Spotlight on Adult Swim Games

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Note: Those of you who read my “Discovery” article on Ghostly International should know that this is the continuation of that category. However, in the interest of self-explanation (and the desire to sound less pretentious), the category is being renamed “Spotlight”. Enjoy!

In a couple of past posts, I’ve mentioned [adult swim], a comedy network that shares channel space with Cartoon Network. They’re no strangers to the indie scene. Independent and experimental music is used regularly in the network’s promotions and packaging, and they even have a annual series of free downloads dedicated to highlighting some of these musicians. For the world of indie video games, they have a different approach. The publishing business.

[adult swim] Games focuses on finding independently developed games and using their connections to publish the games on various platforms, including Steam, the iOS and Android app stores and even their own website. They then use their position as a TV network to advertise these indie games to mass audiences, producing (often animated) commercials to air on breaks. On one occasion, they even went so far as to produce a full-length, live-action trailer to accompany a game’s release.

They’ve published a number of titles over the past couple of years. Let’s take a look a of few of them.

Retro Throwbacks

Games such as Super House of Dead Ninjas and Volgarr the Viking fit this category nicely. Defined by 16-bit graphics and a brutal difficulty, they harken back to the days of trial and error and memorizing passcodes in front of your Super Nintendo.

Mobile Games

Here you’ll find arguably the publisher’s most popular titles, the Rainbow Unicorn Attack series.

Not your thing? Me neither. Maybe Major Mayhem is more your speed!

Or how about my personal favorite, Monsters Ate My Condo!?

And… Everything Else!

Super Puzzle Platformer traps you in a Tetris board and challenges you to survive.

Soundodger mixes the music genre with a “bullet hell” style.

And Jazzpunk… Well, I still don’t know how to describe Jazzpunk (although, I did try).

I have a lot to respect for [adult swim] Games. This is a company that could have easily (and rightfully) focused on publishing games based on the network’s popular shows, but they instead do something really cool for the indie game landscape. Curating unique and interesting games and helping the developers get the exposure they deserve.

You can find more games published by [adult swim] by visiting their website, Steam page, iTunes page, and Google Play page.

Something to Play: “Q*bert Rebooted”

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And now for something a little more old-fashioned. Remember Q*bert, the classic arcade game about an unexplained freak of nature hopping on blocks? Maybe you remember seeing him in Wreck-It Ralph? The little orange weirdo hasn’t seen a release since around 2005, but thanks to indie studios Gonzo Games and Sideline Amusement, he’s got one more shot at the spotlight.

Q*bert Rebooted has been released on Steam, this year, reintroducing the arcade veteran to a new generation. Not much has changed, in the grand scheme of things. The blocks have been swapped out for hexagons, and a few more enemy types have been added, but it plays the same. You’re still hopping around, changing the board from one color to another, while avoiding all sorts of creatures and balls who, for reasons we will never know, want you dead.  And it’s still just as fun.

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What is different this time around is that inspiration has been taken from modern-day mobile games. Each level provides you with a short list of challenges, such as beating the level in a certain time limit, or reaching a certain score, to get the full three-star rating. Gems (read: in-game currency) also tend to pop up periodically on the board for you to collect.

You can use these gems to buy new characters to play with. Ever wanted to play as a Q*bert cyborg, or a Dracula Q*bert? I know, the thought never entered my mind before, either. But there’s some fun to be had in seeing the classic mascot re-skinned in various costumes. I see potential for a toy line in this.

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Word is that the developers are working on iOS and Android versions of the game, and I can’t wait to see that. The mobile market is a place where these classic arcade franchises with simple mechanics can thrive and find new life. As it stands, it’s $4.99 on Steam for a simple, fun throwback. It even comes with a port of the original game, which may alone be worth the price of admission.

You can check out Q*bert Rebooted on Steam by following this link.