SMASH! Sydney Manga and Anime Show had indie developers from across Sydney and Australia. Here are a few of the indies we spoke to and the games they had on display.
Hermit Mode: Emu War!
Have you heard about the Great Emu War of 1932? No, this is not a joke. It was a real event and Australia lost the war. Indie developer Hermit Mode has taken this unusual piece of history and turned it into a third person shooter. In Emu War!, the war rages on and you – and your fellow Australian Army soldiers – are fighting against an army of emus.
Watching the demo, I couldn’t help but chuckle at seeing an Emu Mothership zeppelin or flaming a bunch of emus with a flamethrower. It’s got that a larrakin feel about it. Emu Wars is still under development and I’m not sure when it will be released. When it does, let’s hope we can sit down to test it out over a couple of emu burgers.
Albey Amikiir: UFOTOFU
Just released this week on Android is Albey Amikiir’s UFOTOFU. I met him at his booth in the indie gaming section of SMASH! Sydney Manga and Anime Show and had a chat about his game. Albey has been developing UFOTOFU over the past few months and it’s basically a puzzle game about finding palindromes. It kind of resembles bejewelled except it’s significantly more complicated.
In UFOTOFU, you need to find as many palindromes (patterns that are the same forwards and backwards) as you can. The longer the chain, the more points you get. Sounds simple enough but it’s really challenging. I could only do a chain of four at most. Not too bad for a bloke that took two days to figure out *drum roll please* the title UFOTOFU itself is a palindrome!
Lached Up Games: Anime Visual Novel Games
When I saw this booth in the indie gaming section, I thought it must have been anime prints and artwork. I found out soon enough that it was Lached Up Games, an indie game studio based in rural Australia headed up by Lachlan Snell. While Lachlan was off for a session of the Final Fantasy Trading Card Game, I spoke to his father who was manning the booth. Top bloke.
Since Lached Up Games focuses on visual novels and RPGs, I couldn’t really get a feel of the games without at least a couple of hours of play. Covering an event as huge as SMASH! Sydney Manga and Anime Show didn’t allow me that luxury. Visual novels are huge in Japan but haven’t really reached the level of popularity of other gaming genres here in Australia. It’s good seeing some Australians giving it a go. You know they’re serious too when they’ve got Japanese artists on their team. Hoping to see some big things from Lached Up Games.
Canaria Productions: Colour Tag (music)
Canaria Productions focuses on game music and sound design. On display was Colour Tag, a multiplayer game that, like the name suggests, is loosely based on the kids playground game of colour tag. In this case however, the tagging is done in a surreal, cartoon-like forest landscape with some nifty colour changing.
I sat down to hear some of the music that Canaria Productions made for Colour Tag. As a fan of gaming music, I liked the fact that here was a music company in Australia that composed evocative music for games and not just the classic 8-bit chiptune. Speaking to Nicholas Gill, Composer & Sound Engineer, I shared a few thoughts on the Australian gaming scene with him and found out that Canaria Productions have been at every major gaming convention in Sydney so far this year. At Gamers Classified, we aim to do that too so I’m sure Canara Productions and Gamers Classified will cross paths again.
SMASH! Sydney Manga and Anime Show showed me that there’s no broad brush you can use to paint local indie game developers with. You have indies working on every genre. When looking overseas and even interstate at locations like Melbourne, the Sydney indie game scene is small by comparison. Will it always stay that way? I don’t know but I feel it’s time to have more indies come out and show us what they’ve got.