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09 November, 2016

Goat Punks Hands-On - "like competitive Donkey Kong, but with goats"

Four goats climb, one goat succeeds. In this multiplayer king-of-the-hill battleground, only the fleetest of foot can become the true mountain-goat king.

Goat Punks has to be one of the strangest party games I've played in recent memory. It's like competitive Donkey Kong, but with goats. I know that's an odd image, but stick with me, it'll all make sense.

Goat Punks is a splitscreen, competitive party game for four players. It has one simple goal: climb to the top of the mountain and stay there. It's the logical extreme of a "king-of-the-hill" game mode, boiled down to the bare essentials. And it works very well.

08 November, 2016

Regular Human Basketball - "A strange, over-the-top, bizarre little game"

Don't let the words "regular" and "human" fool you. This 5v5 game about monstrous robots lining up to shoot hoops is one of the more exciting and outlandish games I've played.

PAX is a hub of new ideas, new games and big tech innovations. But sometimes, PAX is also a perfect testing bed for outlandish prototypes. This is just where Regular Human Basketball enters the arena (woo, sports puns!). This is an experimental Game Jam concept from Powerhoof, the Melbourne-based developers of Crawl, which we highlighted as one of our top Steam Early Access titles.

What may not surprise you now that you've seen the image above, is that these really aren't ordinary humans, and what you're playing is only a strange facsimile of the game we call basketball. Really it's a competitive slugfest between two unwieldy titanic machines that want nothing more than to shoot hoops and crush humans.

The game is played with anywhere from two to ten players, and the demo I played was using eight classic SNES controllers. Each team has one giant robot and a hoop to shoot at, and there's an oversized basketball between them. The trouble is, moving the robot is as easy as spinning plates. Just like Overcooked or Lovers In A Dangerous Spacetime, there are always more jobs to do than there are squishy humans to do them.

Each player controls one such rotund little homosapien, and once you jump inside your giant mech (without getting crushed by its legs, arms, wheels, body or the ball) you need to control the robot cooperatively. This means running from compartment to compartment around the creature and pressing buttons. These could tell it to move forward or backward, or control the limbs, fire the rockets or raise the body. They all have simple on/off states, so you can push forward and leave the robot to do its thing while you go raise the legs or fire the rockets. 

It's strange how having that many things to do and working together to man a lumbering machine can force people to play as a team. You might spend more time rambling incoherently than actually communicating or making clutch plays, but through a sheer force of wills, both robots did actually play basketball, and both robots did score points.

It's a strange, over-the-top, bizarre little game that makes me want to get ten friends together and shoot some mechanical hoops. And yes, you can jump into the opposing team's robot for a little impromptu sabotage.

Regular Human Basketball is publicly available for download here, and the developers are thinking of expanding it and releasing a full version if the community is interested. 

Nathanael Peacock


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