PEGBRJE: DATA LOSS, Blitz Breaker and Dropship

Precision necessary, Rage possible.

Hacking the mainframe, I’m going in to plant a wurm and destroy the entire operation.

DATA LOSS is a clicking puzzle adventure made by noé, an indie dev who’s done a variety of project, and features a soundtrack by Lateralis (who also made Dogworld, interestingly enough). Players are themselves suddenly turned pro hacker, contacted by user ruby_isgay after the mutual acquaintance em informs ruby that the player wishes to hack Money’Surance Corp®. This is no small feat, for the Money’Surance Corp® Tower™ is 25 floors of money grabbing security, so it’s up to us to go floor by floor and steal as much as possible before getting caught.

Touted by the developer as a minigame, DATA LOSS’s gameplay features a relatively simple-to-understand loop. Players are attempting to find all 60 nodes on a black screen within a time limit and move limit in order to successfully steal from the floor, wipe the debts, and progress upwards. To do so, players have two abilities: Infect is exactly what it sounds like, it allows players to infect nodes. Search expands the circle and pings an entire area for nodes to reveal themselves from the darkness, fading out over time and hiding the nodes once again. There is a special node within as well, highlighted green, that adds time to the clock and gifts some moves back to allow for the hacking to continue. It also resets the speed of the enemy of the area, a terrifying scanning security system in the movement of my worst nightmare; the bouncing DVD screen saver that never hits a corner perfectly. This security drone works tirelessly to discover activity that the player is doing, speeding up as time goes on to slowly choke the player out. Every action the player does sends out a ping that the security system can catch, either because the search function needs it to work or the infect system can infect multiple nodes. Every time the security system comes into contact with the radial ping it takes two seconds of time away, adding to even more tension.

This leads to a few bizarre situations where players may lose time for seemingly little reason, as the ping a node gives off upon being infected will infect other nodes upon contact, spreading the virus throughout the system. While useful at reducing the amount of moves needed, the fade time is super slow and there will be many times in which an infected node will trigger another that players didn’t know existed, only for the security system to fly into it and dock 2 seconds off the timer. This can spiral out of control, so players need to be ever watchful of the possibility of losing seconds and attempt to mitigate those effects. If one is successful, players are given money based on the turns and seconds still remaining, and can use this money to purchase upgrades. These upgrades can drastically alter the game such as halving the fade timer, giving extra money for utilizing certain restrictions, and a few more I couldn’t afford to purchase.

It’s interesting to see the connection that I made for DATA LOSS between the frustration of constantly losing money for arbitrary reasons and the frustration of attempting to fight against an entire economic system constructed to not be moved against. Perhaps that’s me just reading too much into a small minigame I was bad at, but that’s up to you to decide. If you are curious about this title, try it out and see how it goes.

Completely forgot, the art pieces on the PC version, those side pieces, are great.

Blitz Breaker is a curious platformer made by Boncho Games, a solo dev out of Vancouver, featuring the music of the audio duo Fat Bard. Players control the tiny individual named Blitz who is set on beating every challenge that comes their way, but unfortunately for a platforming protagonist they have a slight issue. They can only jump once. Thankfully, the player has another trick up their sleeve; the ability to air dash in 4 directions no matter what.

Blitz Breaker utilizes a unique twist on the platforming genre, specifically the part in which players must navigate throughout the levels in order to reach the end. Instead of jumping over things, players input 1 of the cardinal directions to have Blitz dash in that direction, only stopping when colliding with an object. If that object didn’t kill Blitz, the ability is refreshed and players can dash again. This is the basis for movement throughout the entire game, being able to dash in 4 directions in order to avoid spikes, missiles, and collect coins to finish the level with a star. In general, platformers need to have extremely tight controls in order to execute the narrow-window’ed timing frames given, especially in a dashing situation such as this. Thankfully, Blitz Breaker felt extremely responsive to the touch so I usually spent my time raging at my own inability to not press the directional button and end up skewered. As a qualified ‘really bad platformer’ myself, I can also state that this game does take the time to give players the ability to learn and understand the controls, but the difficulty sure does ramp up fast. After the spikes came spinning saws, rockets, and all manners of deadly traps combined with walls that need destroying and bombs that destroy everything.

When I first saw the tagline of ‘platformer but Blitz cannot run’ I was as puzzled as the developer expected me to be. How does one platform with tiny jumps and a lack of horizontal movement? Turns out it can work, and quite well. Combined with an adorable pixel aesthetic and chiptunes to bop along to — but let’s be honest, they’ll get drowned out by the concentration and/or cursing, which is a shame…— and you’ve got a fantastic bitesized platformer to work through. It even works on mobile! what more could you ask for. Try it out if you are wanting some more platforming fun times in your life.

ZOOM ZOOM TIMES.

Dropship is a physics landing simulation made by MINIGOLIATH, an indie dev out of Scotland working on short experimental titles. In this peculiar one, players are piloting a LandRover stuck in a bizarre location that needs to get to the landing zone before their fuel runs out. However, there seems to be something off about their location, as for some reason they cannot rotate — instead, the world rotates for them.

In traditional rover physics fashion, Dropship appears to be fairly straight forward — pilot ship to landing pad, go to next level. However, players will notice by level one that the landing site is upside down which makes it a tad hard to land a rover onto. As mentioned earlier, the left stick (I like gamepads for these titles generally) is used to rotate the entire level itself to alter the gravitational direction of the game while centred on the rover as the point of origin. Rotating 180 will now make the first level’s previously ‘on the roof’ landing spot as now on the comfy ground that gravity is pulling the rover towards. This makes for the basis of the game itself, with levels requiring a combination of strafing — having the rover shift left and right without destroying the current orientation — acceleration and gravity rotation in order to land properly. This becomes evidently tricky as soon as one realizes that the walls are not soft, and collisions will destroy the ship if going fast enough, otherwise causing damage. This happens a lot when trying to balance between rotating the map and strafing for the first dozen deaths, but thankfully the landing site isn’t considered hard ground and can be landed on with a decent about of unneeded velocity.

To add to the atmosphere is a very distorted world of scanlines and glitching colours, similar to a CRT that really had a bad day. While adding to the aesthetic, it can wear a bit on the eyes after a bit so there’s a ‘creator mode’ to limit the amount of effects that occur (originally created for screenshots, but works just as well). The soundtrack fits with this theme quite well, although similar to the above title I did drown it out a few times thanks to concentration and cursing.

Attempting to balance fuel and gravity can be tricky, but I feel that Dropship certainly handles its mechanics quite well, even if it took me a bit to unwrap myself from having rotation on the left and ‘movement’ on the right. It takes some getting used to, but those that are looking for a serious challenge will definitely enjoy this physics puzzle lander. There aren’t many levels, but judging by how many times I died to each I’d say it won’t be a quick experience. If this sounds like your jam, give it a try.

Links

Game Dev who decided to take on the monumental task of giving an overview of all 59 pages in the bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. We keep going.