We love it when we find weird and unique indie games to tell you all about! Our alien friends to the left herald these occasions.
Found by Varyag on kitsunes.club, this may be the ultimate version of the Pico-8 version of other game phenomenon, not a remake of a classic arcade game but of id Software’s DOOM itself. And it has a great name: POOM. It’s made by freds72 on itch.io, and it’s free to download and play. Its levels are not ports of the original room, unless my memory is faulty, but smaller versions, but the general sense is still there. It even has a good remix of the first level music.
A few days we linked to Cosmic Collapse, a Pico-8 Suika Game clone that, I claim, is better than the original, or its many many other clones. Its graphics are less cloying, its music is much better, its physics are livelier which adds a greater element of skill, and it has missiles awarded at different score levels that can be used to destroy individual planets.
Cosmic Collapse’s bin is slightly smaller than Suika Game’s, and to compensate a bit for that its “winning” “planet,” The Sun, is only the 10th item in the game, unlike of Suika Game’s Watermelon, which is the 11th of its orbular objects. Nether game really ends at that point, it’s the kind of game that continues until you lose, but it serves as a thematic success point.
But as it turns out, as revealed by a comment by creator Johan Peltz on its itch.io page, Cosmic Collapse has two levels beyond sun. The first is a rather striking animated Black Hole object! After a lot of playing I finally managed to get to it. Here is a screenshot:
Pretty neat! The comment from the game’s creator mentions that there is a level past it, but that they don’t think it’s possible to reach. I don’t think it is either: to get to the Black Hole you have to have two Suns, and to get to that you have to have one Sun plus one Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus, Earth, Mars, Mercury and Pluto. (I think it’s Pluto. What would it be if it wasn’t Pluto? Ceres?)
So, to get to the last object, you’d have to have a Black Hole plus a Sun, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus, Earth, Mars, Mercury and assumed-Pluto, which probably won’t all fit in one bin. My guess is it’s a guest appearance by some galaxy or something. Maybe someone can look at the game’s resources and find out what.
In addition to playing to get to Sun/Black Hole/Whatever Follows, it’s also possible to play Cosmic Collapse for score. The best way I’ve found to do that is to use missiles to destroy the largest objects when it becomes evident that you can’t do anything more with them. My highest score is nearly 15K. Indefinite play doesn’t seem quite possible, as missile awards come less frequently at higher scores, but it’s still fun to see how high one can get. (That’s not meant as a drug-inspired euphemism. Or a Donkey Kong-inspired one, either.)
Addendum: After writing this, I managed to get to Black Hole again, and got video of what it looks like in motion, which is pretty cool:
What pushes a game past the notability barrier, that makes it interesting enough for me to post it here? Classic arcade game remakes are always a good sign. Items for the Pico8 fantasy console are also a strong positive factor. These two elements combined well make it a must-post.
Especially when the game is Mappy. A great game from Pac-Man-era Namco, simple rules but, while surprisingly difficult, a little strategy can get you a long way in. Still, true mastery needs a lot more than that.
This Pico8 version is a good remake, although quite a bit harder. Guide Mappy of the Micro Police through each mansion, stealing back the ill-gotten gains of kitty-cat gang. Unlike many policepeople, Mappy is an entirely non-violent actor, and actually never arrests anyone; he just takes back their loot. And for their part, while the Mewkies and Goro (“Boss the Big Bit”) do knock Mappy out of they catch him, later media seems to indicate that neither side bears any real antipathy for the other. They’re just doing their jobs.
The thing that makes Mappy unique is its trampolines. While on a trampoline you cannot be hurt by the cats, but three bounces on the same one without stopping causes it to break. When you get off the trampoline it’s easy to get caught unless you use the doors as a defensive tool. Pressing the button (X in this Pico8 version) opens the closest door in front of you-you don’t even have to be near it. It swings out in the direction of its doorknob, and knocks out any cat near it on that side for a few seconds, allowing you to pass by. The light-colored doors also house the powerful Microwave, not here a cooking tool but a multicolored beam that launches out and sweeps cats it hits out of the level for a few needed seconds.
This remake of Mappy restores the Japanese name for Goro, “Nyamco,” a pun on the arcade company’s name with a cat angle: “Nyan” is Japanese onomatopoeia for “meow.” You’ll find that while supposed-boss Nyamco is as aimless as he ever was, wandering each level mostly randomly and hiding behind loot, the Mewkies are tenacious chasers, and here will quickly corner you if you don’t have a good plan. Even with its higher difficulty it’s a lovely port, and it’s free to play too!
The Pico-8 is the most popular fantasy game console by a wide margin. We’ve already linked to Josh “cortex” Millard’s Ennuigi, which is notable enough to have its own Wikipedia entry.
Ennuigi was more of an extended joke than a game, though, while Pico-8 Moon Patrol is no joke; it’s substantially harder than the original arcade game, putting you up against harder obstacles earlier. Sometimes it doesn’t feel fair when a flying saucer drops a bomb at such an angle that neither speeding up nor slowing down could have avoided it in time, although it’s possible, in this version, to shoot down the bomb before it strikes you.
Give it a try! This video is my best run to date, getting through the first three sectors:
This is something that a few of you may have seen before, but if there’s anything we’ve learned from bumbling around the internet for… geez, it’s been nearly 30 years now, it’s that most things could always stand to have a few more eyes looking at it. So it is with Cab Ride.
Cab Ride is a free itch.io project that uses the Pico 8 engine. It gives you a first-person view from the engine car of a train as it travels between procedurally generated stations, and plays jaunty chiptune music. It’s a game only in the barest sense. It does rate you on how well you stop at each station. There’s no penalty for doing badly, and no conclusion. From the title screen you can activate Very Chilled Mode, which disables what little scoring it has.
The down arrow key (a little unintuitively) increases the throttle and increases acceleration, while the up arrow decreases. To play normally, you want to stop when you’re close the platform (when the number in the upper-left is as close to 0 as you can get it), then open the doors with Z. If you’re playing with a controller, that button may be different. Press X (when playing on keyboard) honk the horn, which is not required for anything. You can hold the left arrow key to announce the last station, which is the only in-game way to conclude a session, or right arrow to active “Express Mode,” which basically runs itself (but won’t stop to pick up or drop off anyone).