Fantastic Arcade today was so packed full of madness that it's difficult to recount in one sitting.
First up in today's unending cavalcade of indie videogames was Capybara Games upcoming run-and-gun time traveler Super Time Force. Developer Ken Yeung walked us through the project's birth as a 48 hour game jam entry to its eventual publishing deal on Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade. A thick, timey-wimey soup of Contra, Super Meat Boy, and Braid(?) Your best introduction to the game is to simply check out Capybara Games' trailer:
Molleindustria's Paolo Pedercini and No Media Kings' Jim Munroe were both attendees at the first Fantastic Arcade, and they returned this year to show off their subversive experiment in play, Unmanned. Unmanned follows an air force drone pilot as he kills strangers in distant locations and negotiates the mundane maze of his own personal life, without ever aknowledging the dissonance between the two.
Returning Fantastic Fest Alumni "Cactus" brought partner Dennis Wedin (Keyboard Drumset F*ucking Werewolf) to Austin to show an eager crowd a glimpse at their Cocaine Cowboys, Drive and Beverly Hills Cop(?!) inspired killfest Hotline Miami. Attendees who sampled the game in its custom Fantastic Arcade cabinet were treated to a special Highball level, that allowed them to brutally murder (or just say hello to) Fantastic Arcade creative director Wiley Wiggins. And if you wear your special unlockable fish mask the whole exchange will be in French.
Next up were Fantastic Arcade 2011 favorites, JW Nijman and Rami Ismael of Vlambeer, showing off their relentless new seaplane shooter Luftrausers. Both Hotline Miami and Luftrausers have won publishing deals through Devolver Digital, and both share a fine tuned appreciation for play feel, action, and a twistedly beautiful pixel-art style.
JW and Rami (fresh off his victory at the previous night's Spelunky Deathmatch tournament) described the evolution of Luftrausers from a free Flash game that no publisher would touch, to a runaway internet hit, to it's new, hugely improved incarnation- with configurable planes, character art, cutscenes, and music custom-tailored to each player's plane.
Following Developer Steve Swink's experimental puzzler Scale, the first tournament of the evening was Mega-Girp- created by rockstar/bioethicist/game artist Bennet Foddy, Mega-Girp replaces it's standard, less-mega iteration's keyboard controls with a spine twisting dancepad, as the player attempts to climb a cliff face, button-by-button, all the while kicking interfering pigeons.
Finally the event many had been waiting for- The Super Hexagon tournament, overseen by developer Terry Cavanagh- who, after watching over a sound win by Austin Chronicle screens writer James Renovitch, stepped up for an exibition play, and once again left jaws in the audience slack, and finally had the crowd chanting his name.
Sunday is the final day of Fantastic Arcade! Watch @fantasticarcade for updates, and be sure to witness the winners from this year's selection at the Fantastic Arcade Awards, directly following our annual Starcade trivia and classic gaming contest!