The original Flywrench was released nearly a decade ago and became something of a cult classic within the Game Maker community, but we’ll be looking at the far sleeker, much longer, and just all-around better 2015 version. As a brutally difficult action game which isn’t quite a platformer, Flywrench tasks you with flapping and spinning your way through color-coded gates at lightning speeds in well over 150 levels. It’s unforgiving, it’s refreshingly original, and it’s a whole lot of fun.
Close Your Eyes is a horror game where you must question everyone and everything you encounter. Taking on the role of a character who has narrowly escaped from death row, you must navigate your way through dark and ever-changing locations as time and space twist around you. There are plenty of scares along the way ranging everywhere on the spectrum from standard jumpscares to disturbing love letters and every assumption must be doubted in order to reveal even the smallest slivers of truth.
The two games in the Anyman series are incredibly short and slightly too easy for their own good while still being entertaining enough to be worth spending the roughly five minutes it takes to finish them. Despite some obvious references to the Mega Man series with a cast of robotic ‘mans’ and an evil scientist for an antagonist, the gameplay in this series is rather different. You play using only the mouse and right click to jump and left click to shoot. Each game consists of nothing but back-to-back boss fights and you get about a third of your maximum health back after defeating each boss. These fights all take place with Anyman on the left side of the screen and the boss on the right side, but the big twist here is that neither Anyman nor the bosses can move horizontally since they’re both technically running to the right at all times. With no horizontal movement, you need to rely entirely upon your jump to dodge attacks. Thankfully, you can jump indefinitely while in the air so you have quite a bit of vertical control, though bosses can jump just as much as you can and many of their attacks force players to balance their height near the middle of the screen rather than sticking to the ground or the very top. As for your attack, this is the one area where the gameplay more closely matches that of the Mega Man series as you have a gun which can shoot small bullets each time you click or you can charge it up for a stronger shot, though even here it’s not quite the same as your attacks can be freely aimed with the mouse and your weapon charges up in about a second with no middle step along the way.
Both games feature four fights against other robots followed by two fights against the antagonist, Dr. Alien. There are some interesting ideas for these robots, such as Pulse Man, who sends out red circles of various sizes which combine together and can be destroyed if you shoot them enough, while other robots are decidedly less original, such as in the case of Blade Man, who is virtually identical to Metal Man from Mega Man 2 aside from the lack of horizontal movement. You only have a single life to get through all six fights, but with the rather generous healing between fights and the low difficulty of the fights themselves the only real danger of death comes from the Dr. Alien fights. Though the second game is listed as being in an alpha state and will almost certainly never be finished, it seems to be free of bugs and all it is missing is a tutorial and the final, seventh fight so it basically has just as much content as the first game. In fact, the second game even has a bit more in the way of content because you can choose to play as Anygirl, who sacrifices the charge shot in exchange for a rapid-fire machine gun and the ability to hover in place whenever the left mouse button is held down. A higher difficulty setting would have been nice to have and a potential playtime of less than five minutes for each game makes them rather light on content, especially since they were not made as contest entries with time constraints to the best of my knowledge, but the gameplay is creative enough that both games are nevertheless fun little diversions.
This little game starring a Triangle Rotating In Space was created for Game Boy Jam 5, the same game jam which gave us Derelict. You can’t jump, all you can do is rotate from one tile to the next and let gravity take its course as you make your way to the ship at the end of each level while collecting water drops along the way. The quiet, minimalistic music works well alongside the muted red and green color scheme to give the game an otherworldly atmosphere while the louder sound effects help to put the focus on the action. Though there are only ten short levels, space is used extremely well with crumbling blocks, crushers, spikes, turrets, and spinning blades every step of the way with a few small safe areas for checkpoints.
The gameplay gets changed up somewhat on the fourth level where gravity is reversed and you must make your way to the top of the level, but a far more significant change is introduced soon after that. From the fifth level onward you gain the ability to flip in a straight line from the floor to the ceiling or vice versa. This new mechanic becomes an integral part of the platforming in T.R.I.S. as it is used for maneuvers such as dodging between turret bullets or flipping from a crumbling tile to a solid one while waiting for the timing on a crusher and then flipping back to the crumbling block after it respawns and rushing under the crusher. The difficulty level becomes fairly demanding later on, but frequent and well-placed checkpoints ward away any sense of frustration.
The fact that this game was created within a limited amount of time for a game jam becomes a bit apparent when it comes to the camera. Namely, the camera doesn’t move with you unless you’re on solid ground so flipping your orientation can result in a death if you fling yourself off the edge of the screen and this is fine on its own, but the camera is somewhat inconsistent. There were a few times when I would fly to a ledge near the edge of the screen and the camera would barely move, if at all, and at other times the camera would move a great deal. This usually isn’t a problem, but it can get in the way a bit if you’re trying to backtrack to a checkpoint or a water drop which has disappeared outside of the play area since you won’t know if the camera will actually let you backtrack until you get near the edge. Other than the minor camera issue, T.R.I.S. has consistently solid level design, the movement mechanics make the platforming interesting, and it effectively combines its various hazards together to make for an entertaining game which I only wish was longer.
Genetos is a shmup which celebrates the history of its genre from its humble beginnings to the modern era. The aesthetics evolve along with the enemies and even your own ship in this journey through the ages. With many difficulty levels to choose from and different evolutionary paths for your ship based on your actions, Genetos is a game which can vary as much as the genre itself.