Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Indie Cred: Private Joe (Chrome/Chrome OS)

So I'm thinking it'll be cool to do a feature each week called "indie cred" in which I attempt to fumble about with an "Indie" game and publish the results with some smidgen of commentary.

The first game to have the honor of being featured on "Indie Cred" will be the html5-based Chrome browser game "Private Joe".

Title: Private Joe
Developer: "Bazooka" Ben Chong
Publisher: via Kickstarter
Release: released! you can play it here
Platform: HTML5
Price: Online, Free

I came across Private Joe while browsing Chrome's recently launched App Store. I'm a sucker for WWII-era anything, so I jumped on it. The aesthetics also caught my eye and I was curious as to how they looked in action. And those floaty German words were pretty irresistible. But how does it play?

Private Joe is a side-scrolling "manshoot" (RPS term) similar to Nintendo's Contra or SNK's Metal Slug series. To that end, it plays pretty well. Control is extremely simplistic, with no real aiming in involved. Joe shoots in the direction he's facing, and only in straight lines. No mouse control has been implemented, but the game so far seems to have been purposefully designed without it. Basically you maneuver through each level shooting the bad guys, saving the good guys, and finding the exit. Ammo and health are limited but pickups abundant, scattered about the levels and dropped by rescued good guys. It's a serviceable game.

It employs some elementary physics in the form of cargo boxes that appear seemingly randomly placed in each level. they can be destroyed too. So far they serve no other purpose but to obstruct paths or to be used as makeshift ledges. They can be used as cover, but seeing as how they break in a single shot from either you or the enemy, it's temporary to say the least. This elementary physics implementation also gives the game a general floatiness, so Joe seems to slip and slide about along the ground as you run him to and fro. When he jumps, he lingers a bit before gently coming back down at the same speed he went up. I'm not a huge fan of this type of control, but to be fair, it makes the platforming in this game much easier.

There isn't much story to behold as of yet, save for level names like "Tank Hunt III" or "Training". The models of the little Germans, and Joe himself, are a bit simple, but at the least thoughtfully so. Some nice touches here and there, like the floaty german words and the M40 "Kraut Helmet" that some of the enemy soldiers leave behind after death.

To be fair, it is an enjoyable little game that I ended up spending about half an hour on, which I certainly don't regret. If you want to learn more about the developer and his plans for the title (which include iOS and Android releases), check out his kickstarter page here.