PEGBRJE: Super Rad Raygun and Fortune-499

WE MUST STOP THE COMMIE ROBOTS, SMALL GAMEBOY MAN.

Super Rad Raygun is a sidescrolling shooter made by TRU FUN Entertainment, which was published by Screwattack and RT Games until mid 2018, when rights were given back to TRU FUN when the game was put on itch.io. You take control of RAD, a half man half robot fusion due to a tragic backstory outlined in the introduction in the 1980s. Now a soldier for justice and freedom, RAD is tasked with assisting America when suddenly the Soviets attack the White House, and it is up to RAD and his Gameboy body full of guns and batteries to stop the communist robots.

Super Rad Raygun blurs the lines of retro nostalgia and satire throughout the writing, settings and general aesthetic and tone. Much of the game was designed to resemble an arcade or Gameboy game, with only 4 shades of pixelated green to convey the entirety of the plot and art. The gameplay revolves around familiar Mega-man and Super Mario mechanics, going from one side of the screen to the other whilst shooting baddies, in this case commie robots. Each area culminates in a bossfight utilizing the new weapon or mechanic found in the level, and defeating the boss allows you to go to new areas afterwards. The upgrades to RAD throughout the game are balanced via ‘batteries’ littered throughout the levels, which can be used to upgrade your weapons and upgrades as they are acquired. These batteries can be swapped out at any time, so if you feel that RAD needs more health and the upgraded blaster damage isn’t needed, switch them out! It gives players fantastic customization choices so that players don’t feel pigeonholed.

What makes this game so much fun for me, however, is the commentary. Throughout the entire game, RAD is fighting bizarre communist invasion of soviet robots and soldiers. There is patriotism to the point of excess to highlight just the absurdity that was the Cold War, with the Soviets entering Mt Saint Helens because they are not Americans and therefore, cannot enjoy happy places to survive. The boss fights are my favourite, with impersonations of celebrities in different communist-styled bossfights that don’t make any sense, but because of that makes them that much more enjoyable. RAD seems to not understand what is going on with the invasion, and it is up to the American Government and the Doctor who accidentally created him to spout all of these conspiracy theory nonsense via popups and cutscenes. Truly, an all American Experience™.

Super Rad Raygun is the retro shooty game that brings it all together — the satire, the gameplay and the customization to give players the path to victory. It certainly helps that the soundtrack, also made in the style of old arcade games, is an absolute bop. There is the slight concern that by collecting batteries as early as possible does make the game a tad easy, but I feel that difficulty rating isn’t the point of SRR, it’s the entire experience. If you are looking for some good fun shooting up caricatures of communist robots, Super Rad Raygun will cover you for at least a couple afternoons.

I would like to point out, before we move to the next game, that the publishing story I mentioned at the beginning does have an importance. Due to TRU FUN now no longer existing, the game was taken off of Steam at their request and can only be found on itch.io as DRM free. If you were looking to purchase it on Steam instead, it’s not possible; you can, oddly enough, purchase the sound track on Steam. Food for thought.

ONTO THE NEXT.

My favourite kind of wizardry — corporate.

Fortune-499 is a deck-building action RPG made apthomson, marking the first repeat developer in the bundle to my memory as they are also the creators of Beglitched from page 2 (although under the name Hexecutable). You follow the life of Cassandra, the awkwardly named witch and oracle that works in the Magical Resources department of the company as their fortune teller. When teaching some newbies how to read cards to beat people at rock paper scissors, she is brought into the HR department to be told about her upcoming firing, only to be ‘saved’ by attacking monsters to prove her worth. From there, she continues her daily life within the company while fighting off monster attacks, learning new spells, printing cards and bantering with her best friend.

I’ve come to the conclusion that apthomson enjoys unique fusions of previously solidified gameplay mechanics to create bizarre yet addicting gameplay, as Fortune-499 is certainly unique. The game is split into two, with the most prominent being the battles between other characters in which attacks are determined in a literal rock-paper-scissors mechanic. The twist is in the deckbuilding, which originally is introduced as a way to ‘predict’ the outcome that the AI opponent will perform. By drawing a rock card, players can assume that the opponent will play a rock, but it isn’t set in stone; it’s all based in odds, so there may be times when you lose even though all odds pointed to rock. Drawing more cards can muddle the prediction, as players may be confronted with an almost reset back to 33/33/33 chance after drawing 1 card of each. The deeper into the game one goes, the more styles of cards are introduced to further enhance the combat and add variance. Mana is introduced first, giving the player cards to add mana to their pool so they can cast different spells that they either create or find in the office. Other cards bolster stats as long as they are within the deck, but drawing them is useless. Others still bolster one of the three attack types either on the round the card is drawn, or simply whilst being in the deck.

This doesn’t even touch the ability to hide cards (see ‘cheating’) for later use.

The second half of the game is within the players interactions outside of combat and the deck building that can occur. As the world is flavoured as a bureaucratic corporatization of magics, every way to acquire new cards or manipulate your cards is done in the theme of office work. Cards can be replicated at a photocopier, which surprisingly has few uses, or shredded to reduce the number of cards in the deck. Characters frequently mention how Cassandra probably doesn’t have the paperwork to be in a different area of the office, or to fight any of the monsters invading said office, which makes her entire fight a ‘bad move’. All of her daily tasks — usually just where she needs to go to continue the plot — are sent via email with proper fonts and wording. The only emails that aren’t are usually from Kiki, the best friend who teaches how to cheat fate (hide cards), as she just sends messages to check up on Cassandra. It balances out the monotony of a corporate office setting with these little jabs at the setting itself, but knows that Fortune-499 is all about the deck building so the rest is just fun extra aesthetic for our amusement.

Fortune-499 is a weird game in the best way possible. After playing Signs of the Sojourner, I was figuring I wouldn’t run into many other deck building fusion games due to how awkward some of the interactions and justifications can be. Yet here it felt natural from the beginning, a hard focus on a world that has streamlined magic and capitalized it down to a basic root of rock paper scissors, only to be expanded upon by explosions and buffs. Anyone that enjoys games that fuse deck building and RPGs can enjoy Fortune-499’s quirky attitude towards the mechanic, and will have a great time RPS-ing monsters to death while stuck in a corporate hellscape.

As always, links below!

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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.