April 19, 2013, 7:24 AM — It's hard to stand out in game design these days by simply following the old models, but it's even harder to create a game that blazes its own unique path. So it's not shocking to see games that combine traditional elements of games to make a new, more surprising experience. This week we've got games that step out of the ordinary by doing more than one thing at once, and doing it well.
Treasure of the Abandoned City
Treasure of the Abandoned City is the latest renegade sector game and--like the rest of the series--it combines elements of top-down RPGs like the original Legend of Zelda with top-down shooters like Smash TV to create a game with both a compelling story and compelling action. Add in some quality graphics and music and you've got a game that's worth donating to but is available to play free online.
Fancy Palace asks you to play a version of the classic block-busting game Breakout and protect a princess at the same time and makes juggling both goals compellingly difficult. Like a traditional breakout-style game you're knocking a ball back up into the playing field so it can destroy blocks, but those blocks, and the ball itself, can damage the animated princess running back and forth along the screen. Unlike the original Breakout the blocks are also constantly falling and can be bounced back up, just like the ball. The result turns a game that was originally about tracking a single object into a complex juggling act where you might want to let some of the pieces--and even the ball itself--fall and bounce back up in order to protect your real goal.
If you ever wondered what would happen if Bomberman and Ikaruga had a baby then you're probably Mark Foster, creator of Bomberjam. Bomberjam is a local multiplayer game where two bombers compete to destroy each other, but instead of just blowing up enemies their bombs also convert enemy territory to the same color as the bomber's, giving them a larger playing field and more angles of attack. Instead of just bombing to defeat your foe you're trying to take over their territory and trap them in a space where death is inevitable.
Though a lot of the games on this week's list are pulling double duty themselves, DuoTasking directly asks the player to perform two tasks at once. Instead of a simple platforming game, DuoTasking sees you controlling a platforming character and a laser cannon that can help you clear away opponents on the stage. The only problem is that your every move controls both characters at once, meaning that positioning your laser into the optimal firing position might put your platformer in peril and jumping around too much can ruin your firing solution. The balancing act turns DuoTasking into a satisfying, if graphically simple, platformer variation.
The Guardian barely steps out of its preferred genre--in some senses, it's a platformer from start to finish. What makes it fit this week's theme is the way that it spins its initial conceit on its head. You start off as a single pixel trying to jump around a beautiful jagged landscape to explore the world, but--eventually--the story lets you explore the level from new angles. It isn't the longest game and some Newgrounds reviewers make somewhat justified attacks on the game's pacing, but the way The Guardian opens up its world and changes your outlook on the game's levels is truly something special.