of and that world. “Eerie Weirdness” helped inform his project.
Animal Well has already been announced for Steam and PlayStation 5, and Basso hopes it will be released on other platforms as well, possibly in 2023, but admits it will be done once the game is done. increase.
Isn’t it a coincidence that the popularity of indie Metroidvanias and the nostalgia for the Game Boy Advance grew at the same time? Ultimately, Nintendo’s shift to handheld systems defined the Castlevania series as one of exploration and RPG elements, especially given that some of the best games in the entire franchise came out on the GBA or Nintendo DS. That said, it’s rare to come across a developer who articulates such a relationship, which makes Rystel’s story all the more interesting.
Created by a six-person team called RelicSquare, Rystel bills itself as a “2D action-adventure” game, but underlines the word action. The protagonist begins his demo with two different power sets, each with unique attacks, both short-range and long-range. Players can switch between these on-the-fly using the left and right trigger buttons, and attacks have very little cooldown. The protagonist is also very agile thanks to his double jump ability and additional mobility features on his attacks. Dash is possible.
The game director, who introduced himself as “sart”, is a huge Game Boy Advance fan, citing the Mega Man Zero series in particular as a personal favorite. includes Cave Story and Odinsphere, but also reminded a lot of Guacamelee for its color-based block-breaking attacks.
According to sart, his team has spent the last three to four years putting Rystel together. He hopes the game will appeal to fans of JRPG-style stories. Rystel is already on Steam, and sart says he hopes to launch a demo with support for Japanese, Chinese, and English in the near future.
Video games are graphics-heavy, so it’s rare to see a title that aggressively restricts what players can and cannot see, but Rhodopsins, as its unusual title suggests, is an You can’t call it a video game. Named after “photosensitive receptor protein involved in visual light transduction” (thank you wikipedia), Rhodopsin features three-player platforming action with a sensory twist, as players don red, green, or blue tinted sunglasses. Eliminates even colored enemies. So one player can’t see everything at once. The fun part is coordinating every jump with your teammates to make sure everyone reaches their goal.
Developed by Senior group at Sapporo City University In just three months, Rhodopsins is as much an artistic experiment as it is a video game. Director Wataru Ishizaki, a media arts major, has admitted that the game likely has no commercial potential, given all the peripherals required and the fact that solo play is nearly impossible. That said, he and his team hope to share it with a wider audience in some way.
Dr. Kobushi’s labyrinth laboratory
Are puzzle games hard? Is a “PhD in Cryptography” Difficult? His Nadim Kobeissi from Symbolic Software told me about his educational background and how his studio specialized in cryptography consulting before getting into video game development.
In Dr. Kobushi’s Labyrinth Lab, players must lead protagonist Isla to the exit and complete over 100 single-screen levels. Beyond the usual traps, locks, and barriers, puzzles also include enemies that move with Ayla’s movements, trying to stop her from reaching her goals. Ayla doesn’t carry a weapon, but she can lure enemies into the same traps that block her way, and use rudimentary pathfinding to trap them behind walls and locked doors. increase.
Kobeissi said he wanted to make a puzzle game he enjoyed, especially one where the on-screen characters add flavor to the experience. He cited his Mean Bean Machine in Dr. Robotnik as his personal favorite, and also mentioned movies like The Mask and Beetlejuice as far as they influenced his sense of humor. Dr. Kobushi’s Labyrintine Laboratory launched he’s on Steam a few days ago, but Kobeissi believes that no one has completed the entire game yet. After completing the tutorial, I almost got stuck on the next screen and Kobeissi gave me a hint before I finished.