Double Fine getting finer by the minute

I have a soft spot for Tim Schafer, but his games have been a bit hit or miss. Psychonauts was a great game with some brilliant ideas, but mechanical issues kept it from being a really impeccable platformer. Brutal Legend was similarly ambitious, but tried to be a jack of all trades. It ended up being a jack of only a few trades, and a 7 of Clubs or 8 of Diamonds in other departments.

Since Double Fine switched its focus to these smaller, downloadable titles, it’s really been firing on all cylinders. Each is a little nugget of creativity injected into an existing game design. Costume Quest was a fun, adorable RPG; Stacking was a nice take on old-school adventure games. Now Trenched has been released, and it may be my favorite.

That’s probably not surprising, since it’s also the deepest of the games. While their other mini-projects have been linear (but lovable) experiences, Trenched is a fully-fledged mech action game with a layer of tower defense and some of that signature humor and charm. I’m really enjoying swapping out pieces for each mission and going back to old missions with my new gear.

Speaking of smart twists on tower defense, Toy Soldiers: Cold War is definitely a game I’ll have to look into. I reviewed the original for 1UP and I dug it. Bastion is getting a lot of attention too. Most of the time, each of the Summer of Arcade games is worth paying attention to. I’ve never bought the whole set, but I usually pick up at least a couple.

  • Smash Bros isn’t really in development yet, which isn’t too surprising given Sakurai’s other projects. What is surprising is how Iwata made it sound like there were more details to share, but the game isn’t even really in the planning stages yet. It may have just been poorly-phrased, but that’s the sort of thing that gets fans’ blood up.
  • Activision is sort of perceived as the gaming boogeyman, and they haven’t done a lot to discourage that reputation. Interviews like this are interesting, if nothing else than to see the business logic behind some unpopular decisions.
  • Like at least one commenter, I also wondered if this Skyrim pre-order bonus was supposed to be a cloth map. I did like reminiscing about classic PC games and their outrageous instruction manuals, though.
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