We receive a lot of review code in the IncGamers inbox. Too much for our cosy staff to really deal with. With roughly 5,000 games being released on Steam every day, it’s kind of impossible for a site like ours to keep up.
That’s a shame really, isn’t it? All these generous companies are sending us their games and we’re just ignoring them. There’s probably a better way of handling that. This article might be that better way.
I have no idea whether IncGamers Quickies will become a semi-regular feature, but since there’s a gap in the schedules and games in the inbox, now seems as good a time as any to try to write about some of them.
Nothing here should be considered a full review. They’re capsule impressions based on limited amounts of play. Consider them helpful reminders that these games exist, are out in the wild, and may be of interest.
For this inaugural edition, I’ll be taking a look at 100% Orange Juice and Fist of Awesome.
I’m familiar with Fruitbat Factory thanks to their English localisation of the deeply strange War of the Human Tanks, in which small anime girls engage in strategic warfare as humanoid weapons of destruction. I think there might have been an anti-war message in there somewhere, but the endless cut-scenes of giant-eyed melodrama were quite distracting so I’m not sure.
100% Orange Juice certain doesn’t disappoint on the strangeness front either. My character choices included a cat-girl who self-identifies as a “seeker of pudding” and a guy simply labelled as “???” I didn’t want that much mystery in my life, so I opted for Suguri who … I think … claimed to be human. She was also kind of floating and looking miserable, but I consider both of those things to be positive qualities.
After a cut-scene in which shameless theft was brushed off as a game of tag, 100% Orange Juice showed its hand. Turns out it’s a board game with some added card deck building, periodic videogame trance music and lots of colours. Plus some dice battles with chickens and seagulls. There was no tutorial, but I wasn’t about to spend my life reading manuals for anime board games so just hopped right in.
That actually didn’t prove to be too disastrous, and after a bit of trial and error I figured out that the aim (at least on the stage I played) was to hit up one of the weird orange-lollypop stick spaces triggering the message “THE NORMA HAS BEEN ACTIVATED.”
At that point I could select a short-term mission, and level up by achieving that goal. Levelling up means more options from your card deck (which have a requirement to use and a cost,) and taking one step closer to victory. The spaces on the board either give you stars (one of the roads to triumph,) make you drop stars (boo,) warp you to another point on the board, give you a new card, or pop up an enemy encounter (slaying foes can also level you up.) If you land on the same space as one of your three opponents, that also triggers a dice-based fight.
100% Orange Juice endeared itself to me by letting me win that first game, earning me almost 1,000 stars to spend at the confusing in-game shop. I think I ended up buying a card, but unlike in FIFA 14‘s Ultimate Team it didn’t turn out to be an aging second division right-back. Instead, I think it was a pigeon attack. Arguably more useful, I suppose.
If there’s some kind of Venn diagram sweet spot incorporating perky anime characters, colourful card-tinged board games and high quality fruit drinks then Fruitbat Factory has surely nailed that niche.
In Fist of Awesome you play a Lumberjack named Tim Burr who … wait, wrap it up, he’s called Tim Burr. Puns don’t come in flavours any more delicious than that.
Okay, fine, the rest of the game. Tim Burr (seriously) is ripped out of his friendly human timeline and into one where animals have taken over the world and started wearing suits and stuff. Aided only by the mysterious and quite verbose for a hand Fist of Awesome, Tim must fight his way back to his own time by restoring whatever it is that got broken. This involves a lot of punching, and a moderate amount of kicking too.
Presented in that trendy pixel art style you’ve probably seen before, Fist of Awesome is a charmingly low-fi version of Target: Renegade. Except instead of fly-kicking biker gangs off motorbikes, you’re trying to punch leather-jacket clad hyenas in the face.
Every section ends with a BEAR FIGHT boss encounter, during which you’ll have to keep powering up by decking hapless minions because the bears themselves punch hard. As hard as a bear who has learned how to wear clothes, talk and take over the world, really. Health restores every time you hit something (just like real life, I think) so there are no prizes for staying on the defensive. Only the “well done, you died” prize.
Other than timber pun and the fact that the bear punches can hurt his own minions (always nice to see,) my favourite aspect of Fist of Awesome is the amazing sound effect library. Pretty much every sound is being produced by the human mouth, from “enraged deer charge” to “Tim Burr punches someone.” Just like Prince making trumpet noises on “Sometimes it Snows in April,” it makes for quite the aural experience.
I was less thrilled by my (possibly idiocy-induced) inability to make the game window any larger than 640×360 or the relatively slow ambling speed of Mr. Burr himself. In fairness though, you do get to level up after every stage and one of them is “speed.”
It’s not as tight as a Streets of Rage or the aforementioned Target: Renegade, but Fist of Awesome has significantly higher numbers of sentient wildlife. As punch-kick-grab-combo side-scrollers go, this one is far from grizzly. You should be able to bear it.
Jesus, sorry. Look, Fist of Awesome started it.