PEGBRJE: FutureGrind and LazerGrrl

Yeah I’m about to die, but I’m doing it in STYLE. Also, it’s really hard to get screenshots while playing this.

FutureGrind is a rail-grinding action platform ‘runner’ made by Milkbag Games, a duo of fellow Canadians (honestly I would’ve been shocked if they weren’t, given the studio name) named Matt Rix and Owen Goss. Within, players are the next big grinder in a futuristic motor sport, where amazing stunts are done while driving across rails of varying colours at ridiculous heights. At least, that’s the dream anyway; hopefully nothing bad happens.

FutureGrind may look somewhat familiar in the camera and gameplay department to those that played way too much Happy Wheels, Trials 2 and other similar titles back during the old Flash days (RIP Flash) thanks to its right-forward direction, bike-based movement. Where we diverge from the norm is in the lack of actual forward motion control, giving it more of an endless ‘runner’ feeling. This is because all of the player’s time should be focused on those sweet sweet trick points; well, that and not blowing up. See these future bikes have different colour wheels that, if touching the wrong colour, will cause the entire bike to explode. It certainly makes this insane when performing a 720 frontflip only to realize the incoming platform will be a different colour than the wheel and scrambling to find a solution. Thankfully, there are plenty of cool stunts that can be pulled thanks to this mechanic, such as the inclusion of Undergrinding (grabbing the bottom of a rail by holding jump), a double jump that helps chain together multipliers or save oneself, and even zones that can change the colour of the wheel that passes through it.

This on its own is a bunch of fun, but this doesn’t include the extensive campaign that details the world of FutureGrind. Early on players gain a sponsor to ride their bike Slice, and everything is looking peachy as new sponors hit the rider up with new deals. Each zone requires players to beat it before unlocking the couple of challenges that must be fulfilled in order to unlock the next area of the campaign. This can also include text messages from sponsors to give context to the ride about to be done, or even what upcoming events are going to be super ‘radical’. There is one text, however, that opens the door to intrigue; a random individual texting that not everything is at it seems, and it isn’t safe to talk. At first, I wasn’t sure what to make of it besides the stereotypical ‘oh these sports are bad and corrupt, I get it’ until I realized I wasn’t even 1/5 of the way through the campaign. It was at this moment that I realized I was in for a wild ride.

With an absolute banger of a soundtrack, FutureGrind is a title I wasn’t expecting to enjoy as much as I did. The constant luminescence of colours with the high octane energy of X-Sports with a sprinkling of some secretive plotlines and a number of bikes to try out just makes for a radical good time. If you want some neon fun, give this a try.

Sorry mate, but this piggy ain’t playing

LazerGrrl is a multiplayer laser strategy game made by Sandwich_Generation, a small indie group based in Ireland. Players are pitted against each other (or bots) in an attempt to power a laser grid so that it can be harnessed into the power of sheer laserific destruction. That’s not really a word, but it’s a good descriptor nonetheless of this strategy bomberman-esque title.

In this clash of wits, players will be utilizing blocks in order to draw power from ‘harvesting’ areas across the map, indicated by those pretty green stars. Placing a circular ‘harvester’ will draw power from the circle every so often, adding it to the bank of resources at the player base. They must be connected to the base, however, to actually draw power to it, which can be acquired thanks to the simple square blocks that act as connectors for the grid. The final block is the laser, taking a singular node of energy to power as it fires destructive force at where ever it’s pointing. These lasers are crucial for victory, either through destroying the player base or destroying the opponent themselves — thankfully players and bases aren’t instantly destroyed and have a health pool to work with so that players don’t get defeated instantly.

This is the crux of the strategy, bringing about the comparison to some RTS titles in the form of resource management combining with bomberman’s area denial. Hilariously enough, I actually made a title like this back in 2016/2017, but made it more ‘arena-esque’ in the feeling of Tron. Obviously the games came out different, but the idea of area denial was something I looked into quite a bit for that project so I like to think I have a grasp on the techniques utilized within LazerGrrl. Each node that players acquire gives them a singular ‘economy’ that they gain in the form of energy every so often, but each laser requires at least one economy to fire. This also means that players can equip lasers direction to nodes that aren’t connected to the base, making for detached attack nodes in places the enemy wouldn’t expect. So what happens when two lasers meet, then? Well every block is destructible thankfully, but equal strength lasers will be considered a stalemate mean that players will either have to cut off the energy that is fueling the laser or ‘double up’ on that laser. I found that out the hard way as the AI I was playing against made their singular laser a double and ruined mine. This does take two power charges, but it’s still an effective removal of an enemy structure.

There are tons of different modes to play around with, either against others online, local multiplayer or even against just AI. I did experiment with all of the AI types, and I must say that the aggro-bot sure lives up to their name; it took me a dozen or so defeats to properly figure out a strategy to defeat the precision of movements and the sheer audacity to just drop a laser in front of my base and tell me to deal with it. Simplest strategy can be the strongest, but it does help that the AI that I found myself constantly putting my blocks in the wrong spot and having to pick them back up again.

Combine this variance with a fantastic aesthetic of neon lights and great music and LazerGrrl makes for a satisfying strategy title to play in a 1v1 scenario, or try out with even more players! I didn’t have enough to try it, so I can’t really comment on it other than it looks hilariously chaotic. If this sounds fun, give it a whirl.

An aside, the itch.io client cannot download it for some arbitrary reason — I made a note of this on that one forgotten blogpost that I should get around to posting, but I figured it best to toss that note here as well.

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Just a 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.

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Jacob Vorstenbosch

Jacob Vorstenbosch

Just a 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.

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