PEGBRJE: Nuclear Throne, and Page 2’s Software

Time to go out with a bang, and for some good old fashioned rootin tootin point and shootin.

IM A DUCK I THINK PEW PEW PEW PEW DIE FISHIES PEW PEW PEW

Nuclear Throne is a roguelike twin stick shooty shooty bang bang made by the now defunt Vlambeer, originally comprised of the Dutch indie duo Rami Ismail and Jan Willem Nijman. Players take the reigns of an irradiated monster with guns to reach the Nuclear Throne by any means necessary, unlocking different characters along the way by either dying (which you’ll do so that one is guaranteed), reaching certain stages of the game or fulfilling certain requirements. The path is bloody and brutal, with different maps and areas to pew pew your way to victory.

This marks the second official game in the bundle that I had heard of personally before the bundle with many friends and developers praising it and playing it, but it is the first title that I actually own on Steam prior to the bundle’s release. A friend had gifted it to me for my birthday, and I couldn’t get around to playing it until, well, now. This is also the first title in the bundle that I had heard of the developer before I had heard of the game, which I feel is a little backwards to the norm. I’ve followed Rami on twitter for years for his indie insights and to broaden my own viewpoints on different cultures in gaming, yet somehow never made the connection between him and Nuclear Throne until earlier this year when Vlambeer folded. So needless to say, I was quite excited to start Nuclear Throne, and I can now confirm that it is, in fact, the bomb.

Nuclear Throne thrives on just how fast it gets into the action. After booting the game, I picked up my controller, learned the buttons in the tutorial area, and suddenly I was in the starting area. Just as fast as I started, I died nearly as quick and pressed the retry button to start again in a new procedurally generated stage. Death comes fast and hard, so you’ll find yourself constantly at the campfire to restart the game with a different character in the hopes of getting to the end, or just because the background aesthetic is nice and you need a break. It’s this rapid pace of iteration that makes Nuclear Throne shine, as every mechanic and gameplay decision is crafted with speed in mind. Levelling up gives you a choice of 4 perks/upgrades, but they are only available once a level has been finished to not get you killed while mid stage. Ammunition is all categorized into 5 groups to streamline the process, with the ammo used by your current gun highlighted in the top left underneath the health bar. Tiny ammo pickups give ammo for whatever gun you are currently using, to not confuse and to keep the shooting going. Even death is quick, immediately pulling up the progress screen, a simple ‘You did not reach the Nuclear Throne’ and the option to either retry from the beginning or return to the main menu.

I lost track after the 20th attempt to reach the Nuclear Throne of the number of runs I did because of this. Everything is so smooth in its execution that it is extremely easy to just click retry through instincts alone to try again. I haven’t even touched on the simple yet effective aesthetic created in this wasteland of a world, with rock tunes jamming in the background and dozens of different ruined stages to visit and explode. I even failed to mention that the walls can be blown up, and regularly are if you have any form of explosives leading to even more possibilities. This would imply that the screen gets cluttered with the amount of bullets and explosions going on, yet the cleanliness of the art keeps this from occurring. Bullets are vibrant neon colours to avoid blending into the bleak backdrops, and large enough to be seen at all times. Enemies are outlined in dark colours to pop out, and rarely overlap too closely to the backgrounds as well.

I haven’t even mentioned that this game can be played in co-op, either with a friend locally in a couch co-op explosion extravaganza or via dedicated servers with people anywhere. There are layers of brilliance that went into Nuclear Throne’s rapid fire gameplay, with just the right amount of chaotic explosions and random generation to keep me constantly trying again and again to reach the end. I still haven’t, but I have a hunch that has more to do with my lack of experience with roguelikes, with the exception being Hades.

Nuclear Throne is the perfect pick up and play game for days that you’re looking for adrenaline-filled running and gunning, or have a friend over and enjoy accidentally killing each other with the grenade launcher. It’s premise is simple, but the depth of execution is what keeps you constantly coming back to try again and reach the ending to hopefully figure out whatever the Nuclear Throne is. If you are a fan of roguelikes, you’ve probably played this and don’t need me to sing its praises for you. If you area fan of couch co-op explosions and shooting, this is a must have for your arsenal. If you aren’t a fan of the vague genre that is roguelikes, this is a fantastic entry game to the style usually associated with the roguelike genre. Or you are just a fan of playing as irradiated plants and animals with guns shooting everything in sight.

If it wasn’t obvious, this game has lots of guns and explosions in it. That’s enough for me.

Link to the game below.

And now, as is tradition, the software of Page 2:

DragonRuby Game Tool Kit

Simple yet highly effective 2D game engine for newcomers and professionals alike. Known for somehow being barely a dozen megabytes big.

Troika: Numinous Edition

Colourful tabletop RPG to let your imagination soar. I’m fairly certain I can be a rhino.

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.