Have you seen this Kickstarter? Sep. 2016

Kickstarter and its generous community have brought the video gaming world some top-notch entertainment over the last few years.  Games like Shadowrun: Hong Kong, Superhot, and Shovel Knight might never have seen the light of day without the support of gamers like you and me.  However, with the success of games like these, there are literally hundreds of people trying to make their game ideas a reality.  While high profile campaigns like Yooka-Laylee, Friday the 13th: The Game, and System Shock need little or no introduction, there are some truly brilliant gems hiding among the sea of copyright-infringing remakes and people simply looking for handouts.  With this monthly series of articles, I hope to shed some light on a few of the diamonds-in-the-rough that need support from people like you.

Here are five such potential games-to-be with campaigns ending in the month of September 2016:


Astro Boy: Edge of Time

If you’re a fan of manga, you’re bound to have heard of legendary creator, Osamu Tezuka.  His iconic style influenced a generation of artists earning him the well-deserved title of Godfather of Manga.  He has created many famous works such as Black Jack, Unico, and Kimba the White Lion.  Far and away, his most popular creation is Astro Boy.  Now, a group of indie developers have teamed up with Tezuka’s son to create a free-to-play digital collectible card game.  Card art is being provided by a host of popular Japanese artists and game designers such as Suda51 (No More Heroes, Killer 7), Satoshi Yoshioka (Snatcher, Policenauts) and Hiroya Oku (Gantz).  The game’s EDM-style music is being composed by Akira Yamaoka (Silent Hill) and three-time Oscar winner Giorgio Moroder (Scarface, Top Gun).

The game itself is a 1v1 card battle that utilizes attack characters, defense characters and single-use item cards.  Each warrior summoned or card played costs energy which you slowly accumulate at the start of each turn.  The first player to bring their opponent’s HP to zero is the winner.  You will begin by choosing a faction and starter deck of cards.  Additional card packs can be purchased with in-game or real-world money.  Before you start groaning, there is good news; every card can be earned through grinding, so you never have to spend a dime if you don’t want to.  While that is a huge plus, what really appealed to me is the fact that the game will also have a robust single-player story mode that will incorporate characters from all across Tezuka’s varied works.  The idea of so many iconic characters coming together in one game is an anime fan’s dream.

Given the pedigree, you would think this campaign would be funded in a day, but it wasn’t.  There is less than two weeks and they need a MAJOR push to hit their goal.  Reward include digital goodies like exclusive cards and battle backgrounds, soundtrack and artwork downloads as well as physical swag like posters, t-shirts or even original card art.  The devs are looking at a March 2017 release window and will be offering the game for PC and Mac through Steam as well as iOS and Android versions for mobile phones and tablets.  Pitch in a few bucks or at least spread the word.  A game with credits this hefty should not go un-funded.  If you need more convincing, check out the free pre-alpha demo on the campaign page.


Vulpine

The open wilderness is a beautiful place full of sprawling plains, rolling hills and snow-capped mountains.  Animals big and small roam across the land, some harmlessly foraging for food while others hunt down lesser creatures as prey.  While this world can often be as dangerous as it is stunning, the one thing we can take solace in is that none of these animals have weapons.  Well, indie game Vulpine is looking to change that by arming nature’s fauna to the proverbial, and literal, teeth.

You will take on the roll of one of a variety of playable animals.  Each will have its own benefits and weaknesses.  Rabbits are speedy but weak while bears are slow yet powerful.  Once out in the world, you will need to explore your surrounds for food, shelter and weapons such as swords, axes and spears.  You can choose to play the game completely solo or play online with up to 32 participants simultaneously.  Players can travel together to uncover the world’s hidden secrets and even participate in friendly PvP battles.  I really enjoy the game’s low-poly art style and the variety of play styles and playable animals make the game approachable by gamers of all types.

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There is just under two weeks remaining and Vulpine is about 50% of the way to their funding goal, so they definitely need your help.  You can get a copy of the game for as low as $15.  Contributing more will get you additional rewards such as papercraft designs, the digital soundtrack and even a 3D printed figure of one of the playable animals.  The game is being developed by a team consisting of just two brothers and they are aiming for the game to release in July 2017.  The game will be available at launch through Steam for both PC and Mac.


BlubBlub: Quest of the Blob

This is the latest campaign from the Girls Make Games organization.  For the uninitiated, Girls Make Games hosts summer camps, workshops and game jams all across the world to promote and teach game development to girls between 11 and 14 years old.  Each year culminates on Demo Day, where the five most talented teams are flown to California for the chance to pitch their game ideas to a panel of gaming industry judges.  The winning team gets their game launched on Kickstarter with the opportunity to hire a team and create a full game that will be available to the masses.  This year’s game is BlubBlub: Quest of the Blob.

This game is one part Super Mario Bros. and one part Super Meat Boy.  You take control of BlubBlub, the cutest blob in the land as she is tasked with rescuing her blobby friends from the twisted labs of a cosmetics company hoping to extract the cuteness of the blobs for their newest make-up line.  BlubBlub will have to avoid hazards and evade attacks as she traverses each stage.  This will be a tricky task as her thin, blobby exterior is quite fragile.  As she rescues her friends, she will unlock new abilities and be able to call out her friends to aid in her quest.  With four unique Acts including 15 levels each, there is sure to be a lot of fun and danger in store for BlubBlub and her friends.

There are two weeks left to support this campaign and, with just about 2/3 of their funding still to go, they definitely need all the help they can get.  A copy of the game can be obtained for as low as $5 with added items like t-shirts, syringe pens and plushie BlubBlubs available at higher tiers.  The team is hoping for a March 2017 release.  At launch, you can grab a copy on Steam for PC or Mac with console ports possible at a later date.  To see what this team of four girls were able to accomplish in just three weeks, check out the playable prototype on the campaign page.


Broken Reality

Do you remember when the only way to get on the internet was over a phone line?  How about when you used to spend your nights chatting on AIM or ICQ while downloading gifs off of your friend’s “ultimate” Power Rangers fan page on Geocities?  Well, fire up your AOL account, load up your Netscape browser and get ready to surf the waves of the ‘net because it’s time to party like it’s literally 1999!  We’re going on a trip back in time to take a glimpse at a technological future that never came to pass; fully 3D navigable websites!  It’s Web 2.0 at last!


Broken Reality is a game that takes place in a virtual version of the internet of the late 90’s.  You will be able to visit different webpages as if they were actual locations filled with various things to do and people to chat with.  Each website can be visited multiple times and you’ll find new and different areas to explore depending on the tools you have at your disposal.  The game is full of jokes, memes and mini-games that you can discover and interact with.  You will be able to unlock a variety of different endings, some simple and some requiring a particular string of events to achieve.  This game looks like Second Life if it was tripping on acid, but if it has even half the content Second Life did, it’s sure to be a wild experience.

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This game still has three weeks left, but they have a LONG way to go in order to meet their funding goal.  A copy of the game will only set you back $10 with an early bird tier.  Higher amounts will get you digital soundtrack and artbook downloads as well as t-shirts or a physical copy of the game.  The current release window is slated for December 2017 with a playable demo by the end of this year.  At launch, the game will be available DRM-Free for PC only.  Stretch goals will allow for a Mac version as well as console ports and even VR support.


Alkimya

Alchemy; the art of manipulating the elements, or even life itself, to satisfy your every whim.  It is part science and part magic and requires a lifetime of study to properly master.  Even the smallest miscalculation could result in disastrous effects.  Alkimya takes place in a world once ruled by alchemists that has now been overrun by the twisted test subjects left over after decades of experimentation.  Our hero, Seth, awakens in an abandoned field with no memory of who he is or how he got there.  All he does know is that he has a knack for alchemy.  A friendly homunculi named Pan discovered his unconscious form.  She seems eager to help him sort out his mysterious past.

With alchemy as your main skill, you will need to collect resources from your surroundings and defeated enemies to fuel your abilities.  What sets this game apart from others is that there are no recipes to find or follow, how you combine the elements and the effects of your mixtures is entirely in your hands.  This game is equal parts action and puzzle, requiring you to both combat powerful foes as well as manipulate your environment to reach new or hidden areas and items.  Another nice addition is drop-in/drop-out local 2-player co-op, where a friend can assume control over Seth’s homunculus, Pan, and aid you in your quest.  Her ability to fly gives her access to areas that Seth may not be able to reach on his own.  All in all, this looks like an exciting adventure for one or two players.


There are three weeks left in the campaign, but they are nowhere near the finish line.  Aside from their base goal, if they can get a few stretch goals under their belt, the lead developer will be forced to…marry his girlfriend?!?  A copy of the game can be obtained for as low as $8 with an early bird.  Give a bit more to receive the soundtrack and artbook or even contribute to the game itself by getting to name a monster or create an easter egg!  The team is looking at a May 2017 release window on PC through Steam as well as Xbox One and PS4.


Addendum

Of the games I featured in July, Buck and Ikenfell were successfully funded!  Regrettably, the same cannot be said for TRANSMISSION, Nimbi or Aik.  The developers of TRANSMISSION are pressing onward and will be offering art prints through their website as an alternative way to show your support.  Nimbi‘s developers will continue working on the game in their spare time and are planning to revisit Kickstarter at a later date.  The developer of Aik, unfortunately, has been depressingly silent since the end of their campaign.  Of course, I will be sure to share any and all updates on these projects if they do end up giving crowdfunding another chance.  Until next month, happy gaming!

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