Articles tagged with knapnok games

EGX 2017 Impressions:
Sony, Sega and (Ubi)Soft
Sep 22
Posted by Mark at 19:54

The Sony booth this year is the home of the Annual Update Games- specifically, FIFA and Call of Duty, with the more interesting games hidden behind them.

Notable also is the amount of space dedicated to Sony's desperate attempts to make Playstation VR a thing, including a massive VR helmet which makes the booth look like a Daft Punk tribute to Planet Of The Apes.

Like Nintendo's booth, it's full of titles that are already out, like expandalone Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, Star Wars licence Battlefront II, inexplicable sequel Knack 2 and microtransaction shitfest Everybody's Golf. Some smaller new titles which were also there included Hob, which is a top-down-ish adventure game where you play as a guy with a massive hand, which he uses to solve puzzles in order to gradually unlock a tower by rotating bits of it.

I've not explained that very well. It does, however, look like what Knack was probably meant to, so there's that.

We saw Monster Hunter Stories on 3DS yesterday and today we say Monster Hunter World on PS4. A more 'curated' demo than its handheld counterpart, this does a much better job of explaining its mechanics and objectives- although this could also be related to the presence of Scoutflies, which effectively point out everything of vague interest to progressing through the mission.

The initial mission offered sees you trying to hunt a monster by first having some footprints drawn to your attention, then a scrape on the ground that the game nicely describes as "skidmarks", then another footprint and another until eventually the Scoutflies form a trail to follow to the monster. This is one of the new features added to make the game more accessible to people less familiar with the series, but it feels that it could turn the game into a box-checking exercise.

There was also Ni No Kuni II, which looks as pretty as you'd expect. The battle system can be a bit chaotic during boss fights, but it seems to work quite nicely in battles against smaller enemies in the world.

Also present was David Cage's new title Detroit: Become Human, which I didn't get the chance to watch today- although I did overhear one of the reps on the booth send one of the professional cosplayers they had manning the booth on their break by calling them over with 'Android, come here" and telling them to go into maintenance mode for thirty minutes.

Sony's recent push into phone-controlled games in the form of Playlink was represented by Frantics, by Affordable Space Adventures dev Knapnok. This is a series of motion-controlled party games, hosted by a slightly posh-talking fox, and controlled using the accelerometers in the phones- four top-of-the-line Sony devices, in the booth's case.

There were three games in my session, one where you have to avoid slipping off an ice platform by tilting the way you want to go, another where you fire yourself out of cannons so some (but not all) of you are on a platform, and another race game where before each race you secretly choose a player to have some modification to their vehicle which may or may not be helpful to them.

There was an interesting twist where, before the third game, the host 'called' one player's phone to give them a secret misison.

It's hard to fault the party games themselves, but the phone apps crashing exposed that each Playlink title needs its own individual app- Frantics ostensibly cannot be played using the app associated with That's You!, which has been out in the wild for some time- and that connecting your phone to your PS4 needs you to enter an IP address, which loses the immediacy of the browser-and-four-digit-code setup of the Jackbox games, and is a far cry from the apps-within-an-app world promised by xBox Smartglass.

Speaking of Far Cry, the Ubisoft booth next door housed the fifth game in the series. The short part of the game available focused around the obligatory Ubisoft Game tower, and charged the player with killing all the cultists around the base of it. A number of ways of achieving this was offered, from flinging in grenades to fighting them in the streets to sniping them from the top of the tower.

This, alongside stablemate Assassin's Creed: Origins which seems to have ditched parkour in favour of putting things really far away from one another and making you travel to them, were the first games to really show any seriously large queues- although Ubi made use of the extra space available to them, running lots of demo units and moving people through quickly.

Most of the booth, though, was some Mario + Rabbids demos sparsely dotted about in an almost empty space dominated by a massive fibreglass Rabbid Kong. (There was also South Park: The Fractured But Whole tucked away in a corner)

Sega, meanwhile, chose to showcase Sonic Forces, which looks like it's as good an extension on the Modern Sonic/Generations format as we're going to see. Three levels were on offer, including one of the mental genre-flip-flopping arrangements Colours perfected, a boss level, and a new 'Avatar' level where you put together disparate elements to create your own Original Character Do Not Steal and play as that. It also doesn't quite work, which I'm assuming is satire.

Last but not least, there was a few PCs running Total War: Warhammer II. Which was Total War: Warhammer II.

Full gallery (2)
0 comments / permalink

Affordable Space
Posted by James at 06:00

It's rare to see a game built solely around a specialised, left-field piece of hardware like the Wii U, with its unique second-screen setup and versatile controller. Given the risks involved with developing a game around a single platform with a comparatively small install base, it's easy to see why Nintendo's little white box has mostly attracted ports of games made for the traditional controller.

But there's no stopping some people. In setting out to capture the excitement and tension that comes with navigating a spaceship through an alien world, Knapnok Games and Nicklas 'Nifflas' Nygren picked Wii U as the platform that will bring their ideas to life.

Here's the deal: You've signed up to Uexplore's cheap space travel programme, and they've handed you the keys to your own spaceship, the Small Craft. Off their mothership takes you and onwards to the planet Spectaculon, a beautiful world ripe for exploration and discovery...

...Except you just got the short end of the stick, because the Uexplore mothership dispensed you smack bang in the middle of an 150 year old crash site. Even worse, none of your surroundings resemble the lush and organic environs shown in Uexplore's commercial -- perhaps that "99% Uncharted" statistic should have been taken as a warning sign. Better start up your ship's engine and search for some way to get back home, then.

Despite all the incompetence, Uexplore have at least done something right by ensuring the Small Craft is fit for purpose. It's kitted out with all manner of gadgets and flight mechanisms which alter its behaviour under your thumb, where it can go and what it can do. So while movement is handled by those trusty analogue sticks, everything else isn't -- you've got a fully-featured flight control system at your fingertips on the GamePad screen.

This makes for an expressive game, as the feel of navigating your Small Craft becomes an accurate reflection of how it's been configured on your Heads-Down-Display. Start up the fuel engine and you're suddenly piloting a rickety croc of a flying car. In contrast, the electric engine offers a smoother ride, but at the expense of having to adjust a stabiliser and antigravity system.

Those flight controls on the GamePad lend a sense of individuality to how the Small Craft *feels* to pilot. There's something deeply satisfying about mastering controls which fundamentally do the job, while also including all these little intricacies and nuances for the player to uncover and smile at.

At its core, Affordable Space Adventures is a 2D environmental puzzler, its alien world of Spectaculon playing host to all kinds of weird (and later, wonderful) hazards. You see, that 150 year old crash site serves as a habitat for artefacts that destroy on sight if the heat, sound and electricity produced by your ship happens to disrupt their steady slumber.

This immediately makes traversing the various environments trickier than you might think, as you're forced into being creative with how you configure the Small Craft to deal with the current situation. Having an interactive touch-based interface to manage your ship's systems is a real boon, as you can assess the direct impact each one has on heat, sound and electricity output. Just when you think you've nailed it you probably haven't, as moving with your thrusters tends to throw the balance off kilter.

Being inventive is a must, and the game gives you enough leeway to try different things. You might find yourself playing with antigravity boosters as a means of getting around because they are more energy efficient. Or you might find a reason to rapidly switch between your fuel and electric engines. The game encourages both a methodological and a hands-on approach to problem solving, and this carries through to its environmental hazards, which shift the tone from stealth and navigation to physics- and nature-based puzzles.

Like that Nintendo promise of a new idea every level, your Small Craft repairs its damaged flight controls over time, opening up new puzzle possibilities. It's something the game successfully pulls off throughout its eight hour running time, keeping things fresh and ensuring no idea ever outstays its welcome.

Eight hours may sound short, but it's enough for the game to accomplish everything it sets out to do, right down to successfully setting a low-key atmosphere of isolation and suspense. From the moment you land on Spectaculon, there's a feeling that everything has gone horribly wrong, which continues to persist the more you explore. Without spoiling anything, this is masterfully balanced by the game's quieter, safer moments, the times where you feel a sense of hope and security.

That being said, there are a few bumps in what is otherwise a smooth ride. A couple of obtuse puzzles stem from the game not giving you enough to play around with, with success here feeling like the result of discovering a pre-determined solution by trial and error. At a push, there's also a lack of entertainment value once you've played through everything both on your own and with others.

Indeed, you'll certainly want to visit the game with a partner or two. Splitting up your ship's duties into distinct roles inspires the healthy back-and-forth that comes with good teamwork, with solid communication between your team serving as more than a fair trade-off for the stress that sometimes comes from multitasking between two screens in single player.

Better still, the laughter which accompanies acts of incompetence among your space team becomes yet another unique experience which Affordable Space Adventures thrives on. Piloting a spaceship has rarely felt this engaging.
0 comments / permalink

Posted by James at 13:30
In lieu of Iwata Asks (a series of developer interviews conducted by Nintendo's CEO) winding down, Nintendo of Europe have been conducting interviews of their own, but with independent developers.

Their latest is with the talent behind Affordable Space Adventures, Knapnok Games and the one-man Nifflas' Games, and it's an interesting read, revealing some of the thought processes that went behind creating one of the more inventive games on the horizon.

From how the your spaceship's grumbling start-up noise feels reminiscent to your first car, to co-operative play giving off a "space team" atmosphere, you can catch the rest of the interview here.
0 comments / permalink

Posted by James at 09:06
Knapnok Games' and Nifflas' Games' Affordable Space Adventures is set to launch in Europe and North America on April 9.

Affordable Space Adventures is particularly special because it's an experimental indie game made in the name of creativity first and foremost -- its developers chose to pursue creative possibilities afforded by the Wii U GamePad's secondary screen over a more traditional setup which could be ported to a multitude of platforms.

The game sends you off to explore all sorts of mysterious outer space environments, and puts you in charge of two things: navigating your spaceship, and manning your ship's flight control system.

The latter is done via a Heads Down Display on the GamePad, which shows a plethora of useful buttons and widgets that invitingly light up as you gain access to them. Of course, this setup lends itself extremely well to cooperative play, where one player takes command of navigation while the other handles the controls on the Heads Down Display.

Show/hide video

I was lucky enough to go hands-on with the game last year at EGX, and thought it was masterful at combining those unique ship controls on the Heads Down Display -- things like a stabiliser, a mass generator and a scanner -- with navigating environments. You're encouraged to experiment in increasingly clever ways to navigate safely across new terrain, to the point where you might even need to fiddle with the Heads Down Display on the fly.
0 comments / permalink