Indie Overload – Part One

Eurogamer was full to bursting with many good games and, although massive signs, costumes, and free swag are all impressive, Edward and I were drawn to the indie area on more then one occasion (don’t ask him about the high score on Hardlines because it belongs to me now).  There we endeavoured to play as many of the indie games on show as possible and pick two of our favourites. Here’s what we came back with.


Waves is a game that doesn’t take itself to seriously but, at the same time, is ridiculously difficult when you get past the opening few minutes. From the moment I strapped the headphones around my noggin I knew this was going to be a great deal of fun; the music is fantastic, and that’s not something I generally focus on in games. As long as a gun makes a gun noise I can generally roll with whatever else is going on.  The music in Waves, however, is psychedelic, I can’t think of any other way to put it. I’m no DJ so whatever the music is classed as, can be debated elsewhere, but for me it is psychedelic and fits the style of the game perfectly.

When you load up, you are presented with a menu and a list of options that you’d expect in any game, but although it all looks very standard it is also enjoyable; it’s as fun to look at as the game and each option comes with a sarcastic message explaining what it is. While this may not entertain some people, it’s different and I found it funny.  Waves is a title that certainly has a similar feel to Beat Hazard. It’s fast and fun. You are a ball of sorts, surrounded by a circle and smoothly roll around the screen firing lasers at other balls that are trying to crash into you. In addition, there is also the odd square that has a boost ability to try and crash into you. Certain areas can be rolled over to gain multipliers to your scores, and the inner part of the circle that I mentioned previously acts as an area that increases your score further should enemies be killed inside it. All this makes for some pretty hectic gameplay. While easy to pick up and play, Waves is the type of game that has a very steep learning curve – the first couple of goes had me colliding with something inside of two minutes, so I certainly didn’t look pro. However I was thrashing my head to the music at the time, so at least it looked like I was having a good time, even if the screen was calling me a failure.

The game has various modes including survival, time attack and challenge modes. If the gameplay sounds to hard, then you do have the ability to slow down time (if only for a second or two) and use a bomb to clear out large amounts of enemies.  You can’t rely on these though, because both don’t last very long and you need to focus on constantly moving – the opposition will seek you out like a homing missile, so sitting still is not the order of the day. On occasions an enemy would appear and cover a certain amount of the playing space, meaning that as well as being chased I had to watch where I was rolling.  All this combines to be a fantastic game that is truly fun; I wish I’d had more time to spend on it because it is heavily addictive, much in the same way the aforementioned Beat Hazard is. Certainly one to watch.

Pineapple Smash Crew

What initially drew me to Pineapple Smash Crew was its name. Indie games have a habit of having some of the strangest names in the industry; some don’t even really relate to their actual content.  So, imagine my surprise when I picked this up and it turned out to be a tight based top-down squad shooter. With grenades. Lots of bloody grenades.  The game starts out simply enough: you name a squad of four soldiers that will all be under your control at any one time. So, Captain Girth, Sargent Noodles, and Privates Max and Payne were born under my watchful eye. You then choose a mission – it appears that these are randomly generated and I came back to the booth many times over the Expo and didn’t play the same mission twice (if I did then I certainly don’t remember doing it). The list of missions gives a difficulty rating and a brief outline of what you need to do and from there it’s game on.

Gameplay can be as fast or as slow as you choose. Your motley crew of stupidly named soldiers will go wherever you guide them, in what I’ve dubbed a penguin formation (they’re so close together I’m pretty certain Sargent Noodles is touching one of the Privates inappropriately. Wait, does that make sense?). You move around shooting your primary weapon (a rapid fire blue pellet gun of sorts) at literally anything that moves, however, the primary weapon can be exhausted and needs to recharge, so you can’t just keep mashing that and hope to win.

As you kill things or smash open crates your squad can pick up secondary weapons – each of your men or women can carry only one – which are always single use, so choosing wisely is advised.  The map guides your squad through the levels, directing you to the area where you need to go; this maybe to defeat a certain group of enemies, gather an artefact, clear up a radiation spill… the list goes on and on.

As much as Pineapple Smash Crew sounds pretty straight forward (and to a certain degree it is), it can be fiendishly tricky. On the easier missions even the most casual gamer could sail straight through, but for a harder challenge in the medium and hard missions, gamers will be tested to keep those four little people alive. Losing one means losing an extra gun and an extra secondary weapon and the amount of opposition that comes at you in the harder missions means you need that extra gun more then you need oxygen (maybe not more, but it’s around the same sort of level of importance). Your little guys will die and when they do they’re dead, replaced by some new rookie at the mission’s end. To help speed them to the grave, there are various enemies to fight, including turrets, spiders, zombies and alien slugs to name but a few.

The game reminds me of a fast paced Cannon Fodder, one of the great classics in gaming. I said before that you may speed through the levels or move slowly, creeping around the abandoned bases and overrun space ships. You won’t though. You’ll enter a room and, almost by nature, dive straight in. It’s hilarious fun, spraying the pellet gun, while launching rockets or lasers, dodging fireballs and trying to find more power-ups. Engagements take a few minutes and don’t let up and all the secondary weapons are fantastic to use.  Homing missile?  Launch it and steer with the mouse.  Grenade? Throw it and double click for an early explosion. Portable Turret?  Throw it across the floor and click to lock it in place. There are so many secondary weapons and power-ups that the potential combination for disaster isn’t exhaustive. As if the game needed any more depth, your squad levels up as you go, gaining XP to unlock new features to the secondary weapons. I didn’t get a chance to find out if this is related to your whole squad staying alive or not but, if so, it’s a fantastic incentive to keep the little muppets breathing.

Graphics and audio are also very fitting; the look and the feel of the game supports the busy action and the explosions are actually fun. Fun isn’t usually a word used to describe an explosion, but watching a grenade cause that much devastation in a tight space is a joy to behold. The music, which is composed by Brendan Ratliff, is as enjoyable as that from Waves; it fits the bill perfectly and really is the icing on the cake.

Pineapple Smash Crew may sound like a game that you’d normally avoid. The name certainly doesn’t give away much, but if you see it, don’t assume it’s some touch screen game about slicing fruit and, instead, take a look at a game that is a ton of bloody fun. With grenades. Lots of bloody grenades.

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  1. Edward Edward says:

    Ah, good choices, Chris.
    But you realise that I’m going to get you for those Hard Lines comments. ;)

  2. Chris Chris says:

    Just try it dude. I’ll beat you score twice as much :)

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