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Trailer Review: Long-Awaited Indie Game All-Stars

New trailers for Snapshot, Fez, and Battleblock Theater. We are pumped.

By / Posted on 18 March 2011


The past couple weeks have been very exciting for the indie game community thanks to both the Game Developers Conference and PAX (Penny Arcade Expo) East, a gaming convention with a serious love affair with all things indie. Among many others, three games that we’ve been eagerly anticipating for what feels like entirely too long have revealed new promotional footage. Let’s take a look!

Fez, from Polytron Corporation, has been in development for what feels like forever now. The game, and its designer Phil Fish, won the Excellence in Visual Art award at the Independent Game Festival back in 2008. Three years is a long time to wait for an indie game after it’s already won a major award, but clearly that time has been put to good use. Polytron released a new trailer just last week, but even more impressive is this unedited five-and-a-half minutes of gameplay released just the other day:

This may just be the slickest looking, highest-production value indie game ever. The animation is being handled by the dream team of Paul Robertson (Pirate Baby’s Cabana Battle Street Fight 2006, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: the Game) and Adam Saltsman (Canabalt) with music by Disasterpeace (Cat Astro Phi, Drawn to Life: the Next Chapter). In Fez, you play as Gomez, an adorable pasty li’l… I wanna say ‘boy’?.. who is given a magical fez (hat) that, as a cube, allows him to shift his two-dimensional world in three-dimensional space. This video is our first real glimpse at the world map, sort of a beautiful geometric breakdown of connected planes, and hints that this game could potentially be much bigger than any of us had anticipated.

SnapshotSimilar to Fez, Retro Affect’s Snapshot also generated a lot of buzz from the IGF awards, where it was nominated for Excellence in Design in 2009. Up until recently, Snapshot looked like a fairly straightforward but still charming platformer in which you could move objects anywhere in the environment by snapping photos of them and slapping those photos down elsewhere. This new trailer ups the ante significantly, though, by showing that those photographs can be rotated and preserve the momentum of objects at the time of their photographing. The rotation and momentum on display here open up worlds of possibilities for creative problem solving. Also similar to Fez, this game is cute as a button.

Battleblock TheaterBattleblock Theater is the third game from The Behemoth, the quirky dev team behind cartoon retro-fests Alien Hominid and Castle Crashers. From what we’ve gathered from previous trailers, Battleblock Theater seems to be a platforming/Super Smash Bros/arena/capture the flag melee combat shmorgasborg of ridiculousness, and we mean that in the most heartfelt way. Actual gameplay doesn’t matter right now, though, because The Behemoth have seen fit to release the intro cinematic from the game, which itself is funnier than Double Fine’s last two games and all of this season of Community (which, for those of you not playing along at home, are very funny things):

This is the sort of script that my friends and I would quote verbatim ad nauseum in middle school… and high school… and college… and hell, we’ll probably be doing it next week anyway. Oh shucks, let’s do it now!

“They were best friends! The best of friends! Think about your best friend: pretty good, right? Wrong! Yours is worthless in comparison. Eh—oh, I can’t? Sorry…”

“When suddenly, the ocean was all like ‘surprise!’ and a storm brewed! WHIZZZHOO, ZHEW-ZEW!!!”

“As if Poseidon himself extended his hand in friendship and they spat in his mouth! WIZZZEUWWW-WOOSH! Boy, he was pis—he was mad!”

Fez and Battleblock Theater are both expected to hit XBox Live Arcade sometime later this year and may be reason enough to purchase an XBox 360. Too much time and effort has been put into both game for them to be limited to one platform, of course, so we expect they’ll hit PC and probably Playstation Network eventually, though the games will be old hat by then (charming old hats, nonetheless). Snapshot is expected for a Windows release later this year, and while it conceivably could hit pretty much any other platform, PC games tend to stay where they are. Either way, all three games are adorable and undoubtedly awesome and we need them in our lives as soon as possible.

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Derrick Sanskrit has produced critically-acclaimed work as an artist and writer for Nerve, Babble, Pitchfork, The Onion and the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, among others. He founded The Pop Aesthetic during the coldest months of his life in 2010.