Ludum Dare, for those of you who aren’t familiar, is a competition where games developers and like-minded individuals gather to create games around a theme. They’re given 48 hours to do so and this year’s theme was minimalism. I bravely put on my indie hat and leapt head first into the thousands of games on offer to pick out a random selection (a twenty-sided die may have been involved) for your pleasure/displeasure/apathy. Here’s the first lot.
Bonsai Bash is a bit boring, if I’m completely honest. Armed with a shotgun, a fly buzzes through a house so stereotypically Japanese that even the bonsai tree thinks it’s a little over-the-top. You can shoot the fly, but it’s incredibly difficult to do so and succeeding merely leads to another fly spawning. I think it’s trying to make a comment about the pointlessness of violence, with no real results to your rampant firing, but it’s rather hard to care.
SPACEd Out is a clever little rhythm game where the player must hold down the spacebar to elongate a rectangle so that it fits with the endless parade of multi-coloured rectangles flying towards it. It’s simple, somewhat compelling, and appears to have a JRR Tolkien poem running in the background. What makes this game most noteworthy to me is how minimalistic it manages to be; there are no instructions and none are needed. It takes a second or two to grasp the basics. I’d easily buy a full version of this for my smartphone or tablet. Hint.
Yeah, another bonsai game. I want a tiny tree, that’s all I’ve ever asked for. Bonsai lacks shotguns and insects and instead provides a heavily overgrown bonsai tree. By clicking on (and hence removing) each of the pixellated leaves, you save the tree from dying. There’s no drama, no gameplay as such, just clicking on the bonsai tree over and over until the game suggests you’ve clicked enough. It’s probably incredibly accurate to the experience of cutting a real life bonsai tree, which is to say it was quite dull.
While I make take issue with the veracity of the latter part of the title, this is actually quite a fun little game. Cars rush towards you, borne upon a high-octane theme song that evokes memories of old Megadrive games, and you shoot them. Hit them and they flip over in a satisfying way. You can’t die. There are no other weapons. It’s just you, a handgun and the highway.
It’s the mini-game from Call of Juarez writ small. A desert scene, broken by two silhouettes of armed men squaring off. The red sun illuminates the gently rolling tumbleweed as the men stare each other down, each waiting for the twitch that would betray the possibility of action. A gun fires. One man dies. It’s really just a game of reflexes, but one that is so neatly done that it’s hard to find fault. It might be my favourite thus far.
Right. That’ll do for just now. Go vote for your favourites and let me know which games you’d like to see covered in the comments. There’s possibly too many games for me to cover by myself, so any hint’s a help.