This year’s PAX East felt like it was a boon for good party games. Sure, every convention has a ton of multiplayer games, con’s are the best place to show this kind of game, but there were a host of games that seemed like they lended themselves to parties of a few different sorts.
So, after a bit of a delay, here are the indie game we’ll be keeping in mind for our next social gathering:
Tiny Tanks is an 8 player multiplayer game with toy tanks that blow each other up in a completely destructible arena. With hundreds of game modes and modifier combinations, each round is different.
Tiny Tanks is game involving, well, tiny tanks dropped into an arena with a whole bunch of random and ridiculous rules applied, changing each round. In most of these rules, physics play a big role. Sometimes it might affect the gravity, or bullet trajectory, or the destructibility of the environment. Each round, new modifiers are added to the game, which not only keeps you on your toes, but also makes each match a little bit different.
The controls are simple, easy to pick up and get right to playing play. Matches don’t last long either, and there wasn’t a single match I played that didn’t have a stand out funny moments where some bit of physics screwed someone over. Tiny Tanks has the makings of a staple if you ask me!
“Austen Translation” is a satirical strategy game set in the world of Jane Austen—a tongue-in-cheek riff on caustic rivalries, appalling preconceptions of the roles of women and men, and, of course, the unending quest to marry well. In “Austen Translation,” the player takes on the role of an innocent young woman who has to convince a wealthy bachelor to marry her so she can escape a future of poverty and destitution. But this isn’t your English teacher’s Jane Austen.
Not every party is about pizza and beers, thumping dubstep, kill streaks and last one standing. Sometimes, you need tea and those little cucumber sandwiches cut into triangles.
While it is certainly for a specific crowd, Austen Translation is nonetheless utterly hilarious if you’ve ever been exposed to the works of Jane Austen, which is pretty likely if you’ve gone through public education. In the game, you take control of lady-in-waiting, set your sights on an eligible bachelor, and then, taking turns, try to either impress your paramore, or utterly back stab your competition.
Austen Translation does have a lot of reading, and a wonderfully dry and subtle sense humor, so i cannot say it’s exactly fast paced or necessarily funny for everyone, but I can honestly say it was one of my surprise finds at Made in MA and I cannot wait to play it with others.
MageQuit is a wizard-brawling arena game where up to 10 players use spells and physics to do battle. As a wizard, you are granted a staff with a glowing D20, giving you unique elemental abilities. With every kill, your neckbeard and fame grow. Will you end up as Merlin, or be forever cursed with peach fuzz?
MageQuit is a classic formula, with a rather strategic twist thanks to the drafting mechanic. In MageQuit, you play a wizard, facing off against 9 other wizards. Over a series of matches, you’ll gain a spellbook’s worth of arcane attacks and defenses, but you only gain them one at a time, and there is only a limited supply of each particular spell each round. Win the round, and you gain the most points, but you’ll also be picking last for the next spell.
This spell draft mechanic adds an incredible amount of strategy in the game. In talking with the developers they said that many players will utterly throw the first match or two to make sure they get their choice of the first couple spells, which may be limited to only 1 or 2 of a certain element. Throw in lots of deadly level design, tight controls and some utterly insane high level spells, and you’ve got a fun and hectic way to fight your friends.
Armed and Gelatinous pits you against your friends in fast-paced couch-competitive multi-player action! Control one of four gelatinous blobs in the far reaches of space, picking up weapon-filled crates jettisoned from a stricken transport vessel from planet Earth originally destined for the sun. The more weapons absorbed, the bigger (and slower) each blob’s gelatinous body becomes! Rounds can be customized by changing the game mode to either stock, timed, or deathmatch as well as selecting specific weapons and items for the match!
Honestly, I don’t know how to accurately describe just how much fun I had with Armed and Gelatinous. Even the basic concept had me grinning from ear to ear.
In this arena shooter, your are a strange cosmic blob of jelly, drifting through a debris field in space. This debris field happens to be full of guns and crates, which are themselves full of guns. Run into a gun and it will glue itself to your body, stuck at that specific angle. This has two effects: You now have a gun which you can fire at your opponents, and you’ll grow bigger. The more guns you collect, the more firepower you’ll have, but the easier you’ll be to hit. It’s a fantastic mechanic to balance play, and has the added benefit of letting you live out your fantasy of being a far more dangerous and deadly katamari.
Inspired by “Calvinball”, from “Calvin and Hobbes”, Bedlamball plays a bit like air hockey. Each player attempts to knock the ball into the other player’s goal, but both sides can modify rules and mechanics of the game in the middle of the match to their advantage. Opponent about to score? Shrink the goal! Far behind in points? Change the scoring method! Just remember everything you change affects your opponent in the same way! Hilariously chaotic, while also surprisingly strategic, you never have to play the same way twice.
I cannot for the life of me think of why noone has tried to convert the idea of Calvinball into a video game format before, and I’m wonderfully surprised by just how well Bedlamball has actually done what many would call and impossible thing.
In Bedlamball, you’re playing a fairly standard game of “air-hockey” against an opponent. However, at just about any time, either player can pause the game and change the rules regarding different aspects of the game. Behind in points? Why not make it person with the LOWEST score now wins! Different characters have different special rules they can apply as well, and there are some limitations on when certain rules can be changed (for instance, the example above can only be changed during the first half of the match), but Bedlamball does a fantastic job of capturing that chaotic Clavinball spirit in digital form.