Sunday, June 5, 2011

Indie Cred: Vlambeer and the Temple of Super Crate Box

Title: Super Crate Box
Developer: Vlambeer
Platform: PC
Release: 2010 (you can find it here)

The game all the kids would crowd around until they ran out of money, at which point they would start fiddling with the sticks during the demo just to feel like they were playing the game. And crates.

200 proof doesn’t begin to describe it

If you trawl about on video game blogs, you’ve no doubt heard of this game by now. Super Crate Box was the indie hit of last winter, and continues in popularity. TotalBiscuit even did a WTF on the game (so you can either go watch that or keep reading. WAIT NO I MEAN YOU CAN ONLY KEEP READING. noooo). What’s the big friggin’ deal about it?

Super Crate Box is arcade-sensible, game-pure, design-focused, laser-cut, carbon-filtered good times. You’d never know it was produced by only two men. It has the quality of being highly addictive, punishingly difficult, and yet sticky-sweet accessible. If this were an arcade game, you could cull the herd of sweaty arcade fiends by dropping two cabinets in an empty warehouse, waiting for the inevitable rush, and then firebombing them out of existence. And then you'd thank God the game is code, or else you’d spend the rest of your natural life trying to piece together those firebombed boards just to salvage this game.

if only girls were this easy, and subsequently hard

The game achieves this coveted balance of highly coveted catchphrase feature terms by being comically simple: you jump and shoot. Each crate you pick up swaps your current weapon with whatever was in the crate, and you can only have one weapon at any given time. Scoring is crate-based (the whole GAME is crate-based!), so kills won’t get you points…only crates will. Which leads to a rather topsy-turvy tug-of-war: I love this gun, and it keeps me alive, but I won’t get points unless I lose this gun, which means I could get a gun I hate, meaning I will probably die. But then I may get points, or I may die. If I die, I won’t get more points. If I get points AND a good gun, I will definitely want to get one more point. But if I get one more point, I will want one MORE point, and then I run the risk of getting a crappy gun and dying. I don’t want to die, but I want points. WHY

As the game keeps you teetering on the edge of points and death (and concomitant sanity and rage), crate pickups will also unlock MORE weapons for you to be randomly surprised/killed by, which is in turn another topsy-turvy tug-‘o-war of wanting more guns but also fearing that those guns are crappy and thus prevent you from getting score. By placing the scoring on crates and not on kills, the pace of the game never lets up or turns into a camp-spawning minigun-slaughterfest, nor does it ever stop testing your resolve and manual dexterity.

your hand may gain mass from all that rubbing

So what are you waiting for? It’s free, it’s fast, it’s there. Experience the most satisfying crate-opening, box-getting, baddie-slaughtering game you will ever play.

Oh, and don’t forget to bring the karate.